Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nuclear Leaks 7: Kyshtym

Alioshenka - the Kyshtym alien. Image Source: GUFOA via Unexplained Mysteries.

Nuclear disasters usually occur by virtue of the failure of scientific environments or a lapse in scientific judgement. Now, I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.  These lapses erode public trust in the only experts qualified to help in the crisis that follows.

Confronted by the invisible menace of radiation, popular fear is so keen that it crosses the line in the common consciousness, entering the realm of myths. Radiation spawns fantasies of superbeings: normal humans are either granted superpowers or transformed into mutants.  The video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. involved the emergence of a collective psi-entity in the Chernobyl #4 reactor. For some, the terrifying, intangible menace of radiation is only accessible through primal visions of humans rendered inhuman.

Consider the rumours of an alien discovered in the town of Kyshtym in 1996.  This strange mystery followed in the wake of the Kyshtym nuclear disaster at the Mayak reactor site in the USSR, 29 September 1957.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nuclear Culture 5: Video Games of the Nuclear Apocalypse

Screenshot wallpaper from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007) © GSC Gameworld.

Radiation, once considered a source of vitality, now inspires our most horrific nightmares about lingering sickness, painful death - and eugenics. In 1968, H. R. Giger created a piece called Atomic Children (see it in this post), which appears to have influenced his famous design of the Alien for that movie franchise. In other words, the Alien might, in its original conception, have partly been imagined as a human being genetically morphed through the effects of radiation. Speculation on how we would survive in the poisoned atmosphere of a nuclear wasteland and the kinds of organisms we would become under those conditions have dominated sci-fi and horror tropes since the mid-twentieth century.

Screenshot wallpaper from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (2008-2009) © GSC Gameworld.

Video games provide some of the most visceral cultural explorations of the long term consequences of nuclear war and radioactive disasters. They allow the player immersion in hellish apocalyptic settings that are marked by total obliteration of the environment and survival at any cost.

Screenshot wallpaper from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007) © GSC Gameworld.

In some games, nukes are just weapons (such as: Mass Effect; DEFCON; CIVILIZATION). In others, nuclear holocausts spawn new worlds, populated by mutants. Two big game franchises in this branch of survival horror are the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series (S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (2008-2009); S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007); S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (2009-2010)) and the Fallout series (Fallout (1997); Fallout 2 (1998); Fallout Tactics (2001); Fallout 3 (2008); Fallout: New Vegas (2010)). Both franchises deal with how we perceive the genetic effects of radiation in ruined landscapes. In both cases, an individual shooter player confronts mutants and genetically-twisted monsters. These creatures are inversions of the radioactive comic book superhero. The latter are caricatures of our fantasy that radiation could potentially have a positive impact on human evolution. These game worlds are the flip side of that atomic heroism.