by Bruce Sterling (2001)
[From the catalogue "Rocket Science"
2001 Debs & Co., NYC / Bruce Sterling; ISBN: 1-929032-07-2]
whitish swathes of smoke a row of men with packs came
on in a straight line. Some fell and lay there, others
turned head over heels like shot hares. A hundred meters
in front of us, the last were sucked down into the shell-pocked
earth. They must have been young troops, still unacquainted
with the effects of the modern rifle, for they came on
with all the hardihood of ignorance."
war diary of 1916, Ernst Juenger took the visionary leap
from men to hares. In those gas-bitten, barbed-wire badlands
of the First World War, massive artillery shook the earth
while mere men scrambled like rodents from trenches to
marches on, so we are all hares now. Unlike the soldiers
that Juenger shot, we are healthily spared the illusion
that an inner strength of blood and guts can ever outmatch
the vivid, tender meat of hare and human from the parabolic
equations of Nintendo warfare, and you have the lovely
martial landscapes of ROCKET SCIENCE. No enemy, no front,
no flags, no braid and no salutes. No trumpets and no
parades. No courage, no commitment and no martial sacrifice.
The whitish swathes of smoke have become our heroes. Ruptured
cruise missiles turn like hares, tumbling vent over nosecone.
Chill infrared scopes glow over the shell-pocked earth.
It scarcely even looks like war.
science kills us, we'll never know why. The explosion
hits before the sound of its arrival. It's globalized
targeting, satellite-coordinated, so any precise spot
on Earth can become an instant Somme. This is military
art for our own dear times. If there's something very
obviously missing here, it is something we have truly
and irrevocably lost with the dead century. Rocket science
took that from us. There is no hardihood in ignorance.
can't have it back, that glorious, murderous human innocence.
"When once it is no longer possible to understand how a
man gives his life for his country and that time will come
-- when all is over with that faith also, and the idea of
the Fatherland is dead; then, perhaps, we shall be envied,
as we envy the saints their inward and irresistible strength."