The Allure of Apocalypse

The Crazy Testament is a loose collection of notes I keep in a loose collection of note-keeping areas. Herein, I expand on those ideas which probably should have been forgotten.

I was driving across the Skyway Bridge a few weeks ago. It was cold for Florida, in the fifties, headed to play tennis in a beat-up farm truck I’m driving. It was dark.

And because it was dark the Bay glowed the brighter. The sheer light surrounding me contrasted with the varying depths of dark in the Bay: the brighter shadows of the moon’s reflections, the inky swathes where angles prevented the moon’s light from striking my moving eye silver and sharp.

Mainly, the light was a static yellow/white glowing around homes, businesses and streetlamps.

So, accelerating up the incline to the bridge I thought of Cortez. I think it was Cortez who landed here five hundred years ago, or around here somewhere. (Nope, it was De Soto). The exact history didn’t matter for my purposes. I knew a conquistador had landed around here and I knew he would have seen a land without light.

I thought of the violence of these Spaniards. And I thought of how different our minds probably were, day-to-day at least. I wanted to believe I was different than him. I think I do.

As I allowed the weight of the old metal-bodied farm truck to coast down the decline of the Skyway, I felt superior. Superior to Cortez. (De Soto, dummy, it was De Soto, maybe you shouldn’t feel that superior.)

This made me think of the Apocalypse. Or rather, Apocalypses. A multitude of endings. Why do we love movies, books and comics that feature the end of the world?

I”m sure there are a lot of theories–thanatos-stuff, linear religious mindset-stuff, etc. Could be. But I have a fringe theory I developed in my few moments of gliding across the Bay. It goes something like this.

It’s the year 2018. About to be 2019. I feel like my society is less violent and more progressive/progressed than most people living in any other period of history. And I mean that overall. World society. Whatever that is. Is this true? Probably. I feel it’s true which is what matters more than the fact.

But here’s the rub. Cortez (and De Soto) and all the other conquistadors, alchemists, astrologers, religious zealots, bakers and coopers, princes and kings, the oppressed and oppressors: most all of them probably thought they were at the pinnacle of their age. Right? Maybe not smart, but smarter than the past, more in line with the truth. Didn’t they think that? I think most people do.

So, yes maybe a tiny fraction of people living in Dark Ages Europe realized they were living in what would later be called the Dark Ages. (The people I’m thinking of would be monks who realized how much of the Classical world’s texts they had no access to. This required meetings between the Arab world and Constantinople to even understand the severity of ignorance in the West. But don’t trust me, I don’t even know who landed in Florida, apparently. Where did Cortez land? Mexico for sure…?)

And so, I too believe that I’m probably one of the chosen, the elite for no other reason that I happen to live in the latest age.

But I know logically that can’t be so, because at any time in the future, future people will look at us (most importantly to me, me) as something akin to the way I look at people 500 years ago. So we are all savages; just not yet. Everyone alive always lives in the “latest” age.

And here’s where the notion of Apocalypse serves every one of us. The only way this can’t come to pass, or be true presently, the only way we can live freely without concern for the way the future might regard us is if the future is degraded. And the only likely way that might happen is with a worldwide catastrophe or apocalypse.

So Apocalypse (why do I keep capitalizing this? Bible-brain, probably.) divorced from religious notions becomes an entirely selfish idea. It’s a way of pretending that we won’t be looked at as barbarians to our descendants. 

This was the idea I had as I drove across the Skyway Bridge. I tried to explain it to my friend and his ten-year-old kid while playing tennis. I’m not sure I did a good job then or now.