Awakening from the sleep-walking society: Crisis, detachment and the real in prepper awakening narratives

Thoroughly saturated by ordinary crisis, routinized emergency and the normalization of apocalypticism, late-modern society is nevertheless depicted as sleep-walking into crisis; a further, overlapping crisis of the ‘real.’ This paper explores the potential of prepper awakening narratives – the moment preppers ‘wake up' to the reality of crisis – to contribute to explorations of detachment and denial in the Anthropocene. These narratives, part of the wider repertoire of prepper story-crafting, provide justification for the prepper’s transition to an anticipatory subjectivity, emotionally and sensually attuned to crisis and  motivated to prepare. Extending existing conceptualizations of awakening, I argue that prepper awakenings are defined by the uncanny realization of distance from an ideal state of security. To illustrate, I consider narratives of bodily vulnerability, insecurity at home and abandonment in public places, which express shock at the failure of relationality implicit to the safety fictions of these spaces. In this reckoning with the ‘autonomous’ modern self the agential and aware prepper emerges, but this does not in itself lead to a renewed moment of politics or production of revolutionary consciousness. Instead, the horrifying real’ is recrafted as a vital space of self-reliance and resourcefulness, a place to reflect on endurance beyond this world-ending.

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