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We're All the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in New Doomsday Movies

Each cataclysm is an opportunity for the rebirth of the self.

by Daniel Oberhaus
May 16 2017, 5:06pm

Image: Phillip Medhurst/Wikimedia

It seems like the need for apocalyptic fiction has become superfluous under the Trump administration, which is waging war on climate efforts and has made no bones about its readiness to engage North Korea in nuclear war. Yet, as a new video based on an Aeon essay by Frank Bures is wont to remind us, for all the doomsday scenarios that haunt our fiction and reality, the apocalypse isn't coming—"it's always with us."

Interestingly, despite our ever present doomsday fictions, the nature of the way we've portrayed the innumerable horsemen of the apocalypse has changed. In the past, the apocalypse was a single, cataclysmic event that could be stopped. From the machine armies of Terminator to the nuclear fallout in On the Beach, the apocalypse was always the result of a choice . But now, our end of the world stories tackle issues that are "broader and more diffuse," which makes us "afraid but less able to point to a source of our fear," Bures wrote.

As the video points out, during the Cold War, we were arguably much closer to the End. So what accounts for this new wave of apocalyptic lore? Perhaps it is a nagging feeling that this global system we are a part of has spiraled out of our control.

Yet for all these visions of the apocalypse, each cataclysm is an opportunity for the rebirth of the self. Indeed, if we take a minute to gaze at the horsemen of the apocalypse, we find that the riders were always ourselves to begin with.

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