I hope that Walt Disney is exempted, because he’s the man, though I doubt that he realizes it, to illustrate what I have to say. In fact, he’s been doing it all along, unconsciously. He’s the master of the nightmare. He’s the Gustave Dore of the world of Henry Ford & Co., Inc. The Mannerheim Line is just a scratch on the surface. True, the temperature was abnormal—about forty degrees below zero on the average. (Amazing how men can be trained to kill in all kinds of weather. Almost as intelligent as horses.) But as I was saying, Disney has all kinds of temperature—a temperature to suit every fresh horror. He doesn’t have to think: the newspapers are always on tap. Of course they’re not real men and women. Oh no! They’re more real than real men and women: they’re dream creatures. They tell us what we look like beneath the covering of flesh. A fascinating world, what? Really, when you think about it, even more fascinating than Dali’s cream puffs. Dali thinks too much. Besides, he has only two hands. Disney has a million. And besides hands he has voices—the voice of the hyena, the voice of the donkey, the voice of the dinosaur. The Soviet film, for example, is intimidating enough, but slow, ponderous, cumbersome, unwieldy. It takes time in real life to demolish all those concrete pill-boxes, cut all that barbed wire, kill all those soldiers, burn all those villages. Slow work. Disney works fast—like greased lightning. That’s how we’ll all operate soon. What we dream we become. We’ll get the knack of it soon. We’ll learn how to annihilate the whole planet in the wink of an eye—just wait and see.
Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
Read this passage years ago and it stayed with me. I like that, in 1940, a writer is ranting about how the Walt Disney vision would take over the world. Also the idea of mass media transforming the world with a speed that armies could never manage. Then the “annihilate the whole planet in the wink of an eye” line. A lot of people probably had a similar thought in 1940; a few physicists knew it was only a couple of years away. It’s been a while but I remember this being a pretty good book, written after Miller returned to the U.S. after having spent a number of years in Paris. Also, if I am going to be living in a nightmare, I would prefer it to have air conditioning.