The Uprising of Auspicious Apocalypse in US and UK Popular Culture

Alexandra Nakelski | University of Amsterdam | The Uprising of Auspicious Apocalypse in US and UK Popular Culture | Supervisors: Patricia Pisters, Maryn Wilkinson, Jaap Kooijman | 2017-2021

For centuries, the Apocalypse has been referenced as not only a source of dread, but also one of elation. Cultural optimism at the prospect of the End of Days is perhaps best summed up by Revelations – the believers of which wait in anticipation for God to set man-kind straight by ending the “world” as we know it. To suggest the Apocalypse can be both terrifying and liberating is, in this sense, nothing new, however I contend that since the post 9/11 fear induced culture the UK and US has created and sustained, humanity’s cultural relationship with Armageddon has changed radically. At the end of an age of scientific discovery and advancement, which caused us to re-evaluate our position in the universe, came a post-modern era, in which secular themes of Apocalypse became common as self-induced and not from above. Suddenly, humanity could be the author of its own Apocalypse. In the post-Fukuyama moment where “the world” is conflated with the promises of a dominant neo-liberal world-view, it has become easier to envisage the end of the world than the end of capitalism, as Frederic Jameson postulated. I would go further. In this moment, neo-liberal capitalist ideology is so pervasive that its end can only be imagined as an Apocalypse. My study will textually and contextually analyze a growing Western cultural trend, in which the desired destruction of the fear laden postmodern era is both a relief and necessary to (re)birth another phase. Are these popular culture objects I examine of the current zeitgeist indicative of a paradigm shift?