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Comments (12)


So poets are limited?

John Cox:


It's an odd quote that seems to sink itself. Poets relate to romantic fantasy and not impersonal technology?

You could interpret this quote a dozen ways.


I'm guessing the knight would prefer a button to his sword right about now.


First Atomic Strike Force

Into the air the secret rose,
Where they're going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they'll return again,
But we'll never know where they've been.
Don't ask us about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

When the other Groups are ready to go,
We have a program of the whole damned show.
And when Halsey's 5th shells Nippon's shore,
Why, shucks, we hear about it the day before.
MacArthur and Doolittle give out in advance,
But with this new bunch we haven't a chance.
We should have been home a month or more,
For the 509th is winning the war.




Man Who Dropped Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima Dies at 92


Auden obviously never read Kipling.

Dr. Bob:

Trying to do some detective work, and it appears the Auden quote comes from a March 1958 "Camera 3" show with interviewer James McAndrew with WH Auden.

"About Writing", a book by Samuel R Delany has a reference to the interview pp 305-306 (Google books).

Apparently, the interviewer was attempting to get Auden to validate the interviewer's thesis that "the historical purpose of the poet has been to provide images of heroes for the nation."

Auden explains that pressing a button to drop a bomb is far different than Achilles fighting a one on one combat with Hector. which is origin of the quote.

Auden was completely misunderstood, although I'm not sure exactly what Auden meant. As John said, it could be interpreted a dozen ways.

I don't think it was necessarily intended as anti-technology or a misunderstanding of it, I think it was intended to disagree with the interviewer about his view of the role of the poet and move onto something related to poetry.

By the way, is the epic fight between Obi Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader in Star Wars (the original) any less than the Achilles vs. Hector battle because it uses technology?

Dr. Bob:

Too bad this isn't a "Say What".

"You look mighty tasty in that glaze of tin. Prepare to be flame broiled".

Sorry, couldn't resist


I'm fairly certain that Auden meant that [given his paradigm of being a stuffed-shirt romantic] it wouldn't be possible to write such a poem because of the complete impersonality (impersonalness?) of a person pushing a button to destroy legions of people--having never been engaged with them in any way.

He was wrong, of course. Isolation is as valid a concept as relatedness.


We're all limited. Herbert Simon said it well when he put forth the principle of bounded rationality.


You can't fight in here, this is the war room


"bounded rationality"

Simon might also have called it "reality". S.I. Hayakawa could have had a lot of fun with it.

I like your pics...great


I just wanted to comment & say that I was very impressed with the design on your blog & also your writing skills.. happy holidays!


John Cox is a painter, cartoonist, and illustrator for hire. For information about purchasing existing work or commissioning new work, contact him by e-mail at john555cox [at] hotmail.com.

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