The first chapter in Warren Ellis’s Global Frequency, titled “Bombhead” focuses on a man named Janos Voydan and the possibility of the nuclear destruction of San Francisco. Decaying cold war technology, completely forgotten, could be the cause for the leveling of a city and the ensuing aftermath. The possibility of a nuclear apocalypse is very much related to Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending.
Frank Kermode argues that humanity’s fascination with the apocalypse stem from our desire to bring about some chronological sense to the world and to the human race. He continues in arguing that it is needless to attempt to predict the end when the beginning is hidden in the stygian past and the future is just as undistinguishable. This causes eschatologists to revise their dates, repeatedly, until when the apocalypse finally does happen, they can say that their predictions were correct. The events in “Bombhead” circumvent this predictiveness by eliminating the prior events that would be used to foretell its occurrence. The happenstance that the radio receiver would begin to decay and cause a nuclear warhead to apparat into San Francisco is unpredictable on its own. How could man then, with its desire to predict its end, foretell any other event such as that? If the destruction of San Francisco in “Bombhead” occurred, would eschatologists change their predictions to correlate with the event, creating a beginning, middle, and end for a spontaneous occurrence?
Man’s desire to predict the end of the world can be seen with the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock used to represent how close mankind is to global catastrophe, be it natural or manmade. On January 22nd, 2015, the clock was moved two more minutes forward, to 23:57, three minutes from midnight, three minutes from destruction of the world. The doomsday clock perfectly fits into Frank Kermode’s argument of man’s obsession with applying a chronological order to the world. The clock, used for providing a chronological order to the day, is now being used to provide a structure and stability to the end of the world. The doomsday clock is set in reaction to events and cannot take into account spontaneous events such as the possible events from “Bombhead”. After the death of Janos Voydan and the realization that at any moment, by no directed act, man can instantly cause the apocalypse, could the doomsday clock accurately predict how close the world is to the apocalypse?
In an apocalypse that has no leading signs, how would one predict its occurrence? The near destruction of San Francisco is caused by research during the Cold War. The mere fact that Janos Voydan was forgotten could’ve destroyed San Francisco and possibly lead to the destruction of the human race. There is no foretelling from the past that dictates when the apocalypse will occur, but it is possible to prevent the events from “Bombhead” from ever occurring. However, there may be a point when one such mistake is overlooked, and spontaneous destruction of a city or possibly the Earth could occur. As said by Frank Kermode, “No longer imminent, the end is immanent.”