The specter of the apocalypse has always been a semiotic proposition: only at the end of all things, we are told, is their meaning laid bare. Our long-standing romance with catastrophe is inseparable from the Western hermeneutical tradition: our search for an elusive truth, one that can only be uncovered through the work of interpretation. Catastrophe terrifies and tantalizes to the extent it promises an end to this task. 9/11 is this book's beginning, but not its end. Here was the apocalypse America had long been waiting for. The American dream: the fantasy - or nightmare - of fashioning meaning anew, upon some pristine tabula rasa or ground zero wiped clean by cataclysm. But the real lesson of 9/11 may be that catastrophe is the purest form of the event itself; every event is an infinitesimal catastrophe: or the sign of catastrophe to come. From the poetry of classical Greece to the popular culture of contemporary America, "The End of Meaning" seeks to show that catastrophe, precisely as the notion of the sui generis, has always been generic. This is not a book on the great catastrophes of the West; it offers no canon of catastrophe, no history of the catastrophic; to single out catastrophe, thus, as the exceptional, or the monstrous, or the modern, runs contrary to the essential proposition underlying the essays in this collection: that meaning itself is catastrophic.Über den Autor:
Matthew Gumpert is an Associate Professor in the Department of Western Languages and Literatures at Bosphorus University. He is the author of Grafting Helen: The Abduction of the Classical Past (2001, University of Wisconsin Press). Recent work includes articles in French Forum, Contemporary Theatre Review, and Film International
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