We so dearly wish to be present, not at the creation, but at the end of days. Suicidal jihadism is just that -- the wish for death, and the denial of its loneliness. Above all else, we must not die alone. Emperors can command thousands of terracotta companions, but we mere mortals can at least bring along a planeful or classroomful or clubful of our planetmates.
As humanistic, scientific modernism marches forward, the Romantic desire for absolute presence -- and its necessary anti-matter, absolute absence -- intensifies. This manifests itself in everything from Paris, San Bernardino and now Orlando to the cosmi-comic presence of The Donald.
A reverie sparked by the thought that "The Second Coming" and I, Claudius -- both visions of a 2,000-year cycle of empire and apocalypse -- came out within 15 years of each other, on the eve of Western civ's 19th and arguably final nervous breakdown.