Sunday, March 24, 2013

Preparing for the Apocalypse

Screen shot from the video game, The Last of Us, published by Naughty Dog
The creative arts are often a good indicator of a culture's subconscious obsessions.  They are not necessarily a good indicator of what will happen next, but they are often a good indicator of what we are afraid of.  The apocalypse seems to be one of those things.  The apocalypse, for those that don't have access to popular media is a civilization-destroying cataclysm, often undefined as in the book and movie, The Road, but sometimes explicitly spelled out as in the game, The Last of Us, (lethal virus or some such thing).
Cover from the DVD, The Road, based on the book by Cormak McCarthy in which the protagonists have to survive in a post-apocalyptic earth destroyed by some vague menace

I don't know how wide-spread fears of the apocalypse are but they seem to exist or these books wouldn't be written or movies wouldn't be made.
On the Beach, a movie from the fifties featuring a Nuclear Holocaust

It used to be Nuclear Destruction that we feared the most, which is understandable since the government had an active policy of making us afraid of it, complete with drills and everything but that fear seems to have gone away since the real thing such as the disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima though thoroughly awful seem to be viewed as local, survivable disasters.
Post WWII Cologne, Germany.  By the time my family moved into the area a little north of where the picture was taken, things were pretty well cleaned up, although we still had piles of rubble across the street from our apartment building.
In any case, the main reason I bring up the apocalypse is that sometimes I wonder how much my own fascination with primitive boat building technology is related to expectations of societal collapse.  I don't fear collapse, perhaps because I spent my first decade in a country that recovered from being bombed flat in WWII. I see collapse as survivable but having lived through a partial collapse I don't see it as entirely improbable either. 
Replica of an Unagan kayak from Akun, Alaska

Meanwhile, I continue to build skin on frame kayaks because I love the technology and the boats.


Anonymous said...

Dude: "Subconscious" is not a concept. It was debunked by none other than Sigmund Freud over a hundert years ago -- it carries incorrect implications. He preferred the more-descriptive and less-laden term "unconscious".

Anonymous said...

Dude: the term "subconscious" was debunked over a century ago by none other than Sigmund Freud. He preferred the term "unconscious", which is far more descriptive and less laden.

And, his concept of the unconscious is much more sophisticated than what people normally refer to as "subconscious".

Also, for apocalyptic scenarios, Nevil Shute's "On The Beach" was heavily influenced by Philip Wylie's novels "Tomorrow" and escpecially "Triumph". They are far more technically and psychologically interesting.

(Besides being probably the greatest American novelist/essayist, he was also a tecnical advisor to the NRC and its predecessor).

In the vein of eco-dystopia, you should check out Wylie's "The End of the Dream".

DISCLAIMER: Expressed with Passion, but tacitly maintaining an unquestionably positive regard for the blogger and his capabilities.

Wolfgang Brinck said...

anonymous, thanks for the book recommendations. Not an expert on post-apocalyptic fiction myself. Just curious about the phenomenon.