Committtee: Stephen O’Leary
, Chair G. T. Goodnight
, Lawrence Pryor
Programming the Apocalypse: Recombinant narrative in cyberspace
This study analyses the impact of the World Wide Web and digital technologies on the practice of apocalyptic rhetoric in cyberspace at beginning of the 21 st century. As a mass medium and subset of the Internet, whose qualities include data exchangeability, nonlinear hyperlinking, and a relative lack of gatekeepers, the Web, the author contends, lends itself not only to more networked reasoning styles, but to mytho-logics. The Web as both a virtual repository for human knowledge and a universal publishing platform provides apocalyptically-minded individuals with the discursive power and resources to reason mythologically, programming synthetic fusions of mythos and logos in the creation of apocalyptic narratives drawn from a variety of traditions. Such "recombinant narratives," the author finds, provide individuals with a sense of cosmic and personal meaning by acting as symbolic theodicies. Moreover, the author contends that the phenomena of data exchangeability, narrative programmability, and narrative syncretism are further evidenced in apocalyptically inflected neo-orthodoxies emerging on the Web which make apocalyptic scenarios intelligible in terms of digital technologies, even while denying or demonizing those same technologies.