Tuesday 17 November 2009

re: Is the world ending more often now?

Response to: http://drezner.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/11/13/is_the_world_ending_more_often_now

I think it was Slavoj Žižek in one of his films about films who asked: 'why is it so much easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism?' (or words to that effect). It is our narcissism that leads us to always believe that we are at the center of history and hence the that ultimate, unbeatable world changing event - the apocalypse - is happening in our time. There is a certain 'jouissance' (as Žižek would put it) in this, I suspect - a kind of perverse pleasure we take in imagining our own destruction because at least it provides a narrative to what is otherwise incomprehensible (the future). We always feel like we're on the verge of something epochal - it gives meaning to our lives; it attaches us to something larger than ourselves to something 'oceanic' (something incomprehensibly, awe inspiringly vast) to use another word from psychoanalysis. Of course we might be on the verge of this. Europe was in this position in 1989 but didn't know it yet. Although capitalism looks to have survived its shock, for the most part, we still remain incapable of imagining its end. Could the proliferation of disaster movies (and okay, yes, they're always a popular genre) correlate to this? In times of uncertainty when, despite every possible indication and opportunity, we remain incapable of thinking beyond the present and the immediate past in terms of the logic that governs every aspect of our lives we might find in the spectacular (in every sense of that word), cataclysmic yet reassuringly fictional destruction of all that is somehow a comfort. It provides a glimpse of change when such seems implausible.