Sometime in the future, a combination of nuclear warfare and cyber attacks have taken down the electrical grid in much of the developed world. Most domestic residences have been abandoned due to the putrefactive stench of spoiling food, untreated water damage and maggot-eaten cadavers. Religious organizations have assembled neo-feudal feifdoms around power generators, ham radios and other remnants of industrial civilization. Churches are the only available food banks and, here, worshippers, admonished over imaginary sins, eagerly trade obedience for "gift boxes" full of mildewed clothing and produce covered with spreading black mold. Public bathrooms, relics of a rapidly fading bureacracy, are avoided as vectors of assault. Babies are routinely abandoned and infanticide gains a resurgence in popularity. Criminal mafias regulate commerce and street gangs adopt the role of police. Although "might-is-right" is the rule of law, small groups unnoticed by the predominant Church-police-mafia network organize around principles of mutual aid without undue attention to social status.
The formerly monolithic military-industrial complex has been privatized as a security firm service for the world's elites, sequestered in facilities shielded from chemical and biotechnological attacks. A subcontractor and "super soldier" for the intelligence community has defected from his employers to lead a small group of us into a deep underground military base. Here, we observe an automated, climate-controlled microcosm of civilization, including dormitories, cafeterias, sewage treatment plants and, absurdly, a library including row upon row of pulp detective novels. I wander away from the group to discover sprawling halls the size of football fields, each containing specialized ecologies functioning as unique climate zones. In the subtropical room, the only evidence that I'm not above ground is a minute glimpse of crystalline ceiling peeking from between layers of dense foliage. Where are the residents of the endlessly spreading facility? Does its lack of human oversight imply an overarching sentience? There is not a living soul as far as the eye can see.
When I wandered into the Barnes and Noble mere hours after the dream ended, greeted by the refrains of Winter Wonderland, my surroundings appeared as the Palace of Versailles when compared to the utter misery of the night before. What are the causes and effects of collective end times dream scenarios? Carissa from in2worlds has speculated that the dreams are intended to romanticize a post-apocalyptic future. Certainly, one of the effects of the growing trend of "disaster entertainment" is to induce identification with the resourceful survivors who weather the storm, with the potential for subsequent empathy loss resulting in little regard for how catastrophic changes may affect said persons' greater community. Are end times dreams thought fragments of a meta-intelligence bent on actualizing widespread societal chaos? Or, more specifically, and even more schizophrenically, the apocalyptic scheming of AIs remotely directed by primeval Archons and augmented by less/greater-than-human thought reformers? This hierarchy of consciousness need not be truly omnipotent, in fact, the effects of its realization may be dependant upon collective perception of its power, whether based in "objective" reality or not.
The possibility is far more engaging than the stale musings of creatively challenged philosophers who would mutter something about archetypes without following Jungian theory to its more fantastical, albeit socially unacceptable, conclusions. Whatever the case, the unavoidable certainty is that the near future holds a dramatic reconfiguration of every sphere of human life, from geography to politics to technology to economics. I still keep up with current events, in large part because of the necessity of documenting the spectacular failure of humanity's narcissistic, ill-fated attempt to conquer the natural world. If this vital task is left incomplete, future generations will have no way to benefit from our mistakes. In any event, the likelihood that the current political economy will continue past the present century without dramatic and sweeping changes is near impossible.
Does the meta-narrative of post-apocalypticism predict the inevitability of catastrophic collapse? Probably, because such a scenario is already occurring for much of the world and the intrinsic inter-connectedness of all things, presaged by Zen Buddhism and rationalized by Chaos theory, inhibits the reductionistic logic of discrete components. Yet, the cyclical nature of the collapse of civilzations also implies an irrevocable loss of privilege for present institutions, such as academic science, organized religion, the nation-state, etc., and the resulting transformation holds the possibility for a far more equitable paradigm inclusive of the majority of society's stakeholders. Whether current generations will repeat the horrific violence of previous revolutions is very much dependant upon whether or not these same societal institutions can adapt to evolving changes and improve their own future trajectory accordingly. Let's hope, for everyone's sake, that they do.