Sunday, March 31, 2013

Facile sloganeering begins all wars...

"Weapons of Mass Destruction" ; "Light at the End of the Tunnel".

Who can forget the facile slogans that seem to start every war ?

"The Bomber Always gets Through" started WWII, quickly followed by "The Battleship Always gets Through" and "The Tank Always gets Through".

To the smart money of the Age of Modernity, these modern mechanical Goliaths seemed surely destined to kick the shit out of any puny David that chanced to stand in their way.

It would seem to be awfully hard to stop an armoured, multi-turretted 'fortress of the air' like the 65 ton B-29 bomber : but in 1945, 2 ton Zero fighters were still dropping them out of the skies like flies.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Modernists unite over fear of "the mob"

The authors and artists we think of as "The Modernists" did have their divisions.

Some exalted Modernity's materialism and rationalism while others opposed rationalism (so they said) and sought to go back to an golden age of myths and rituals, a sort of anti-Modernity.

But virtually all of them happily re-united around an abiding fear of democracy and of being ruled by a "mob" of the lower middle class, working class and the defectives.

And an astonishing number wrote of "exterminating" these "lesser" classes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

WWII's sins of uncaring omission as War Crimes

Even animals would be discomforted at the audible and visual pain as millions of Indians starved to death during the Bengali Famine of 1943.

It is a pity that so many of us,supposedly more sophisticated, humans have been less discomforted about the event ever since.

Most of us - at least in the Allied West - would strongly reject the  idea that this totally unnecessary mass famine was a war crime and and a sin of uncaring omission.

Monday, March 25, 2013

1940 Penicillin : localized Gas Gangrene or systemic SBE ?

Within days of reading war-dodger Howard Florey's published conclusion that the as-yet-unproven penicillin was particularly suited to the military's most feared infection, gas gangrene, war-hero Henry Dawson defiantly decided - by pointed contrast - that penicillin was particularly well suited to defeat the ultimate in non-military infections, deadly subacute bacterial endocarditis, SBE.

The timing of Dawson's decision - during the most critical days of the expected Invasion of Britain - only heighten this highly unusual contrast between how we expect war-heroes and war-dodgers to behave and how these two examples actually did behave.

the last VICTORIAN war : 1939-1945

Looking over today's crop of leaders in politics, business and culture and comparing them with the world leaders of the 1940s, one is struck by today's leaders' comparative youth.

By contrast, the world of WWII was run by the white-haired teenagers of the Victorian Age.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The astonishing Nova Scotia connection to the end of TWO world wars

It is fairly well known that the death of Nova Scotian George Price is traditionally regarded as that of the last British Commonwealth soldier to die in WWI.

Much less well known is the fact that a ship built in Pictou Nova Scotia , the Avondale Park , was the last British Commonwealth ship to be sunk by a U-boat in WWII.

Monday, March 18, 2013

1939-1945 : Big MO goes Postal instead of going Monumental

Big MO is an appropriate nickname for The Age of Modernity because there was always something inhumanly massive about almost everything and anything that that age and the people within it turned their hands to.

Very hard indeed to imagine the people of the early 1940s not going Postal, and not going to deadly war with each other.

But if they hadn't been building bunkers and had been building monuments and buildings instead, this ponderous essence in their inner character might still be visible.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Darwin's VERTICAL commensality vs Dawson's HORIZONTAL commensality

Darwin and his intellectual kinfolk reluctantly accepted a world in constant "liquid" evolutionary change but then reduced that change to a practical nil by making the liquid to be glass.

Glass is a liquid, technically, and over centuries will flow downward ( a very little) if left as vertical glass window panes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

the "THEATRE" of war : 1939-1945

WWII started out on a note of uplift in 1939, with its three actors (Scientific Racism, Scientific Capitalism and Scientific Socialism) all united in eating the scenery but ended in farce in 1945, as the scenery proceeded to eat the three actors.

These actors can't be said to lack ambition.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

MO goes po : K goes r : thermo-setable Reality becomes eternally thermo-softenable

Modernity optimistically and fervently believed that all of Reality , the entire chemical, biological and physical world, was plastic of a definite sort : thermo-set-able.

Everything - even human beings - was malleable but once set  perfectly and 'cured'  would remain thus - perfect - forever.

It was, in a sense, a view of reality as all K-selectable ; round rods for every round hole : every niche perfectly matched to an activity or being - forever.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The "Not So Good" War : September 1931- December 1941

The Good War began December 11th 1941 when Adolf Hitler persuaded a reluctant American Congress to declare war against the evil of Nazism.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Anschluss began 75 years this minute ...the countdown to WWII had begun

At 5am on the morning of March 12th 1938, the infamous Anschluss began.

At that minute -exactly 75 years ago- leading elements of the German advance team crossed the Austrian-German border, the signal start to the countdown to World War Two , which itself began less than 18 months later.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

MODERNITY as just one vast marketing ploy

At its very base base, Modernity consists of convincing other people (call 'em customers or colonies, tis the same) that you are smart (progressive/a professional scientist) and they are stupid (backward/laypeople).

Modernity and Imperialism after all grew up together and declined together: post-modernity and de-colonization being pretty much one and the same thing.

The 1920s trend to replace mom's homemade bread with  industrialized white bread and Britain's attempt to create imperialized/militarized penicillin  during WWII are two shades of the same big lie.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Needed: a political - not Technological/Whig - history of wartime penicillin

Almost all histories of penicillin have but one plot : the dramatic, last minute come-from-behind victory of the little guy, HIGH TECH MAN, over the vast evil forces of Nature and fungi spores.

In pointed fact, the technical problems of producing life-saving penicillin was solved very quickly, basically done by one or two  individuals with remarkably low level technology, by the Fall of 1941.

But even the most affluent members of the world could not reliably access life-saving penicillin for another five years and it still remains important to discover why.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"The Blitz dog ate my homework" and other tired penicillin-related excuses from UK historians

David Edgerton excepted of course -- he hasn't really written on Britain's deliberately pathetic production of penicillin during the war years but he is unlikely to blame it on the Warfare State's "abject poverty" and "The Blitz".

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Henry Dawson : The biography of dull dishwater or of the first modernist to leave the reservation and go PoMo ?

I don't doubt that Henry Dawson's colleagues felt he made a 'perfectly competent associate professor' ( in the most damming sense of that ominous phrase) ---- but that as an individual he was a man extremely unremarkable and totally non memorable.

1939-1945 : the War of Scientism's modernist "Four Freedoms"

In the Spring of 1939, at the the New York World's Fair, Modernity or Scientism (the words are totally inter-changable) promised the deserving parts of the world a future of Four Freedoms: eventual freedom from material limitations, from catastrophes like the weather, from dependence upon lesser breeds and beings and, above all , from uncertainty.

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Triumph of the SCIENTIFIC Will" : WWII scientists as 'swimmers into technical sweetness leaping'..

Sure, sure: Hitler, Mussolini ,Tojo and Stalin and all that lot started the war, but it took the collective will of the world's best scientists and engineers to build their visions up into History's bloodiest, most heart-less war.

It was the scientists' war, the only truly Modernist war, the war of their big shiny machines . Scientism's big moment under the Klieg Lights.

A swimmer into technical sweetness leaping...

....Robert Oppenheimer was the Rupert Brooke of his War Generation : the War of Big Machines and the War of Modernist Science : World War Two.