I’m thinking of a word that doesn’t quite exist. It should exist, maybe it does and I don’t know it, but it seems like a necessary word to explain 2012, and the several years before it, maybe every year before it. It’s a word to describe the intense attraction of the end of the world through kitsch. A cultural giddiness produced by Mayan stone and survivalist hoards of toilet paper and beef jerky. Not the kind of end-of-the-world where everything really ends, just where civilization collapses to the point that we’re freed from the demands of daily life … jobs and mortgages and perhaps above all the stress of crowded cities, all evaporated. It would be terrible and it would be wonderful, an Armageddon of convenience, a Schadenfreude of self, taking pleasure in our own great misfortune. What’s a word that means the state of dreading and hoping for the same thing?
Word of the latest End Times has probably reached your ears by now, carried along in the trough of recent news of cannibalism in Miami, Maryland, Louisiana, Connecticut, Sweden and Canada, by the peculiarities of the man who eviscerated himself and threw bits of his intestines at police, by the Brazilian boy who came back to life, briefly, at his own funeral. The causes of these tragedies are all basically unrelated — mental illness, presumed drug abuse, some very shoddy South American diagnostics— still it didn’t take long for popular media to begin constructing the narrative, however tongue-in-cheek, of a looming zombie apocalypse.