What It Means To See an End

In my nineteen years, eight months, one day, thirteen hours and twenty-nine minutes on this Earth, I have had my world end four times. What felt like devastating and life changing experiences that tore my being apart, they were, in actuality, miniscule when only applied to myself in the scale of the world’s constant tragedy. I had not coined the term “apocalypse” to be associated with the definitions we have discussed in class, yet they make the utmost amount of sense in retrospect. Most societies have been socially trained through the media to link ideas like zombies, nuclear waste, and other science-fiction fantasy-esque topics to what an apocalypse is. However, taking into account the essay “Notes Towards (Inhabiting) the Black Messianic in Afro-Pessimism’s Apocalyptic Thought” by Santana Kaplan, Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, and an introduction to Percival Everett’s novel American Desert, we can concur that an apocalypse does not have to behave like the typical depiction we see, rather it can consist of a varying scale. For some individuals, they state their apocolypses to be the world around them being destroyed, whereas others portray their conceptions as when their own personal world dies in some way, shape, or form. Despite the take, an apocalypse in my mind seems to require some form of change in normalcy. Taking into account the pendulum of apocalyptic definitions, I have wondered which has a harsher impact: an individual apocalypse or a worldly one.  

My world ended when I was five years old for the first time when my parents separated. At that time I didn’t quite understand the depth to the seriousness of the situation, nor the impact it would wreck on my life years afterward. By incorporating the speculations from above, I would describe this instance in my life to be an individual apocalypse. Within the literary work Wild Seed, the main characters Anyanwu and Doro experience a vast array of their own calamities. Anyanwu has lived for centuries and has lost many children, outgrown them and watched them and generations afterwards pass on. She loses her freedom when Doro’s life and her’s intertwined, their immortality chaining one to the other out of self preservation and loneliness. Her understanding of her surroundings is constantly altered, she is barely given time to adjust and step onto her feet. Doro–while he does not get the most sympathy throughout the majority of the book–we observed had his life collapse when everything he’d known to be was gone, his humanity revoked along with the lives of his townsfolk. In these instances, when the personal world was altered, the outside world was affected in a dire way. Anyanwu was taken from her home where her life was flipped upside down, and in turn she was used to breed a possibly enhanced human race with potential powers, weaving the effects of her estrangement within a plethora of communities around the planet. Doro’s apocalypse instilled fear in many colonies; it altered many parts of societies through his mission to breed the perfect race. Henceforth, when we observe an individual change, occasionally that change can send a reverberation of ripples throughout the world. 

I was in ninth grade when my world ended for the third time. I came to the realization through an introduction to high school and the beginnings of complex schooling that the place I lived in was not the wonderful place I had been told growing up. In fact, it is filled with nonstop plagues of death that take various appearances all over. This epiphany was not my own world falling apart, so much so as the perception of the world finally being clear enough to see it already was in the process of devastation. In Wild Seed, I had pondered about Doro’s apocalypse he experienced as a child and how that affected his surroundings, the small to the big ripple effect. On the other hand, Anyanwu fell into one of those ripples sent out by Doro’s immortality. Her life changed once Doro knew of her existence, but did she change the lives of those around her due to her own apocalypse? Or possibly it manifest from a separate cataclysmic event in someone else’s timeline, AKA Doro’s. I’ve established that the two powerful beings are connected on many levels. If we take it a step further, we can see how personal apocalypses create worldly changes, but also vice versa. The typical depiction of an apocalypse through a movie or video game centers its focus on one individual person, enduring the aftereffects of the collapse of their society. Anyanwu’s personal realm was damaged and dismantled due to Doro’s own personal apocalypse, for without his transformation into the creature he is, we would not have seen Anyanwu’s life be modified in a momentous way. She was living her life, pushing through the losses of her family except all the while creating new kinsmen to ease her loneliness. I’ve begun to question to what end does this cycle go, though, and how might the understanding of these topics aid us in comprehending the infiniteness of our finite existence. 

As we read through the beginning of American Desert, I have noticed how typical humanity tends to be when faced with fear-evoking encounters.  When Ted is revived through some unworldly miracle, instead of preaching life and hope, Ted’s city revolted. It spiraled into absolute chaos at the understanding–or lack thereof–of Ted’s rejuvenation. Why do people turn to actions of destruction to process the unknown? How must we alter our minds’ capabilities to stay sane after witnessing unfathomable events? An apocalypse of the individualistic nature, if attention-grabbing enough, acts as an activator for the circumambient communities to revolt, destroying what they knew to eliminate what they didn’t. Within Santana Kaplan’s essay, he discusses how Afro-pessimism requires the end of Western human civilization because the racism lies too deep within history and society. Santana states that “The Worldly privileging of citizenship, rights, and inclusion fundamentally reinforces our constitutive forgetfulness of the question of Black being” (Kaplan 73). Inside humanity there lies constant reminders for people of color that their ancestry endured such traumatic oppression, their lives revoked of individuality. As time passed on, their identities were built back up with the culture they had originally lost as well as the strength in their abilities to find equality. Despite everyone’s best efforts to progressively enhance society into true equality, the endeavors are met with the persistent reminder of a racist presence intertwined into everyday aspects of life. The only way to erase racism is to invoke a cataclysmic event, to fully abolish the wrong-doings of man. To complete this task, however, is almost impossible, not only due to the grandiosity of the act but because society’s ignorance causes many to believe society as a whole understands racism, and because its roots/history is “understood” by the prominent demographic–white people–it is a fathomable concept. Its existence is too known by the majority, therefore Western civilization humanity is not willing to destroy it out of fear.

There are connects through practically everything we see around us, through history and the present, even the future we picture as we wouldn’t be capable to make assumptions without the inclusion of current evidence. In class we conferred about recent events like the Oklahoma City Bombing, black helicopters, new world order conception, Ruby Ridge, and Waco. As we dived into the context of these horrific events, we began to see patterns as one event had a tie, then two ties, then multiple ties to every other event on the board. Society creates issues to solve the ones it feels threaten the sanctity of its structure. Through prejudice, racism, classism, ableism, sexism, etc., the divisions between us all grow wider each passing moment as we ourselves break off into our secluded colonies, prepping for the completely literal end of the planet. 

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