did you know "apocalypse" doesn't mean "the end of the world"?18 Dec 2019
i’ve been in several conversations recently about apocalypse and i have come to a fairly important realization. as always, i don’t assume i’m the first person to arrive to this thought. but now that i’m here, i think it makes sense to share.
in dominant culture, the word apocalypse is most commonly associated with “the end of the world”. for most people, the phrase “apocalyptic conditions” tends to evoke imagery of the violent process by which human society (and sometimes the planet itself) comes to an end: massive hurricanes, unstoppable fires, power grid collapses, skyscrapers tumbling, volcanoes erupting, etc etc.
but what is the actual etymology of the word apocalypse? here’s what i found from the online etymology dictionary:
late 14c., “revelation, disclosure,” from Church Latin apocalypsis “revelation,” from Greek apokalyptein “uncover, disclose, reveal,” from apo “off, away from” (see apo-) + kalyptein “to cover, conceal,” from PIE root *kel- (1) “to cover, conceal, save.”
what i take from that is that apocalypse is a revealing of hidden things or an uncovering of the truth.
what’s fascinating to me is from whom does that linkage between uncovering of the truth and full destruction of the world come? when i look at apocalyptic movies in hollywood, who do i see are the writers and directors (and usually the actors, too)?
cis-hetero owning class white dudes.
when i saw it, i couldn’t unsee it. it makes sense to me that for the people at the identity center of global white cisheteropatriarchy, apocalpyse absolutely means the end of the world. because they have never had to know anything else.
but as i’ve been learning from adrienne and autumn’s podcast, how to survive the end of the world, people have been surviving apocalypse for centuries, millenia even. the trick is that the end of one world doesn’t mean the end of all worlds. in fact, to date, it has meant the birth of a new world/worlds. and the next question is, will the people from the old world be able to survive in the new world? that’s why i love htsteotw so much: they are “learning from apocalypse with grace, rigor, and curiosity.”
this insight also explains why contemporary sci-fi written not by white men resonates deeper with me and is so much more imaginative than white dude sci-fi. women and enby folks as well as people of color tend to have close proximity to apocalypse and surviving it. that experience gives us access to more imaginative possibilities because it’s not imagined; it’s reality. we know the patterns of surviving apocalypse and that shows up in the stories.
ANYWAYS time to get my day started. byeeeee <3
words / writing / post-processing
447w / 17min / 4min