September 26, 2010

the season of another book

On a long drive to and from a church today, I feel confident that fall is here. The leaves here are showing a lot of stunning deep reds, it really could be a fantastic season.

Summer Has Faded

Jesse Stuart

Summer has faded from all living eyes.
It is a written book we have read
With sentences of green beneath blue skies.
Each word is now a leaf of dying red.
We stand to watch birds gather for the south,
We watch them rise in this bright autumn weather;
And with joy in the heart, song in the mouth,
They are off through boundless skies together.
Above the thistle furze that floats on the wind,
Above the leaves of scarlet–red and gold,
Above treetops the autumn winds have thinned
They rise to sing before their autumn blood grows cold.
We stand below to listen and to look,
And wait the season of another book.

September 11, 2010

post–apocalyptic fiction in a collapsing age

The most recent DBH post at First Things starts with a funny note about Mayan prophecies which include dates after 2012, and then asks an interesting question he leaves largely unanswered: Why the current vogue for post–apocalypticism?

The rise of the zombie genre in the last decade, for example, shows a really telling turning point. It began with some "re–imaginings" of the genre, most notably 28 Days Later in 2002. But there is an obvious change in tone with the Zombie Survival Guide in 2003, and its broader acceptance beyond communities of nerds and college guys (a pretty well overlapping demographic in the generation where sorority girls watch Battlestar: Galactica), once it was clear the economy was starting to sputter hard in 2007. (2009's Zombieland is kind of the cinematic summa of the new zombie genre, combining survivalist "tips" (not nearly as serious as Brooks's), the comedy tone of the "cross–overs" and nerd–romance/wish fulfillment.)

Simply put: People are fascinated by post–apocalyptic scenarios because of a general sense of "this can't go on", but need to have some sort of socially acceptable place to work out the thoughts, for those who aren't already into survivalist or pessimistic internet culture. Obviously this is part of the appeal in all generations, but the greater profile indicates greater resonance.