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NO ONE WOULD HAVE BELIEVED in the last years of the twentieth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.So, has the fearful invasion finally begun?
With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise.
Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twenty-first century came the great disillusionment... *
It's just - did I say 'just'? - Louise Bourgeois' impressively monumental sculpture Maman, which was originally exhibited in the Turbine Hall of London's Tate Modern when the gallery first opened in 2000 and which now straddles a section of Southbank as part of a retrospective exhibition to mark the artist’s 95th year.
Like the crack in the floor, this may incite further questions on the nature of art; but, as a lover of Science Fiction, it sends shivers up my spine and takes only a very small amount of suspending disbelief to imagine this fearful creature either crossing the Thames to assail the dome of St Paul's or, perhaps, scaling the sheer walls of the former power station in order to summon more of its kind and begin the final conquest and destruction of planet earth!
Where is Tom Cruise when we need him most...?
* H G Wells The War of the Worlds (with minor amendments)
Images: Brian Sibley, © 2007