Cold War

Miss Atomic Bomb


This isn't exactly on topic, but it does provide some historical context for Underworld. I was researching various advertisements for my paper, and came across this image:

The photograph of "Miss Atomic Bomb" features a Las Vegas showgirl wearing a dress shaped like a mushroom cloud. The image was used to encourage people to visit the Nevada nuclear testing site, which was a tourist attraction at the time. According to an article I read on, people actually planned happy hours around nuclear blasts-- they'd sit poolside and enjoy the flashes.

A New Cold War?


Or did the Cold War ever really end? This was supposed to be a comment on potted plant's post and it got a wee bit too lengthy...

With the rise of mass communication the average joe/jane is suddenly flooded with a wealth of information--but who's running the show? Technology certainly is a double-edged sword, but I get the feeling the hysteria is born out of a desperate need to absorb all the information that we can--strictly because we can--without the means to really "handle" it, per se. I'm thinking about the images post-September 11th: explosions, people united under the flag, firefighters and police officers covered in soot and the like, solidarity, etcetera... And then i'm thinking about sitting in English class that morning, when the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan. The cellphone circuits were jammed, everyone calling everyone else once panic mode sets in, so like good young rubber-neckers we snuck out of school and drove down to the Brooklyn Promenade, overlooking the Lower Manhattan skyline.

"The cold war is your friend"

"'You need the leaders of both sides to keep the cold war going. It's the one constant thing. It's honest, it's dependable. Because when the tension and rivalry come to an end, that's when your worst nightmares begin. All the power and intimidation of the state will seep out of your personal bloodstream. You will no longer be the main. . . point of reference. Because other forces will come rushing in, demanding and challenging. The cold war is your friend. You need it to stay on top'" (170).

I found this conversation extremely striking for several reasons. First, I feel like, up until this point, the cold war hadn't actully been mentioned outright.

Us and Them

DeLillo has already brought in the capitalized Us and Them that brings to mind the capitalized words of GR....."And what is the connection between Us and Them, how many bundled links do we find in the neural labyrinth? It's not enough to hate your enemy. You have to understand how the two of you bring each other to deep completion" Us vs Them is necessary for any type of war, including the Cold War: without this idea, how can you hate? And past that, DeLillo says that you need 2 separate entities so that you can decide your place in the world. The power struggle of the Cold War can be seen in terms of two superpowers with differing ideas of how they each brought the other to 'deep completion'.

The Shot Heard Round the World

My one complaint so far, Underworld makes waiting the next month and a half for baseball season that much more agonizing.

One moment that particularly struck me was the moment where Cotter he realizes his rival is indeed Bill Waterson. From my perspective it seems certainly possible that the two of them represent the Soviet and American powers and their onetime alliance and subsequent hostility. Just after Cotter finally wrests the ball away, "The man catches his eye, This is not what Cotter wants, this is damage to the cause. He made a mistake looking back" (49). The moment serves as a loss of innocence, the end of an impersonal struggle. Once the friends, united by a previous common cause, have something to fight over, it tears them apart in such a primal way. What makes this moment so stunning, however, is the the distinct sameness of the two sides, two men looking "at each other over the crowd and through the crowd." For all that separates them, they stand out to each other essentially oblivious to the swarms of people around them. For all their conviction that they each have the superior claim to that ball, they both ultimately want the same thing, the ball -- and will do whatever it takes to keep it.

Cold war everywhere! AHHHH

Again, dealing with the prologue. I feel like a lot of passages really allude to the aura of the Cold War without being painfully obvious. Or I'm trying too hard to look for Cold War references. Anyway, I like that it's subtle.

When the engineer is talking through the blanket to the "other side", I thought about Russia and the US, talking to each other but often not seeing each other really, blocked off by some sort of ideological blanket--.but that might just be me--.that's on pg. 26.

On page 27 the line "nothing is the same"--well, it jumped out at me. Hoover hears about the bomb, and nothing is the same.

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