Sunday, August 18, 2013

Now I am become Hope, Healer of the Nations

Thanks to John Gray I can say, in a sideways allusion to his famous book, that wartime Manhattan displayed both a Mars and a Venus side to its Janus-like character and everyone instantly knows what I mean.

This is a lot easier than saying Manhattan have a Social medicine and War medicine side to its character and then have to spend a few thousand words and a long history lesson, to explain what I really mean.

Similarly the made-up quotation that titles this blog post is another sideways allusion --- this time to a very well known quote about Manhattan's best known wartime Project : the death-dealing Atomic Bomb.

Robert Oppenheimer, a Manhattan born and raised boy himself, defined the Bomb's nature (and America's newfound military and diplomatic power) by intoning a famous quotation from Hindu scripture :
"Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds"
Manhattan never itself intoned those words or the words at the top of this post - it can't .

But poetically, we can at least imagine that between 1943 and 1945 it did intone both....

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