Knowing Nukes: The Politics and Culture of the Atom by William Chaloupka

By William Chaloupka

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Extra info for Knowing Nukes: The Politics and Culture of the Atom

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50 The reality of nuclear threat (and the possibility of survival, if one took the threat seriously and obeyed one's teachers) was confirmed —not refuted —by these juxtaposed practice sessions. These drills, purporting to further chances for survival, were actually exercises in the utility of terror; only habits of hair-trigger reaction to the nuke's flash could prevent injury. We honed that reaction on a pervasive respect for military capabilities inextricably combined with an awesome fear and an empathy with Hiroshima's fate.

Even after Americans stopped feeling this obligation to serve, one could still choose to enlist for a strenuous and lengthy commitment to a more honorable branch of the service (the Marines), which would in turn avoid (if possible) using recruits rounded up by the Selective Service. 20 The payoff on promised honor has always required action on a battlefield. In his essay on Clausewitz, Garry Wills defines the source of that honor as a prenuclear reversal essential to the warrior's code. Hatred assimilates each side to the other, the Wechselwirkung [a reciprocal altering, one of the other] becomes an oscillation as well as a mutuality, each side becoming the other as the sides work each other up to a resemblance in extremism.

The fusion is complete, the confusion perfect: nothing now distinguishes the functions of the weapon and the eye; the projectile's image and the image's projectile form a single composite.. . "15 In the next chapter, I will examine that "evacuation" further, arguing that the robot has begun to function in several rhetorical ways in nuclear discourse. For now, Ronell, Sloterdijk, and Virilio combine to show, from different angles, how difficult it will be to establish "an angle" from which to view, much less resuscitate, the warrior.

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