In 1974, editors John Tierney ’75, Christopher Buckley ’75, and Eric Goodman ’75 celebrated the second anniversary of the Yale Daily News Magazine by commissioning short musings on the theme of the Apocalypse from some of the country’s most distinguished writers — so distinguished, in fact, that the college kids were willing to fork out a dollar for each of their words. Here’s our last installment of “The End of the World, In 20 Words or Less”:
It is a hopeful sign, that questions concerning The Apocalypse have replaced, at least in New Haven, the usual questions concerning Women’s Liberation and what it promises or threatens, or did promise or threaten. I am pleased to offer my opinion: various small, local, ‘apocalypses’ have happened throughout history, ceaselessly, as climates betrayed their inhabitants or invaders from other parts of the world discovered civilizations they could exploit. Or convert. Or prepare for Democracy. And consumer items of plastic or cellophane. Those who are inundated from without believe they are experiencing The Apocalypse; in fact, it is simply history. It is maya, if I understand that concept correctly. At this very moment it is happening to you and inside you — painlessly — and indeed the entire process is probably meant to be painless.
Therefore there are no ends, only transformations and renewals. Whitman said that we should “look for him under our bootsoles.” But elsewhere, too. Everywhere. From an existentialist viewpoint, nowhere. But it is all the same: a continuous transformation. And since the “world” as an entity does not exist (it’s a philosophical concept) it cannot end.
(Please keep your $20 — I know how hard-pressed publications are — give it to someone else or have a small 9 (very small) party.)
Yrs, Joyce Carol Oates
It was over. Wherever you looked was rubble. Nobody could have possibly survived the holocaust. But wait a minute. Something was stirring. A man struggled out of rocks and debris. He was the President of the United States. He looked around and then muttered, “I supposed the press will even try to make something out of this.”
– Art Buckwald
P.S. Please don’t tell my agent I wrote this for you or he’ll demand ten percent of the fee.
Gloryosky, guys, there ain’t gonna be no end to no world! Sorry to disappoint you and depress you with my exuberant good spirits and optimism, but we will build starships and move on out to Alpha Centauri and beyond and then we won’t give a damn about what happens to Earth, for we will, in sum, live forever, five or take a billion years. End of quote. Send me my twenty bucks!
– Ray Bradbury