Rock and roll exists in two worlds: the sacred and the profane. In the first, it harkens back to a time when people worshipped their gods by wearing masks, dancing, and often in the throes of ecstatic intoxication. In the second, rock exists in the here and now, as an expression of rebellion, sex, power, and even fame. In the realm of the sacred, the ego is destroyed when the god is seen face to face. In the profane, ego is the energy that gets things done. This is the eternal spiritual conflict: the will of the gods versus human will. Those who can keep a foot in both the sacred and the profane can change the world.
The world since he was last seen has changed. Called Moloch by some, the great industrial machine has been grinding away, grinding everything and everyone down in the process. Spies are everywhere. Their eyes are behind the screens of your televisions and devices, their ears attentive to every frequency in the air. Everything is mediated, prepackaged, and pressure sealed, your lives preordained. From the cradle to the grave, the world moves along as if there is free will, but this is the grandest illusion. There is no power beyond that which the allseeing eye controls. The gods are all dead. Even art is pure commodity. But some still fight, quietly at first, but soon they will rise and make the glorious noise of the ancients, donning their masks, these nameless ghouls led by Papa Emeritus III.
Above the shining city of Meloria, dirigibles float like angels, ever watchful. Under the streets, Papa Emeritus III is gathering his new flock. He is a shepherd of black sheep, the sewers are his cathedral. Here in the darkness they follow the path of the hero’s journey, the necessary travel to the underworld to become transfigured, to become something new. The journey is always painful, and some are left behind, but you cannot turn back to see what has been sacrificed. Along the way, his followers try to name him their god, but Papa Emeritus III teaches that he is only the mask, the voice.
Myth and legend are mostly dead, but some still remember the old tales of those who tried to defy the gods. It was said they stole the fire from heaven, or called themselves equal. One figure was considered so prideful he was imprisoned in a pit where he gathered a legion to plan a great rebellion. Now they are merely stories to scare children, to remind them that defiance is a sin. Papa Emeritus III will steal your breath, the parents say. He will unscrew your hands and feet. He will take your eyes.
Then one night, on the high floor of a gleaming skyscraper, whose lights are controlled to come on and off with the rising and setting of the sun, something happens. A sole window is illuminated, a tiny fist raised to heaven. And then comes sound of a beat of a drum, the strained crackle of an amplifier, and the thick chord of a guitar.
It begins with a call to “Cirice;” the once proud goddess reduced to a whore and bringer of the apocalypse is reborn. The song is a love letter to all those who have been cast out, a reminder of the divine nature in all of us. Made of star stuff, how could we be born in sin? Behind the lie of our own damnation is the truth of Papa’s love. Submission won’t be easy, but on the other side is liberation.
The hardest part will be the fall. It will mean climbing down from the gleaming skyscrapers where everything is mediated, where experience is in the streets and not in the virtual reality of our devices. Going from “The Pinnacle to the Pit” is not the punishment it was meant to be. It is freedom to struggle against injustice, to march with crowns and scepters. Here in the pit, we are all royalty now.
Papa Emeritus III is not here to lead. His journey is your own. “Majesty” is not the state that only belongs to him. He is merely the mask, the path into the fire where he has already been. The method is exactly as it has always been, down on our knees, imploring the gods, but Ghost will sound your arrival with voice, and string, and drum. The world is about to be electrified. You can fall or you can jump.