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The specter of the apocalypse has always been a semiotic fantasy: only at the end of all things will their true meaning be revealed. Our long romance with catastrophe is inseparable from the Western hermeneutical tradition: our search for an elusive truth, one that can only be uncovered through the interminable work of interpretation. Catastrophe terrifies and tantalizes to the extent it promises an end to this task. 9/11 is this book’s beginning, but not its end. Here, it seemed, was the apocalypse America had long been waiting for; until it became just another event. And, indeed, the real lesson of 9/11 may be that catastrophe is the purest form of the event. From the poetry of classical Greece to the popular culture of contemporary America, The End of Meaning seeks to demonstrate that catastrophe, precisely as the notion of the sui generis, has always been generic. This is not a book on the great catastrophes of the West; it offers no canon of catastrophe, no history of the catastrophic. The End of Meaning asks, instead, what if meaning itself is a catastrophe?