By Bruce Comens
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Extra info for Apocalypse and After: Modern Strategy and Postmodern Tactics in Pound, Williams, and Zukofsky
As Page 8 Milton evidently foresaw, that force will ultimately prove too great to control, its use resulting in the destruction of both sides together with the territory in question. There can be no doubt that the Bomb ultimately controls the field; its particular effect stems from the fact that no one controls the Bomb. Even those with power to deploy and use nuclear weapons do not control them, for they are part of the field the Bomb conquers by destroying. Thus a coherent, rational strategy cannot be used to "defeat" the Bomb; we must instead rely on tactics, on opportunistic improvisations that (unlike, say, guerilla warfare) thwart any tendency to become subordinated to an overall strategy.
To us it seemed quite plain that these bombs and the still greater power of destruction of which they were the precursors might quite easily shatter every relationship and institution of mankind" (146). It is easy to see Wells' dire prophecy as an expression of the ominous forces, the inner strains, that were building toward World War I. Less clear is the actual relation between that war and the Bomb. Although the experience of trench warfare and that of a nuclear war must necessarily be radically distinct, the imaginative effects of the two seem more closely allied.
How impersonal did each new draft seem arriving each month, and all these new-fangled gadgets to master" (ix). Or, as Benjamin puts it: "A generation that had gone to school on a horse-drawn streetcar now stood under the open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained unchanged but the clouds, and beneath these clouds, in a field of force of destructive torrents and explosions, was the tiny, fragile human body" (84). The vastly more efficient and more impersonal technology of death distinguishes the wars of this century as a whole from earlier conflicts: the machine gun, the tank, gas, the submarine, air warfare, all were invented or dramatically improved during the war.
Apocalypse and After: Modern Strategy and Postmodern Tactics in Pound, Williams, and Zukofsky by Bruce Comens