1. See Barash, David, “Immediate Effects of Nuclear Explosions,” The Arms Race and Nuclear War (Belmont, Cal.: Wadsworth, 1987), p. 64. Farrell's report is part of General Leslie R. Grove's initial “Report on Alamogordo Atomic Bomb Test, Memorandum for the Secretary of War” [Top Secret]: this document is reprinted as an appendix to Sherwin, Martin J., A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance (New York: Knopf, 1975), pp. 310–12. I would like to thank Brien Hallett of the University of Hawaii's Peace Institute for wellinformed guidance on this crucial subject. General Farrell's firsthand evocation of “the nuclear sublime” intuits what I call the post-nuclear historical rupture of atomic forces in these terms: “All seemed to feel that they had been present at the birth of a new age – the Age of Atomic Energy – and felt their profound responsibility to help in guiding into right channels the tremendous forces which had been unlocked for the first time in history [at the Alamogordo bomb test]” (p. 312). America as a “Post Bomb” place is shrewdly described by Flannery O'Connor in a letter to Betty Boyd postmarked November 5, 1949: “Congratulations on Los Alamos. Was Los Alamos a place before the bomb? My notions of the southwest are very vague but I should think you would have definite sensations about living in a place completely Post Bomb.” See The Habit of Being, ed. Fitzgerald, Sally (New York: Farrar, 1979), p. 18.
2. Bakhtin, M. M., Speech Genres & Other Late Essays. trans. McGee, Vern W. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), p. 4.
3. I comment more fully on General Farrell's compound of ideological uncertainty and American piety before the bomb in “Postmodern as Post-Nuclear: Landscape as Nuclear Grid,” in Ethics/Aesthetics: Post-Modern Positions, ed. Merrill, Robert (Washington: Maisonneuve Press, 1988), pp. 169–92. The atomic landscape of postmodernism's “alter [post-altar] sublime,” for example, is bravely articulated in the work of Canadian “Language Poet,” Dewdney, Christopher, Alter Sublime (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1980), pp. 11–22: “The room breaking into flashing white shards of interstellar nothingness” (p. 18). Landscape implodes into technoscape, self into vasty cybernetics.
4. See Adorno, Theodor, Aesthetic Theory, trans. Lenhardt, C. (1970; rept. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), pp. 280–84: “The sublime in nature and art [and play].”
5. In Schley, Jim, ed., Writing in a Nuclear Age (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1984), p. 223; on the deconstructive paradoxes pervading the rhetorical overkill of nuclear force, see Solomon, J. Fisher, Discourse and Reference in the Nuclear Age (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988).
6. Perelman, Bob, “Statement,” in To the Reader (Berkeley: Tuumba Press, 1984), n.p.
7. Cooper's essay appears in Jones, Richard, ed., Poetry and Politics: An Anthology of Essays (New York: Morrow, 1985), p. 306; I draw some nuclear data from Ground Zero (Director, Molander, Roger), eds., Nuclear War: What's in It for You? (New York: Pocket Books, 1982), p. 34; and Heaney's comment appears in Schley, , Writing in a Nuclear Age, p. 150.
8. Lowell, Robert, “Fall 1961,” in For the Union Dead (New York: Noonday, 1964), p. 11.
9. Auden's poem is reprinted in Schley, , Writing in a Nuclear Age, pp. 1–2.
10. See Thompson, E. P., “Deterrence and Addiction,” Yale Review 72 (1982): 1–18.
11. This is the claim of Ground Zero, Nuclear War: What's in It for You? p. 60.
12. Oppen, George, The Collected Poems (New York: New Directions, 1975), p. 49.
13. See Sklar, Morty, ed., Nuke-Rebuke: Writers & Artists Against Nuclear Energy & Weapons (Iowa City, Ia.: The Spirit That Moves Us Press, 1984), p. 103.
14. Derrida, Jacques, “No Apocalypse, Not Now (full speed ahead, seven missiles, seven missives),” Diacritics 14 (1984): 20–31, pp. 21, 27.
15. Frost, Robert, “Fire and Ice,” The Poetry of Robert Frost (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969), p. 220. This ice-and-fire “destruction” was evoked – on a cosmic scale – in World War I.
16. Perelman, , To The Reader (see note 6 above).
17. Perelman, Bob, The First World (Great Barrington, Mass.: The Figures, 1986), p. 23.
18. Reprinted in Schley, , Writing in a Nuclear Age, p. 11.
19. Ferguson, Frances, “The Nuclear Sublime,” Diacritics 14 (1984): 4–10; and “The Sublime of Edmund Burke, Or the Bathos of Experience,” Glyph 8 (1981): 62–78.
20. See Jameson, Fredric on “Periodizing the 60's” Social Text 3 (1984): 178–209; see p. 200.
21. Schopenhauer, Arthur, The World as Will and Representation, trans. Payne, E. F. J. (New York: Dover, 1969), p. 205. (Subsequent references to this compelling analysis of the will-to-sublimity appear in parentheses.) On the ideological functioning of aesthetic “double consciousness” within 19th-century materiality, see Wilson, Rob, “Sculling to the Over-Soul: Louis Simpson, American Transcendentalism, and Thomas Eakins's Max Schmitt in a Single Scull,” American Quarterly 39 (1987): 410–29. The poetic sublime leaves nature intact, yet wills domination.
22. Stevens, Wallace, Collected Poems (1954; rept. New York: Knopf, 1974), p. 314.
24. Mariani, Paul, William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked (New York: McGraw Hill, 1981), p. 738.
26. See Klein, Richard and Warner, William B., “Nuclear Coincidence and the Korean Airline Disaster,” Diacritics 16 (1986): 2–21. From another, more post-Jungian point of view on imaging-forth the nuclear sublime as a (symbolic) way of preventing its literal occurrence in history, see the boundary-crossing essays collected in Andrews, Valerie, Bosnak, Robert, and Goodwin, Karen Walter, eds., Facing Apocalypse (Dallas: Spring Publications, 1987).
27. Derrida, , “No Apocalypse, Not Now,” p. 23. On the related, yet quite differently inflected idea that “There will never be a [nuclear] catastrophe, because we live under the sign of virtual catastrophe [nuclear simulacra],” see Baudrillard, Jean, “Panic Crash!” in Kroker, Arthur, Kroker, Marilouise, and Cook, David, Panic Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Postmodern Scene (New York: St. Martin's, 1989), p. 64. Also see the attempt to think our post-nuclear de-realization into one “hyperreal” technoscape and simulacrous mediascape in Baudrillard, Jean, “Orbital and Nuclear,” in Simulations, trans. Foss, Paul, Patton, Paul, and Beitchman, Philip (New York: Semiotext [e], 1983), pp. 58–75.
28. See Benjamin, Walter's disturbing, dread-and-wonder evocation of the new technologies of war, Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, trans. Jephcott, Edmund (New York: Schocken, 1986), p. 94.
29. Adorno, , Aesthetic Theory, p. 284.
30. This is the kind of big question — concerning vast forces and negations (American “terror, terror beheld and resisted”) — which cultural critics such as Terrence Des Pres in anthologies like Writing in a Nuclear Age (p. 11) are urging American poets to contend with as consequences of their own globe-policing culture. Also see the inadequately theorized portrayal of lyric self against a deaththreatening system in Praises & Dispraises: Poetry and Politics, the 20th Century (New York: Viking, 1988).
31. See Ferguson, on Kant, , “The Nuclear Sublime,” p. 6.
32. Denise Levertov appears in Jones, Richard's anthology, Poetry and Politics, p. 312; Forché, Carolyn, “Imagine the Worst,” Mother Jones (10 1984): 39.
33. Talk on anti-nuclear poetics in Perelman, Bob, ed., Writing/Talks (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985), p. 88.
34. Scheer, Robert, With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War (New York: Random, 1982), p. 121.
35. Derrida, , “No Apocalypse, Not Now,” p. 23.
36. Dorn, Edward, Hello, La Jolla (Berkeley: Wingbow Press, 1978), p. 25.
37. Creeley's poem appears in Sklar, , Nuke-Rebuke, p. 104.
38. This small-town rapturism is depicted in Mottjabai, A. G., Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas (Boston: Hougton, 1986).
39. Poem in Perelman, , To the Reader (1984).
40. See Boyer, Paul, By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (New York: Pantheon, 1985); Schell, Jonathan, The Fate of the Earth (New York: Knopf, 1982); and Rogin, Michael, “Kiss Me Deadly: Communism, Motherhood and Cold War Movies,” Representations 6 (1984): 1–36.
41. Scheer, , With Enough Shovels, pp. 18–32; Ashbery, John, The Double Dream of Spring (New York: Dutton, 1970), p. 13.
42. Boyer, , By the Bomb's Early Light, pp. 243–56.
43. Williams, William Carlos, Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems, in Collected Poems, 1950–1962 (New York: New Directions, 1962), p. 165.
44. On the “liminal” tactics of textual deconstruction, see the post-Derridean speculations of Hartman, Geoffrey H., Saving the Text: Literature/Derrida/Philosophy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), p. 150.
45. Perelman, , “Person,” The First World, p. 51.
46. As quoted in Zero, Ground, Nuclear War: What's in It for You? p. 29.
47. Ai, , “The Testimony of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” Sin (Boston: Houghton, 1986), pp. 64–67; also see Wilson, Rob, “The Will to Transcendence in Contemporary American Poet, Ai,” Canadian Review of American Studies 17 (1986): 437–48.
48. In Contact II, eds., Nuke Chronicles: Art on the End (New York: Contact II Publications, 1985), p. 10.
49. Ginsberg, Allen, Plutonian Ode and Other Poems, 1977–1980 (San Francisco: City Lights, 1982), pp. 12–13.
50. In Bruchac, Joseph; ed., Breaking Silence: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Poets (Greenfield, N.Y.: Greenfield Review Press, 1983), p. 272.
51. Salter, Mary Jo, Henry Purcell in Japan (New York: Knopf, 1985), p. 59.
52. Hass, Robert, “Images,” in Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry (New York: Ecco, 1984), p. 303.
53. Stafford, William, note to “Next Time,” in Schley, , Writing in a Nuclear Age, p. 202.
54. Kaminsky, Marc, The Road From Hiroshima (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), pp. 41–43.
55. Duras, Marguerite, Hiroshma Mon Amour (text for the film by Alain Resnais), trans. Seaver, Richard (New York: Grove Press, 1961); on Duras, 's postmodernism as “post-nuclear” in form and affect, see Kristeva, Julia, “The Pain of Sorrow in the Modern World,” PMLA 102 (1987): 138–152.
56. Stein, Gertrude, Reflection on the Atom Bomb, in Uncollected Writings of Gertrude Stein, vol. 1, ed., Haas, Robert Bartlett (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1973 ).
57. Mailer, Norman, Of a Fire on the Moon (New York: Signet, 1970), p. 60.
58. Lowell, , For the Union Dead, p. 72.
59. See Jameson, Fredric, “Baudelaire as Modernist and Postmodernist: The Dissolution of the Referent and the Artifical ‘Sublime,’” Lyric Poetry: Beyond New Criticism, ed., Hosek, Chaviva and Parker, Patricia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 262.
60. See Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Hurley, Robert, Seem, Mark, and Lane, Helen R. (1972; rept. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983) on “desiring-production” mechanisms of the Oedipalized ego.
61. Cage, John, A Year From Monday: New Lectures and Writings (Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press, 1967), p. 159.
62. Stevens, , Collected Poems, p. 95.
63. Benjamin, , Reflections, p. 93.
64. Marx, Leo, “On Heidegger's Conception of ‘Technology’ and Its Historical Validity,” Massachusetts Review 25 (1984): 638–52, p. 645. For an even less enchanted view of America's “technological activism” and control of North American self-representations, see Kroker, Arthur, Technology and the Canadian Mind: Innis/McLuhan/Grant (Montreal: New World Perspectives, 1984); and Guillory, Daniel L., “Leaving the Atocha Station: Contemporary Poetry and Technology,” TriQuarterly 52 (1981): 165–81.
65. I am implicitly building upon (and amplifying) reflections on the “rhetoric of the technological sublime” in Marx, Leo's The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964); and the mythopoesis of technology in Trachtenberg, Alan, Brooklyn Bridge: Fact and Symbol (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965): “Translating engineering accomplishments into ideas, the poet [Whitman/Crane] completed the work of [American] history, and prepared for the ultimate journey to ‘more than India,’ the journey to the Soul: ‘thou actual Me’” (p. 150). Euphoria at the urban technoscape, as in Crane, is, however, double-coded with sheer dread: an emerging panic sublime that threatens the power claims of lyric selfhood.
66. Pinsky, Robert, “The Uncreation.” The New Republic (04 14, 1986): 38.
67. Pinsky, Robert, History of My Heart (New York: Ecco, 1984), pp. 3–4.
68. See Geuss, Raymond, The Idea of a Critical Theory: Habermas & the Frankfurt School (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); and, in the American grain of “prophetic pragmatism” as cultural critique, see West, Cornel, The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989).
69. Heidegger, Martin, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. Lovitt, William (New York: Harper, 1977), p. 49; also see the counterresponse of Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Hofstadter, Albert (New York: Harper, 1971).
70. Heidegger, , The Question Concerning Technology, pp. 14, 26–27.
71. Marx, , “On Heidegger's Conception of Technology,” p. 649.
72. Heidegger, , The Question Concerning Technology, pp. 13–17.
73. Crane, Hart, Complete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1966), p. 116.
74. Stevens, Wallace, “Of Mere Being” (1955): for obvious reasons having to do with the whole genre of the American sublime, I prefer the phrase “bronze distance” (suggesting natural vastness) in the third line (used in Opus Posthumous, 1957) to its textual variant, “bronze decor” (suggesting an aura of aesthetic bric-a-brac, or even Jameson, 's “camp sublime”), as used by Stevens, Holly, ed., The Palm at the End of the Mind (New York: Vintage, 1972), pp. 398, 404. On Stevens's lifelong struggle with the Romantic sacralizing and/or modernist de-idealizing of sublime landscapes, as in “The Rock,” see Wilson, Rob, “Wallace Stevens: Decreating the American Sublime,” American Poetry 3 (1986): 13–33.