Saturday, August 04, 2012

"The Destroyer of Worlds": Anniversaries, a Film, a Book & an Astrological What If?

Two or three initially unrelated things led to this posting, but mainly the fact that a couple of dark anniversaries are coming up on Monday and Thursday: anniversaries of events which took place on 6 & 9 August in 1945.....67 years ago:

Among a recently collected pile of tapes and DVDs of movies in which David Strathairn has played a part is Day One. We watched it last week. It was a made-for-TV documentary-drama, released 1989, based on a book by Peter Wyden about a research and development program, The Manhattan Project, which culminated, on 6 and 9 August 1945, in the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japaneses cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. David Strathairn played the part of Robert Oppenheimer, American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley who was chosen to lead the research project. The film is a sober, detailed and sensitive relating of the darkly historic events and the 5-year lead up to them. It attempts to give viewers some idea of how those people involved must have felt about the deadly work they were doing. Oppenheimer remarked later that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Without realising any connection, last week I began reading a book recently acquired, highly recommended by sci-fi reviewers online: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. first published in 1960. The author, Walter M. Miller had participated in the Allied bombing of an Italian monastery (Monte Cassino) during World War II and remained deeply affected by his wartime experiences. The novel is divided into three sections: Fiat Homo (Let There Be Man), Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light) and Fiat Voluntas Tua(Let Thy Will Be Done), three stories, loosely linked, 600 years apart. I enjoyed the first part a lot, the second and third sections I found disappointing. The stories turn on an initial premise that a fiery atomic holocaust plunged the earth into darkness and ignorance for centuries, and describe events at three 600-year points after the catastrophe. As centuries passed technology was rediscovered and....well, you can guess the rest. We never learn. As I read, I reflected on Day One, the film we'd watched just days ago, as well as remembering the proximity of anniversary dates of the two real-life atomic bombings of Japanese cities.

The following thoughts outline some astro-coloured potential outcomes if ever humankind did, one day, actually manage to exterminate itself :

What if a nuclear conflagration were to take place on Earth resulting, eventually, in the complete annihilation of the human race? The planet would be left devastated for many thousands of years. What if, eventually, after a minor hit from a small asteroid which carried spores from outer space, a form of life began to take root, mingling with whatever remained among the formerly radioactive rubble? Several more millennia would pass with lifeforms becoming more sophisticated and intelligent, though in no way similar in form to the human race. Would the sensibilities of these beings still be governed by the same planets, Sun and Moon, seasons and cycles as we are, we the human race ? Would the same astrological imprints still endow similar benefits and drawbacks. Would there still be that tiny seed of hatred embedded, that same seed which we all carry within us? Are we, as a race, warts and all, simply as we are because of our particular physical place in the universe? And would any other developed race spawned on this planet have the same problems because of the planetary setup?

The price we pay for the beauty of the Earth and its benefits is that its human inhabitants carry a mix of characteristics capable, at worst, of destroying themselves. If, as astrologers believe, these characteristics are governed (in part) by the physical situation of our planet Earth, and how it relates to celestial bodies surrounding it, then nothing will ever change fundamentally - only superficially. Wars and hatred will always be a part of life on Earth, the features of its inhabitants, uniforms and figureheads may change, but the core drive of hatred (and greed) will remain, always.

If this is so, then the only way for a better world would be to find another planet capable of supporting life. A different planetary configuration would surround it. A different planetary configuration would not necessarily be a better one. Humans born on such a planet, if travel and full-scale emigration to it were possible, might have less, or even none, of our Earth-born good traits and more bad ones (traits worse than we could even imagine).

We carry on playing with the hand destiny has dealt the human race. It's a gamble. Gamblers do very occasionally win, even with the odds stacked against them.


Wisewebwoman said...

Challenging meaty post today, T. I am still haunted by "War of the Worlds" a book I read and a movie I saw when I was around 11.

We are a scourge on the face of the earth, and I fear there's no redemption for us.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ I read WOTW at a fairly young age too, and have never forgotten it.....well, with different movie versions available at intervals, it'd be hard to forget - can't ever miss a version of it, and to my mind nobody has yet got it exactly right.

Yes - scourge is right, WWW. Nature will deal with us, later or sooner.

R J Adams said...

Jeff Wayne's musical version of "War of the Worlds" is a real enjoyment, with the added pleasure of Richard Burton speaking the narrative.

I used to religiously blog around this date on the atomic holocaust heaped on the innocents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by god's chosen nation, the United States, but these days I tend to think, "What's the point?"

More to the point: I do hope you and yours are well away from these horrific wildfires presently raging through Oklahoma. I guess, as you're still blogging, you've not had to flee, as yet?

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Yes, we have the LP of Jeff Wayne's musical, I love it too - i think somewhere in the depths of archives there's a post about it. :-)

The anniversary is likely to be forgotten as years go by, and as you say, mentioning it seems futile, but having watched the film and read the book quite unaware (or forgetful) of the anniversaries coming up, then remembering them I decided the coincidence might be in the manner of a kick in the backside from the Universe (or something), so I posted. ;-)

Yes, thanks for asking RJ. We got up yesterday to notice the smell of burning outside and realised there must be wildfires somewhere not far away, but in our immediate vicinity, so far, all's well - apart from high temps and lack of rain, of course, and the threat of the electricity supply going south due to excessive demand for AC.