September 30, 2006

Appealing Apocalypse

The New York Metro magazine carries an interesting report on apocalyptic thinking in this issue , the writer argues that apocalyptic thinking of the times is far from unusual and its preponderance in the US reflects the age of the baby boomer generation (a seductive idea which doesn't explain the global reach of apocalyptic ideas say to Iran where a quarter of the population is under the age of 14 and the median age is 24 (source C.I.A. World Fact Book )).

The predominance of apocalyptic thinking on the left and the right reflects in this blog's opinion two interesting ideas. The first of which is that religious discourse has continued to dominate the West's imagination despite religion's obvious fall from grace- we are affected more by our Christian backgrounds than our secular pretences. The second though explains I think the apocalyptic appeal- one of the interesting characteristics of human depression is what is called catastrophising, the ability to understand every crisis as a terminal one instead of as a minor interruption- as a fatal flaw rather than as a problem to be overcome. In many senses the model of apocalyptic thinking is something to be sceptical of because it reinforces so many of our perceptions about the world we privately live in.

3 comments:

edmund said...

I think apoclyptic ideas can be divorced from their religous origins very easily (more so than sancity of life say or human equality) , look at Nazism and Communism

Indeed in some ways they work very well in atheist belief systems since the catasphrising you rightly pick up on makes more sense collectivly in an atheist belief system-since there is nothing eternal , hence Hitler's final rhteorici is apoclypic in a deeper sense than say Cranmer's.

I thihk the linear conception of the world inherited from Christianity is very importnat in this though

Gracchi said...

Yes I agree with you widely- there is an interesting symbiosis between the stage theory of history say in Ficino and Marx. I also think the deeper psychological reasons are crucial to both the religious and the political kinds of a apocalyptic thinking.

edmund said...

be interested to hear more ficino on this-basicaly know nothing about that