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The Poetics of Illumination

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Reading Michael Madsen’s Into Eternity

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Michael Madsen’s documentary about the disposal of nuclear waste in Finland uses a symbolic language whose meaning can be amplified by St. Augustine’s theology, and in particular by his theories of reading. Because nuclear waste remains dangerous for 100,000 years, the problem of its disposal forces us to think about the inevitable end of our own civilization. The necessity to place warnings on the waste burial sites demands that we find ways to speak to people in the future with whom we may have no cultural continuity. It makes ancient theories of eternity newly relevant, and potentially awakens our sense of the sacred in a world that has been stripped of sacredness during the scientific era that gave rise to nuclear power in the first place.

Affiliations: 1: University of Tyumen


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