Memories Of The Atomic Bomb Shown In "Children Are Game" And "Atomic Bomb"

2518 words - 10 pages

Ask any two people if they remember where they were on 9/11 and you will receive a stunningly detailed description. However, if you ask those same two people for a detailed account of what happened that day you would receive two vastly different stories. Why is that? Well, memory is a very subjective thing. Public memory is subject to even more hazy recollections. Scholars, witness, and government officials all have different versions about the details. Often times it is artists who bring together these accounts by creating work which encourages public discussion. Two such artists are Isabelle Gardner, writer of the poem "Children Are Game " and Andy Warhol, painter of "Atomic Bomb". These two artists contribute to the collective memory of the atomic bomb by helping us grapple with its meaning. They do this by reflecting back on society the struggle of exact memory, which any society faces when dealing with such traumatic events, into their work by using cycles of memory and forgetting. Through this process Warhol and Gardner create a venue through which significant public discussion can occur about the bomb and people can discern for themselves the accuracy of the generally accepted public memory of the bomb.
In Edward Brunner's book Cold War Poetry he writes "to live in the Atomic Age is to acknowledge the citizen is much as a target as any military base" (224). However, with the Cold War looming in the distance some people forgot the human cost of using these weapons and the public memory of the bomb changed. The bomb was now seen as a weapon which would keep people safe. In Isabella Gardener's poem "Children Are Game" she describes a narrator who hears children "skating the thin ice of the pond" (Line 17). These children are skating on the thin ice of the pond regardless of the dangers and the narrator is powerless to stop them. One could argue these children and the public memory of the bombs are similar. People knew the bomb was deadly, but continued to support the development of more bombs in the same way the children must have known what they were doing was dangerous, but they too continued risk their lives regardless of the warnings they must have received from their parents. Both the children and the people of the times are exhibiting purposeful forgetfulness. They both refuse to acknowledge what they are doing could be dangerous and have created a powerful trap for themselves. Gardner writes "bombs can blossom in any season" and people stuck in these delusions about the bomb not being a tremendous threat to humanity will be unprepared to deal with other of life's unpleasant realities. (Line 14) According to poet critic Ralph Mills, Gardener was most known for her ability to showcase "The hidden fears and hesitancies we nourish in ourselves in a twisted effort to avoid encounters with the multifarious realities of the universe we inhabit" (191). Her metaphor between children and society "forgetting" the dangerous natures of their...

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