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The Dream Made Real

One of the world’s most famous paintings generates a profound turbulence.

Black and white on a huge canvas, Picasso’s Guernica
imagines the frenzied destruction of an aerial bombing.

It has become an iconic image of the madness of war.

twguernica

But while Guernica is an image of war, there are no soldiers to be seen.

Instead, the painting depicts a very particular kind of war.
A war against humanity.

The bombs that fell in 1937 on the small town of Guernica
in the Basque region of Spain fell on women and children
and old men and animals.

It was no accident. They were excellent targets.

twguernicadetail

Which reminds me, have you ever dreamed of flying?

twbirds-flying-silhouette

In his masterful The History of Bombing, Sven Lindqvist shows us
that when man first began to dream of flight…

He began to dream of bombs.

Early popular fiction depicted bombers high in the sky,
safe and dedicated to their sacred mission:

the absolute decimation of entire cities and races below.

early_airplane

And then, the dream became real.

Man learned to fly, and quickly, very quickly,
he learned to bomb.

It proved an impressive way of keeping order.

twbomber_stereo

Let’s say you had valuable colonies filled with inferior people
who possessed an entirely different skin color and religion than your own.

And say the colonies were disobedient. They opposed your occupation.
Or interrupted your removal of their resources.
Or gave comfort to your enemies.

twhandheldbomb

You merely had to fly over the homes where their children
played and their wives cooked and their elders sat,
and drop your bombs.

The fiery transformation was considered most effective.

twbombsafr

You had delivered a clear message on the law of civilization:

Never resist your superiors. Never think of resisting.
Submit and serve.

twmemsahib_tonjon

In this way, early aerial bombing massacred civilians
in the villages and cities of Morocco and India and
Iran and Ethiopia and many, many other countries.

Only you never heard of these bombings.
They had no Picasso to tell the tale of their devastation.

Their stories went up with the smoke.

twsmoke1

Of course, the civilized powers dropping the bombs
did not endorse the brutal killing of innocents. They would never do that.

They were nations of laws and justice and religion.
They enacted strict international laws forbidding such actions.

Only these laws applied to humans like themselves.

Humans unlike themselves,
Africans or Arabs or Asians or Indians,
were naturally inferior and fell outside such legal constraints.
They could be slaughtered for their own good.

twsamoan-chiefs

That’s what was interesting with Guernica.
Europeans bombed innocent Europeans.

That was new in 1937. And deeply unsettling.

twguernica_x40s

Picasso began working on his masterpiece almost immediately
after hearing reports of the atrocity, and his Guernica painting
soon toured widely through Europe.

When viewers gazed upon it, did they sense
it was an image more from the future than the past?

No matter. A single painting, no matter how strong, no matter
how celebrated the artist, was not enough. Not enough at all.

Soon the people of the civilized nations would learn
what their darker-skinned brothers already knew.
Everyone was at risk from the sky.

twbombingeurope

In a few short years, civilians living in huge cities
would be incinerated by the tens of thousands.

Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo would be
decimated in a new kind of war where everyone
was a target and innocence was irrelevant.

Of course, that was another time, another world.
Nothing like that could happen today.

twhirst

The important work of our greatest artists tell us so.

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The Dream Made Real

One of the world’s most famous paintings generates a profound turbulence.

Black and white on a huge canvas, Picasso’s Guernica
imagines the frenzied destruction of an aerial bombing.

It has become an iconic image of the madness of war.

twguernica

But while Guernica is an image of war, there are no soldiers to be seen.

Instead, the painting depicts a very particular kind of war.
A war against humanity.

The bombs that fell in 1937 on the small town of Guernica
in the Basque region of Spain fell on women and children
and old men and animals.

It was no accident. They were excellent targets.

twguernicadetail

Which reminds me, have you ever dreamed of flying?

twbirds-flying-silhouette

In his masterful The History of Bombing, Sven Lindqvist shows us
that when man first began to dream of flight…

He began to dream of bombs.

Early popular fiction depicted bombers high in the sky,
safe and dedicated to their sacred mission:

the absolute decimation of entire cities and races below.

early_airplane

And then, the dream became real.

Man learned to fly, and quickly, very quickly,
he learned to bomb.

It proved an impressive way of keeping order.

twbomber_stereo

Let’s say you had valuable colonies filled with inferior people
who possessed an entirely different skin color and religion than your own.

And say the colonies were disobedient. They opposed your occupation.
Or interrupted your removal of their resources.
Or gave comfort to your enemies.

twhandheldbomb

You merely had to fly over the homes where their children
played and their wives cooked and their elders sat,
and drop your bombs.

The fiery transformation was considered most effective.

twbombsafr

You had delivered a clear message on the law of civilization:

Never resist your superiors. Never think of resisting.
Submit and serve.

twmemsahib_tonjon

In this way, early aerial bombing massacred civilians
in the villages and cities of Morocco and India and
Iran and Ethiopia and many, many other countries.

Only you never heard of these bombings.
They had no Picasso to tell the tale of their devastation.

Their stories went up with the smoke.

twsmoke1

Of course, the civilized powers dropping the bombs
did not endorse the brutal killing of innocents. They would never do that.

They were nations of laws and justice and religion.
They enacted strict international laws forbidding such actions.

Only these laws applied to humans like themselves.

Humans unlike themselves,
Africans or Arabs or Asians or Indians,
were naturally inferior and fell outside such legal constraints.
They could be slaughtered for their own good.

twsamoan-chiefs

That’s what was interesting with Guernica.
Europeans bombed innocent Europeans.

That was new in 1937. And deeply unsettling.

twguernica_x40s

Picasso began working on his masterpiece almost immediately
after hearing reports of the atrocity, and his Guernica painting
soon toured widely through Europe.

When viewers gazed upon it, did they sense
it was an image more from the future than the past?

No matter. A single painting, no matter how strong, no matter
how celebrated the artist, was not enough. Not enough at all.

Soon the people of the civilized nations would learn
what their darker-skinned brothers already knew.
Everyone was at risk from the sky.

twbombingeurope

In a few short years, civilians living in huge cities
would be incinerated by the tens of thousands.

Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo would be
decimated in a new kind of war where everyone
was a target and innocence was irrelevant.

Of course, that was another time, another world.
Nothing like that could happen today.

twhirst

The important work of our greatest artists tell us so.

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Our Bomb Launches

The Cluster Project launches its first installments of works related to weapons, war, and the giddy, psychotic culture that breeds violent conflict. In other words, big fun! This blog hopes to offer an ongoing chronicle of these dark realms, full of bombs and businessmen, artists and celebrities, politicians and the innocent dead.

Dr.-Strangelove

Certain grand products of civilization are not easily viewed, especially for those weak of stomach. A few may trouble themselves with visions of massacres and genocide, but they’re wildly outnumbered by the broad masses who come online for kitty cats, porn, games, and Kim Kardashian (only the last of which we cannot quite grasp).

Some things, however, need to be seen and thought. So we walk along the crooked paths of satire, surrealism, and science fiction which take us to places we don’t wish to go, but know that we must.

2001-a-space-odyssey-ape

After all, these are our killing machines. The drones, cluster bombs, nukes, and other indiscriminate devices that wield power over the earth are not inventions from outer space. They’re inventions of inner space. The history of bombing is the history of us. Its heart is our heart.

stealth-bomber-25

We’re the ones with the ancient impulse for annihilation. We’re the ones with the fevered dream of flight and transcendence. It’s our glorious engineers who have fused these forces into exquisite instruments of mortal terror. So good for us! Hurrah for the primates!

But maybe, you know, we might also review the matter again.

Just to see how it’s working out for everyone.

Hiroshima-Bombing
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