9 Sep

Do I hear what I think I’m hearing
Do I see the signs I think I see?
Or is this just a fantasy?
Is it true that the beast is waking
Stirring in his restless sleep tonight.

The Visitors, 1981

War Jimmy! It’s just a shot away. I can feel what people felt in 1979. America picked itself up and rattled its sword again, dazzling the world with its voluntary propaganda and following it up with Ronald Reagan. All thru the 80s the Bear and the Eagle growled and drank hard liquor and talked tough. I thought the world would end, convinced of it. Teenagers.

Television liberals contributed the counter-propaganda. From America something that typically gets the message across without really dealing with reality. To portray only the immediate consequences of the day after is to obliterate the real nightmare that follows.

The British dealt with the nightmare at length portraying the days before, the day after and two subsequent generations. A feudal era of emotionally dead serfs barely subsisting amongst the permanent and poisonous mist and toxic soil; growing mutated food, having mutated babies

But the world didn’t end in the 1980s. The technology we see in WarGames did not lead us to the scenes in The Day After and Threads. It led to the internet and superhero movies that work.

Still the dread feeling never quite leaves, well and good. The only certainty is change. Up, down, side-to-side. There’s creation, then there is destruction. We bonehead apes just haven’t learned to get past the violence. The world didn’t end and neither did the same old games. War did not touch Brisbane, Australia in the 1980s; it touched Afghanistan and Lebanon instead. Living on the fringes of Empire is dangerous.

New enemies arise as old ones fall. Some are like the Phoenix; some like the dragon that sleeps beneath the Earth and then wakes up. As human individuals we have no beef, necessarily. We can be good friends even lovers. We can be indifferent or resentful. Mutually aloof. But we are fleas on the backs of our nations and nations are sometimes more emotional than people.

There are human leeches that feast on battle-killed flesh. There are mad dogs for whom war is a kind of paradise. These variations are written into our species and every generation bears such amongst it. It’s Nature, subterranean. “Who’s doing this? Who’s killing us?” asks PVC Whit in The Thin Red Line. He’s not talking about the Japanese. It is not just the leeches and the psychos who bear the will to warfare within them. Rare is the human being that resists and survives when the human herd stampedes.

I hear no swords rattling, I’m aware of battles in places far away. I see sometimes a photograph of a Australian soldier who has given his life in service of his country, my country. But I’d be lying if I said I’d been personally distressed by it. If hundreds of young men were tallied daily dead I’d be angry but the anger would smoulder. No adrenalin would pour. No true distress would poison my dreams.

No swords rattle in my face and few people I talk to take the idea that it’s in the mail too seriously. The patriotically correct don’t take it seriously. That’s what worries me. I’m not correct, patriotically or otherwise, but I know prisons are dangerous when quiet.

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