Archives for category: Destruction
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Satantango (1994)

“We don’t always do what we should. There is such a thing as negative egotism, the desire for what will destroy us. Perhaps that’s the best thing about us, that uncertainty, that fragility. Humans are strange creatures, we think with a logic that is quite different from what we feel, and all too often what we feel goes against what we need–love, passion, and, yes, hatred, those are the feelings that can bring about our downfall, and we go toward that downfall knowingly, we seem to need to keep doing that, and no one can explain why.”

from On the Edge by Rafael Chirbes

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Germany Year Zero (1948)

“Maybe a hundred years down the line, nobody will look back at climate change as the most important issue of the early 21st century, because the damage will have been done, and the idea that it might have been prevented will seem absurd. Maybe the idea that Mali and Burkina Faso were once inhabited countries rather than empty deserts will seem queer, and the immiseration of huge numbers of stateless refugees thronging against the borders of the rich northern countries will be taken for granted. The absence of the polar ice cap and the submersion of Venice will have been normalised; nobody will think of these as live issues, no one will spend their time reproaching their forefathers, there’ll be no moral dimension at all. We will have wrecked the planet, but our great-grandchildren won’t care much, because they’ll have been born into a planet already wrecked.”
The Economist (Dec. 12, 2011)

As the dust slowly settled after World War II, an even heavier cloud began to gather over the world. The United States emerged as a clear victor, having developed and used the first atomic weapons while suffering little destruction on its home turf. The U.S. rise to a superpower was primarily built on its ability to destroy anything and everything in a moment’s notice. In a short time, however, that ability was matched by the Soviet Union.

Elsewhere, cities were rebuilt, trials were held, and monuments were erected to the fallen. Humanity not only survived, but by many accounts, truly began to prosper after the second world war. Technological innovation exploded. Space exploration, computing technology, and medical advances all boosted the health and economies of the nations of the industrialized capitalist world for the most part.

Firestorm (documentary)

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Where do we turn knowing that the world we have inherited may not support our continued existence? It is much too late to go back and take a different path, one that might have seemed unbearably difficult to navigate at the time. The path we did take, however, led right into what we thought was a walled garden. Vines covered the bars on the windows, masking the garden’s real function. We’ve been locked in for so long, we now mistake the vines for the bars.

Having time to reflect on our situation, however, we can begin to understand our imprisonment. We are imprisoned not only by our choices but by the existing systems that we are brought up with. We can change personally but still can’t shake the feeling of being imprisoned, knowing that our own refusal to accept the system that runs the prison does not affect its continued operation. That often leaves us only one place to turn.

“…links between mythology and vision make for mechanisms of remembrance and prediction, fiction and representation, repression and categorization, which are at the core of humanity’s self-perception and sense of identity. Materially nowhere, utopia fills the mind; a site of infinite fantasy, it can also trigger limitless destruction.” (Bartov, p. 148)

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What happens when humans bombard the planet into an entirely different state of being? Do we own up to our participation in the destruction or do we go on with our lives under the new circumstances, adapting to our changed environment? What is the defining factor of our response: powerlessness, guilt, shame?

Germany Year Zero (1948)

We only have to go back as far as World War II for some answers. It marked a turning point in human history when our ability to destroy each other became absolute. In a matter of hours, we could undo billions of years of biological life striving to adapt to an ideal planetary environment. The stage was set; we were just waiting for the play to begin. Read the rest of this entry »