Perhaps you haven’t seen the disaster film, 2012, staring John Cusack or Kirsten Dunst’s compelling performance in Melancholia, even so, it isn’t a surprise that death is on our minds in the most sweeping and dramatic ways as we head further into the 21st century.
Death (the end of the world, to be exact) came to my mind on the heels of New Year’s Eve when my friend and I went for a walk around the neighborhood, taking in the cool crisp winter air. All we could do was joke about the imminent rapture. Since then I’ve been thinking about predicted apocalypses. In 2011, Christian radio host Harold Camping must have been embarrassed when October 22nd rolled on (he preached the last day of the world to be on 10/21/11) and the MTA employee who spent his life savings on billboard ads warning everyone about the pending doomsday, thought he was doing the right thing. There was also Nancy Lieder, a Wisconsin woman who claimed to have received messages from aliens and fueled reports that an imminent planet collision was to occur. But the planet Nibiru was should have already hit the earth. I even found myself passively wondering if fires would break out this New Year’s (at the strike of twelve!), marking the beginning of the end, as the Mayan calendar would suggest.
Surely predictions of this nature aren’t new and almost anti-climatically, nothing has happened. Yet those who are cynical, like me, can become surprisingly intrigued and wrapped up in such conjectures. It makes me wonder about how such a false seed of a thought can grow in my mind so easily, without awareness. Though it doesn’t quite fit, I’m reminded of what Freud coined as the death drive. I’m curious as to whether there is a part of human nature that strives to be in a state of quiescence, a place only available through death. This point of view is in opposition to other arguments of existential creed, in which the thought of death alone can produce overwhelming anxiety. So then, what is our relationship to prediction of the end of the world – do we run towards or away from it? I’m unsure but rest assured, I discovered that the Mayan’s actually deem December 21st 2012 as the end. In a sense, we have something to look forward to.