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Apres Le Deluge

Suddenly the world was filled with zombies and apocalypse was the theme du jour. The movies are one of the ways we tell ourselves the story of our dreams and nightmares. Our anxiety about the future viability of the biosphere spills out on to the silver screen. All this could be coming to an end.

As philosopher Tim Morton likes to say, the film we're both watching and creating is a noir. We're the detectives searching for the villain threatening our planet. Of course, it turns out we are the ones we're looking for. Those super villains and monstrous aliens on the big screen are disguised aspects of ourselves. We're Dr. Jekyll looking for Mr. Hyde.

Recently there's been a small change in the dream narrative. The story has always been about the hero who prevented the end of the world by defeating the villain. A new film by Darren Aronofsky starring Russell Crowe makes the story of Noah into an action adventure movie filled with big special effects. The change is that Noah doesn't save the world; he builds an ark. The world is destroyed, but Noah preserves the seed of a new world.

Hidden within the apocalypse of the flood is the idea that once the waters recede, the earth will be cleansed and the biosphere will be able to provide a new home to the virtuous ones who survived the end. It's the kind of ending that's a new beginning. We think of it as the kind of change that only happens after hitting rock bottom.

Uncontemplated is the ending in which the biosphere is no longer able to support a majority of current life forms. It's not so much a matter of poisoning the biosphere as causing it to change at a rate that exceeds a majority of species ability to adapt. In the end it will be the unpredictable strangeness that leaves so many species out in the cold.



 

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