Mythology: From Ancient to Post-Modern

By Jürgen Kleist; Bruce A. Butterfield | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Thomas J. Morrissey


Myths of Re(-)Creation: Mythology in the (Post-)Nuclear World

Given what we know about the likely effects of global thermonuclear war, the title of this essay should be a sinister, laughable logical contradiction. There wild be no post-nuclear world, not if "world" means an earth populated by humans or human cultures. All the world's mythologies will be silenced forever.

Many of us who grew up during the formative years of the Cold- War --the time of the Iron Curtain, the Rosenbergs, "duck and cover drills"-- knew even then that the idea of nuclear survivability was perverse propaganda and that the anthem of the nuclear age is Tom Lehrer "We'll All Go Together When We Go."1

In this macabre apocalyptic satire, nuclear annihilation is the perfect end to industrialized society, the logical extension of capitalism, mass production, and mass murder. For a brief instant, business triumphs, for "Lloyd's of London will be loaded when they go." Colonialism reaches fruition with the eradication of "every Hottentot and every Eskimo." And the greatest crime in human history, the Holocaust, is made ultimately efficient and ecumenical: "We'll all burn together when we burn/ There'll be no need to stand and wait your turn." Universal death--no lines, no waiting. Lehrer's song is a parody of mythmaking the death of myth. We can all go to our "respective Valhallas" because all belief systems, religious or secular, are now equal and meaningless.

But nearly a half century after Hiroshima, writers continue to posit post-nuclear scenarios, and they often do so with the conscious knowledge that they are creating myths for our troubled time. The threat of nuclear war is our principal nemesis, and science fiction is the crucible in which the myths of science are brewed in a scientific age.

Unleashing the atom was an event of epic proportions. Global suicide became a possibility in 1945. No other human culture ever had to face or explain the end of the world by human means. But with the bomb everything changed and, in H. Bruce Franklin's words, "having gained ac

-185-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Mythology: From Ancient to Post-Modern
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 226

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?