Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Elements: Fire

I am reminded of the words of Vex Harrow from The Holocaust Star,

A lot of people say that the world will end in fire; I’m not about to tell you that I know how it all ends—but I can say one thing for sure: it started with fire.

The ancients of every people loved the flame, and they already feared it. Prometheus brought fire as a gift and Coyote got burned trying to steal it. The Hawaiians say Ai-Laau, the forest eater, ruled Kilauea until Pele chased him off. My da says there is fire in whiskey that fuels the soul. As for me, I’ve got just four things to say about fire: it’s pretty when you keep at a distance, it’s a good friend when you’ve got a way to put it out, a terrible master when you screw up, and a savage enemy when it turns on you.

People are so hooked on fire that when we die we expect to find it blazing on the other side. Sometimes people strap themselves to the pyre to get a head start. Other times we burn sacrifices to purify them, which brings me to my own, albeit short, fiery interlude.

Fire has so much mythology behind it that it has a life of its own in every culture. It is nearly the first technology—the ultimate protector and destroyer. It enables us to live in places without light, with little heat of their own, to pass survival through the dead of winter under its blazing fingertips.

In modern day, as well as Scifi, we could see fire as the embodiment of the nuclear fires that give life to our sun. The underlying power that lives within the atom, when unleashed, fans the flames of war and devours entire cities as the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But that same fire, like all fires, when held in check can power entire cities, or raise nations out of the dust of mediocrity.

Electricity from fire, it’s the same infrastructure that enables me to tap keys to keyboard and write this trite prose right now.

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