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Love Bomb

(excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia)

I feel closer to you when I imagine that all of us are collaborating to fight monumental dangers. The telepathic links among us heat up when our emotions register the possibility that a global cataclysm could wipe us out.

That's why I think of the nuclear bomb as a gift. It's a terrible and sacred taboo that mobilizes our love for each other better than any other symbol.

It's the superhuman profanity on which all life depends and against which all values must be tested. Shadowing every one of our personal actions, the bomb is the fascinating blasphemy that won't stop ranting unless we're all very, very good.

In the quiet abyss of our imaginations, we unconsciously worship it, believing in its extravagant potency as if it were a god. It is the most spiritual, most supernatural material object in the world, a fetish that has the power to literally change all life on earth instantly and forever. We agree to be possessed by it, to be haunted by its apparition above all other apparitions. No other spectacle inspires more perverse attraction.

And yet it's secret. How few of us have ever stood next to the magic body of a hydrogen bomb in a missile silo or laboratory -- breathed in its smell, touched it, communed with its actual life. Its presence among us is rumor and mystery, like flying saucers and the afterlife. We hear stories.

At night our dreams turn the bomb into the philosopher's stone, the pearl of great price, the doppelganger of the messiah, the violent ecstasy of religious conversion. Our blood is alive to its alchemy, alert to its offer of the blinding flash of irreversible illumination. We recognize the bomb as our impossible teacher because it harbors a dangerous light that seems to mimic the sun.

It's ours. We made it. We imagined it into existence so we could remember that we are all one body. When I fantasize the bomb vaporizing me into its pure primeval heat and radiation, I remember that you and I are made of the same stuff. The bomb frees us to imagine that we all live and die together, that we are all born out of Adam, the indivisible hermaphrodite god of our species. And we can return now because we never left.

We need the bomb. We need the bomb because only the tease of the biggest, most original sin can heal us. The bomb is a blind, a fake, a trick memory we're sending ourselves from the future that shocks us better than all the abstract devils.

Let's call the bomb a love that's too big for us to understand yet. Let's say it's the raging creative life of a cleansing disease that wants to cure us so it doesn't have to kill us. Let's say it's the last judgment that promises not to come true if we can figure out what it means.

We have genetic potentials and divine powers so undreamed of that they will feel like magic when they finally bloom. But they may remain partially dormant in us until we're terrified not just of our individual deaths but also of the extinction of the human archetype.


Bless the fear. Praise the danger. O God of Good and Evil Light, let the ugly power fascinate us all now. Let it fix our dread so precisely that we become one ferocious, potently concentrated magician, a single guerrilla mediator casting a spell to bind the great Satan bomb. There will be no nuclear war.

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