It is a truism that human beings are fascinated by the Apocalyptic. Since the dawning of civilization, myths and legends of Apocalyptic times past and future have been a regular element of human discourse. Legends of a great flood are common across cultural mythologies. Wishes for the transformation of an Apocalypse are incorporated in major religions.
Apocalyptic fantasies serve many purposes, not least of which, is as a defensive screen behind which genuine dangers can be hidden and ignored. Apocalyptic fantasies tend to germinate and grow when the fertile soil of deprivation and failure or personal solipsistic emptiness occur.
We are all, by this time, all too unhappily familiar with the Apocalyptic fantasies of the Islamists. Whether it is the Sunnis who believe that they can destroy us and bring about a Utopian Caliphate (and have no compunction about murdering millions of their own along the way) or the more direct Apocalyptic desires of the Shia, who believe that by facilitating the Apocalypse they will hasten the return of the 12thImam, the belief in and desire for end times as a way to escape the stultifying failure of their present is overt.
The Apocalyptic fantasy structure for the civilized Western solipsist requires more examination.
Note that I am not discussing the Western fundamentalist Christian who believes that the second coming will be ushered in by the Apocalypse. Despite the plethora of inane stories in the MSM reporting on the habits and thinking of the exotic homo religioso, there is little evidence that fundamentalist Christians seek to behave in ways as to provoke the Apocalypse.
In a beautifully elegant and pun-ishing post, Gagdad Bob discusses the terrible damage that the PoMo Deconstructionists have done to reality:
I'm simplifying here in order to be abusive, but those naughty French folks responsible for deconstruction turned reality upside down by suggesting that the signifier did not point to any objective reality, -- any ontologically real signified -- but instead creates the signified. This obviously blows a huge crater in the middle of reality. However, as a consolation, it means that The Tenured™ get to usurp unprecedented power, since they are the ones who now interpret reality with their endless verbal games of deconstruction.
Here again, this is one of the master keys to understanding the postmodern left. In order for leftism to be effective, it must first dissolve the sacred covenant between word and thing -- which is where truth resides -- and replace that bond with mere power.
Dr. Sanity takes his points, discusses the connection between Metaphysics and Epistemology, and amplifies in an important way:
For those of you who think all this philosophy business is too abstract and irrelevant to your life; you are very very wrong. Catastrophically wrong.
These ideas have everything to do with your life and how you live it. They are also the crux of why the world we live in seems to be more and more incomprehensible and insane. When you start off with the belief that reality doesn't exist outside your own head, [Emphasis mine-SW] then, it is just a very short--and minor--leap to accepting that words don't matter and can change meaning; or that it doesn't matter how you behave; that everything is relative anyway, including truth and morality.
This is the core of solipsism, the belief that the world exists only in your own head. It leads to an empty existence, devoid of any true connection to another person, a gateway to the sociopathic and malignantly narcissistic belief (and assumption) that the Other has no independent value except insofar as they affect the solipsist. Solipsism as an adolescent or college sophomoric affectation is harmless (except to the solipsist) but the psychological analogue of solipsism, narcissism, is the prevalent psychopathology of our time, and here is where the Apocalyptic predisposition arises.
For the Narcissist, or the Solipsist, since the Universe revolves around them, the Universe effectively ends with their death. Thus, every potential personal threat becomes an Apocalyptic threat. (Note well how our nation of Narcissists react to the danger of Swine Flu, which has so far not been shown to be any worse than any other garden variety Flu, but has consumed the more excitable.)
In April, 2000 Bill Joy discussed the near future threats that could occur from our technology. (Why the future doesn't need us) By extension, he suggested that empowered individuals (and small groups) could use or misuse certain technologies to pose an actual threat of extinction to the human race (and indeed to the entire biosphere.)
We have done little to address these threats and almost nothing to address a number of other near term threats.
More to follow.