Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chicken Little, Horny for Apocalypse.

What is the unexplored link between apocalyptic climate-change worries and tawdry photographs of Miley Cyrus?

This week's Sunday School at the Sherman Foundation explores the tacit obsession with apocalypse and overt, cultural expressions of sexuality.

What's on everyone's mind?
Culturally, the obsessing about death and apocalypse is overwhelming. It manifests itself in the fretting over terrorism, actual wars, stories of environmental crisis and climate change catastrophe, speculations about the waning American empire, peak oil, food riots, economic collapse, conspiracy theories, zombie movies and films with disaster scenarios. In fashions it is expressed through the popularity of camouflage (See: Wearing our psyches on our sleeves and striking a military pose.) and skulls (they're this millenia's smiley face).

Last month I listened an interview with Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us. A book that explores what would happen to the planet if human suddenly disappeared. The most startling revelation in the interview was the fact that MILLIONS of gallons of water are pumped out from below Manhattan and out to sea, daily, to keep the subways and city above from flooding. (That really is scary.) The inspiration for the book was a trip he took to Chernobyl 7 years after the nuclear accident. As opposed to being a burned out "dead zone" as one might think, the area was in fact overrun by nature. Tree roots were breaking up the pavement and houses were virtually concealed by overgrown plant life.

The interview includes a fascinating description of the 38th parallel, the 2.5 mile wide, human-free strip of land were the armies of North and South Korea face off against one another. (iTunes link for the Scientific American interview.)

Despite the overwhelming expressions of the apocalyptic theme, our fears and obsessing remains largely tacit and unconscious. There isn't much cultural dialog about the fact that this is taking up so much of our radar. Why aren't more people noticing this and meta-framing it? The blind spot for this aspect of out collective experience is enormous.

Horny for Apocalypse
What's better than "vacation sex"? "Disaster Sex". I've read that there are spikes of sexual behavior following events like 9/11 and Katrina. Apparently, disasters trigger a sexual response in humans and the frequency of intercourse surges. :)

Could it be that our unconscious obsessing over death and doom is what triggers, on a cultural level, a need to over-sexualize. Is this the unexplored link between apocalyptic climate-change worries and tawdry images of Miley Cyrus?

The use of overly-sexualized imagery of barely pubescent youth is a commonplace staple in fashion and publishing. Given the hypersensitive cultural fears of sexual predators and pedophiles you would expect that collectively, we would be more uncomfortable with the display of over-sexualized imagery of children, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Is the over-sexualized state of our society, the need to sexualize virtually everything, including at times images of youth a triggered response to the collective fears of death and destruction?

Kim and I were talking about "disaster sex" and she joked that there are times that a terrible meal qualifies as a disaster. God bless her. Kim, shall we rendezvous for the end of it all?

;)


If my theory is correct there are is a cliché and an assumption tat need to be reexamined: "Make love, not war" and "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone any how."

The sky is falling, the sky is falling... let's get it on!




From the Foundation Archives: Pulling for Apocalypse

This video illustrates the changes that would take place to man-made environments if humans simply vanished from the face of the earth.



National Geographic's take on the speculation.



Across the pond similar questions are being raised. The trailer for the film
Flood, a UK disaster film.




2 works from a series titled Flooded London.





2 comments:

kathleen said...

Disaster sex may have nothing to do with culture and everything to do with evolution/survival. After a disaster, population levels are lower. Marriages increased for a short time after 9/11 as well. People who were interviewed for articles on the topic talked a lot about life being to short to put things off.

There are studies that suggest a relationship between the number of males vs females born during times of crises, as well. The numbers are different depending on whether the crises is financial- or war-based. Unfortunately, I have no idea where I read that - it was about two years ago, I think.

pj said...

Perhaps it is more basic - the two contributing factors to 'disaster sex' may well be that first of all, Ejaculating for males is huge stress relief and one of the few things to alleviate the emotional impact of the disaster and the other is the rise in necessary prostitution and available sex. Do you know there are some sex tours that specialize in going to areas what have had a significant disaster? Serbia is apparently a hot spot right now. disgusting I know.