Late 1950s Science Fiction and the Making and Breaking of Empires

Photograph by Jose Padua
Looking at the pile of snow in the parking lot at the Martin’s supermarket one night, I was reminded of the 1958 film, The Blob. Starring Steve McQueen (in his big screen debut) and Aneta Corsaut (who would later become famous for playing Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show), The Blob features a fist-sized living lump that arrives from outer space then grows and grows and grows. Special effects not being what they are today, the living blob didn’t look all that different from this pile of snow.

It was around seven in the evening, and inside the supermarket was the emptiest I’d ever seen it since we’ve been here. Because of this, it was the most relaxing trip to the store I’ve ever had in this town. It would have been perfect for one of those occasions when I had a long list of groceries to buy, but last night all I needed was bread and milk.

When I went back out, I looked at the blob of snow again. I stood there in the parking lot, next to my car, and I looked at it for what felt like a long time. Soon, a feeling of peace came over me—or at least that’s what I thought it was at first. But then I recognized what it was, and what I realized was that it was exactly the sort of feeling I get when a movie is over.

But not a movie like The Blob, because I felt just the way I would had I just watched a movie I love, like Wim Wenders’s Kings of the Road or Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels. And standing there by the pile of snow, I found myself lost in one of those moments where I get a sense of all the places I’ve been and the slow passage of time, and not just the time I’ve lived through.

I know that for some people history is a series of wars and battles that to them are the hallmark of man’s determination and glory. For some people, all they can think about is war, as if war itself is the purpose of everything and the reason for our existence. And where some see the clashing of armies and the devising of strategies and the beginnings and endings of empires, I see the movement of millions of points of consciousness, too many of which have strayed so far from that moment of birth that the only things they see beauty in are acts of destruction.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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