Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is Anyone Afraid of the Atomic Bomb?

It was really frightening. The prospect thrown before us of destruction. Whole cities blown away in a rush of hypersonic wind. Darkness falling over the land. Radioactive fallout causing grotesque skin lesions. Death all round. Childhood in the 1950's. President Kennedy announcing that ballistic missiles were in Cuba. Blockading, and waiting for the collision of nations. We grew up with a very realistic and fearful image of the destructive power now in the hands of man. We were afraid.

I wonder if anyone is afraid now? A certain fatalistic nihilism has taken away our overt dread and our children play games simulating all sorts of destruction. But it is just a game. The line between reality and fantasy is transparent jello. The Nintendo has helped us escape into a universe of virtual denial. Is this a good thing? Do our children know what real war is? Predators fly on the borders of Pakistan seeking out enemies, controlled by former video game players in darkened rooms in Virginia. Do we conceptualize at all the meaning of mutual assured destruction. Did the Atomic specter walk behind a veil and disappear? Perched at the precipice of extinction, as we have been since the first bomb fell on Hiroshima, we plunge into the next video game and count our points.

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