Thursday, 29 November 2007

Personally, I was disappointed when the Cold War ended.

The Arms Race, Escalating Nuclear Tension, Def-Cons 1-4. All those kind of things were a comfort to me. I really thought that the world was going to end and that I’d live to see it. I hadn’t been around when everything started all-those-however-many million years ago and the fact that I’d be around to see it all disappear seemed like a privilege of sorts. I liked the idea that I was born into a time when time got stopped.

It was exciting, frankly, and it made you kind of fatalistic and vigilant because AT ANY MOMENT there could be a flash in the sky and the buildings would atomize and a colossal wall of thermonuclear heat would sweep out on all sides evaporating the seas and melting mountains down into lakes of dusty glass. Also, it gave you the opportunity to be heroic. I could well imagine the rising wail of the klaxon piercing the school playground and the monumental panic that would ensue as I bravely fought my way home through the wailing masses to be with my family.

I was only ten years old, but the prospect of Armageddon makes you precocious. I was too young to have any kind of seize-the-day, party spirit, I was just very serious about it in my day-dreamy, childlike way, pretty much awestruck and in some way oddly grateful. I’m still not sure whether I’ve adjusted to the fact that the world’s going to drag on indefinitely.

You had to die, I knew that, and here was a way that seemed appropriate. I mean your life is everything to YOU and when you die then for you at least THE WORLD ENDS whereas for everybody else nothing much changes. The Earth keeps turning on its axis, people get up and go to work and worry about the bills, clouds move across the sky, dog shit accumulates in the street and gets washed away by the rain. It’s nothing too significant.

Now, I don’t know how much it suited my temperament or how much it shaped it but there seemed to be something great about the Mutually Assured Destruction that had kept two halves of the globe locked into a tentative balance from long before I was born and which might at any second fall apart. There was no question of IF, in my mind it was only WHEN, and that meant that I was never going to be an adult, that the world existed and was huge, crazy and incomprehensible and would end for huge, crazy and incomprehensible reasons. The fact that I wasn’t going to be around to see much of it gave me an epic sense of tragedy, and anyway, I didn’t want to get old and bald and fat and flatulent and be responsible and employed. Not when I could have my molecules smashed out across the Galaxy by waves of blinding, Biblical heat.
That's the only way to go.
Imagine the sense of anticlimax that I live with.