Pandemic in Apocalyptic Imagination

Besides war, nothing can disrupt socioeconomic order more than a pandemic – hence the fear of war and pestilence is ingrained in the collective psyche of human society. In cultures shaped by Christianity, this fear is symbolised, with great archetypal power, in the form of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from The Book of Revelation, which concludes the New Testament – pandemic, as pestilence, is attributed to one of the horsemen, although interpretations vary, as with anything to do with symbolic imagination in a cultural tradition. As conclusion, therefore, pandemics are associated with Endzeit: universal diseases decimating humanity as the historical fulfilment of time, believed to be divine-ordered. In essence, quarantine, despite its protective function (thus its securitisation) for the continuity of the human species, has a troubling link, as a transnational imaginary, with horror inspired by sickness, decay and death. In the apocalyptic imagination, bodily existence disintegrates, and this disintegration is also feared as being reflective of the damnation of one’s soul. Disease is hell; and quarantine, purgatory.

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