August 21, 2013
BELIEF IN IMMINENT APOCALYPSE IS JUST SELFFLATTERY:The Comforts of the Apocalypse (Rob Goodman, 8/19/13, The Chronicle Review)
Nineteen days after the world failed to end, blood stopped flowing to the brain of Harold Camping, prophet of doom. Had he felt his stroke coming as he confidently forecast apocalypse? Maybe not; maybe he had no more foresight into his own demise than the demise of the world. Or maybe he had simply confused the two--after all, he was approaching his 90th birthday, and his own mortality couldn't have seemed far off when, on national billboards and his own radio network, he set a date (May 21, 2011) for the end of days. For some, it is a short mental step from "my end is imminent" to "the end of everything is imminent." Call it apocalyptic narcissism.
We flatter ourselves when we imagine a world incapable of lasting without us in it--a world that, having ceased to exist, cannot forget us, discard us, or pave over our graves. Even if the earth no longer sits at the center of creation, we can persuade ourselves that our life spans sit at the center of time, that our age and no other is history's fulcrum. "We live in the most interesting times in human history ... the days of fulfillment," writes the Rev. E.W. Jackson, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia, in words that could have also come from the mouth of Saint Paul or Shabbetai Zevi or Hal Lindsey or any other visionary unable to accept the hard truth of the apocalyptic lottery: We're virtually guaranteed to witness the end of nothing except our lives, and the present, far from fulfilling anything, is mainly distinguished by being the one piece of time with us in it.
We live in an annoying moment in time, with no significant issues facing nor separating mankind. Folks inevitably resent the ease of our lives and yearn for the heroic. Thus the insipid zombie phenomenon.
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 21, 2013 12:42 AM