Apocalypse, or, the Logic of Late Anthropocene Ruins

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review. 2014;(10):113-119


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review

ISSN: 2158-9666 (Print); 2158-9674 (Online)

Publisher: University of Hawaii Press

Society/Institution: Research Institute of Korean Studies (Korea University) and Institute of East Asian Studies (UC Berkeley)

LCC Subject Category: History (General) and history of Europe: History of Asia

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Jason McGrath (University of Minnesota)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

In his stunning, sobering book of photography Abandoned Futures: A Journey to the Posthuman World, Tong Lam asserts that, “in a way, we are already post-apocalyptic” (Lam 2013, section 011). To understand such a statement in the context of his photographs—including the photo essay titled “Unreal Estate and China’s Collective Unconscious” that this piece accompanies—we must first detach the notion of apocalypse from its usual biblical connotation. If the Christian version confirms the centrality of humanity to God’s plans, for better or for worse, then what we are dealing with here is something like the opposite; the revelation provided by these photos is at least in part that of the rather pathetic hubris of the human species in its fleeting age of planetary dominance, even in the case of China in the midst of head-spinning transformation...