49. “Sense of an ending, paradigm of apocalypse”

And of course we have it now, the sense of an ending. It has not diminished, and is as endemic to what we call modernism as apocalyptic utopianism is to political revolution. When we live in the mood of end-dominated crisis, certain now-familiar patterns of assumption become evident. Yeats will help me to illustrate them.

– Frank Kermode: ‘Sense of An Ending’, Oxford University Press, 1967

Indeed, Kermode argues that our apocalyptic views of disorder, of crisis and perpetual transition in the contemporary world are contemporary ways of making sense of the world, of giving it an intelligible order. They are variations on a paradigm of sense-making statements which are constant in human history.

– Leo Bersani: ‘Variations On a Paradigm’, New York Times, 11 June 1967

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