<![CDATA[Apocalypse Tales - Come nigh, a tale will I tell thee]]>Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:42:43 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[The pleasures of destruction...]]>Mon, 19 Mar 2012 20:21:17 GMThttp://apocalypse-tales.com/1/post/2012/03/the-pleasures-of-destruction.htmlSTREET PROPHET:  The world will end - tomorrow.
STREET WALKER:  Oh no! Not Again!

There is a sign over the bar in my town that reads: 'Free beer - tomorrow.'
One is about as likely as the other, I'd say.
Of course it doesn't stop people from hoping.  

Predicting "the end of everything" goes back a long way and includes some ridiculous prognostications and some even more ridiculous prognostications.

A recent, notorious "big fail" involved a California preacher/charlatan named Harold Camping, who has been predicting the end of the world for decades. Every once in a while he changes the date and a few score idiots sell their real property and go into the desert to await the final rapture. No matter how many times he's proven wrong, there are always folks who want to believe him and they line up and wait for the next celestial Greyhound. 

It is a peculiar mindset that I would not care to discuss too deeply here, but it is noteworthy. These people are actually hoping for - praying for, if you like - the end of everything. They want the world to end. They want to be standing on a cloud playing the harp or whatever lunatic embroglio they have dreamed up, while the apocalypse tramples humanity below. They are acutely disappointed when, once again, Camping or some other con man or psychotic or religious fascist, gets it wrong and poor old humanity lumbers on.
Religious, or biblically-based predictions proliferate throughout history. The fact that they are all wrong, all the time, does not affect the market for such tripe.

After all, the other side of the sign reads: The world will end tomorrow...

People want to believe something is true, so they profess to believe. That is the the definition of faith: Belief in something for which there is A) contrary evidence or B) no evidence whatsoever. The strength of one's faith is directly proportional to the absence of demonstrable facts.

(This begs the question: Why do so many religious organizations try to provide "scientific proof" for their various beliefs? The laughable gibberish of 'creationist science' for example, seems heterodoxical if faith is the basis of salvation. And if someone does not profess to believe certain assertions of a particular "faith," why persecute that individual? Why not leave him/her to fate? I realize there are some rote answers to these questions, such as the commandment to prosthelytize; but these are just convenient distractions from the main question, in my view)

In any event, post-apocalyptic literature, while inherently predictive, is not necessarily meant to be a prediction.

The literature I refer to  is an attempt to extrapolate from current circumstances into the future. Few post-apocalyptic novels show a bright and shiny future; that is the purview of the church. This literary form is an assessment - a criticism  -  of culture based on the principal that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. It attempts to dissuade society from a path that must necessarily lead to the accumulation of power in the wrong hands.
It is important to understand that there are no "right hands."

This latter hypothesis is best described in J.R. Tolkien's trilogy, "Lord of the Rings," in which only a mythical character with childlike qualities of innocence, honesty and integrity can be trusted - even for a moment - to hold power and not abuse it.  His strength must last long enough for him to destroy this evil amulet before it destroys him.

I see a fundamental difference between the lunacy of Harold Camping or Pat Robertson or any number of others and the cogent expression of say, George Orwell or Aldus Huxley. There are of course, dozens more writers of equal - and some might argue greater -  stature, but these two bring to mind the second major difference between the fakirs and the philosophers. These novelists appear to be right, most of the time.  

Can we not see clearly the direct line from the ever-watchful Big Brother of Orwell's legend and all his willing informers, to the "See Something, Say Something" public stool-pigeon campaign advocated by Homeland Security maven, Janet Napolitano, (whose eerie countenance refreshes itself periodically at Wal-Mart checkout counters.)?

After Orwell, another seminal work in this field, Brave New World, by Aldus Huxley, published in 1932, deals with the tangential issue of government production and distribution of behavior-modifying substances. In Huxley's case, Soma is the prescribed hallucinogen. It makes you happy even when you have nothing to be happy about. Is it not the progenitor, both pharmaceutically and propositionally, of Prozac or any of the other behavior modification drugs commonly called anti-depressants? 
One may argue that the similarities are merely superficial. Big Brother’s venal exploitation of humanity, is not the same as Homeland Security’s essentially benevolent intention to protect the unsuspecting, the naïve, the insouciant, from Big Brother’s virulent clone - The Terrorist!  It reeks of irony: in order to defeat all the little Big Brothers running around, we are told, we must become a genuine Big Brother society. I suppose after everyone has ratted out everyone else to the authorities, only the "good guys" will be left standing. 

How anyone can believe anything emanating from the government defies my understanding...but then, again, we have this "faith." In spite of the lies, the fraud and the outright undisguised criminal behavior...we  (not me!) believe. So I suppose it could be argued that lunatic prophecy and literary prophecy do intersect. In both cases, the willingness or desire of the subject people to "believe" is at the center of the conundrum.

And it could be argued, as well, that there is a certain delectation in post-apocalyptic literature (I realize there are many horrific exceptions; Margaret Atwood for one) that attends to the nihilist in all of us. The challenge of pitting oneself against a hostile environment when there are no more rules to control behavior excites a certain corner of the brain. Fantasies of earthly, pragmatic responsibilities usurped by the urgency of survival abound in the human psyche and all of literature. It is the ultimate escape, I suppose from the pedantry of daily life; especially daily life so constricted by obscene politics, economic misery and social dysfunction which best describes the miasma of modern existence - at least since the crash of 2008.

Do we - the purveyors of doomonic literature, if I may coin a term -  crave cataclysm the way Camping's followers hope for a fire and brimstone epitaph for humanity?

Certainly I must ask myself this question as I eagerly settle down to read a new work that portends death and destruction for all but a few and an arduous and sometimes near-hopeless existence for the sad survivor.

I admit, it is with great anticipation - even glee - that I embark on this new journey, folded into an easy chair whilst a great storm blows outside my window hurling ice shards against the glass and reminding me that it is but a thin and transparent film that separates us all from destruction.

I wonder how thrilling it will be, when someone gets it right.

<![CDATA[First Post!]]>Wed, 14 Mar 2012 17:45:23 GMThttp://apocalypse-tales.com/1/post/2012/03/first-post.html