inessential by Brent Simmons

‘The Devastation Is Very Important to Me’

During the Cold War, I was a kid, and then a teenager, and I often thought about the end of human life. Maybe an all-out nuclear war followed by nuclear winter would not have killed everybody, but maybe it would have.

I imagined a billion people vaporized. Then I imagined just one person vaporized a billion times.

I imagined one person dying in flames a billion times. I imagined one person coughing and sick and dying of radiation poisoning a billion times. I imagined one child dying of hunger, in the dark, a billion times.

Every single good thing a human hand ever did is wiped away. Every argument made meaningless. Spoken and written words all vanish — the very idea of words is gone.

The legs of every single table break, and not a single table stands to hold a vase of flowers. No windows hang on anywhere. Buildings subside, dams allow the water through, and airplanes sink into the ground.

Dogs, if they live, reshape back into wolves, over generations, and cats forget our warmth. Animals know things, but they don’t know they know things. If they feel love, they can’t name it.

The wind rushes over the poisoned ground, touching no one forever, and the sun shines for billions more years but never again on human consciousness. The sun illuminates no human grace or tenderness or mercy, because we are gone, and, in this terrible end, it would have been better had we never lived.

Nobody knows the nothingness or calls it nothingness.

* * *

So fuck anybody who says that more countries should have nuclear weapons, or that we should have more bombs, or that an arms race would be just fine.

Fuck fucking off.