Shall we give our attention to the performative aspects of the bunker?
The bunker promises a place of refuge when the world spirals into chaos. Descend into the earth, pull shut an iron door, and seal yourself away from the world. Sealed away in a small microcosm of your own design. There you can wait for the disaster to run its course before emerging again into the world.
Every family can be a Noah in their own ark out in the wilderness. They had listened and prepared where others had scoffed. Their faith in reading the signs of coming disaster will be rewarded by their survival. Where others will perish in the deluge, they will remain sealed away for 40 days and 40 nights.
Then those motherfuckers will rue the day.
The bunker provides the illusion of invincibility. That by rolling up to your South Dakota fully furnished bunker you will be able to weather any storm. There is the flight from The World and an entrance to a liminal space sheltered from the violence of the outside. Once the threat is over, there will be the return to normal life.
In a way it can be seen as a pilgrimage. But one that does not grant any wisdom or merit. The wisdom is in foreseeing the calamity and fleeing from it. Your reward is to survive where others suffer.
The string of military bunkers from the Cold War which are now being redeveloped for civilian use was its own set of stages.
For the military this was the promise that it could keep the “mutually” in mutually assured destruction. Send a flight of missiles at us at 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon and Moscow will be vaporized before happy hour. Enough of our command infrastructure will survive to punch back. To any outsider this looks like two scarecrows threatening each other with torches in a hayloft.
Civilians could play along. Their version of community theater promised that the family could survive in place. Go into your bunker when the sirens blare and thirty days later emerge into light. There you can smugly survey the remains of your neighborhood as rats eat the remains of your less prepared fellow citizens.
At least until the radiation leaves you vomiting blood out of every orifice.
Which is the problem. If the bunker presents the promise of a return to the womb with its safety, warmth, and nourishment, there must be a rebirth. The bunker allows the owner to stop their world by retreating from it. But the world will not be stopped. Those who flee and close the doors of their bunkers have cut ties with their community and chosen to leave them to their own devices.
We’ve decided as a culture that pulling up the drawbridge and sheltering within the your walls as others suffer outide is a dick move. How can you return from that?