Monday, October 11, 2010

The End Time--Finally!

The End Time—Finally! (Or, This Time I Really Mean It!)

Okay—so I was in a little funk for the last few months. Happened before; will happen again; and when it did/does/and will, I get through it by writing about what’s going on at the deepest level of my being—the level of the “Grand Explanation”, wherein I lay out the final meaning of life, the universe and everything .
You’d think I would have exhausted this genre by now. I did after all begin with the topic in my published dissertation: “Apocalypse ad Science Fiction: A Dialectic of Religious and Secular Soteriologies.” I was pleased when David Ketterer, author of “New Worlds for Old: The Apocalyptic Imagination, Science Fiction, and American Literature’” called it “…the best theoretical treatment of science fiction currently available.” I had turned his treatment of the apocalyptic imagination on its head, by focusing on the readers’ expectations rather than on the writers’ extrapolations.
Ketterer’s response was indicative of the response the dissertation received in literary theory circles (it was well-received then and still to this day is so received and is being used in numerous college courses and scholarly studies of science fiction), while at the same time it was noted with passing (“dammed with faint praise”) or outright dismissed (as it was in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, on the grounds that it could not make up its mind whether it was a book of literary theory or a theological treatise). As the late Kurt Vonnegut would say often in his books, “So it goes.”
I went on to a glorious, even though unpublished, career of following up on that dissertation by choosing to focus on apocalyptic imagination rather than science fiction. I rarely read anything in that category any longer. Working through the “passivity” often associated with believers in the end times (i.e., we are waiting for God’s intervention), and arriving at length at the new category with which explore apocalyptic imagination, powerlessness, I slowly produced a corpus of works, beginning with the rather pretentiously named “The Praxis of Powerlessness: A Christological Reading of Emancipation”, in the late ‘80’s; a popularized version of that, “Doing the Powerless Thing”, wherein I extended that analysis to include our powerlessness over the natural world, in the early 2000’s; to a completion of that project (at least in my mind) by turning everything back to a reflection on the central theme of powerlessness embodied in a program I shall not name (hint, hint). That final analysis is ongoing and will never see the light of day in any of my writings—although all its components will.
I realize, of course, that in following the path I did I was trying to “prove” to the theological community that my dissertation at its deepest core did address theological issues as well as literary ones. But I am comfortable with that. Whatever it took to push me in a direction that let me explore issues that I was really interested in is fine by me.
Anyhow! Now I am back at the beginning: facing the end times. In most of the following entries I want to explore, and reconsider everything—I mean literally that—again. And I will begin with the end: where we all are right now!

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed what you wrote but, man, white letters against black background is hard on the eyes. You might or might not enjoy "Anathem" by Neal Stephenson, a thousand page eschatological exploration of philosophy, theology and science with a clear dislike of certainty in the metaphysical realm. My view of end times at this point in my life is that we had better prepare for it. That means a personal readiness for the certainty of individual death and a societal preparation for the possibility of civilization collapsing. I would like to see a Perenno facility in place for the sake of my descendants.