A bit of a different direction today spawned by several things coming together. This will have little to do with Book 2 or the print release of ALRDW.
What spawned this little walk down memory lane into the deep dark forest of my youth is this video between Stefan Molyneux and Bill Whittle. It is very much worth watching unless you are easily triggered or love the Bolsheviks, Stalinism, Maoism or the Soviet Union. It is a great discussion on history, and the cold war psychology that existed at the time. Just warning you ahead of time if you’re that kind of person:
I am a child of the ’80’s. I grew up in all things Reagan, played Pac Man, watched “Night Court” and wanted to be Marty McFly. I listened to Purple Rain, 99 Red Balloons, Rock Me Amadeus and King of Pain. The mall was the center of my generation’s culture, you could be left unsupervised till the street lights came on and had to come home and never feared being abducted. It was a great time to be alive in so many respects.
Thankfully the filter of 20/20 hindsight and nostalgia colored glasses help nowadays make things seem better than what they were. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good as compared to today in so many ways.
But there was also something in that era that really shaped the Generation Xers in ways that the Millenials and burgeoning “Gen Z” can never understand in a real way. The idea of an impending nuclear holocaust that looked likely to kill every last person on the planet at any time and the emotional scarring that such a pressure puts on a society. Today? Pffft. Sure we have the terror of Islamofascism maybe… possibly getting a dirty bomb, or North Korea splashing a nuke somewhere off the coast of Japan. But there is nothing… NOTHING… in this world that compares to the psychological pressure that existed in that era and peaked in the 1980’s.
Of course the 1960’s begat all of it with the Cuban Missile Crisis which had a real chance to spark the death of billions of people. The “Duck and Cover” drills of the 1950’s where everyone practiced sticking their butt in the air from under their desks like dogs scared of thunder were legitimate too. I’m sure those were just as terrifying. These were actual, realized existential threats.
The 1980’s were terrorized by the movie technology finally reaching the level where civilians could see ‘believable’ nuclear destruction on film, or the invasion of the US with limited nuclear exchanges. Movies like “The Day After” and “Red Dawn” burned in our psyche. Games like Twilight 2000 and Gamma World were toys of the imagination to play in the irradiated landscape pretending we were the next Mad Max.
To this day, I remember being shown the data for what would happen when the missile that was targeting my home town was launched. The size of the fireball, the instant incineration zone, the debris field, and then the fallout chart.
I was 11 years old.
It scarred my soul.
An entire generation grew up with the belief, and it seemed a pretty sure thing with what we had shoveled before us by the media, the arms race and the mass media of the happy warriors and blasted remains we all expected to experience before leaving high school. I did not believe I’d ever see the year 2000 unless I was an unlucky survivor of a nuclear doomsday.
That kind of pressure, I now see gave rise to the nihilism of Post Modernist thought, the hedonism of our parent’s generation and the insanity of what we now know as the Security/Industrial complex.
Even after the Soviets fell and Yeltsin brought a new Russia out of the ashes, none of us could believe it. Even till today, some of us still are looking toward that far off horizon waiting to hear the sirens in the middle of the night that missiles are on their way.
I realize now how much that shaped me. How much this belief that I should not bother planning, or thinking about a future still taints my thought process to this day. When you are sure that somewhere, deep down in your soul, you are going to die at any moment and all those who you love will be ash as well… planning for the future is not high on the priority list. Why prep when the land will be poison? Just keep enough money to survive till some maniac thousands of miles away decides it is time for mankind to die.
Just as this mentality was starting to ebb, but wasn’t out the door 9/11 happened. But even this is not the same as what we felt when we knew that all life could be reduced to radioactive isotopes and shadows blasted forever into rock.
But today, we have a future, and it’s hard for my generation to cope with it. We who failed to launch in so many ways, because launching was pointless now struggle to deal with the fact that there will be a tomorrow. Those who were more prepared have already begun to march too and are shaping it into a world that so many of us are angry with. A world that is based on a hatred of truth, where the moral are ridiculed and derided. A land of silence through violence, and freedom is only found by obeying those with the faster fist. Where facts are lies, and feelings are law.
This world we have found ourselves in is just as alien to us as a person coming out of a catatonic fugue. It is great fodder for a writer, I will give you that. In fact, there are so many things happening, it is making it very difficult to focus on a fantasy novel series that is focused on faith, history and fantasy. The truth has almost become too strange for fiction, but then again, reality does not have to abide by the rule that it must remain plausible.
This is what I had to get off my chest. A lot of personal musing on the memory of what it was like to be a teenager in an era where life could be snuffed out like a candle. An era that I pray no generation has to fear again. Global genocide is off the table for now, and God willing forever more. We have other crazies to fear, that is certain, but a lot of that is jumping at shadows and the phantoms of a people gone mad because there IS no existential threat to all life. No… no… Global Warming is not a threat when compared to Mutually Assured Destruction. That’s just fog pretending to be a threat.
But it’s good to remember what it was that shaped my mind. To remember for a moment that that there are no more missiles aimed at my home with malicious intent. The freedom and relief that thought brings is paradigm shifting.
Now, back to living in a new, better world.