10 July 2017

Why Yesterday Matters

Tyrone Power in the South Pacific

There's a wonerful movie blog I follow called Stars and Letters, whose proprietor collects just what it says -- letters to and from classic movie stars, as well as directors, producers, designers, etc. You never know what's going to turn up, or what unknown bits of information will suddenly appear. (Who knew Joan Crawford was a good friend of Billy Wilder, for instance?)
Right now you can see a fascinating letter written by Tyrone Power to a friend while he was on active duty in the South Pacific late in WW2, and in it he discusses the atomic bomb. Power was an intelligent, thoughtful person, and he was horrified by what he had learned about the bomb.

Here's a link: http://starsandletters.blogspot.com/…/the-human-mind-cannot… 

Power's letter reminds us that intelligent, thoughtful people honestly believed that the invention and deployment of the bomb, the ultimate weapon, would probably assure the end of civilization. It really seemed like the end of the world was coming, and nobody could see a way out. Many, many people felt that way, and the postwar years were filled with a kind of fear and tension that we have largely forgotten today. 

I think it's important to look back on this because right now a lot of people are feeling pretty pessimistic about our surviving the next few decades, what with one thing and another. There's no guarantee that we'll find a way out, of course; but there's no guarantee we won't, either.