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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain: Vietnam Again Dudley Young

THE LITERAL meaning of apocalypse in Greek is "an uncovering", and it is quite possible that the divinities dis-covered in apocalyptic experience are neither amused nor gratified by such human intrusiveness: in fact resent it as the drunken Noah did, and punish the leering son accordingly.

With Romanticism, occidental energies turned defiantly to blasphemy, and with the First World War, apocalypse became official. Since then we have re-shot the movie several times (in the Gulag, at Belsen, Hiroshima, etc.) and it seems unlikely that Vietnam was the last go round. Presumably we must keep at it until we get it right.

Oh dear: manic prose again. The culprit is that increasingly ubiquitous technology which has progressed us from the iconic gravity of Genesis to the terminal whimsy of celluloid. The communicating media mediate, yes they do, dis-cover divinity as if it were only today's news, which of course it is: provide us with such knowledge and no forgiveness: you can't sin without the words to sin in. But if the devil's last trick is indeed to convince us he doesn't exist, then his work is now almost done, and there need not be many more Vietnams.

The only terms adequate to such profound simplicities are mythic ones. It was Nietzsche, I believe, while reflecting on Wagner, who most clearly perceived that the twentieth century fate was to disinter Dionysus from the crypt of Apollo's temple, once its pillars have been safely smashed. As ...


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