After the orgy : toward a politics of exhaustion by Dominic Pettman

By Dominic Pettman

Explores the post-Enlightenment obsession with apocalyptic endings

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Not only have we cheated death of its meaning, but we have also degraded life by refusing to let it go. (64) All apocalyptic philosophies must acknowledge and respond to this technological paradox—a secular eschatology merely unveils a void. Eros and Thanatos must therefore permit a third term: Techné. This addition turns the former dialectic into something of a love-triangle. According to the French sociologist, Michel Maffesoli, admitting a third term also represents the beginning of society, and therefore, of all sociology—“infinity begins with the third person” (1996: 105).

If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17) Echoing these sentiments in the sixth century, Gregory the Great wrote; “Let us despise with all our being this present—or rather extinct—world. At least let worldly desires end with the end of the world; let us imitate what deeds of good men we can” (ibid.

A Note on Methodology From the outset I would like to apologize for coining such an unwieldy phrase as libidinal millenarianism. Having spent the last five years trying to eloquently introduce this concept to friends and colleagues, I am only too aware of its capacity to glaze previously receptive minds. Unfortunately, I have found no alternative that does the concept justice, despite many public requests for a less academic phrase. Erotic apocalypse, doesn’t quite capture the theoretical and historical overtones that I address, and aphrodisiacal chiliasm is no better than the term I started with.

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