~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke


Environmentally Friendly Bombs ~ Sunday, December 24, 2006

I recently read a peculiar article about how there's a company (well, at least one) that is working on developing environmentally friendly bombs (i.e. ones that do not emit harmful radiation after they have been triggered. Most bombs contain heavy metals and therefore continue to poison their surroundings for years after). The rationale, of course, is that if there are going to be bombs used, then better they just serve their intended purpose, then have additional harmful characteristics that cause extended damage.

It's kind of creepy, but I guess if there have to be bombs, then it would be better to have environmentally-friendly ones. Still, it freaks me out to think in those terms. It must be so difficult in a way--a very special kind of doublethink required--to say "let's create something that can maim or kill its target but which will not, in addition to that, also cause long-term damage to the environment and others who suffer from the radiation."

I guess this is because I naively assumed (without having given such folks' morality much dedicated or nuanced thought, I'll have to admit) that people who make bombs have a certain moral compass--be it "us vs them" or even "someone has to do it so why not me?"--something fairly black and white, in that they either think in binary or in amoral terms. But this adds an unexpected twist to the scenario and touches on how complex morality is. And that is a disturbing thought, in certain ways, because it hints at nooks and crannies in the human psyche that are elusive and troubling.

It makes me think of the Ralph Fiennes character from Schindler's List, who played with notions of forgiveness and the like, trying them on for size as if they were as superficial as garments he wore. It was a chillingly portrayed character. I have similar feelings towards that film The Last King of Scotland or somesuch--I'm curious and yet I dread seeing it, for what I imagine will be its depiction of a sociopath of a dictator, marked, as such figures seem to be, by quixotic gestures of clemency that seem to hint at the possibility of goodness. Yet these are likely nothing more than the exercising of a certain kind of power (namely, the power over life and death, which is pointless, unless life is also sometimes granted for no better reason than because it can be).

This was also what haunted me in Lord of War--not just the Iago-esque villainy of the Nicholas Cage character (absolutely horrible, and you want him to get his comeuppance, but he also forges a peculiar connection to the viewer because of his asides and confidences, in the form of a voice-over narrative), but rather, the portrayal of the African dictator and the dictator's son, to whom the protagonist sold arms.

Oh yes, and happy Christmas Eve. :-)

::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 12:26 AM::::


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