I would like to thank Helen Cooper, Adrienne Munich, and Susan Squier
for their many helpful critical responses to earlier versions of this paper; Frances Ferguson, whose essay "The Nuclear Sublime," provided its inspiration; and Gillian Brown, for her friendship.
This essay, a meditation on the politics (and "ends") of humanism,
particularly in relation to Heidegger's concept of Dasein ("human reality"),
has no ostensible relation to the topic of nuclear war. Nonetheless its emphasis on "the human" makes it an interesting precursor to Derrida's "No
Apocalypse, Not Now," cited below.
Derrida, "No Apocalypse, Not Now,"22.
Osmanczyk, "UNESCO Constitution,"827.
Jardine, "Death Sentences,"120.
Scarry, The Body in Pain, 87-88.
Caldicott, Missile Envy, 316. All subsequent references are to this edition and are given parenthetically within the text.
Swaim, Aint No Where We Can Run, 1.
Nottingham WONT, "Working as a Group,"23.
Lotringer, Pure War, 110.
Klein, "Diacritics Colloquium on Nuclear Criticism,"2.
The phrase is Ronell's. See Dictations: On Haunted Writing, xv.
I am responding in part to Derrida's suggestion that the epoch of the
book and that of theology and divinity are intimately bound up with one
another. In Of Grammatology, for example, he argues that "the sign and
divinity have the same place and time of birth. The age of the sign is
essentially theological. Perhaps it will never end. Its historical closure is,
however, outlined." See Derrida, Of Grammatology, 14. The interested
reader might also see Derrida's persuasive remarks on the relationship between fiction, rhetoric, and nuclear weaponry in "No Apocalypse, Not
Now," cited earlier.
For Derrida's reading of the "apocalyptic tone" put forward by the
Book of Revelation, especially as pertaining to the metaphysics of postal
systems, see "Of an Apocalyptic Tone,"3-37.
David Dowling's Fictions of Nuclear Disaster, a comprehensive
study of fictional treatments of the bomb, also remarks upon the similarities between the Book of Revelation and a nuclear explosion. His discussion, however, focuses only on their shared thematics, emphasizing common patterns of imagery: Dowling does not investigate the possibility of a
structural affinity. Perhaps for this reason he does not notice that a book
serves the function of a bomb in the Book of Revelation, and he takes it for
granted that fiction acts as a deterrent to the bomb's use: "Fictions of nuclear disaster . . . call on the power of the word to de-fuse the power of the
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Arms and the Woman:War, Gender, and Literary Representation.
Contributors: Helen M. Cooper - Editor, Adrienne Auslander Munich - Editor, Susan Merrill Squier - Editor.
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press.
Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC.
Publication year: 1989.
Page number: 319.
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