Thursday, July 23, 2009

Something more sinister

In the vast landscape of my childhood fears, there was one dark obelisk that haunted my dreams more than any other. Out past the backlots where ghostly fire engines and demonic vacuum cleaners lay rusting... out far over the horizon, distant, hazy, so far away that I rarely worried about it, yet so impossibly large that its gravity would affect my dreams, lay the place I visited today.

The flat, grassy and welcoming plains of South Dakota. Flush with wildlife, farmers, small towns and friendly faces. Even in my childhood though I knew that under these plains lay slumbering titans whose awakened fist would crush the world. Minuteman Missiles.

I used to imagine what it would be like to live out here. Whether you would wonder about them being here at all... worry about seeing them leap into the sky, a smokey rumbling lance of impending and unstoppable doom...

We visited the sites where these slumbering titans used to lie today. It was not as I expected. There is no menace here. No lingering evil nor sense of what might have started here... A simple fibro shack with a few rooms connected to a remote silo where two bored Air Force personnel would while away the "hours of boredom between seconds of sheer panic". It all seemed a bit... less threatening now. After the SALT agreement in the early 90s they were dismantled and most of the silos destroyed. One was left open to the public, but after seeing the mundane control room I saw no need to visit that. My fears were banished.

I thought how the world had changed and that children now dont have to watch films like Threads or The Day After in school and live with the constant possibility of nuclear war... How much nicer to not have that constant fear. To only have to worry about sex, meth, marks, uni scores, house prices, the global financial meltdown, the ashes...

As we were walking out of the builing a movie on the project was finishing up. It concluded with the cheery message that although the minuteman silos have been abandoned the project lives on with the minuteman III, now "in the field 'til at least 2050..."

That dark obelisk on the horizons foundation's are slowly being laid again...

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