THE END OF THE WORLD
We’re not endorsing pessimism, but urgency.
Contemporary apocalypse discourse is characterized, I think, by a recognition that the ideologies we’ve come to trust have failed us. Capitalism and neoliberalism have helped create a society in which only a handful of people hold a majority of the world’s total wealth, and are able to cling to this wealth by exploiting vulnerable bodies and natural resources. Our ongoing climate crisis spells the end of human civilization in the next few decades. Fascist leaders sponsor genocide. This ain’t no 2012 Mayan calendar shit. These are real lives, beset by real lethal things.
Our last issue of The Youth Is On Fire operated on the key word “Rage,” and writers and artists like you responded in kind with pointedly anti-Duterte, anti-corruption works. So we put ‘em together and put ‘em out in the form of what I think was one of our strongest issues — an incandescent, hazardous-to-evil art bomb. This was 2017, and certain issues were still very fresh, and we were energetic and busting high kicks and flailing pom-poms for the future.
And then we got tired. By we, I mean, we at the office. Bursts of outrage are always going to come in waves, consuming and receding. And when death is abundant and life is precarious you get into the habit of tending gardens. And there were so many gardens to tend that weren’t The Youth Is On Fire. Some of those gardens weren’t work-related. In the face of doom, we built protective fences around the sources of our joy, sought friendship and community, mustered megawatts of strength every morning just to get out of bed.
Not a lot of people understand how exhausting this side of cultural work can be. The argument could be made that half of lifestyle journalism is made of ads, and media partners, and sponsorships, and the half-hearted endorsement of products and personalities that pacify more than invigorate. The other half of that work is keeping an eye on current events, popular culture. And well, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says total ecological ruin is possible within our lifetime. And our current lineup of senators is full of killers and crooks. So what happens when today’s issues tell you that wholesale social collapse can totally happen before you can apply for a senior citizenship card, and that the current systems, mechanisms, and policies in place won’t do much unless we actually get around to guillotine-ing the rich, Robespierre style? You get tired. You get cynical. When living a moral life looks impossible, you work a little less hard.
Again, we’re not endorsing pessimism, but urgency. I’d like to think that at the end of the day, in our heart of hearts, we know that fighting for a better world is some thing we need to do, maybe even want to do. But there is value, I think, in assessing how the idea of the apocalypse affects our inner worlds. When we think about the end of the world, how does that influence the way we feel sorrow, anger, or even joy?
This issue of The Youth Is On Fire was born not just from the little respite we got from our extended hiatus, but also from our contemporary existence, laced with the looming possibility of the end of all things. It’s a good one. So don’t cry, dear reader. We’re still alive, despite everything. — Team YS
You can submit an illustration, a photograph, a poem, an essay, a song, or whatever output you wish you to share with other creative kids. This is your platform to show your work and an opportunity to hone
It can be hard to stay hopeful in the midst of all this, when some terrible event seems to make the news every damn day. But may the works of art here stoke the flames of unrest inside you and keep your anger burning. Lord knows that’s what we need.
We all take it wherever we can get rest, and the world gives us as many forms of relief as it does experiences of pain. Perhaps we can call that symmetry. May you never have to bear more than what you can handle.
All the time that we have is all that’s necessary. There’s something poignant about the ephemeral, and in this issue, we capture it all: feelings, states of mind, moments slipping through our fingers, only for their memories to last us a lifetime.
The best thing about diversity is that it keeps us together. This issue is all about that: our continued unity despite (and because of) our differences, finding goodness in others, and becoming linked through art. Come join us — there’s always room.
If life has taught us anything, it’s that we carry on the only way we know how. In the second issue, we look to the possibilities and garner new perspectives. Times may be rough, but we can always tune out and turn around.
Firsts and fresh starts. Issue one celebrates the innocence and intricacies that come with beginnings — the hard work, the little shifts and changes, the triumphs and hardships, the need to do better. Let’s do it together, shall we?