Thermonuclear review

Wednesday, 16 April, 2014

In the annals of acidic reviewing, nothing beats Truman Capote’s flip dismissal of Jack Kerouac’s work: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” Still, the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs magazine does not do too badly when it comes to Thermonuclear Monarchy by Elaine Scarry, Professor of Aesthetics and General Theory of Value at Harvard. Snip:

“This curious book addresses what Scarry describes as the incompatibility of nuclear weapons and democracy. But her knowledge of nuclear matters is superficial, and she says very little about the weapons, other than to draw attention to their awfulness and to the fragile, illegitimate, and dangerous structures that govern their possession and potential use.”

By the way, here’s now Gore Vidal dissed Truman Capote: “He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.”

Comments (1)

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  1. Heney Barth says:

    One comment to the Review:

    R.N. Cable • a month ago

    Freedman writes that “having underlined the absurdity of the nuclear condition…she offers only a feeble remedy.” Yes, it may well be that We the [American] People have lost the vitality that revolted from traditional monarchy in 1775 and the wisdom that fashioned a great, written “social contract” in 1787 that has long served us well and inspired other nations to similar efforts. Every tool, including the mind, is not only feeble but even useless to the owner if he loses it, forgets it, or will not use it. A strong and correct remedy is proposed by Noam Chomsky: “Scarry’s remarkable contribution should inspire us to abolish this colossal folly” [of “the nuclear condition.”] AMEN