27 April 2005


"For most Americans under 40, the dread that saturated the 1980s is indelible. It was part of the fabric of their childhood."

In reading this article over at Salon, I suddenly had a realization: perhaps the lack of hopeful vision to be found in the Left today has its roots in the generational, um, cloud of doom that the 30 and 40 and 50 somethings lived under during their/our "formative years." I know I grew up always knowing the bombs could come at any time, and that's really a hope-killer. It made sense to plan for post-holocaust survival, but not so much for a future without nuclear doom hanging over us. I find it interesting that the doom scenarios touted by the more extreme forecasters of global warming today are undeniably similar to the nuclear devestation predictions of Jonathan Schell and "The Day After." Not to mention the Apocalyptic fantasies of "Left Behind."

What does it do to one's synapses to be subjected to years of ever-present doomsday? Are there studies on this? Like muscle-memory typing a password, would we not become prone to detouring away from hopeful paths of speculation, to a subconscious lean toward cynicism, to an inability to speculate expansively in love and light?
How does one leave that mental conditioning behind?

I remember reading "Hiroshima" in high school. I had nightmares for weeks, seeing visions of the blast victims' silhouettes, envisioning skin peeling and eyes melted. "The Fate of the Earth" was assigned in my freshman honors seminar, fall 1983. "War Games" was my introduction to computer hacking. The exchange where Matthew Broderick's character is lamenting never learning how to swim, how he thought he'd have time, is still burned into my head.

How do I learn how to dream again? How do we all?


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