Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Heart Oppenheimer

And His Funny Hat

The bomb is everywhere, I'm just saying. In the fall at the Metropolitan Opera, it was Dr. Atomic, by minimalist John Adams, the anxiety of the test at Los Alamos and Oppenheimer poking fun at General Groves's cake-eating. Then Mike Daisey, in a monologue, talked about Oppenheimer's inexperience and his youth, and pulled out a piece of green radioactive trinitite that he bought at a junk shop near the site called The Black Hole. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about Oppenheimer, says he tried to poison his tutor at Cambridge and that he was savvy, which is why he made it to Trinity despite his youth and why he didn't, like some other geniuses, fall by the wayside. Then there's fall-out shelters being all the rage. The Believer had an article about Greenbrier and the new craze in not only flocking to fall-outs, but building your own personal bomb-holes. This rash of bomb-related theatrical (and other) expressions reminds me of Rite of Spring, ca. 1913, a dance so vulgar and music, the insistent rhythm of which was so unfamiliar that everyone was in an uproar, because they were all sensing in some subconscious way the impending political situation. They took it out on the poor choreographer and composer. Gertrude Stein pretended she was there, it was that important. No one was in an uproar at the opera last fall, or at Mike Daisey's show or, I suppose, when visiting a fall-out. Maybe people don't get into uproars anymore. I want an uproar. But I will take an off-kilter hat.


The Head and the Hair said...

I've been all about Oppenheimer recently too. I got a little obsessed after seeing Dr. Atomic and falling slightly for Gerard Butler in his off-kilter hat. Then I read a book about Teller and the creation of the H-bomb. Now I want to read about the making of the A-bomb. Oh and I'm also reading War and Peace.

The Head and the Hair said...

BTW. The Head and the Hair is more commonly known as Michelle Legro.

Egg Off-Kilter said...

Hmm. I have this desire to visit a fall-out shelter. Any interest? I also have been meaning to read W&P. But I have this strange fascination with it that I feel might lessen the enjoyment of my reading. I feel like the only drawback to not reading W&P is the slight humiliation I feel when, at a cocktail party with other writers, for example, I have to admit that I've never read it. So much of what you derive from Tolstoy can be derived equally satisfactorily from his lower-tonnage works, Ivan Ilych, etc. But I won't know until I've read it... i will have to read it now. I also like Pevear and Volokhonsky.

The Head and the Hair said...

I have big plans to blog about W&P as I read it (and the atomic bomb book). But I am not the most efficient blogger ever produced. Also, If you ever need a companion to a fall out shelter, I am she.

PS. I realize reading my comment that I mistook actor Gerard Butler for baritone Gerard Finley. Both are crushworthy, but only the second breaks my heart a little.

Anonymous said...

You must also watch the film Sherman's March, if you haven't seen it already - one man's journey to the south to retrace Gen. Sherman's path of destruction, while having (the filmmaker, not Sherman) thoughts of nuclear holocaust and southern womanhood.

Will be checking on your W&P blog.