Remediating the apocalypse

Bush's Apocalyptic Crusade

Ronald Reagan was, as one of his biographer's put it, “hooked on Armageddon” and liked nothing better than to have long conversations about possible end-time scenarios. On a number of occasions Reagan stated his belief that we were close to the end times predicted in the last book of the Christian bible. (New 2002:69)

George W. Bush is less explicit about his personal apocalyptic beliefs yet his speeches are brimming with apocalyptic resonance.

Much has been written about George Bush's faith and his use of religious language, I will merely note three aspects of Bush's religious rhetoric, which highlight an underlying apocalyptic worldview. Firstly and most obviously Bush has defined the current “war on terrorism” as a battle between “good” and “evil”. Secondly he believes we are living in unprecedented times that call for fundamentally new responses. Thirdly he believes he has been chosen by God to lead.

These three themes, which can be traced across many of Bush's public statements, find symbolic resonance in key themes of the biblical book of Revelation. It narrates the calling of prophets and leaders, a cataclysmic battle between the good “Lamb” and the evil “beast” and the saving of a remnant after a time of cataclysm and tribulation. Much of this symbolic battle is expressed in socio-political language of empires at war.

This web project is an evolving space exploring contemporary manifestations of the apocalyptic in current affairs and popular culture. It is being developed in association with my Ph.D. research and is both a research method and a presentation of that research. In exploring the apocalyptic I am particularly interested in mapping a series of multimodal mythic clusters that are evolving through a process of remediation which I identify as a key cultural logic for an age in which electracy is the new literacy of nomadic subjects. This hypertextual presentation foregrounds affiliational logic and although I hope the project accumulates meaning it does not seek to present a single, formal, linear argument. I have presented some of these ideas in more traditional academic formats in other places. Although the navigational choices are the user's own these tips may be useful. Feedback is very welcome.

Marcus O'Donnell 2005-2006