Showing posts with label Nuclear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nuclear. Show all posts

Monday, 29 July 2019


Myth, chased from The Real by the violence of History, finds refuge in Cinema. 


In a violent and contemporary period of history (let’s say between the two world wars and the cold war), it is myth that invades cinema as imaginary content. It is the golden age of despotic and legendary resurrections. Myth, chased from the real by the violence of history, finds refuge in cinema. 

Today, it is history itself that invades the cinema according to the same scenario—the historical stake chased from our lives by this sort of immense neutralization, which is dubbed peaceful coexistence on a global level, and pacified monotony on the quo­ tidian level—this history exorcised by a slowly or brutally con­ gealing society celebrates its resurrection in force on the screen, according to the same process that used to make lost myths live again.

History is our lost referential, that is to say our myth. It is by virtue of this fact that it takes the place of myths on the screen. The illusion would be to congratulate oneself on this “awareness of history on the part of cinema,” as one congratulated oneself on the “entrance of politics into the university.” Same misunder­ standing, same mystification. The politics that enter the univer­sity are those that come from history, a retro politics, emptied of substance and legalized in their superficial exercise, with the air of a game and a field of adventure, this kind of politics is like sexuality or permanent education (or like social security in its time), that is, posthumous liberalization. 

The great event of this period, the great trauma, is this decline of strong referential, these death pangs of the real and of the rational that open onto an age of simulation. Whereas so many generations, and particularly the last, lived in the march of his­ tory, in the euphoric or catastrophic expectation of a revolu­ tion—today one has the impression that history has retreated, leaving behind it an indifferent nebula, traversed by currents, but emptied of references. It is into this void that the phantasms of a past history recede, the panoply of events, ideologies, retro fashions—no longer so much because people believe in them or still place some hope in them, but simply to resurrect the period when at least there was history, at least there was violence (albeit fascist), when at least life and death were at stake. Anything serves to escape this void, this leukemia of history and of politics, this hemorrhage of values—it is in proportion to this distress that all content can be evoked pell-mell, that all previous history is resurrected in bulk—a controlling idea no longer selects, only nostalgia endlessly accumulates: war, fascism, the pageantry of the belle epoque, or the revolutionary struggles, everything is equivalent and is mixed indiscriminately in the same morose and funereal exaltation, in the same retro fascination. There is how­ ever a privileging of the immediately preceding era (fascism, war, the period immediately following the war—the innumerable films that play on these themes for us have a closer, more per­ verse, denser, more confused essence). One can explain it by evo­ king the Freudian theory of fetishism (perhaps also a retro hy­ pothesis). This trauma (loss of referentials) is similar to the discovery of the difference between the sexes in children, as se­ rious, as profound, as irreversible: the fetishization of an object intervenes to obscure this unbearable discovery, but precisely, says Freud, this object is not just any object, it is often the last object perceived before the traumatic discovery. Thus the fetishized history will preferably be the one immediately preced­ ing our “irreferential” era. Whence the omnipresence of fascism and of war in retro—a coincidence, an affinity that is not at all political; it is naive to conclude that the evocation of fascism signals a current renewal of fascism (it is precisely because one is no longer there, because one is in something else, which is still less amusing, it is for this reason that fascism can again become fascinating in its filtered cruelty, aestheticized by retro).1 

History thus made its triumphal entry into cinema, post­ humously (the term historical has undergone the same fate: a “historical” moment, monument, congress, figure are in this way designated as fossils). Its reinjection has no value as conscious awareness but only as nostalgia for a lost referential.

This does not signify that history has never appeared in cinema as a powerful moment, as a contemporary process, as insurrec­tion and not as resurrection. In the “real” as in cinema, there was history but there isn’t any anymore. Today, the history that is “given back” to us (precisely because it was taken from us) has no more of a relation to a “historical real” than neofiguration in painting does to the classical figuration of the real. Neofiguration is an invocation of resemblance, but at the same time the flagrant proof of the disappearance of objects in their very representation: hyperreal. Therein objects shine in a sort of hyperresemblance (like history in contemporary cinema) that makes it so that fun­ damentally they no longer resemble anything, except the empty figure of resemblance, the empty form of representation. It is a question of life or death: these objects are no longer either living or deadly. That is why they are so exact, so minute, frozen in the state in which a brutal loss of the real would have seized them. All, but not only, those historical films whose very perfection is disquieting: Chinatown, Three Days of the Condor, Barry Lyndon, 1900, All the President’s Men, etc. One has the impression of it being a question of perfect remakes, of extraordinary montages that emerge more from a combinatory culture (or McLuhanesque mosaic), of large photo-, kino-, historicosynthesis machines, etc., rather than one of veritable films. Let’s understand each other: their quality is not in question. The problem is rather that in some sense we are left completely indifferent. Take The Last Picture Show: like me, you would have had to be sufficiently distracted to have thought it to be an original production from the 1950s: a very good film about the customs in and the atmo­ sphere of the American small town. Just a slight suspicion: it was a little too good, more in tune, better than the others, without the psychological, moral, and sentimental blotches of the films of that era. Stupefaction when one discovers that it is a 1970s film, perfect retro, purged, pure, the hyperrealist restitution of 1950s cinema. One talks of remaking silent films, those will also doubtlessly be better than those of the period. A whole genera­tion of films is emerging that will be to those one knew what the android is to man: marvelous artifacts, without weakness, pleas­ing simulacra that lack only the imaginary, and the hallucination inherent to cinema. Most of what we see today (the best) is al­ ready of this order. Barry Lyndon is the best example: one never did better, one will never do better in ... in what? Not in evok­ ing, not even in evoking, in simulating. All the toxic radiation has been filtered, all the ingredients are there, in precise doses, not a single error. 

Cool, cold pleasure, not even aesthetic in the strict sense: func­ tional pleasure, equational pleasure, pleasure of machination. One only has to dream of Visconti (Guepard, Senso, etc., which in certain respects make one think of Barry Lyndon) to grasp the difference, not only in style, but in the cinematographic act. In Visconti, there is meaning, history, a sensual rhetoric, dead time, a passionate game, not only in the historical content, but in the mise-en-scene. None of that in Kubrick, who manipulates his film like a chess player, who makes an operational scenario of history. And this does not return to the old opposition between the spirit of finesse and the spirit of geometry: that opposition still comes from the game and the stakes of meaning, whereas we are entering an era of films that in themselves no longer have meaning strictly speaking, an era of great synthesizing machines of varying geometry. 

Is there something of this already in Leone’s Westerns? Maybe. All the registers slide in that direction. Chinatown: it is the detec­tive movie renamed by laser. It is not really a question of perfec­ tion: technical perfection can be part of meaning, and in that case it is neither retro nor hyperrealist, it is an effect of art. Here, tech­ nical perfection is an effect of the model: it is one of the referential tactical values. In the absence of real syntax of meaning, one has nothing but the tactical values of a group in which are admirably combined, for example, the CIA as a mythological machine that does everything, Robert Redford as polyvalent star, social rela­ tions as a necessary reference to history, technical virtuosity as a necessary reference to cinema. 

The cinema and its trajectory: from the most fantastic or myth­ ical to the realistic and the hyperrealistic. 

The cinema in its current efforts is getting closer and closer, and with greater and greater perfection, to the absolute real, in its banality, its veracity, in its naked obviousness, in its boredom, and at the same time in its presumption, in its pretension to being the real, the immediate, the unsignified, which is the craziest of un­dertakings (similarly, functionalism’s pretension to designat­ing—design—the greatest degree of correspondence between the object and its function, and its use value, is a truly absurd enterprise); no culture has ever had toward its signs this naive and paranoid, puritan and terrorist vision. 

Terrorism is always that of The Real. 

Concurrently with this effort toward an absolute correspon­ dence with the real, cinema also approaches an absolute corre­ spondence with itself—and this is not contradictory: it is the very definition of the hyperreal. Hypotyposis and specularity. Cinema plagiarizes itself, recopies itself, remakes its classics, retroactivates its original myths, remakes the silent film more perfectly than the original, etc.: all of this is logical, the cinema is fascinated by itself as a lost object as much as it (and we) are fasci­ nated by the real as a lost referent. The cinema and the imaginary (the novelistic, the mythical, unreality, including the delirious use of its own technique) used to have a lively, dialectical, full, dramatic relation. The relation that is being formed today be­ tween the cinema and the real is an inverse, negative relation: it results from the loss of specificity of one and of the other. The cold collage, the cool promiscuity, the asexual nuptials of two cold media that evolve in an asymptotic line toward each other: the cinema attempting to abolish itself in the cinematographic (or televised) hyperreal. 

History is a strong myth, perhaps, along with the unconscious, the last great myth. It is a myth that at once subtended the possi­ bility of an “objective” enchainment of events and causes and the possibility of a narrative enchainment of discourse. The age of history, if one can call it that, is also the age of the novel. It is this fabulous character, the mythical energy of an event or of a narra­ tive, that today seems to be increasingly lost. Behind a performa­ tive and demonstrative logic: the obsession with historical fidelity, with a perfect rendering (as elsewhere the obsession with real time or with the minute quotidianeity of Jeanne Hilmann doing the dishes), this negative and implacable fidelity to the materiality of the past, to a particular scene of the past or of the present, to the restitution of an absolute simulacrum of the past all complicitous in this, and this is irreversible. Because cinema itself contributed to the disappearance of history, and to the ad­ vent of the archive. Photography and cinema contributed in large part to the secularization of history, to fixing it in its visible, “ob­jective” form at the expense of the myths that once traversed it. 

Today cinema can place all its talent, all its technology in the service of reanimating what it itself contributed to liquidating. It only resurrects ghosts, and it itself is lost therein. 

Note i. 

Fascism itself, the mystery of its appearance and of its collective energy, with which no interpretation has been able to come to grips (neither the Marxist one of political manipulation by dominant classes, nor the Reichian one of the sexual repression of the masses, nor the Deleuzian one of despotic paranoia), can already be inter­ preted as the “irrational” excess of mythic and political referential, the mad intensification of collective value (blood, race, people, etc.), the reinjection of death, of a “political aesthetic of death” at a time when the process of the disenchantment of value and of collective values, of the rational secularization and unidimensionalization of all life, of the operationalization of all social and individual life al­ ready makes itself strongly felt in the West. Yet again, everything seems to escape this catastrophe of value, this neutralization and pacification of life. Fascism is a resistance to this, even if it is a pro­ found, irrational, demented resistance, it would not have tapped into this massive energy if it hadn’t been a resistance to something much worse. Fascism’s cruelty, its terror is on the level of this other terror that is the confusion of the real and the rational, which deepened in the West, and it is a response to that. 

THE CHINA SYNDROME The fundamental stake is at the level of television and information. Just as the extermination of the Jews disap­ peared behind the televised event Holocaust—the cold medium of television having been simply substituted for the cold system of extermination one believed to be exorcising through it—so The China Syndrome is a great example of the supremacy of the televised event over the nuclear event which, itself, remains improbable and in some sense imaginary. 

Besides, the film shows this to be the case (without wanting to): that TV is present precisely where it happens is not coinci­dental, it is the intrusion of TV into the reactor that seems to give rise to the nuclear incident—because TV is like its anticipation and its model in the everyday universe: telefission of the real and of the real world; because TV and information in general are a form of catastrophe in the formal and topological sense Rene Thom gives the word: a radical qualitative change of a whole system. Or, rather, TV and the nuclear are of the same nature: behind the “hot” and negentropic concepts of energy and infor­ mation, they have the same power of deterrence as cold systems do. TV itself is also a nuclear process of chain reaction, but implo­ sive: it cools and neutralizes the meaning and the energy of events. Thus the nuclear, behind the presumed risk of explosion, that is to say of hot catastrophe, conceals a long, cold catastrophe, the universalization of a system of deterrence. 

At the end of the film again comes the second massive intru­ sion of the press and of TV that instigates the drama—the murder of the technical director by the Special Forces, a drama that sub­ stitutes for the nuclear catastrophe that will not occur. 

The homology of the nuclear and of television can be read directly in the images: nothing resembles the control and tele­ command headquarters of the nuclear power station more than TV studios, and the nuclear consoles are combined with those of the recording and broadcasting studios in the same imaginary. Thus everything takes place between these two poles: of the other “center,” that of the reactor, in principle the veritable heart of the matter, we will know nothing; it, like the real, has vanished and become illegible, and is at bottom unimportant in the film (when one attempts to suggest it to us, in its imminent catastrophe, it does not work on the imaginary plane: the drama unfolds on the screens and nowhere else). 

HarrisburgWatergate, and Network: such is the trilogy of The China Syndrome—an indissoluble trilogy in which one no longer knows which is the effect and which is the symptom: the ideolog­ ical argument (Watergate effect), isn’t it nothing but the symp­ tom of the nuclear (Harrisburg effect) or of the computer science model (Network effect)—the real (Harrisburg), isn’t it nothing but the symptom of the imaginary (Network and China Syn­ drome) or the opposite? Marvelous indifferentiation, ideal con­ stellation of simulation. Marvelous title, then, this China Syn­ drome, because the reversibility of symptoms and their con­ vergence in the same process constitute precisely what we call a syndrome—that it is Chinese adds the poetic and intellectual quality of a conundrum or supplication. 

Obsessive conjunction of The China Syndrome and Harrisburg. But is all that so involuntary? Without positing magical links between the simulacrum and the real, it is clear that the Syn­ drome is not a stranger to the “real” accident in Harrisburg, not according to a causal logic, but according to the relations of con­ tagion and silent analogy that link the real to models and to sim­ ulacra: to television’s induction of the nuclear into the film corre­ sponds, with a troubling obviousness, the film’s induction of the nuclear incident in Harrisburg. Strange precession of a film over the real, the most surprising that was given us to witness: the real corresponded point by point to the simulacrum, including the suspended, incomplete character of the catastrophe, which is es­ sential from the point of view of deterrence: the real arranged itself, in the image of the film, to produce a simulation of catas­ trophe. 

From there to reverse our logic and to see in The China Syn­drome the veritable event and in Harrisburg its simulacrum, there is only one step that must be cheerfully taken. Because it is via the same logic that, in the film, nuclear reality arises from the televi­ sion effect, and that in “reality” Harrisburg arises from the China Syndrome cinema effect. 

But The China Syndrome is also not the original prototype of Harrisburg, one is not the simulacrum of which the other would be the real: there are only simulacra, and Harrisburg is a sort of second-order simulation. There is certainly a chain reaction somewhere, and we will perhaps die of it, but this chain reaction is never that of the nuclear, it is that of simulacra and of the simula­ tion where all the energy of the real is effectively swallowed, no longer in a spectacular nuclear explosion, but in a secret and continuous implosion, and that today perhaps takes a more deathly turn than that of all the explosions that rock us. 

Because an explosion is always a promise, it is our hope: note how much, in the film as in Harrisburg, the whole world waits for something to blow up, for destruction to announce itself and remove us from this unnameable panic, from this panic of deter­ rence that it exercises in the invisible form of the nuclear. That the “heart” of the reactor at last reveals its hot power of destruc­ tion, that it reassures us about the presence of energy, albeit cata­ strophic, and bestows its spectacle on us. Because unhappiness is when there is no nuclear spectacle, no spectacle of nuclear energy in itself (Hiroshima is over), and it is for that reason that it is rejected—it would be perfectly accepted if it lent itself to spec­ tacle as previous forms of energy did. Parousia of catastrophe: substantial food for our messianic libido. 

But that is precisely what will never happen. What will happen will never again be the explosion, but the implosion. No more energy in its spectacular and pathetic form—all the romanticism of the explosion, which had so much charm, being at the same time that of revolution—but the cold energy of the simulacrum and of its distillation in homeopathic doses in the cold systems of information. 

What else do the media dream of besides creating the event simply by their presence? Everyone decries it, but everyone is secretly fascinated by this eventuality. Such is the logic of sim­ulacra, it is no longer that of divine predestination, it is that of the precession of models, but it is just as inexorable. And it is because of this that events no longer have meaning: it is not that they are insignificant in themselves, it is that they were preceded by the model, with which their processes only coincided. Thus it would have been marvelous to repeat the script for The China Syndrome at Fessenheim, during the visit offered to the journalists by the EDF (French Electric Company), to repeat on this occasion the accident linked to the magic eye, to the provocative presence of the media. Alas, nothing happened. And on the other hand yes! so powerful is the logic of simulacra: a week after, the unions discovered fissures in the reactors. Miracle of contagions, miracle of analogic chain reactions. 

Thus, the essence of the film is not in any respect the Watergate effect in the person of Jane Fonda, not in any respect TV as a means of exposing nuclear vices, but on the contrary TV as the twin orbit and twin chain reaction of the nuclear one. Besides, just at the end—and there the film is unrelenting in regard to its own argument—when Jane Fonda makes the truth explode di­ rectly (maximum Watergate effect), her image is juxtaposed with what will inexorably follow it and efface it on the screen: a com­ mercial of some kind. The Network effect goes far beyond the Watergate effect and spreads mysteriously into the Harrisburg effect, that is to say not into the nuclear threat, but into the simu­ lation of nuclear catastrophe. 

So, it is simulation that is effective, never the real. The simula­ tion of nuclear catastrophe is the strategic result of this generic and universal undertaking of deterrence: accustoming the people to the ideology and the discipline of absolute security—to the metaphysics of fission and fissure. To this end the fissure must be a fiction. A real catastrophe would delay things, it would con­ stitute a retrograde incident, of the explosive kind (without changing the course of things: did Hiroshima perceptibly delay, deter, the universal process of deterrence?). 

In the film, also, real fusion would be a bad argument: the film would regress to the level of a disaster movie—weak by defini­ tion, because it means returning things to their pure event. The China Syndrome, itself, finds its strength in filtering catastrophe, in the distillation of the nuclear specter through the omnipresent hertzian relays of information. It teaches us (once again without meaning to) that nuclear catastrophe does not occur, is not meant to happen, in the real either, any more than the atomic clash was at the dawning of the cold war. The equilibrium of terror rests on the eternal deferral of the atomic clash. The atom and the nuclear are made to be disseminated for deterrent ends, the power of catastrophe must, instead of stupidly exploding, be disseminated in homeopathic, molecular doses, in the continuous reservoirs of information. Therein lies the true contamination: never biolog­ ical and radioactive, but, rather, a mental destructuration through a mental strategy of catastrophe. 

If one looks carefully, the film introduces us to this mental strategy, and in going further, it even delivers a lesson diametri­ cally opposed to that of Watergate: if every strategy today is that of mental terror and of deterrence tied to the suspension and the eternal simulation of catastrophe, then the only means of mitigat­ ing this scenario would be to make the catastrophe arrive, to pro­ duce or to reproduce a real catastrophe. To which Nature is at times given: in its inspired moments, it is God who through his cataclysms unknots the equilibrium of terror in which humans are imprisoned. Closer to us, this is what terrorism is occupied with as well: making real, palpable violence surface in opposition to the invisible violence of security. Besides, therein lies terror­ism’s ambiguity. 


i. The incident at the nuclear reactor on Three Mile Island, which will shortly follow the release of the film

Friday, 19 July 2019

The Enemy Will Never Betray You

“The Unspeakable” is a term Thomas Merton coined at the heart of the sixties after JFK’s assassination—in the midst of the escalating Vietnam War, the nuclear arms race, and the further assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. In each of those soul-shaking events Merton sensed an evil whose depth and deceit seemed to go beyond the capacity of words to describe. 

    “One of the awful facts of our age,” Merton wrote in 1965, “is the evidence that [the world] is stricken indeed, stricken to the very core of its being by the presence of the Unspeakable.” The Vietnam War, the race to a global war, and the interlocking murders of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy were all signs of the Unspeakable. It remains deeply present in our world. As Merton warned, “Those who are at present so eager to be reconciled with the world at any price must take care not to be reconciled with it under this particular aspect: as the nest of the Unspeakable. This is what too few are willing to see.”
When we become more deeply human, as Merton understood the process, the wellspring of our compassion moves us to confront the Unspeakable.

—Jim Douglass, JFK and The Unspeakable – Why He Died and Why It Matters, p. xv 

Orbis Books, 2008, (hardcover) Simon & Schuster 2010 (softcover)
4. Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions, 1966), 

X. War and Warriors

By our best enemies we do not want to be spared, nor by those either whom we love from the very heart. So let me tell you the truth! My brethren in war! I love you from the very heart. I am, and was ever, your counterpart. And I am also your best enemy. So let me tell you the truth! I know the hatred and envy of your hearts. Ye are not great enough not to know of hatred and envy. Then be great enough not to be ashamed of them! And if ye cannot be saints of knowledge, then, I pray you, be at least its warriors. They are the companions and forerunners of such saintship. I see many soldiers; could I but see many warriors! “Uniform” one calleth what they wear; may it not be uniform what they therewith hide! Ye shall be those whose eyes ever seek for an enemy—for YOUR enemy. And with some of you there is hatred at first sight. Your enemy shall ye seek; your war shall ye wage, and for the sake of your thoughts! And if your thoughts succumb, your uprightness shall still shout triumph thereby! Ye shall love peace as a means to new wars—and the short peace more than the long. You I advise not to work, but to fight. You I advise not to peace, but to victory. Let your work be a fight, let your peace be a victory! One can only be silent and sit peacefully when one hath arrow and bow; otherwise one prateth and quarrelleth. Let your peace be a victory! Ye say it is the good cause which halloweth even war? I say unto you: it is the good war which halloweth every cause. War and courage have done more great things than charity. Not your sympathy, but your bravery hath hitherto saved the victims. “What is good?” ye ask. To be brave is good. Let the little girls say: “To be good is what is pretty, and at the same time touching.” They call you heartless: but your heart is true, and I love the bashfulness of your goodwill. Ye are ashamed of your flow, and others are ashamed of their ebb. Ye are ugly? Well then, my brethren, take the sublime about you, the mantle of the ugly! And when your soul becometh great, then doth it become haughty, and in your sublimity there is wickedness. I know you. In wickedness the haughty man and the weakling meet. But they misunderstand one another. I know you. Ye shall only have enemies to be hated, but not enemies to be despised. Ye must be proud of your enemies; then, the successes of your enemies are also your successes. Resistance—that is the distinction of the slave. Let your distinction be obedience. Let your commanding itself be obeying! To the good warrior soundeth “thou shalt” pleasanter than “I will.” And all that is dear unto you, ye shall first have it commanded unto you. Let your love to life be love to your highest hope; and let your highest hope be the highest thought of life! Your highest thought, however, ye shall have it commanded unto you by me—and it is this: man is something that is to be surpassed. So live your life of obedience and of war! What matter about long life! What warrior wisheth to be spared! I spare you not, I love you from my very heart, my brethren in war!

—Thus spake Zarathustra.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Sarah Connor’s Generation

3,000,000,000 Human Lives ended on August 29th, 1997. 

The survivors of the nuclear fire called The War ‘Judgment Day.’ 

They lived only to face a new nightmare: The War against The Machines. 

The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. 

Their mission: to destroy the leader of the Human Resistance, John Connor, My Son. 

The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me, in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. 

The second was sent to strike at John himself, when he was still a child. 

As before, The Resistance was able to send a lone Warrior, a Protector for John. 

It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.

Is that her? 

She's pretty cool, huh? 

No, she's a complete psycho. 
That's why she's at Pescadero. 
It's a mental institute. 
She tried to blow up a computer factory but got shot and arrested. 

No shit. 

She's a total loser. 
Come on. Let's go spend some money. 

It's like a giant strobe light — 
Burning right through my eyes. 
Somehow I can still see. 
Oh, God. 

We know The Dream's the same every night. 
Why do I have to... 

Please continue. 

Children look like burnt paper. 
Black. Not moving. 

And then the blast wave hits them. 
And they fly apart like leaves. 

Dreams... of cataclysm, 
The End of The World
are very common. 

It's not a Dream, you moron. 
It's Real. 

I know the date it happens. 

I'm sure it feels real to you. 

On August 29, 1997 it's gonna feel pretty fuckin' real to you too! 

Anybody not wearing two-million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day. Get it? 

God, you think you're Safe and Alive. 
You're Already Dead!

Everybody! Him. You. 
You're Dead Already. 

This Whole Place, Everything You See is GONE

You're the one living in The Dream, 
'cause I know it happened! It happened! 

I feel much better now. Clearer. 

Yes, your attitude has been... much improved lately. 

It's helped me to have a goal... something to look forward to. 

What is that? 

Well, you said... 
that if I showed improvement after six months... 
you would transfer me to the minimum security wing... and I could have visitors. 
Well, it's been six months... and... 
I was looking forward to seeing my son. 

I see. 
Let's go back to what you were saying about those Terminator machines. 
Now you think they don't exist? 

They don't exist. 
I know that now. 

But you've told me on many occasions about how you crushed one... in a hydraulic press. 

If I had, there would have been some evidence. 
They would have found something at the factory. 

I see. 
So you don't believe anymore that the company covered it up? 

No. Why would they? 

Monday, 8 July 2019


The Hologram known as Rimmer — 
Guilty, of Second-Degree Murder.

One thousand, one hundred and sixty-seven counts.

No...There's some mistake, surely...

Each count carries a statuatory penalty of eight years penal servitude.  
In the light of your hologrammatic status, these sentences are to be seved consecutively, making a total sentence of nine thousand, three hundred and twenty-eight years.

I've never so much as returned a library book late!

Second-degree murder?  

A thousand people?  

I would have remembered.

Your wilful negligence in failing to reseal a drive plate resulted in the deaths of the entire crew of the Jupiter Mining Corporation vessel the Red Dwarf.

RIMMER: (Pause.) 
Oh, that.


A red warning light failed to go on in the Drive Room,  beginning a chain of events which would lead, in a further twenty-three minutes, to the total annihilation of the entire crew of Red Dwarf.
Rimmer was released from the medical bay, and told to take twenty-four hours' sick leave. He was halfway along Corridor 5: delta 333, on his way back to his sleeping quarters, when he changed his mind and decided to spend the evening in a stasis booth.
The medical orderly had informed him of the Lister situation, and that just about capped a perfect day in the life of Arnold J. Rimmer. On top of everything, Lister was about to gain three years on him. By the time they got back to Earth, Lister would be exactly the same age, while he would he three years older. Even with his illicit stasis-boothing, Rimmer could only hope to snatch three months; four at best. So Lister would gain two-and-three-quarter whole years, and he was already younger than Rimmer to start with. It seemed totally unfair.
To cheer himself up, he decided to spend the evening in a state of non-being, and vowed to begin work in the morning on an appeal against Lister's sentence, so he could get him out of the stasis booth and make him start ageing again.
Navigation officer Henri DuBois knocked his black cona coffee with four sugars over his computer console keyboard. 

As he mopped up the coffee, he noticed three red warning blips on his monitor screen, which he wrongly assumed were the result of his spillage. 


Rimmer got out of the lift on the main stasis floor and made a decision which, in retrospect, he would regret forever.
He decided to comb his hair.
The Cadmium-II coolant system, located deep in the bowels of the engine corridors, stopped functioning.

Rimmer stood in the main wash-room on the stasis deck and combed his hair. He combed his hair in the usual way, then decided to see what it would look like if he parted it on the opposite side. It didn't look very good, so he combed it back again. He washed his hands and dried them on a paper towel. 

If he had left at this point and gone directly to a stasis booth, he wouldn't have died. But, instead, he was seized by one of his frequent superstition attacks.
He rolled the paper towel into a ball and decided if he could throw it directly into the disposal unit, he would eventually become an officer. He took careful aim, decided on an overarm shot, and tossed his paper ball.
It missed by eight feet.
He retrieved the paper and decided if he got it in the disposal unit three times on the run it would make up for the miss. 
The miss would then be struck from the superstition record, and not only would he become an officer, but within three weeks he would get to have sex with a beautiful woman.
Standing directly above the disposal unit, he dropped and retrieved the paper ball three times. Combing his hair one last time, he left the wash-room, idly wondering just who the beautiful girl might be, and headed for a stasis booth
The Cadmium-II core reached critical mass and unleashed the deadly power of a neutron bomb. 

The ship remained structurally undamaged, but in 0.08 seconds everyone on the Engineering Level was dead.
20.40 and 2.7 seconds.
Rimmer placed his hand on the wheel lock of stasis booth 1344. 

He heard what sounded like a nuclear wind roaring down the corridor towards him. 

It was, in fact, a nuclear wind roaring down the corridor towards him.

What now? he thought, rather irritably, and was suddenly hit full in the face by a nuclear explosion.
0.57 seconds before he expired, Rimmer released he was going to die. 

His life didn't flash before him. 

He didn't think of his parents, or his brothers or his home. 

He didn't think of the failed exams or the wasted time in the stasis booths. 

He didn't even think about his one, brief love affair with Yvonne McGruder, the ship's female boxing champion.
What he did, in fact, think of was a bowl of soup. 
A bowl of gazpacho soup.
Then he died.

Then everyone died.

Deep in the belly of Red Dwarf, safely sealed in the cargo hold, Frankenstein nibbled happily from a box of fish paste, while four tiny sightless kittens suckled noisily beneath her.

Part Two
Alone in a Godless universe, 
and out of Shake'n'Vac  


The hatch to the stasis booth zuzz-zungged open, and a green 'Exit now' sign flashed on and off above Lister's head.
Holly's digitalised faced appeared on the eight-foot-square wall monitor.

'It is now safe for you to emerge from stasis.'

'I only just got in.'
Please proceed to the Drive Room for debriefing.' 

Holly's face melted into the smooth greyness of the blank screen.

‘But I only just got in,' insisted Lister. 

He walked down the empty corridor towards the Xpress lift. 

What was that smell? A musty smell. Like an old attic. He knew that smell. It was just like the smell of his grand- mother's cellar. He'd never noticed it before.
And what was that noise? A kind of hissing buzz. The air-conditioning? Why could he hear the air-conditioning? He'd never heard it before. He suddenly realized it wasn't what he was hearing that was odd, it was what he wasn't hearing. 

Apart from the white noise of the air-conditioning, there was no other sound. Just the lonely squeals of his rubber soles on the corridor floor. And there was dust everywhere. Curious mounds of white dust lying in random patterns.
'Where is everybody?'

Holly projected his face onto the floor in front of Lister. 

'They're dead, Dave,' he said, solemnly.

‘Who is?' asked Lister, absently.

Softly: 'Everybody, Dave.'

'What?' Lister smiled.

'Everybody's dead, Dave.'

'What? Everybody?'

'Yes. Everybody's dead, Dave.

'What? Petersen?'

'Yes. They're all dead. Everybody is dead, Dave.' 

Holly sighed. 'Everybody is dead, Dave ' 



'Not Chen?'
'Gordon Bennet!' Holly snapped. 'Yes, Chen! Everybody. Everybody's dead, Dave.'
'Even the Captain?'


Lister squeaked along the corridor. A tic in his left cheek pulled his face into staccato smiles. He wanted to laugh. 

Everybody was dead. Why did he want to laugh? No, they couldn't all be dead. Not everybody. Not literally everybody.
'What about Rimmer?' 
Holly tried all four words in every possible permutation, with every possible inflection, finishing with: 'DEAD, DAVE, EVERYBODY IS, EVERYBODY IS, DAVE, DEAD.'
Lister looked blankly in no particular direction, while his face struggled to find an appropriate expression.

'Wait,' he said, after a while. 'Are you telling me everybody's dead?'
Holly rolled his eyes, and nodded.
The enormous Drive Room echoed with silence. The banks of computers on autopilot whirred about their business. 

'Holly,' Lister's small voice resonated in the giant chamber, 'what are these piles of dust?'
The dust lay on the floors, on chairs, everywhere, all arranged in small, neat dunes. Lister dipped his finger in one and tasted it.
'That,' said Holly from his huge screen, 'is Console Executive Imran Sanchez.' 

Lister's tongue hung guiltily from his mouth, and he wiped the white particles which had once formed part of Console Executive Imran Sanchez onto his jacket cuff. 

'So, what happened?'
Holly told him about the Cadmium-II radiation leak; how the crew had been wiped out within seconds; how he'd headed the ship pell-mell out of the solar system, to avoid spreading nuclear contamination; and how he'd had to keep
Lister in stasis until the radiation had reached a safe background level.
'So . . . How long did you keep me in stasis?'
'Three million years,' said Holly, as casually as he could. 

Lister acted as if he hadn't heard. 

Three million years? It had no meaning. 

If it had been thirty years, he would have thought 'What a long time.' 

But three million years. 

Three million years was just . . . stupid.

Friday, 5 July 2019


“Are you sure,' asked his companion, 'that this is the nineteen-eighties?'

The Doctor looked around. 'Which nineteen-eighties did you have in mind?'

Conversations that never happened.

“I began to dream absolutely unbearable dreams. 

My dream life, up to this point, had been relatively uneventful, as far as I can remember; furthermore, I have never had a particularly good visual imagination. Nonetheless, my dreams became so horrible and so emotionally gripping that I was often afraid to go to sleep. I dreamt dreams vivid as reality. I could not escape from them or ignore them. They centered, in general, around a single theme: that of nuclear war, and total devastation – around the worst evils that I, or something in me, could imagine:

My parents lived in a standard ranch style house, in a middle-class neighborhood, in a small town in northern Alberta. 

I was sitting in the darkened basement of this house, in the family room, watching TV, with my cousin Diane, who was in truth – in waking life – the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. A newscaster suddenly interrupted the program. The television picture and sound distorted, and static filled the screen. My cousin stood up and went behind the TV to check the electrical cord. She touched it, and started convulsing and frothing at the mouth, frozen upright by intense current.

A brilliant flash of light from a small window flooded the basement. I rushed upstairs. There was nothing left of the ground floor of the house. It had been completely and cleanly sheared away, leaving only the floor, which now served the basement as a roof. Red and orange flames filled the sky, from horizon to horizon. Nothing was left as far as I could see, except skeletal black ruins sticking up here and there: no houses, no trees, no signs of other human beings or of any life whatsoever. The entire town and everything that surrounded it on the flat prairie had been completely obliterated.

It started to rain mud, heavily. The mud blotted out everything, and left the earth brown, wet, flat and dull, and the sky leaden, even grey. A few distraught and shell-shocked people started to gather together. They were carrying unlabelled and dented cans of food, which contained nothing but mush and vegetables. They stood in the mud looking exhausted and disheveled. Some dogs emerged, out from under the basement stairs, where they had inexplicably taken residence. They were standing upright, on their hind legs. They were thin, like greyhounds, and had pointed noses. They looked like creatures of ritual – like Anubis, from the Egyptian tombs. They were carrying plates in front of them, which contained pieces of seared meat. They wanted to trade the meat for the cans. I took a plate. In the center of it was a circular slab of flesh four inches in diameter and one inch thick, foully cooked, oily, with a marrow bone in the center of it. Where did it come from?

I had a terrible thought. I rushed downstairs to my cousin. The dogs had butchered her, and were offering the meat to the survivors of the disaster. I woke up with my heart pounding.

I dreamed apocalyptic dreams of this intensity two or three times a week for a year or more, while I attended university classes and worked – as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on in my mind. 

Something I had no familiarity with was happening, however. I was being affected, simultaneously, by events on two “planes.” On the first plane were the normal, predictable, everyday occurrences that I shared with everybody else. On the second plane, however (unique to me, or so I thought) existed dreadful images and unbearably intense emotional states. This idiosyncratic, subjective world – which everyone normally treated as illusory – seemed to me at that time to lie somehow behind the world everyone knew and regarded as real. But what did real mean? The closer I looked, the less comprehensible things became. Where was The Real? What was at the bottom of it all? I did not feel I could live without knowing.

My interest in the cold war transformed itself into a true obsession. I thought about the suicidal and murderous preparation of that war every minute of every day, from the moment I woke up until the second I went to bed. How could such a state of affairs come about? Who was responsible?

I dreamed that I was running through a mall parking lot, trying to escape from something. I was running through the parked cars, opening one door, crawling across the front seat, opening the other, moving to the next. The doors on one car suddenly slammed shut. I was in the passenger seat. The car started to move by itself. A voice said harshly, “there is no way out of here.” I was on a journey, going somewhere I did not want to go. 

I was not the driver.
I became very depressed and anxious. I had vaguely suicidal thoughts, but mostly wished that everything would just go away. I wanted to lay down on my couch, and sink into it, literally, until only my nose was showing – like the snorkel of a diver above the surface of the water. I found my awareness of things unbearable.

I came home late one night from a college drinking party, self-disgusted and angry. I took a canvas board and some paints. I sketched a harsh, crude picture of a crucified Christ – glaring and demonic – with a cobra wrapped around his naked waist, like a belt. 

The picture disturbed me – struck me, despite my agnosticism, as sacrilegious. I did not know what it meant, however, or why I had painted it. Where in the world had it come from? I hadn’t paid any attention to religious ideas for years. I hid the painting under some old clothes in my closet and sat cross-legged on the floor. I put my head down. It became obvious to me at that moment that I had not developed any real understanding of myself or of others. 

Everything I had once believed about the nature of society and myself had proved false, the world had apparently gone insane, and something strange and frightening was happening in my head. James Joyce said, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” For me, history literally was a nightmare. I wanted above all else at that moment to wake up, and make my terrible dreams go away.

I have been trying ever since then to make sense of the human capacity, my capacity, for evil – particularly for those evils associated with belief. I started by trying to make sense of my dreams. I couldn’t ignore them, after all. Perhaps they were trying to tell me something? I had nothing to lose by admitting the possibility. I read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, and found it useful. Freud at least took the topic seriously – but I could not regard my nightmares as wish-fulfillments. Furthermore, they seemed more religious than sexual in nature. I knew, vaguely, that Jung had developed specialized knowledge of myth and religion, so I started through his writings. His thinking was granted little credence by the academics I knew – but they weren’t particularly concerned with dreams. I couldn’t help being concerned by mine.

They were so intense I thought they might derange me. (What was the alternative? To believe that the terrors and pains they caused me were not real? Nothing is more real than terror and pain.)
Much of the time I could not understand what Jung was getting at. He was making a point I could not grasp; speaking a language I did not comprehend. Now and then, however, his statements struck home. He offered this observation, for example:

“It must be admitted that the archetypal contents of the collective unconscious can often assume grotesque and horrible forms in dreams and fantasies, so that even the most hard-boiled rationalist is not immune from shattering nightmares and haunting fears.”

The second part of that statement certainly seemed applicable to me, although the first (‘the archetypal contents of the collective unconscious”) remained mysterious and obscure. Still, this was promising. Jung at least recognized that the things that were happening to me could happen. Furthermore, he offered some hints as to their cause. So I kept reading. I soon came across the following hypothesis. Here was a potential solution to the problems I was facing – or at least the description of a place to look for such a solution:

“The psychological elucidation of... [dream and fantasy] images, which cannot be passed over in silence or blindly ignored, leads logically into the depths of religious phenomenology. The history of religion in its widest sense (including therefore mythology, folklore, and primitive psychology) is a treasure-house of archetypal forms from which the doctor can draw helpful parallels and enlightening comparisons for the purpose of calming and clarifying a consciousness that is all at sea. It is absolutely necessary to supply these fantastic images that rise up so strange and threatening before the mind’s eye with some kind of context so as to make them more intelligible. Experience has shown that the best way to do this is by means of comparative mythological material.”

It has in fact been the study of “comparative mythological material” that made my horrible dreams disappear. The “cure” wrought by this study, however, was purchased at the price of complete and often painful transformation: what I believe about the world, now – and how I act, in consequence – is so much at variance with what I believed when I was younger that I might as well be a completely different person.

I discovered that beliefs make the world, in a very real way – that beliefs are the world, in a more than metaphysical sense. This “discovery” has not turned me into a moral relativist, however: quite the contrary. I have become convinced that the world-that-is-belief is orderly: that there are universal moral absolutes (although these are structured such that a diverse range of human opinion remains both possible and beneficial). I believe that individuals and societies who flout these absolutes – in ignorance or in willful opposition – are doomed to misery and eventual dissolution.
I learned that the meanings of the most profound substrata of belief systems can be rendered explicitly comprehensible, even to the skeptical rational thinker – and that, so rendered, can be experienced as fascinating, profound and necessary. I learned why people wage war – why the desire to maintain, protect and expand the domain of belief motivates even the most incomprehensible acts of group-fostered oppression and cruelty – and what might be done to ameliorate this tendency, despite its universality. I learned, finally, that the terrible aspect of life might actually be a necessary precondition for the existence of life – and that it is possible to regard that precondition, in consequence, as comprehensible and acceptable. I hope that I can bring those who read this book to the same conclusions, without demanding any unreasonable “suspension of critical judgment” – excepting that necessary to initially encounter and consider the arguments I present. These can be summarized as follows:

The world can be validly construed as a forum for action, as well as a place of things. We describe the world as a place of things, using the formal methods of science. The techniques of narrative, however – myth, literature, and drama – portray the world as a forum for action. The two forms of representation have been unnecessarily set at odds, because we have not yet formed a clear picture of their respective domains. The domain of the former is the “objective world” – what is, from the perspective of intersubjective perception. The domain of the latter is “the world of value” – what is and what should be, from the perspective of emotion and action.

The world as forum for action is “composed,” essentially, of three constituent elements, which tend to manifest themselves in typical patterns of metaphoric representation. First is unexplored territory – the Great Mother, nature, creative and destructive, source and final resting place of all determinate things. Second is explored territory – the Great Father, culture, protective and tyrannical, cumulative ancestral wisdom. Third is the process that mediates between unexplored and explored territory – the Divine Son, the archetypal individual, creative exploratory “Word” and vengeful adversary. We are adapted to this “world of divine characters,” much as the “objective world.” The fact of this adaptation implies that the environment is in “reality” a forum for action, as well as a place of things.

Unprotected exposure to unexplored territory produces fear. The individual is protected from such fear as a consequence of “ritual imitation of the Great Father” – as a consequence of the adoption of group identity, which restricts the meaning of things, and confers predictability on social interactions. When identification with the group is made absolute, however – when everything has to be controlled, when the unknown is no longer allowed to exist – the creative exploratory process that updates the group can no longer manifest itself. This “restriction of adaptive capacity” dramatically increases the probability of social aggression and chaos.

Rejection of the unknown is tantamount to “identification with the devil,” the mythological counterpart and eternal adversary of the world-creating exploratory hero. Such rejection and identification is a consequence of Luciferian pride, which states: all that I know is all that is necessary to know. This pride is totalitarian assumption of omniscience – is adoption of “God’s place” by “reason” – is something that inevitably generates a state of personal and social being indistinguishable from hell. This hell develops because creative exploration – impossible, without (humble) acknowledgment of the unknown – constitutes the process that constructs and maintains the protective adaptive structure that gives life much of its acceptable meaning.
“Identification with the devil” amplifies the dangers inherent in group identification, which tends of its own accord towards pathological stultification. Loyalty to personal interest – subjective meaning – can serve as an antidote to the overwhelming temptation constantly posed by the possibility of denying anomaly. Personal interest – subjective meaning – reveals itself at the juncture of explored and unexplored territory, and is indicative of participation in the process that ensures continued healthy individual and societal adaptation.

Loyalty to personal interest is equivalent to identification with the archetypal hero – the “savior” – who upholds his association with the creative “Word” in the face of death, and in spite of group pressure to conform. Identification with the hero serves to decrease the unbearable motivational valence of the unknown; furthermore, provides the individual with a standpoint that simultaneously transcends and maintains the group.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019


"There's a Korean word, Han, I looked it up. 
There is no literal English translation; 
It's a State of Mind; of Soul, really. 

A Sadness; a Sadness so deep no tears will come. 

And yet still, there's Hope. "

Imperial Recruitment Officer :
What's your name, son? 

Han :

What's your name, son?
Han what?
Who are your people?
I don't have people.
I'm alone.
Proceed to transport ID 83 for
the Naval Academy at Carida.
Good luck, Han Solo.
We'll have you flying
in no time.

Read more:
Imperial Recruitment Officer : 
'Han' what? Who are Your People? 

Han :
I don't have people. I'm alone. 

Imperial Recruitment Officer :
Han... (TYPING
Solo. Approved. 
Proceed to transport ID 83 for the Naval Academy at Carida. 

Good luck, Han Solo. 
We'll have you flying in no time.

BARTLET [to Jai] 

I'm sorry to say I cannot let you defect. 
Do you understand me? 

[Jai's playing slows right down

You have to keep playing. 

[Bartlet now sits on the piano stool next to Jai

There's an important nuclear agreement being worked out. 

Do you understand my English?


I try to stay, you arrest me?




You give me back to them. 

BARTLET [emphatically
No. Freedom means choice. 
You must decide which is the most responsible course. 

You know Korean word 'Han'? 


[the Korean handlers walk over to Jai and Bartlet

I could practise the fingering every day for the rest of my life, I'd never be able to play it like that. 

It is... this. 

 Jai begins playing softly and mournfully.