19 Dec '11, 2pm
Drumbeat: December 19, 2011
"The apocalypse," wrote the German poet and essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger in 1978, "is aphrodisiac, nightmare, a commodity like any other ... warning finger and scientific forecast ... rallying cry ... superstition ... a joke ... an incessant production of our fantasy ... one of the oldest ideas of the human species. Its periodic ebb and flow ... has accompanied utopian thought like a shadow." It is haunting us again. A sense of doom dominates recent films such as Melancholia, in which a vast unknown planet suddenly appears from behind the sun and converges inexorably on Earth; and Take Shelter, about a taciturn American Everyman, living quietly with his family somewhere on the suburban plains, who starts dreaming extravagantly about devastating coming storms and social breakdown. There is doom television, such as the BBC1 series Survivors, a post-apocalyptic soap oper...