The customary bookends of human existence are the golden age or paradise of childhood and the private apocalypse that marks every individual’s End of Time. The intervening period, which comprises the balance of our lives, allows us to be productive and responsible adults. For the most part we muddle through life in a matter-of-fact way with our alarm clock switched to what Richard Landes calls Normal Time. In the midst of modernity, says Landes, Normal Time frequently allows for “the bourgeois joys of earned financial success, unpretentious love and family intimacy”. All solid and even worthy attainments, no doubt, but lacking the exhilaration of life experienced on Apocalyptic Time, in which “everything quickens, enlivens, coheres”. Appearing at the most extreme point in Landes’s millennialist continuum are the active cataclysmic agitators with their taste for both “sacred joy” and “sacred violence”, seeking right here and right now both paradise and the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it.
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