http://www.whitenoise.city/articles/apocalyptic-london-wells-orwell (defunct now)
The author does a sweeping job of collecting dystopian references, but just one or two notes on /why/ humanity spends so much time and effort imagining the Apocalypse: 1) it’s easier to envision destruction than slow, methodical change. 2) we’d rather the world end with us than continue on without us (what will we miss?)
My personal favorite (not mentioned) is that the act (and art) of survival has been lost on us. Your book The Knowledge is a perfect example of this. Without the need to struggle to survive, we’re left to ponder the why of existence.
Let’s face it, surviving in the first world is not much of a challenge. In other lands, sure, the everyday acquisition of food, water, safety, shelter are struggles. They’re living in a dystopia — today. We facebook meanderers probably worry about other more mundane or trivial aspects of modern life. Worries that we know have no consequence.
Envisioning the End allows us to, for a time, picture and dream of a time when our every step, our every decision might result in tragedy or triumph. Being forced to live in such a precarious world would imbue an edge of excitement, stir our basic evolutionary skills at surviving, expose that frisson of living that our mundane lives fail to provide.