Is it the beginning of
the end - or the end of the beginning?
Tiscali Notizie, Italy
Decline of the 'Apocalypse'
prospects, horizons and available options are exhausted, the civilization that
we knew - and how we knew it - end in implosion. It’s not just a question of
the market and its borders; it is above all a problem of vision and planning. …
As a matter of fact, if we think carefully about it, the Apocalypse itself is
an extreme form of nostalgia for the future."
Armageddon: We obssess about it, make movies about it, read books about it and even plan for it. But is a final end anything we can contemplate? And isn't considering 'the end' a kind of 'nostalgia for the future?'
What will the end look like? For
almost three years now, it is "the end" that seems to suit our
reality. There are times - like this one - that we find ourselves either
consciously or unconsciously reflecting on the concept of the end. The economic
and social crisis of these years is a gap - a pit that we must inevitably overcome
to produce a contemporary sense of the end, the apocalypse.
So it is that even when it
comes to terminology, the apocalypse, associated with the economic environment,
jumps out at us on almost a daily basis: “Barack Obama evokes Armageddon to make it clear
to Americans that now is the time that 'there must be shared sacrifice in order
to avoid the August 2 deadline for default.' It is within this context that he
evoked the biblical Book
of Revelation - which gave the title to a 1998 Hollywood film
starring Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck - at a press conference in the Brady Press
Room of the White House. … Up to now, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FED
Chairman Ben Bernanke
have used the term 'catastrophe' to describe the impact of a default - the
inability of the state to meet its financial obligations - but Obama’s use of Armageddon
aims to convey to a nation of believers the conviction that the worst is imminent,
from the suspension of Social Security checks to a freeze in military salaries."
article by M. Molinari in La Stampa, Now we will avoid Armageddon.)
So from (nuclear) fallout to
(economic) default, the distance seems to be shorter than one might think.
What are the characteristics
of the contemporary apocalypse? First of all, it’s show business. Surely
enough, even in the end times, an entire civilization can be properly televised
and broadcast - transmitted through spectacular multi-faceted information
systems that infiltrate our social, cultural, and imaginary lifestyle: all for
This involves a series of significant
variations on the theme of the neo-laconic philosopher who
discovers in his old age the pleasure of writing prophetically, from Slavoj
at the End of Time to rock groups composed entirely of holograms
that pepper their songs with musical and visual references to the final
destruction (as in the latest album of Gorillaz).
It seems clear that in the
contemporary sense of the apocalypse, there is a certain feeling of impermanence
(a rather paradoxical truth, but interesting in its own way). Once prospects,
horizons and available options are exhausted, the civilization that we knew -
and how we knew it - end in implosion. It’s not just a question of the market and
its borders; it is above all a problem of vision and planning.
The idea is spreading that,
once the world that was so familiar to us comes to an end, we might be
better off after all. Be happier. Most likely, it is with this in mind that the development
of the post-apocalyptic point of view thrives today as an account of what comes
AFTER the end and the configuration of a new beginning - however and in
whatever way - whether it be rudimentary, approximate or precarious.
As a matter of fact, if we think
carefully about it, the Apocalypse itself is an extreme form of nostalgia for
the future. As the “precog” Agatha in Minority Report
says - a film inspired by the splendid Philip K. Dick short
story - “I’m tired of the future!”
Indeed, in recent decades, it
has been impossible to even imagine the future. Thus, the end of times and the
apocalypse represent the very impossibility of imagining and planning for the
future - or future's end.
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