Trinity’s Shadow

I sit here in the silence of the awakening dawn’s stillness stunned by the realization that I exist.  I wonder why.  It is my birthday.  The first rays of the rising sun bleed crimson over the eastern hills as I imagine my birth. The house and my family sleep.

Someday I will die and I wonder why.  This is the mystery I have been contemplating since I was young.  That and the fact that I was born in a time of war and that when my parents and sisters were celebrating my first birthday, my country’s esteemed civilian and military leaders celebrated another birth: the detonation of the first atomic bomb code-named Trinity.

Trinity has shadowed my life, while the other Trinity has enkindled my days.

Sick minds play sick word games as they inflict pain and death.  They nicknamed this death bomb “the Gadget,” as if it were an innocent little toy.  They took and blasphemed the Christian mystery of the Trinity as if they were mocking God, which they were.  They thought they were gods.

Now they are all dead gods, their fates sealed in their tombs.

Where are they now?

Where are all their victims, the innocent dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Where are the just and the unjust?

Where are the living now, asleep or awake as Trinity’s progenitors in Washington, D.C. and the Pentagon prepare their doomsday machines for a rerun, the final first-strike run, the last lap in their race to annihilate all the living?  Will they sing as they launch the missiles – “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night?”

Joseph Biden, the second Roman Catholic president, while mocking the essence of Jesus’s message, pushes the world toward a nuclear holocaust, unlike JFK, the first Catholic president, who was assassinated by the CIA for pushing for the elimination of nuclear weapons and the end of the Cold War.

The wheel turns.  We count the years.  We wonder why.

Years ago I started my academic life by writing a thesis entitled “Dealing With Death or Death Dealing.”  It was a study of the transformation of cultural symbol systems, death, and nuclear weapons.  The last hundred years and more have brought a transformation and disintegration of the traditional religious symbol system – the sacred canopy – that once gave people comfort, meaning, and hope.  Science, technology, and nuclear weapons have changed all that. Death has been socially relocated and we live under the nuclear umbrella, a sinister “safeguard” that is cold comfort. The ultimate power of death over all life has been transferred from God to men, those controlling the nuclear weapons. This subject has never left me.  I suppose it has haunted me.  It is not a jolly subject, but I think it has chosen me.

Was I born in a normal time?  Is war time our normal time?  It is. I was.

But to be born at a time and place when your country’s leaders were denouncing their German and Japanese enemies as savage war criminals while execrably emulating them and then outdoing them is something else again.  With Operation Paperclip following World War II, the United States government secretly brought 1,600 or more Nazi war criminals into the U.S. to run our government’s military, intelligence, space, chemical, and biological warfare programs.  We became Nazis.  Lewis Mumford put it this way in The Pentagon of Power:

By the curious dialectic of history, Hitler’s enlargement and the refurbishment of the Nazi megamachine gave rise to the conditions for creating those counter-instruments that would conquer it and temporarily wreck it. In short, in the very act of dying the Nazis transmitted their disease to their American opponents; not only the methods of compulsive organization or physical destruction, but the moral corruption that made it feasible to employ those methods without stirring opposition.

There are always excuses for such moral corruption.  When during WW II the U.S. firebombed almost all Japanese cities, Dresden and Cologne in Germany, and then dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in gratuitously savage attacks, these were justified and even celebrated as necessary to defeat evil enemies.  Just as Nazi war criminals were welcomed into the U.S. government under the aegis of Allen Dulles who became the longest running CIA director and the key to JFK’s assassination and coverup, the diabolic war crimes of the U.S. were swept away as acts of a moral nation fighting a good war.  What has followed are decades of U.S. war crimes from Korea through Vietnam and Iraq, etc.  A very long list.

The English dramatist Harold Pinter, in his Nobel Address, put it bluntly:

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force  for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

Nothing could be truer.  When in 2014 the U.S. engineered the coup in Ukraine (coups being an American specialty), it allied itself with neo-Nazi forces to oppose Russia.  This alliance should have shocked no one; it is the American way.  Back in the 1980s when the U.S. was supporting death squads in Central America, Ronald Reagan told the world that “The Contras are the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers.”  Now the Ukrainian president Zelensky is feted as a great hero, Biden telling him in an Oval Office visit that “it’s an honor to be by your side.”  Such alliances are not anomalies but the crude reality of U. S. history.

But let me return to “Trinity,” the ultimate weapon of mass destruction since I was reading a recent article about it.

Kai Bird, the coauthor of  American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the book that inspired the new film Oppenheimer about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist credited as “the father of the atomic bomb” and the man who named the first atomic bomb Trinity, has written an Op Ed piece in The New York Times titled, “The Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.” True in certain respects, this article is an example of how history can be slyly used to distort the present for political purposes.  In typical NY Times fashion, Bird tells certain truths while concealing, distorting, and falsifying others.

I do not consider Oppenheimer a tragic figure, as does Bird.  Complicated, yes; but he was essentially a hubristic scientist who lent his services to a demonic project, and afterwards, having let the cat out of the bag by creating the Bomb, guiltily urged the government that used it in massive war crimes to restrain itself in the future.  Asking for such self-regulation is as absurd as asking the pharmaceutical or big tech industries to regulate themselves.

Bird rightly says that Oppenheimer did not regret his work inventing the atomic bomb, and he correctly points out the injustice of his being maligned and stripped of his security clearance in 1954 in a secret hearing by a vote of 2 to 1 of a security panel of The Atomic Energy Commission for having communist associations. “Celebrated in 1945 as the ‘father of the atomic bomb,’” Bird writes, “nine years later he would become the chief celebrity victim of the McCarthyite maelstrom.”  A “victim,” I should add, who named names to save his own reputation.

But tucked within his article, Bird tells us: “Just look at what happened to our public health civil servants during the recent pandemic.”  By which he means these officials like Anthony Fauci were maligned when they gave the public correct scientific information.  This is absurd.  Fauci – “attacks on me quite frankly are attacks on science” – and other government “civil servants” misinformed the public and lied over and over again, but Bird implies they too were tragic figures like Oppenheimer.

He writes:

We stand on the cusp of another technological revolution in which artificial intelligence will transform how we live and work, and yet we are not yet having the kind of informed civil discourse with its innovators that could help us to make wise policy decisions on its regulation. Our politicians need to listen more to technology innovators like Sam Altman and quantum physicists like Kip Thorne and Michio Kaku.

Here too he urges “us” to listen to the very people responsible for Artificial Intelligence, just as “we” should have listened to Oppenheimer after he brought us the atomic bomb.  Implicit here is the belief that science just marches progressively on and there’s no stopping it, and when dangerous technologies emerge from scientists’ work, we should trust them to control them.  Nowhere does Bird suggest that scientists have a moral obligation before the fact to not pursue a certain line  of research because of its grave possible consequences.  Maybe he has never read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, only written over two hundred years ago.

Finally, and most importantly, Bird begins his concluding paragraph with these words:

Today, Vladimir Putin’s not-so-veiled threats to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine are a stark reminder that we can never be complacent about living with nuclear weapons.

This is simply U.S. propaganda.  The U.S. has provoked and fueled the war in Ukraine, broken all nuclear weapon treaties, surrounded Russia with military bases, stationed nuclear weapons in Europe, engaged in nuclear blackmail with its first strike policy and threats, etc.  Putin has said in response that if – and only if – the very existence of the Russian state and land is threatened with extinction would the use of nuclear weapons be considered.

A little history is informative.

“Barely six weeks after the Hiroshima-Nagsaki bombings,” Michel Chossudovsky tells us, “the US War Department [Pentagon] issued  a blueprint  (September 15, 1945) to ‘Wipe  the Soviet Union off the Map’ (66 cities with 204 atomic bombs), when the US and the USSR were allies. This infamous project is confirmed by declassified documents.” (For further details see Chossudovsky, 2017)

Below is the image of the 66 cities of the Soviet Union which had been envisaged as targets by the US War Department.

The 66 cities. Click here to enlarge 

See also Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War. “90 Seconds to Midnight”: The Pentagon’s 1945 “Doomsday Blueprint” to “Wipe the Soviet Union off the Map”

But back to Bird, who, in writing a piece about Oppenheimer’s “tragedy” and defending science, has also subtly defended a trinity of other matters: the government “science” on Covid, the transformative power coming from AI, and the U.S. propaganda about Russia and nuclear weapons. There is no mention of JFK’s call to abolish nuclear weapons.  This is how the “paper of record” does its job.

I sit here now at the end of the day.  Shadows are falling and I contemplate such trinities.  I am stunned by the fact that we exist, but under a terrifying Shadow that many wish to ignore.  Jung saw this shadow side as not just personal but social, and when it is ignored, the collective evils of modern societies can autonomously erupt.

Bird argues that nuclear weapons are the result of a scientific quest that is unstoppable.  He writes that Oppenheimer “understood that you cannot stop curious human beings from discovering the physical world around them [and then making nuclear bombs or designer babies].”

This is the ideology of progress that brooks no opposition since it is declared inevitable. It is a philosophy that believes there should be no limits to human knowledge, which would include the knowledge of good and evil, but which can then be ignored since it and all thought and beliefs are considered a priori to be relative.  The modern premise that everything is relative is of course a contradiction since it is an absolute statement.  Many share this philosophy of despair disguised as progress as it has crept into everything today.  It is tragic, for if people accept it, we are doomed to follow a Faustian pact with the devil and all hell will follow.

I think of Bob Dylan singing :

I just don’t see why I should even care
It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin’ there

But I do care, and I wonder why.  As night comes on, I sit here and wonder.





19 thoughts on “Trinity’s Shadow”

  1. “The modern premise that everything is relative is of course a contradiction since it is an absolute statement.” Thank you, I’m going to use that next time I hear some self-indentified “Progressive “ say “Everything is relative.”

    The myth of “progress “ is just that, a myth. But it’s one of the foundational myths of industrial culture. The only thing I remember about the 1950’s TV show Death Valley Days, hosted by Ronny Reagan before he became governor of California was a slogan. It was sponsored by GE, General Electric. Their motto featured in nearly every commercial was “At GE, Progress is our most important product.”

    James Watt introduced the first practical steam engine in 1776, the same year we claimed our independence. It was quickly put to use in coal mines to power pumps to pump out water. That allowed the miners to go deeper and deeper for more and more coal. That created a positive feedback loop that continues to this day. More coal gave rise to more machines that then needed more coal or oil or nat gas or uranium etc. The industrial mode of production gave rise to an industrial culture .

    Never before has there been a civilization like ours that believed that progress was inevitable. The shelf life of the Myth of Progress is reaching its pull date.

  2. Thanks very much Edward Curtin for staying true to your recollections of the fearful days at the start of nuclear weapons development. It’s heartening to read your articles and hear your discussion with. Regis Tremblay in Crimea, both of you with Catholic backgrounds. I was born in july 1946, just after detonation of nuke weapons. My country is Aotearoa.NEW Zealand and we have a great history of opposing nuclear weapons experimentation in the Pacific region. However of recent years, this concern of ourcoutnry has become muted at government level, which i find worrying. The world needs our country to speak out against clear and present dangers on nuke war, emanating from the war against Russia in Ukraine. So far sadly, our government has swallowed the lies about the “unprovoked” attack of Russia on Ukraine, that you know to be false, as do I. Anyway, it’s great to read your articles and not to feel isolated. Even here, people dont want to be bothered worrying about something that hasnt happened, but could so easily happen, given circumstances today. Best wishes – Kay

  3. Thank you again, Ed, and Happy Birthday. Among other things it got me to finally read the two equally worthwhile previous Behind the Curtain essays you conveniently linked to. May you get all the readership you deserve, and then some, here and throughout the Pingback world, well beyond the point where you’re no longer preaching to the choir. Thanks also to all commenters, though I wish some didn’t go on as long.

    1. Thank you Mark. I agree that we must connect people from the navel or some people might say from the heart.

  4. “The Peace of Wild Things
    When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
    ~ Wendell Berry, 

  5. Ahh, Homo Bellum. Interestingly, there are billions of people on earth NOT of the curious mind to find new ways to bend DNA, genetically engineer salmon with bass genes, or put fish genes into tomoatoes.

    The old saw is why do THEY not ask WHY, instead of “what can I do with this magnificent and curious and elite-inspired mind”? You know, think hard enough as a sci-fi writer, and you get Minority Report, and alas we now have pre-crime software, hardware, AI, determining who is or will be or might be the enemy, or sort of the enemy.

    The do no harm theory never runs through the veins of these Oppenheimer monsters. They never wonder why, that is, why split the atom, why invent PFAS’s, why gear up the nuclear plant.

    Until we are here, with millions of isotope water from Japan hitting the Pacific because they, the new little Oppenheimers, say it’s safe.

    Until we have millions a year dying of treatable gut diseases. Until we have millions pushed off land by the big boys in finance, Big Ag, Big Mining, Big Oil.

    Again, those vaunted men and women, doing so much to fulfill their “what can I do with this plant, mountain, river, planet,” instead of stopping and thinking why do it and what the intended consequences and unintended (very rare they are unintended) might be.

    As some call that Golden Billion those people on the planet, a billion, who get the benefits from rape, rapine, razing, destruction, coups, displacement, takeovers, broken treaties, broken communities. You know who they are, and the other 6.5 billion will never inherit the earth.

    You speak of Biden as Catholic, which is of course, one of the engines of hundreds of millions of Indians murdered, from Klanada to the tip of South America. Murder, with a bullet, sword and cross.

    And Biden has Jewish grandchildren, and in his dunce way, stated, “Now I finally get a Jewish doctor in the family.” This is the Catholic, the cartoon, happy to have Jewish men marry his Catholic kids.

    Until he has seven grandchildren, but he calls out only six not, since his prize cocaine abuser, Hunter, had a child with a working woman, a stripper, and the Biden Klan has fought to have the Biden name not attached to this child.

    As they say, the true merit of a human is what he or she will do to a friend and family member . . . . And, turning state’s evidence, narcing, all of that, whether we call it the Red Witch Hunts or the Obama hunt for hero whistleblowers, these acts can add up big time, but just one act is enough to disavow any sort of redemption.

    When Hollydirt and Dirty Mass Media call this movie the greatest movie of all time, the greatest anti-nuclear “thing” in recent memory, you know we are cooked as a planet, with thespians (millionaires) run by studio executives (billionaires) to placate and mind number the collective audience for these sad excuses for “information.”

    Whether is a fake hero called Batman or a real enemy called Oppenheimer, the same Nolan will sell you snake oil or GCG or just plain old putrid drama with the same old usual suspects acting, and then coming out in public, acting more.

    Happy birthday,

    1. Thank you Paul for your comments….”You speak of Biden as Catholic, which is of course, one of the engines of hundreds of millions of Indians murdered, from Klanada to the tip of South America. Murder, with a bullet, sword and cross.”….Yes, one of the engines indeed and still running !

  6. Happy birthday, Edward.
    Beautiful essay which mirrors many of my own thoughts.

    It has been evident to me for a long time that gods do not exist and that Werner Herzog is correct when he observes,
    “I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder.”

    And Richard Dawkins was spot on too:

    “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A E Housman put it:

    ‘For Nature, heartless, witless Nature
    Will neither know nor care.’

    Gaudeamos igatur, good brother.
    May you continue to write for many more birthdays.

      1. Thank you Peter for you comment. You said, “There may well be no God, nor gods, but there may well be something bigger, more universal, something that will make the Dawkin’s of this world sit and say, damn, how didn’t I see that? Is it possible ‘We’ have consciously been prevented from learning there might be something bigger? And who would not want us to learn anything that does not support authorities; especially male dominated hierarchies ? I don’t think the pope can give us any insight into this. This might be interesting?
        Ending the Domination System – REVOKE The PAPAL BULLS

  7. The psychopathic oligarchs are old, loveless and empty. They crave immortality through the death of those who would ‘dare’ to outlive them.
    Paranoid fools.

  8. You quoted Ronald Reagan about the Contras being the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers”, and followed by observing that the Ukrainian president Zelensky is feted as a great hero.

    I have heard them comparing Zelensky to Churchill, and chuckled because unintentionally, they may not have been so far off. I’ve read a lot about Churchill, including books from sources no longer considered “fashionable”, and it is clear to me that he was not the admirable figure that was painted for us in school.

    On a greater note, didn’t the Ancients believe there were some kinds of knowledge we just shouldn’t have? Nowadays when I see the gene manipulators going full speed ahead, and see “bio-research” labs all over the planet (reportedly over a dozen in Ukraine alone, of all places), I often find myself thinking that these people are going to screw up one day soon and end humanity. These people have no humility or sense of caution.

    1. Thank you Willem…., you said, “On a greater note, didn’t the Ancients believe there were some kinds of knowledge we just shouldn’t have?”
      I think that is an excellent question !!! Of course, our indoctrination centers do not provide us with any food so to contemplate that question. Could important knowledge, real information be passed by someone to an appropriate individual who is clearly understood to appreciate this knowledge? I don’t expect to meet that individual anywhere between the Pacific ocean and the Atlantic ocean. Perhaps if our minds were not filled with so much gobbledegook…(that we got our doctorate degrees with)…we could contemplate that question further and perhaps do a little research and ‘while observing ourselves’ during this process!

  9. Thank you Gary. A nun was telling a religious story that had most of the class, (audience) in some kind of dreamy trance. I raised my hand, the nun stopped speaking and acknowledged me. I asked, when are we going to have lunch break? The older boy in the class had his trance interrupted by my need for food, so he turned and called me a hypocrite! That was one of my very few religious classes that I did not choose! I have this need for real food !

  10. You are a writer of profound beauty and depth, Ed. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. And happy birthday.

  11. “The modern premise that everything is relative is of course a contradiction since it is an absolute statement. Many share this philosophy of despair disguised as progress as it has crept into everything today. It is tragic, for if people accept it, we are doomed to follow a Faustian pact with the devil and all hell will follow.” – wonderfully put Ed.

    The clash between the material reality of a mega-machine that quite clearly is devoted to the ever more creative design and manufacture of machines of mass death – contrasts vividly with our younger generation’s indoctrination in, and embrace of, the post-modern influenced notion that no ‘material reality’ actually exists. As you put it – “. . .all hell will follow” – and I dare say that no amount of navel gazing – “post-modern” – ‘discourse’ – and word play will do anything to cool its fires.

    Wishing you a happy birthday from one geezer to another.

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