26.1 | James Berger

“The Voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride Shall be Heard No More”: Apocalypse, Critique, and Procreation

Representations of the end of the world generally involve a totalizing critique of a social-symbolic order seen as corrupt beyond the possibility of reform. But in imagining the end of the world, we imagine also the end of the means of representing it, the end of language—and so, representations of apocalypse bring together numerous discourses of the incommensurable and unrepresentable: the sublime, the sacred, the abject and obscene, the traumatic, and “others” in all their variants. Finally, apocalyptic portrayals often engage in complex depictions of sexuality, especially in relation to procreation. If we, in imagination, eliminate the future, then what becomes of the child and of the biological processes that produce him or her? From the Whore of Revelation to Eliot’s Wasteland to the pregnant immigrant of Children of Men, problematics of social critique and language find expression in dramas of sexuality and procreation.