This chapter focuses on Hiroshima, specifically, the city's name. Its literal meaning, “broad island,” suggests little more than the city's relationship to rivers and to the sea. Does one care about the literal meaning of Carthage, Troy, Sparta, Ch'ang An, Lidice, or Coventry? What Hiroshima does convey is the realization that it actually happened and the implication that it could happen again. The mythological metaphors usually employed to suggest this idea—the genie let out of the bottle or Pandora's box opened—do not seem adequate for the phenomenon. That of man threatened by his Frankenstein comes closer, but this more recent myth, though technologically based, humanizes and keeps finite its monster. We need new myths to grasp our relationship to the cool, ahuman, completely technological deity which began its destructive reign with Hiroshima.
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