Monday, April 8, 2013

The Apocalypse of Space

Last night I asked my science oriented friends what I thought was a simple question: what is between galaxies? It fueled a discussion centered around a  sort of horrified awe. The two main answers were IGM and dark matter. When I asked what either of those actually was no one really knew. A wiki search yielded an unsettling answer: no one really knows. What we know and what we see in the universe accounts for only 25% of the mass out there and the rest of the universe is just a giant question mark.

Having this conversation (one in which I continued to repeat SO WHAT IS SPACE?) brought a lot of the discussions we've had in class and a paper from the latest symposium to the front of my mind. A lot of the 'fear' (in quotes because it was an abstract fear born out of fascination more than anything else) about space and the matter connecting it came out of the necessary decentering of the human the apocalyptic paper in particular, one that focused on the sensory overload of such a situation, the way that sort of experience breaks the human apart with the discussion my friends and I were having. What happens if we are, in fact, as one of my friends suggested just planets in someone else's ocean?

The collection of stories that were referenced in the post apocalypse discussion I think resist the idea that the human ceases to matter. We have to cope with the immense overload and reposition the human as something less important. I'm thinking of Bogost now and perhaps this isn't what he intended but the margins are where we are; the universe and earth keep going (as a species we are fascinated by life before and after us). But writing from the margins is a useful (and perhaps necessary?) exercise, one exemplified in One Hundred Apocalypses. It pushes our conceptions as writers and scholars - the human exists, often as a cynic, skeptical of the world around them. What happens when we allows ourselves to experience the world as apocalypse or dark matter - totally overwhelming and indifferent to us?

No comments:

Post a Comment