by Nazzo Much
Epigraph: “The inhabitants are subjugated. They cry for mercy. There is nothing but devastation for thirty miles in every direction.” --William Tecumseh Sherman, responding to General Grant’s concern that Southern civilians might not be subjugated, only pretending, with the aim of getting food from Sherman’s supplies to give to Confederate soldiers and prolong their guerilla operations.
Epigraph 2: “I stood by him when he was drunk, and he stood by me when I was crazy. Now we stand together always.” --William Tecumseh Sherman (referring to General Grant)
Epigraph 3: "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds"
J. Robert Oppenheimer, Trinity 1945.
The first thing is to share this: https://tinyurl.com/m494vub.
Next, this: In a 1965 interview, Oppenheimer describes the initial reactions as the first atomic bomb detonated early in the morning of July 16, 1945:
“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few cried. Most were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince that the prince should do his duty, and to impress the prince, Vishnu takes on his multi-armed form, and says, ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”
The quote is indeed from the Bhagavad Gita ("Song of the lord"). Some suggest it's a misquote, which would explain the peculiar grammar; but "am become" is a poetic archaism, not an error, perhaps a trace of French; "Je suis devenu la mort."
Oppenheimer was proficient in Sanskrit. He had read the original text, and the translation is doubtless his own.
Here's the verse in question (translated by Ramanand Prasad) with a little context first. Prince Arjuna hesitates to attack the enemy with his army; Vishnu, in the incarnation of Krishna, encourages him, and motivates him by explaining how the world works, with reincarnations, Brahman, Maya, etc. Arjuna asks to see Vishnu in his "cosmic" (i.e., real) form, a wish Vishnu grants. Arjuna, overwhelmed, asks:
“Tell me who are You in such a fierce form? My salutations to You, O best of gods, be merciful! I wish to understand You, the primal Being, because I do not know Your mission.
“The Supreme Lord said: I am death, the mighty destroyer of the world, out to destroy. Even without your participation all the warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall cease to exist.
“Therefore, get up and attain glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a prosperous kingdom. All these (warriors) have already been destroyed by Me. You are only an instrument, O Arjuna.”
--Bhagavad Gita, chapter 11, verses 31-33
There are those who think the word translated “death” would be better translated as “time.” Chilling thought.
“Once a knight waiting in line for his rider’s license at the DET (Department of Equine Transport) asked to see the DET employee in this ‘cosmic’ (i.e., real) form, a wish the employee granted. The knight knew then that he’d be waiting a long time for his license.”
An unselfish wonderer writes: “I find English easy to speak and write. I have used it all my life. I find foreign languages baffling. My questions is, why do all these foreigners insist on speaking these incredibly difficult languages when they could spare themselves the bother and just speak English? I don’t mean for my benefit, but for their own.”
I take my foreign language instruction where I can: “Plastieken zakken kunnen gevaarlijk zijn. Ohm het gevaar van verstikking te vermijden. Houd de zak uit de buurt van babies en kinderen.”
“You know how, in horror movies and other movies, the good guys leave the bad guy alive, instead of killing him off when they have the chance? And you’re screaming, ‘Don’t leave him alive, he’ll come back!’? The same kind of thing is liable to happen in novels. The calamitous return of the un-killed-off bad guy is a cliché.”
In this belated April Fool’s photo, viewers had to spot what was wrong. The answer was the “For Sale” sign, because who would want to move out of such a paradisical, um, paradisian, er, paradisic, ah, paradisial -- oh, pshaw, such a heavenly neighborhood?
This Teddy bear’s imaginary playmate, Jackie Paper, usually at left, no longer comes when summoned. The naive, innocent, childlike bear (his name is "Pshaw") cannot understand. He grieves and suffers. “Where is my friend? Why does he come no more? Will I now always be alone, never to know joy again? Day and night, I call and he does not come. Where is my friend? Does he love me no more? Where is my friend?”
“You can love a human being and still fear the group that person belongs to.”
The domain name “LookASquirrel.com” is for sale for $2645 or 12 monthly payments of $220.42 a month. I am not making this up.
Which is worse: (1) short attention span and great long-term memory, or (2) lengthy attention span but little short-term memory?
My short-term memory is shot. Not only that, but I can’t remember anything very long.
I am a member in good standing of the Community of the Continuously Agog.
Our great rival is the community calling itself “Agape,” as in “being in an attitude or state of wonder, expectation, and eager attention.”
Agape has a wealthy member, James Rapp, who is rumored to be interested in endowing an academic position named after himself. Faculty at a local college are so eager for the Rapp Chair that some sleep on the roofs of their cars.
A white supremacist on trial for murder has fired his lawyers and rejected an insanity plea on the ground that once the white supremacists take over the county, the plea might hurt his chances of getting a high government position in their regime. They might think something is wrong with him. I am not making this up.
“Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.” --T.S. Eliot
“Chuck Schumer is not the President’s worst enemy. Not while Donald J. Trump is alive.” --a wit
“I’ll have the cheeseburger.” --Cohen the Barbarian (credit: the Passover Humor Foundation)
Zen Hypograph: “But grace is first the law-breaker.” --D.Keith Mano