[lit-ideas] Re: Auden and Machinery

  • From: Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2015 17:14:48 -0700

Thanks for the diversion,

I believe I once saw the Spruce Goose on display in Long Beach California near where the Queen Mary was docked at the time. That's what I remember but I won't swear it's true. I went to work at Douglas Aircraft Company in 1959 when many of its legendary engineers were still alive and if not them younger engineers who knew them well. I can recall the flying wing being much discussed.

I was born in October 1934 and recall starting out for church when my father stood on the porch and told us Japan had just bombed Pearl Harbor. I recall poring over newspaper articles about what was happening in Europe and the Pacific as the wars went on. The one war I was in doesn't interest me as much as the earlier World Wars. I was interested in the Korean War when it started but I was only 15 I think at the time and when I finally got over there at age 18 the main fighting had already taken place. I don't think I've ever read a decent history of the Korean War but I have of World Wars one and two . . . & many others . . . come to think of it not the Vietnam war though or any of the later ones.


On 6/11/2015 9:47 AM, David Ritchie wrote:

On Jun 11, 2015, at 9:11 AM, Edward Farrell wrote:

Re: [lit-ideas] Re: Auden and Machinery
Apologies to all. This was meant for Lawrence and not the list.

Thursday, June 11, 2015, 9:04:57 AM, you wrote:

Not a problem; I've heard of others making a similar error and I was thinking of writing something along the same lines. No doubt, given the generosity of many of this list, I was among the slowest to do this.

Instead I shall try to divert Lawrence with findings from a visit to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum, in which collection people can see the Spruce Goose, a Spitfire, an ME 109 (which, the blurb said, should properly be called the BF 109), a P38 and a video about its role in killing Yamamoto, an SR 71 Blackbird...on and on. Re-visiting after nearly a decade away, I saw new things, in particular an American copy (painted yellow) of the V1 rocket which, the explanation said, was intended to aid in the invasion of Japan. In some ways I prefer the collection that used to be kept in a blimp hangar in Tillamook (and is now spread between there and the high desert somewhere). Both collections cause me to reflect on the future of the past. The average age of visitors was very high. When I taught the Second World War this semester, in a course on Twentieth Century history, students were casual about distinguishing it from the First World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War. I thought I might get their attention with a YouTube clip of Eisenhower's speech about the military-industrial complex. Ha! Old dead guy, talking about who knows what. They wanted to get on to the roots of identity politics and to the decade in which they were born. Many in this generation divide the past into "before me," which is uninteresting and "my lifetime," which is alive with interest. Maybe 'twas ever so, but I don't recall being like that.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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