The Rupture


Every age has a story it tells about the end of the world.

And every age’s story about the end of the world tells us something; not about how the world will end; but about how that age already is.

We call those stories eschatologies. I want to tell you a story, too, in this little essay. Of an eschatology. Our eschatology.

Remember our collective vision of the future? Imagine the Jetsons. Imagine high modernism. Imagine Mad Men. The perfect suits, the immaculate hair, the endless cocktails, the towering city, the secret affairs, the endless desire. The gleaming seduction of a better tomorrow.

What is the future? We thought—no, we believed, with all our might—that the world would inexorably be moved, by our might. In a single direction. The direction of human progress. We were true believers in a faith. That the right, true, and inescapable trajectory of mankind was forward.

It was an idea born in the high industrial age. The machine. The factory. The gear. The sudden, furious birth of plenty. Like a supernova going off in the heart of a human world that hadn’t changed for millennia. Suddenly, we had more than we could imagine. And we thought: this was the future. The right, noble, just, future.

Maybe Nietzsche was right. God was dead. But who needed God? We had forged this wondrous future. Through the sweat of our brows and the might of our faith. And so how was it anything less than destined? Fuck Providence. We were something bigger than providence. We were destiny. This was how the future was meant to be. And so this was how the future would surely always be.

And then. Something went wrong.

It’s hard to say how. But.

The future broke.

Rupture.

The Rupture is the future slowing, stopping, winding down. Fracturing; splitting apart; coming undone. It is the future ending, collapsing, breaking.

Once, we subscribed to a naive view of historical progress. That humanity marched forwards into a place we called the “future”.

The future stopped happening. For most of us. We got left behind by it.

The future isn’t one of unalloyed, golden progress anymore. Tomorrow is a tale of decline, degeneration, decay. Rupture.

The future isn’t flying cars and food pills and a smarthome and a stable career and comfortable prosperity for every family anymore. Rupture.

The future looks more like this. A story of a burning planet, of imploding middle classes, of lost generations, of empty decades, of mass unemployment, of the rule of law breaking, of democracy cracking, of nations splintering, of tribes warring, of broken dreams, of Greater Depressions, of unending Stagnations, of human possibility itself shattering into a million million pieces. Rupture.

The future isn’t the steady, forward march of human advancement anymore. What is “declining”? Constitutional democracy, opportunity, mobility, material prosperity, law, equity, fairness, a sense of meaning in life…hope for the future. Rupture.

The stories we used to tell ourselves can no longer be told. History is not a march to progress. Progress can shatter; crack. Rupture.

The future, too, can end up broken.

Rupture.

This is how the future ends. Not with a click, but with a crack.

The Rupture is a story about how the world—the world as we once knew it—will end. Not end as in “be blown to bits by a meteor”. But end in the sense that it will never come to be. It is a story about the end of the future.

We are not living in the future. We are living in the Rupture. The space in between the future that never was, and the past that will not end. The break; the chasm; the gap.

We’re trapped here, in this Rupture. In a purgatory we don’t know how to escape.

The Rupture is the opposite of the future. Not the past, not the present. Just a void, a null, an empty space. Of stagnation, of nothing, of nihilism. We can’t fix it by fixing it. We can only fix it by fixing us.

There is a fundament to the thinking of all civilized people. It is this. That each and every person deserves the chance to live fully. No matter how weak, poor, frail, or destitute. Why? Because to each life, that is all that there has ever been. Life. The struggle. The glimpse. The triumph. The fall.

If we are to create ourselves again, then we must fight to reclaim what we truly know. That fighting against life is the truest misfortune of all. For it is the end of love, meaning, purpose, grace, wonder, suffering, passion.

And it is all those that we must rediscover if we are to escape the rupture.

For what is truly broken isn’t merely the future.

It is our hearts.

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