Thursday, 28 June 2012

Alphabetic apocalypse

I've been thinking about this for a few weeks, with respect to an academic paper I had to write.  In his recent polemical account of the apocalyptic logic of contemporary life, Living in the End Times, Slavoj Žižek argues that “the global capitalist system is approaching an apocalyptic zero-point. Its ‘four riders of the apocalypse’ are comprised by the ecological crisis, the consequences of the biogenetic revolution, imbalances within the system itself (problems with intellectual property; forthcoming struggles over raw materials, food and water), and the explosive growth of social divisions and exclusions”  Zizek is a frantic sort of fellow, intellectually speaking. Against his ‘explosive’ apocalypse, we might set Quentin Meillassoux’s After Finitude, which describes a “glacial world”: “a world in which there is no longer any up or down, centre or periphery, nor anything else that might make it a world designed for humans. For the first time, the world manifests itself as capable of subsisting without any of those aspects that constitute its concreteness for us” Caroline Edwards delivered an interesting (to me, at any rate!) paper on ‘Pastoral Post-Apocalypse’ at the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture 2011 'Apocalypse and its Discontents' conference. My novel The Snow (one of the texts discussed at that conference) works in this mode, I think: the apotheosis of the blank page, the alphabetless experience. The alphabets this novel attempts to tippex over include the narratives narratemes of flood and SF alien encounter, but also the socio-political structuring elements (‘letters’) of race, gender and capitalism.

1 comment:

Nicola Vincent-Abnett said...

I love that you refer to Slavoj Zizek as "a frantic sort of fellow"... English understatement at its most beautiful. Bravo!