Friday, December 18, 2009

It's the End of the World as we Know it.

Can someone please explain to me humanity's fascination with the end of the world?

Both the Old and New Testament of the Bible have vividly described apocalyptic events. The end of the world exists in the History of the Greek and Roman Gods and Norse Gods. The Qur'an predicts the end of the world.

Uncounted fiction writers have predicted the end of the world, caused by everything from tiny viruses to thermonuclear war to Alien conquest. As have numerous Hollyweird movies. Roland Emmerich has gotten extremely rich by destroying the world no less than three times by my count. I think to top his latest opus he may actually have to literally destroy the planet. Seriously. The man decided that a limo driver/failed author would end up being the savior of one quarter of all surviving humans on the planet. It's hard to imagine where you go from there.

So why the fascination with the end? Why are we as a species so obsessed with how things will end for us?

I have my own theory.

It is this: The poem The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot ends with the four line stanza:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

My opinion is that it expresses the idea that our world will not end with some biblical apocalypse, but will simply fade away. We will all die because we have either fallen victim to some virus that will destroy us all gradually, or because we have simply exhausted the resources our planet has to offer us, before we can find some way to replace them.

And while some may survive this end, it's not the kind of survival that anyone will enjoy (Which has ALSO been the subject of many movies and video games. Which are also often bestsellers--but that is another story).

So I believe we enjoy watching movies and reading books that detail humanity's spectacular end simply because we dislike considering Eliot's alternative.

If you have any doubts about this theory, then please consider the box office difference between 2012 and The Road.


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