To Beatrice Mailer
August 8, 1945
The news of the atom bomb has created more talk out here than the news of V-E day, and as much as President Roosevelt’s death. I feel very confused about it. (This is written after just the barest communiqué. I don’t know what it’s done.) I’m understanding now how the bonds of self-interest affect thought. A good part of me approves anything which will shorten the war, and get me home sooner, and this is often antagonistic to older more basic principles. For instance I hope the peace time draft is passed because if it’s not, there may be an agonizingly slow demobilization. In the same sense I approve of an instrument that will kill under optimum conditions many people in one instant.
But really what a terrifying perspective this is. We’ve always talked of humanity destroying itself, but now it seems so near a thing, so much a matter of decades, of a very easily counted number of bombs. This atom smashing business is going to herald the final victory of the machine. It had always been no more than pleasurable calculation in the physics I studied, a remotely attainable dream, and even then a terrible one, for the atomic energy in a mass the size of a pea is enough to drive a locomotive so many fantastic times about the earth.
I think our age is going to mark the end of such concepts as man’s will and mass determination of power. The world will be controlled by a few men, politicians and technicians—Spengler’s men of the late West-European-American civilization. Much as he stimulates me, I’m no Spenglerian. In the alternatives of doing the necessary or nothing, I prefer nothing if the necessary is unpalatable.
Really, darling, the vista is horrifying. There will be another war, if not in twenty years, then in fifty, and if half of mankind survives, then what of the next war—I believe that to survive the world cities of tomorrow will be built a mile beneath the earth. Man then will have escaped his animal heritage—the insects will no longer bother him, and Scarr-like in searching for heaven, he will have descended a thousand fathoms nearer to Hell. . . .
So little of love in this, but I am a little soul-sick tonight. The more I think about these things, the more frightening they become. What combination can beat the alloy of mechanism with sentimentality.
I need you in my arms tonight.
I love thee,
There’s the wisdom among serious literary people that Stephen King is not exactly good for the word and is a low brow artist. Literary critic Harold Bloom, whom I once flew to NYC to see lecture, is this camp’s most vocal person.
I have mixed feelings because like Bloom I agree that King and Harry Potter books get their large followings by touching on simpler, easier sentiments and emotions. Potter: sentimentality ; King the base human emotions of fear, bloodlust, suspense , etc. (Base according to Thomas Aquinas’s outline)
In addition reading a magazine profile about Stephen Kings whole family I thought the family was weird and that I wouldn’t want to be a part of that family.
But yet. Yet. King is still a writer and a certain respect and kinship is there for me. Because he wrote stories like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Carrie, The Shining, and Hearts in Atlantis. In the simplest sense, the man tells a story. And telling a story is what writing is about.
I don’t imagine King stops to consider it too much. I had this thought when he enthusiastically blurbed about Roberto Bolano’s 2666 being the strangest and great book of its year.
Radiohead: OK Computer
Led zeppelin: Physical Graffiti
Willie Nelson: Phases and Stages
Kanye West: Yeezus
Nirvana - In Utero
The Strokes - Is this it
Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme
The Stooges: Raw Power
Antony and the johnsons- Hope There’s Someone
Slim no slope streets
Whisper to me in rich tones
That aren’t my own
But softly electric and hiding anyway
Trees smother the lines that guide you
More trees than the rest of OkC
Elegant homes of personality being sold
Moving to Edmond
Charged, green, Greek columns
The cylinder edged 90s house
Has a place with the statelies somehow
A judge lives there and contemplates
Here, my daughter, deliver this to the junior congressman four houses down
That landlord has been working on that house
For two years
Anyone can pick their favorite streets
And drive them
Discover with surprise
When neighborhood turns
to something else