Monthly Archives: December 2013

After the End of the World

There are at least two ways of being after something.  After can be a matter of subsequence (like tomorrow is after today), and it can also be a matter of seeking something or trailing along behind it (like a predator goes after prey).  Being after is a lot like following something: tomorrow follows today, a predator follows prey.  This double-sense of after also shows up in German, “nach” (after/toward).

Although we generally know whether someone means subsequence or seeking when the word “after” is uttered, some ambiguity is inescapable.  One can always misread contextual and syntactic clues.  There is no way to completely secure the word “after” from the possibility of being read as pre- and/or post-.

We are after the past and after the future… a dual sense of after, a sense moving in both directions at once.  It is in that sense that we are after the end of the world.  We are not simply post-apocalyptic (or post-anything, for that matter), for we are still waiting, more or less vigilantly, for an apocalypse to come.

Some people might want to put apocalypse behind us and get it out of our future, but they’re just seeking an inverse apocalypse, an anti-apocalypse, seeking an end to all this talk of the end.  No matter how much we want to, we can’t just disavow apocalypse, end, or world.  We can never be after something in simply a “post-” sense.  The end of the world is our inheritance.  What we inherit is what we have coming to us.  The end, the world, the end of the world… they haunt our future, like a past that remains to come.

We’ll always be after the end of the world, and so we cannot just drop the end or drop our sense of the world (Lil Wayne’s ability to drop the world notwithstanding).  There’s nowhere to drop them off, no “away” to throw them.  We’re here in the middle of the world’s ending, going after it, composing a world that has already ended, mourning an end that returns incessantly.  Where are we going?  Immer nach Hause, immer nach Welt.

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Expressive, All-Too Expressive

Have you ever met people who have to constantly talk, express themselves, or maybe speak their ‘truth’?  Although some people like to think that constant expression is a good thing, it’s not.  We need to exercise our right to silence: encounter veils and gaps of solitude, recover coverings, engage in hidings and humiliations, shams and shames.  Gilles Deleuze, in Negotiations, expresses the importance of not always expressing yourself.

We sometimes go on as though people can’t express themselves.  In fact the’re always expressing themselves. […] we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images.  Stupidity’s never blind or mute.  So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say.  Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves.  What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and even rarer, thing that might be worth saying.  What we’re plagued by these days isn’t any blocking of communication, but pointless statements. (129)