The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End

Since the dawn of civilization, we have obsessed over humanity’s untimely end. Perhaps even more than mere mortality, anticipation of the end of the world has inspired both dread and hope, liberated some from their fears and bound others to their beliefs, set fire to our poetic imaginations . . . or occasionally just our poorest cities.

The apocalypse is not an event—at least, if it is it hasn’t happened yet. More usefully, it’s a way of thinking, a lens on life. Someone with an apocalyptic perspective believes the world is ending soon. That understanding can affect their behavior, and consideration of their outlook may help explain the music they compose, the wars they fight, or the words they scribble. If expanded to consider likeminded communities—whether we’re talking about a backyard cult or a crumbling empire—one starts to see new forces that shake and shape the entire world. In the same way that scholars have used post-colonial or feminist theories to buttress wider interpretations of our world, an apocalyptic lens can uncover very different insights.

THE OBLIVIOUS aims to explore the many intersections between apocalyptic thinking and popular culture, as well as provide resources for those interested in apocalyptic thinking across time, place, and tradition. Here’s how we’ll try to do that:

  • CODEX – Apocalyptic thinking evolved through the written word. The Oblivious is compiling a Codex of relevant texts. We’ll explore their apocalyptic themes, social and historic contexts, and other tangential revelations.
  • SCRAPS – Widespread, mutable, contagious—apocalyptic thinking can move like a plague. Browse the Scraps section for current catastrophes, rapturous art, “bad” news, stirring quotes, and more.
  • GLOSSOLALIA – These longer pieces of analysis, conjecture, or irreverence play with ideas and imagery related to the end times.
  • THEMES + RESOURCES – While this blog is meant for a universal audience, many ideas will originate from religion, history, and literature. This section is a wiki related to eschatology.

So, how will it all end? In the cold grip of alien invasion? Or the gunky claws of the living dead? By invisible fever? Or an atomic sunshower? As sinners in the hands of an angry god? Or at the feet of a wicked Pope? Does our doomsday clock run out tomorrow? Or a hundred decades from now?

This—or that?

There’s only one way to find out. In the meantime, stock up on bottled water. We’ll ride out this wild, divine, inevitable mess together. The end, as some say, is nigh. Until then!




Will Wlizlo is the primary author of this site. Some of his favorite topics related to apocalyptic thinking are the interplay between technology and apocalyptic fears, Old Testament prophecy, and atomic iconography.