In the far flung future, star-watchers say, the universe will stop expanding. The fires of creation will grind to a halt; the flaring excess that drives the cosmos will run dry. The stars will die. Matter will decay. You might say the existence will be frozen forever. You might say that nothing interesting will ever happen again. You might even call it the end of history.
You know the feeling, whether or not you’ve given it words. Perhaps you sense that the culture has begun to feel like an engine struggling to turn over, or the bleary hangover as last night’s easy fun becomes this morning’s hard consequences. Perhaps you have begun to notice, at the edge of your vision, the fibers of the world unraveling. The spectre of sameness is haunting America. A ghostly uniformity is oozing in subtle waves across our nature, our art, our politics, bleaching them like coral in a lukewarm and acidifying sea. For all of the frenzied energy of the moment, the mainstream feels locked in an endless reboot; as we enter times of unprecedentedly quick and jolting change, the walls of the possible are closing in.
And yet. Beneath all that smothering sameness, don’t you feel the keening desire for something real? For the managed chaos and emergent order of growing things? For a world of easy purpose, spontaneity, belonging? For the wonder that is your birthright?
Heat Death is the subject, space-time location, and patron deity of this publication. Heat Death is an archeology of worn-out narratives—of ecological NGOs and capitalist finance, big entertainment companies and technological marketplaces. Heat Death is about the long, old roots of the world that’s coming: vanished trade networks and lost cities, migration and land use and apocalypses. Heat Death is about extinction, and evolution, the collision between the exotic and the native. Heat Death is about how comics media took over the world, and Star Wars reflects the long decline of American empire. Heat Death is juxtaposition. Heat Death is a remix.
We’re Saul and Asher Elbein: journalists, fiction writers, spacetime archeologists. We’re going to be bringing you dispatches and voices from past, present and future. We’re going to bring you interviews, essays, and when possible, reported pieces. We’re going to challenge and thrill you with the specific, the concrete, the real. (And unlike other newsletters we could mention, we’re not pundits: we’re not afraid to pick up the goddamn phone.)
Heat Death is coming to you from all points past, present and future to remind you that yes, this world is dying.
But that means more space for the world that’s being born.
It’s HEAT DEATH. Join us.