The Apocalypse: Book Club Dissects the History of the End of the World

By December 10, 2014Outreach and Events

On a rather bleak afternoon during Book Club with the Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research, we continued to read from our graphic novel, “Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb.”   The book provides a graphic history of the creation and dropping of the atomic bomb during World War II.  “Trinity” raises moral questions, political questions, and even questions surrounding the end of the world.  We discussed a number of these issues during Book Club and the one I found to be incredibly profound was our discussion on the apocalypse.

Our discussion in Book Club got me thinking about how the apocalypse has evolved in terms of how we think the world is going to end.   CMWR team members and a number of international students who joined the conversation provided some really interesting insights on how theories of the end of the world have evolved throughout history.  We discussed what the perspectives of an apocalyptic world looked like in the 1950’s compared to what the apocalypse would look like today.

If you think about it, we have theorized how the world was going to end for sort of a long time.  In the late 1940s and the 1950s, people thought we were all going to die because of an atomic bomb explosion.   In the 1990s, as we crept more towards the new millennium and Prince was writing songs about hard-core partying in 1999, people thought everything was just going to shut down: computers, televisions, all of it was going to just go dark.  And today, we worry that technology will untimely outsmart us and take over.

The next phase is the reaction.  We theorize about the end of the world and then we freak out.  In Book Club, we talked about how people use to react.  During the Cold War and the “atomic bomb freaking out phase” people hid under desks during school as if that was going to protect them from radiation.  In the 1990s in preparation for the “new millennium” people stocked up on canned food just in case the electricity just went out.  Now, people are doing all kinds of crazy things.  A high school teacher of mine told me that a friend of his was stocking up on rifles in preparation for the Zombie Apocalypse.  One must wonder, what will the next new theory, or theories be?  And based on those theories, how will we prepare?  Perhaps that is a question for another Book Club meeting on a latter date in time and I, for one, will be looking forward to that brainstorming session.