Apocalypse Watch

I’ve been teaching a graduate class on apocalypse in contemporary culture and, as a lark, we began opening each class with an apocalypse watch. After two weeks, here’s the list we had:

–Fires and Mud Slides in California

–Nuclear insults traded with North Korea

–Doomsday Clock moved to two seconds before midnight

–An NPR show on Sat 2/3 on the anniversary of The Day After Tomorrow (ABC, 1983) and Mr. Burns, the Post-Electric Play on NPR

–Chemical plants (hundreds of them) located in flood plains

–Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Doomsday Machine profiled in NY Times magazine, He had trouble getting the book published earlier. He feels the danger of an accidental nuclear war is very high.

Realizing our list would grow faster than we thought, we stopped.

We’ve been—I’ve been—concentrating on ideas that link contemporary fact, fiction, and film that show how we think about apocalypse. Some themes are clear: climate change, fear of contagion, nuclear anxieties. But some lurk well below the surface.

I’m writing a book called Primitive Apocalypse: The Lure of Destruction that will, I think—I really think—be a theory of apocalypse for our time. As it moves along, I’ll post here. But mostly, I’ll be reading, thinking, and writing!