Dawn of a New Apocalypse: Engagements with the Apocalyptic Imagination in 2012 and Primitvist Discourse

by Warren, Beckett

Abstract (Summary)
Apocalypse is often viewed entirely as a politically conservative phenomenon, conjuring images of evangelical Christians anxiously awaiting the return of Christ. However, such a reading oversimplifies competing tensions within apocalyptic discourse. This study examines interpretations of ancient apocalypses, both Jewish and Christian, paying particular attention to the workings of what has been termed the apocalyptic imagination in order to establish a basic framework to consider contemporary instances. The apocalyptic imagination may be characterized as a "revolution of the imagination" and is largely concerned with the status of truth, and what ways of knowing may constitute truth. Additionally, apocalypse may be calibrated either towards a focus on destruction and purification or creation and redemption. The condition of postmodernity and "postmodernists" have been characterized as apocalyptic in and of themselves. This study argues that contemporary engagements with the apocalyptic imagination are largely informed by a perceived failure of the Enlightenment project, both in terms of politics and ways of knowing. Speculations about a nearing "end" of the Mayan calendar identify a coming apocalypse in the year 2012. Debates within this discourse, specifically between Daniel Pinchbeck and Whitley Strieber, illustrate the tension between purification and redemption. Furthermore, there is a concern with reexamining what constitutes knowledge, particularly that feelings about the world are worth knowing. Primitivist discourse cites civilization itself as the source and agent of domination and exploitation. The apocalyptic implications of overthrowing civilization are examined paying particular attention to the epistemological claims made within primitivist discourse. Apocalypse exhibits many conflicting tendencies within its discourse and cannot be characterized monolithically. Just as it is an oversimplification to view it in conservative or reactionary terms, casting it as necessarily concerned with liberation likewise misses important nuances. However a particular apocalypse is calibrated, it does challenge accepted conceptions of truth that may be arrived at through non-rational thought including emotion.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:apocalypse ways of knowing primitivism 2012 anarchism daniel pinchbeck john zerzan psychedelic drugs apocalyptic imagination


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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