Issue 02: Aftermath

Epoch Issue 02: Aftermath will be released 1 May 2021, and is now available for purchase.


Aftermath (n) originated in the 1520s to mean the second crop of grass which is grown on the same land after the first had been harvested. From after- + –math (which meant ‘a mowing, cutting of grass’. Figurative language came about in the 1650s.

Similar to the French regain, from re- + –gain (which meant ‘grass which grows in mown meadows’.

Aftermath is now defined as ‘the consequences or after-effects of a significant unpleasant event’, but really, it can mean so much beyond this as well.


When we asked our staff what ‘Aftermath’ meant to them, there were many different responses, some of which might inspire all you writers out there for the upcoming issue.

What makes this theme so beautiful is that it discusses the idea of trauma or devastation in terms of the growth that comes after.Cara

It makes me think of destruction too. Maybe suggesting that things are happening around you that aren’t within your control. How you deal with it will be the regrowth!Hannah

My immediate gut response to the word “aftermath” is an image of nuclear fallout and having to pick up the pieces after total destruction.Ellie

For me, it’s especially interesting to consider how Aftermath can relate to the modern-day in ecological terms… Makes me think of life after death in the natural cycle – the innumerable species that thrive on a fallen tree-trunk. That sort of thing.Philip

Aftermath feels like the resulting chaos of a battle or nuclear war or something, it definitely always feels like it’s picking up the pieces.Tasha

Aftermath calls to mind the very quiet moments following change. It’s tied intrinsically to reflection and analysis, and those moments of taking stock. Perhaps it’s discovering what remains, or maybe it’s finding what’s appeared.Sam

In my mind, aftermath is associated with survival. To witness first-hand the aftermath of an event is to have by definition survived the event itself, to have weathered the storm and come out the other side.Megan

It made me think of the Trümmerfrauen­ – the women who rebuilt Germany after WW2 because all the German men had died in the war. The philosopher Timothy Morton argues that the end of the world already happened with the beginning of colonialism, capitalist expansion and industrialisation; that we find ourselves already living in a world that is forever altered by the consequences of human activity (climate crisis etc), yet we are still in a stage of denial about it. For Morton, only if we give up on the idea of a world which no longer exists can we face the reality of the environmental catastrophe and deal with its aftermath.Ina

To me, aftermath is a conglomeration of what everyone else has said! Rebuilding, re-evaluating, and even grieving the event/feelings/what have you that has led to the “aftermath” portion. Healing is very much part of it (esp. from a traumatic or unpleasant event), but in order to heal, often we have to face up to uncomfortable truths and let ourselves fall apart before the rebuilding can happen. Even just working up the courage to do so can be a part of the aftermath process.Zahrah

When I think of “aftermath” I immediately think of nervous trepidation. the image that comes to mind is a family/couple/individual huddled together in the dark underground, be it a bunker or a cave or wherever your imagination takes you, it is a stifling environment. The people are desperate to leave this place but scared of what awaits them outside. They see a slit of light coming through which are desperately drawn to, but despite hating where they are now, it feels safer than the unknown outside. Aftermath is hope and new beginnings, but aftermath is also crippling anxiety for the unknown.Greta

When I think of “aftermath”, my mind immediately goes to Clute’s “The Darkening Garden: A short guide to the lexicography of horror… For aftermath, it’s basically part of the story, near the end, when you’re now sitting in the wreckage of what you thought reality/normalcy was.  And, I think, the horror is derived from the fact that there is no leaving this new reality.  Which is, you know, heavy shit.”Adam

I think of aftermath in terms of healing. Trauma has been inflicted… whether physical or psychological, to a body or community… and aftermath is recovery from said trauma.Ivan

Aftermath is a word drenched in negative connotations; it is always ‘the aftermath of… an altered landscape’. Finding green shoots of new growth takes a lot of work. When I hear the word ‘aftermath’ it is something which has been devastated, but also something from which there can only be an altered state, and if the right action is taken it is in a positive direction. There is nothing positive about aftermath, but the change which follows is forced and could be either for the best, or otherwise.

The aftermath of the Australian bush fires was absolute devastation, pure calamity. There was a royal commission, but the federal government will ignore its climate change commendations. That is why I say aftermath does not have an automatic positive, it has to be mined from the chaos, wrought from the destruction, fought for.Alex