Monday, December 19, 2011

The Last Girl

Without a doubt, my favorite genre is the post-apocalyptic. I include dystopia in that, because dystopia encompasses the same kind of widespread destruction of humanity in a spiritual form, even if the people will likely survive into the future (and may move to a non-dystopic phase within their ontology).

In the abstract, it's romantic. Youth, desperation, terror, and unquenchable need all lend themselves to the "fucking like they do in art films" mentality (and support the "hot/crazy" positive correlation). The apocalypse lends itself to those emotions directly.

In the immediate, it's, of course, not romantic at all. I've had conversations and long periods of time with someone I desperately loved when I had reasonable expectations of her not surviving or not making it to safety and those months (crystallized in a few particularly intense weeks) are some I never, ever want to relive.

But what that experience and genre do convey is an immense sense of meaning. It's survival. Except, in most of the better media involving the apocalypse, it's rarely the survival of the individual but the survival of the community. It's love, it's family, it's human as a quintessential social animal and the struggle to not let that spirit of humanity die lends a sense of importance to every moment that is largely absent from modern, middle-class, Western lives like my own.

In the apocalypse, there is literally a struggle between Being and Nothingness. Whereas we are interchangeable and expendable (outside of our communities) in modern life, in the end of the world we *are* life.

Or that's how it often seems, anyway.

In truth, there is so much "quiet desperation" even in this world of comforts. One need only go to a "Take Back the Night" rally and listen, for an hour, to every single person who comes up and says "I've never told anyone this before, but..." and you find that spiritual survival is very much an ongoing and contemporary struggle. And, indeed, those struggles are what make me feel real and vital.

The lives of others, as it were. In an apocalypse, I would survive for someone I loved. But I wouldn't survive for myself. And the same's true now. I find meaning in the meaningful struggles of others. I'm only safe when I'm ensconced in another, only happy and joyous when another is embracing the all of me. It's all other other other.

It's the same way in apocalypse too. I write this same post again and again and again. Because it's the fundamental tension in my life. I have no (or minimal) worth in and of myself. And I'm not entirely sure if that's a bad thing. After all, I rather doubt most people would want to be the last person on earth. But one of the last of a select two? That would make all the difference. Why not in life as well?

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