Another road of story that is emerging as I travel is the vision of the end of the world.
Any vision, by oracle or poet, of the end of the world shows fire, smoke, hungry masses, broken things, desolate places where nothing lives, nothing grows, bleak, grey skies, everything worn out, dilapidated, void of meaning, color or joy.
Moving through the world, around its edges, it’s obvious that it’s not the end of civilization they describe, but its presence. I travel in this landscape now, it’s everywhere. And the only reason I don’t put more pictures of it here or on social media, is that I’m usually too busy getting to some small pocket of rest from it to get my phone out. Also, most people are so used to it, they no longer see it anyway. They think an IKEA car park at 10am on a Saturday is the most natural thing in the world when really Dante would have a hard time describing it.
This is the world humans have created. We’re stuck in an image of the departure of civilization taken from Hobbes’ gloomy philosophy, but his war of all against all is what happens when civilization is forced upon us, not when it diminishes, as he insisted.
Any image given of the world after civilization ends, is exactly what civilization looks like when it is imposed. All the devastation, the dead land, the lack of light is what humans are building and have been building for the past handful of millennia.
Humans tend to confuse the End of the world with the End of humanity, thinking they are one and the same. Even in the latest pop-capitalist installation of the four thousandth or so Avengers movie, optimistically titled ‘Endgame‘, life on earth is taken to mean human life, and a world not completely overrun by humans is somehow portrayed as a bad thing. I think the Dodo bird might differ. Among others. Sorry, I mean, among most.
The end of the human world will not be the end of the world, quite the contrary, but as long as any movie, picture, and book that deals with the subject show only horrors, humans will do anything to avoid the inevitable and continue to wipe out everything else in their desperate climb to the top of the sinking ship.
While there are ideas, buried behind the rubble of imagery, about the world as cyclic, ideas about a beginning after the end, few or no stories tell us about this as a process, they only hint at the possibility. And the part where things dissolve is always so terrifyingly portrayed no-one is willing to risk moving past that.
The problem of course is that no one knows what a world released from humans and their gods will look like anymore, so we take images that we have of things falling apart and magnify them to try to grasp how it will be, but in doing so missing what comes next. Missing what the pieces of what falls apart, fractured, re imagined by chance might become. As slowly we need to imagine something different, something new. Or something quite old.