A grad student organization at Montana State University (where I work) has decided to start an academic journal of sorts. Their first CFP is asking for writings on “fire.” Any manifestation of that potent symbol is welcome, either in essay or researched paper form. If anyone who still reads this is interested in submitting to the journal, leave a comment and I’ll send you the link to the Web site — I’m not sure if they submitted it to the UPENN CFP list or not.
At any rate, since I have this cyberspace, virtually unused, and a few odd moments to myself at work, I thought I would brainstorm a bit in public on possible subjects for the paper I want to write. The one idea that keeps coming back to me is the idea of post-apocalyptic literature, which has made a major comeback since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, but I think the scenarios have changed somewhat since the stalwart days of Soylent Green and Blade Runner — and yes, I argue that both are, in their own ways, post-apocalyptic.
In those days, the fear in the post-apocalyptic scenario was a quiet death through overcrowding, being crushed by the pressure of the masses. I suppose this is because the greatest fear was that if the world didn’t end in the glare of a nuclear fireball, we would breed uncontrollably until was suffocated.
Now, however, we see a different sort of scenario — isolation. Look at Jericho, the CBS television series, for an example. We, the Internet reared generation, fear isolation most of all. We fear being cut off from the world around us, without our link to the Web, without the vital information that we think is necessary to modern life.
What does this have to do with fire? I’m not sure yet, but I think there’s an Emersonian symbol worth exploring deep beneath that lack of connection with other people — also the close link between the apocalypse and fire is not a new idea…