full name / name of organization:
Università degli Studi di Milano, Italia - Altre Modernità
n. 9 -05/2013
Edited by Emilia Perassi
Why dedicate Issue no. 9 of Other Modernities to the subject of Apocalypse?
The easiest answer, to heed certain popular rumours, is to be found in the attention created on and around the Mayan prophecy of 21 December 2012.
The end of the “Long Count” calendar has been wrongly associated with the end of the world, with an indescribable catastrophe that may set times and place back to zero: in a word, an Apocalypse. From this mistake a question arises: is an Apocalypse an end or a beginning?
Starting from these suggestions, it is clear that our time has widely used the term Apocalypse, brandishing and discarding it, problematizing and banalizing it, hybridizing it with other traditions and new interpretations. Hence the idea of a reflection on the concept of Apocalypse, according to the following research lines:
- The real and assumed apocalypses of Meso-American cultures (the collapse of the Classic, the demographic slump, etc.)
- 21 December 2012 in Mayan culture
- The world after the end of the world (missionary visions, genocide, revolutions)
- Apocalypses without an end (modernity and chaos, utopias and dystopias, millenarianisms)
- Apocalypse in cinema, art, music
- Writings and re-writings of the Apocalypse in literature (science fiction, parodies, historical novel, etc.)
- The Apocalypse in the post-global era (technology, environment, bio-power).
Focusing on its etymology, we can state that in the concept of Apocalypse that we are most familiar with the dimension of the revelation of a hidden truth, the revelation of wisdom occurring through a vision or a dream, thus placing images at the basis of its grammar. In western cultures, Apocalypse may be traced back to the sacred, and points to the prophecy of ultimate future.
Even when, especially from the 19th century onward, the salvific visions of the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s triumph and that of his justice start being submitted to reason’s iron criticism, the enforcement of Apocalypse, although just metaphorically, is still central in the tale of the universe.
Today, the term is used to indicate the terrible signs of catastrophes of the real, the fall and the end of history. Apocalypse, therefore, is not only a biblical vision suspended in the indefinite-to-come. Devoid of its eschatological content, it persists as a ghost evoking the incumbency of catastrophe, the senselessness of reality and its logics. This post-modern Apocalypse has the power to relate the fear and danger of everyday life, the decentred nature of reality, the loss of ultimate sense. What will be left of the immense archive that the world itself represents? And, finally, we cannot forget that the first decade of the 21st century has disclosed new scenarios useful to understand and represent the complex apocalyptic derivations through the emergence of a post-human condition in which the contamination of subject and matter, which has the power to question the relationship between man and technology, prevails.
Whatever the deep currents of the 2012 phenomenon, we cannot but acknowledge its presence, and try and use if for a serious reflection on the Amerindian other and its apocalyptic visions.
The importance of the phenomenon clearly emerges from the post-modern’s antonomastic ‘barometer’. By googling “2012” on 22 January 2011, 376,000,000 websites were returned, which rose to some 1,280,000,000 on 31 March and to 3,400,000,000 by 19 October. Certainly, it is impossible to know how many of these websites are the children of neo-exoteric interests, but it is nonetheless clear that, despite their rich syncretism that tends to mix, the Egyptians, Angkor, Nostradamus, etc., the innocent, immobile mover of this phenomenon is the Mayan calendar.
Indeed, both the ancient and the surviving Mayan culture still remains at the edge of the media event. The only ones escaping this freak show are those who had already been working on the Mayans long before it all started: the archaeologists, the anthropologists and – last but not least – the scholars researching Latin America.
The Other Modernities issue on the apocalypse is thus an invitation to all investigators to draw on the commotion caused by the 2012 phenomenon, to present the results emerging from their scientific research and address the issues that are still open both at the Mayan-studies level and at that of its apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic elaborations.
Naturally, the Scientific Committee will thoroughly evaluate any different proposals on the subject that may be put forth by potential contributors, with the objective of widening the exploration undertaken with this issue to include any articulated and original suggestions.
The editorial board has established the following deadlines.
Authors should send in their proposals in the form of a 10 (min.)-20 (max.) line abstract with a short biosketch to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than 10 September 2012.
The editorial office will inform authors whose contributions are accepted by 15 September 2012.
Contributions must be received by 15 January 2013.
The issue will be published by the end of May 2013.
Reviews or interviews to authors or researchers dealing with the issue’s subject will also be welcome. In order to make the contributions as consistent as possible, the editors are fully available to be contacted by authors by email or through the editorial office (email@example.com).