Apocalypse Now and Then: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World

Apocalypse Now and Then: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World

Apocalypse Now and Then: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World

Apocalypse Now and Then: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World

Excerpt

Is it somehow inevitable that our species—our achingly gifted species— drifts and drives toward doom?

The question does not concern some planetary demise by natural causes, like a final heat death millions of years hence. Should we make it that far, the species will no doubt have matured enough to cope with its death, somewhat as our wisest elders presently do with their own. The question of our doom-drive cannot be deferred to an impersonal, unimaginable future. The doom is all too garishly imaginable. The cliches of apocalypse—Hollywood sci-fi or born-again Armageddon— pressure our vision. When we clear our eyes of the phantasmagoria of doom, there come galloping the statistical indicators that the selfdestruction is proceeding apace: global warming and the all-consuming economy that demands it; the militarization of the earth and now of space; the macabre, intensifying tango of state and terrorist violence; the inverse proportion of dwindling resources and growing population.… The relentless inevitability can be inferred from a cool calculation of the facts or dramatized with the hot desire of fundamentalism. Either way it pressures and narrows the space of—life. Our lived lives. Not just out at the perimeter, in a vast terrestrial collectivity but within the most soulful proximities. It shuts down that opening where the present pulses into its future. It closes the space where private desire mingles with shared hope, and the depths of subjectivity fold into the widths of the world.

Only when we open up that subtle space does the present have room to breathe. That room is the very space of spirit, indistinguishable in Greek or Hebrew from breath. Its opening signifies dis/closure—an alternative apokalypsis,“unveiling”—that counters the drama of doom, that resists the foreclosure of life itself. So this book proposes a counterapocalypse, to be distinguished from an anti-apocalypticism insensitive to the possible truths encoded in the ancient prophetic tradition. The Apocalypse of John of Patmos—subject of Christian ambivalence from the start, object of the most disparate enthusiasms—represents the most . . .

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