THE INTRODUCTION TO A CHILDRENS' FANTASY SERIES OF FIVE BOOKS KNOWN AS
"THE OBERNEWTYN CHRONICLES"


This series was commenced by Isobelle Carmody while she was still at school, well before the Chernobyl catastrophe, and first published in 1987.

The images have been interspersed by the editor and come from the Chernobyl Area, except for the first which is of an American Nuclear Test and the second last which is a Hindu cremation ceremony.

The theme of the fantasy text, a modern day fairy story, is to my mind horrifying. Such stories are common both pre and post 'Obernewtyn'. If this is how children are taught, albeit subconsciously, to think, accept, experience and enjoy—how will their minds be affected? When these children are adults will these terrors seem less horrifying? The world portrayed in this passage is a fantasy world but as one reads one enters this world and the more competent the author the the sooner it becomes your world.

Chernobyl is the result of a war—it is the continuation of or aftermath of a war—but a different kind of war. It is a war between the victims and the government, the doctor who will not administer morphine to relieve the terrible terminal pain of cancer to a mother 'Because she is going to die anyway' and the whole bureaucratic system.

                                                                — National Geographic  ©

Brothers Grimm: You have sown the wind and the world has reaped the whirlwind.

— PRAY FOR US —

INTRODUCTION

'In the days following the holocaust, which came to be known as the Great White, there was death and madness. In part, this was the effect of the lingering radiation rained on the world from the skies. Those fortunate enough to live on remote holdings and farms were spared the chemical destruction of the Great White, though they had seen the skies whiten and had understood that it meant death.

These people preserved their untainted land and families ruthlessly, slaughtering the hundreds of refugees who poured from the poisoned cities. This time of siege was called the Age of Chaos and lasted until no more came from the cities.

Unaware that the cities were now only silent graveyards on endless black plains where nothing lived or grew, the most powerful farmers formed a Council to protect their community from further siege, and to mete out justice and aid.

As the years passed, more people did come to the land where the Council ruled but they were few, and poor creatures half mad from their journey across the shattered lands, instinctively making way for one of the few regions untainted by the black death that covered the earth.

They learned quickly to swear allegiance to the Council, only too grateful to join a settled society.

And peace came to the land.

But time proved the remote community had not completely escaped the effects of the Great White. Mutations in both man and beast were high.

                

Not fully understanding the reason for the mutations, the Council feared for the community and decreed any man or beast not born completely normal, must be burned.

To remove any qualms people might have about the killings, these burnings took on a ritual air, and were used by the Council to remind the people of their fortune in being spared in the holocaust, and of the time of Chaos.

They appointed a fledgling religious order to perform the burnings. The Order, called the Herder Faction, believed that the holocaust was punishment from God, whom they called Lud. Gradually religious dogma and law fused and the honest way of the farmer was seen as the only right way. Machines, books and all the artifacts of the old world that had perished, were abhorred and destroyed.

Some resisted the rigid lore but by now the Council had provided itself with a fanatical band of protectors, called soldierguards. Any who dared oppose the order were tried and burnt as Seditioners, or given the lesser charge of being Unsafe and sent to work on the Councilfarms. After some time, the Herder Faction advised the Council that not all mutancies were immediately apparent at birth. Such afflictions as those which attacked the mind could not be discerned until later.

This created some difficulty, for while the Council saw the opportunity to further manipulate the community, accusing anyone of whom they disapproved of hidden mutancy, it was more difficult to proceed with a ritual burning of someone who had been accepted as normal for most of his or her life. The Council eventually decreed all but the most horribly afflicted of this new kind of mutant would not be burnt, but would be sent instead to the Councilfarms to harvest a dangerously radioactive element called whitestick. A new name was devised for anyone with an affliction not apparent at birth—Misfit.

It was a dark and violent age, though the Land flourished and even began cautiously to extend its boundaries as the effects of the Great White began at last to wane. New towns were established, all ruled by the iron hand of the Council. So great was the death toll under Council rule, that hundreds of children were left orphaned each year. The Council responded by setting up a network of orphan homes to house those unclaimed by blood relatives.

The community regarded the inmates of orphan homes with an abiding suspicion since most were the children of Misfits or Seditioners, and as such dangerous …'

— OBERNEWTYN: Isobelle Carmody  ©

 

Isobelle and many others are true descendents of the Brothers Grimm. Can this be one of the reasons that a number of people outside the devastation of Chernobyl seem to be able to ignore this horror? They do not seem to be concerned with the possibility that the same thing could happen in their own backyard. Have we been carefully taught that such things are fairy stories and that economic gain for the already rich is the most important thing. And that such enrichment will filter down to us.

Can this be a war through neglect to help, a failure to make good the horrific consequences of a mistake.

What is war and what is its traditional definition?

War can be 'a contention by force' or 'the state of contending parties' or 'an attitude' or 'a state of affairs'. War can be a state of open and declared armed conflict. War is a relation between things, and not between persons. Wars do not only involve states.

Each definition has its strengths and weaknesses.

The form of war can be defined by the expectation of sieges, pitched battles, skirmishes, raids, reconnaissance, patrol and outpost duties. An alternative definition of war is that it is a phenomenon of the world. So battles are mere symptoms of the underlying aggressive nature of the people. Alternatively war can be any struggle between living beings; a conflict between opposing forces or principles.

But all would recognise the presence or absence of war.

An alternative definition is that war is a state of organised, open-ended collective conflict or hostility.

The political issue of defining war poses the first problem. A definition that captures the clash of arms, the state of mutual tension and threat of violence between groups, the declaration by a sovereign body, and so distinguish wars from riots and rebellions and collective violence from personal violence.

There are those who see war as a product of human choice and emphasise its political and ethical nature, but once this broad territory has been addressed other particular causes of war can be seen. These may be divided into three main groupings: those who see war's cause in human biology, those who see it in culture, and those who see it in the faculty to reason.

War could be a product of human's inherited biology. Humans may be naturally aggressive or naturally territorial. Culturalists seek to explain war's causation in terms of particular cultural institutions. For example, can the 'soft' morality of trade abolish aggressive cultural tendencies? Rationalists are those who emphasise the effectiveness of human reason in their affairs, and claim war to be a product of reason (or lack thereof). To some this is a lament—if humans did not possess reason, they might not seek the advantages they do in war and would be more peaceful. To others reason is the means to overcome cultural differences and sources of friction, and its abandonment is the primary cause of war.

The problem with focusing on one single aspect of human nature is that while the explanation of war's causation may be simplified, the simplification ignores explanations put forward by competing theories.

The study of war's causation triggers the need for elaboration on many other topics, regardless of the logical validity of another explanation.

Thomas Hobbes presents a state of nature in which the 'true' or 'underlying' nature of a human is likely to be one of immanent warfare.

War can be a vehicle to forge national identity, to pursue territorial gain, or to strive for a variety of characteristics such as glory and honour. Darwinists may claim the evolutionary benefits of warfare, either for invigorating individuals or groups to the best of their abilities, or to remove weaker members or groups.

Once war commences there is disagreement on the role, if any, of morality within war. Many have claimed morality is necessarily discarded by the very nature of war. People disagree on whether all is fair in war, or whether certain modes of conflict ought to be avoided. The reasons for maintaining some moral dimensions include: the expectation of peaceful interaction on other levels; the mutual benefits of refraining from certain acts and the fear of retaliation in kind; and the existence of treatises and covenants that nations may seek to abide by to maintain international status. Even David Hume accepts the abandonment of all notions of justice in war when a contestant's plight is so dire that recourse to any action becomes permissible. Others merely state that war and morality do not mix.

The nature of war is complex and a propensity for it can be carried on through myth and legend.

Chernobyl is a war and it will be carried on as long as a race memory lasts through the generations to come.

Please do not believe that fairy stories can not shape our minds, our actions and our lives.

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF WAR      HOME
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