Friday, April 16, 2010

Post-Apocalyptic Mythology: A Brief Introduction

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
—T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men" (1925)

Humanity has long had an obsession with death, from stories of the undead to quests for immortality. The only seemingly sure thing, death, has plagued the human consciousness. However, the death of the individual is not the only death that Humans worry about. Like creation myth, many cultures have their own end of the world mythology. The Christian faith has revelations which speak of devastating war and destruction, where as the Mayans have the world ending in different cycles with different methods. Story tellers have imagined into existence millions of ways to end the world. But the world's end is not the end of the story.

With the world over, the logical question is “what's next?” The issue of the post-apocalyptic world has its’ own set of mythologies. Some myths are quite old belonging to ancient cultures. For example, Christian Revelations puts the post apocalyptic world in a paradise. Modern writers, more often than not, do not share that cheery end of the world. As varied as the ways the world dies, are the ways humans handle what's left. They can escape to space or underground, evolve to fit the new world or an imagination’s worth of other possibilities. These myths are in some ways more compelling than the end of the world scenario that spawned them.

If this is the way the world ends, then what happens next?

Looking beyond the end,
J.R West the Raccoon