You can’t, if you can’t feel it, if it never
Rises from the soul, and sways
The heart of every single hearer,
With deepest power, in simple ways.
You’ll sit forever, gluing things together,
Cooking up a stew from other’s scraps,
Blowing on a miserable fire,
Made from your heap of dying ash.
Let apes and children praise your art,
If their admiration’s to your taste,
But you’ll never speak from heart to heart,
Unless it rises up from your heart’s space.

The career of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who headed the Manhattan Project, draws such questions to a focus that resembles the bead of a laser-gunsight on a victim’s breastbone. It was Oppenheimer whom the public lionized as the brains behind the bomb; who agonized about the devastation his brilliance had helped to unleash; who hoped that the very destructiveness of the new “gadget,

I also remember being struck by de Sade’s will, in which he asked that his ashes be scattered to the four corners of the earth in the hope that humankind would forget both his writings and his name. I’d like to be able to make that demand; commemorative ceremonies are not only false but dangerous, as are all statues of famous men. Long live forgetfulness, I’ve always said-the only dignity I see is in oblivion.

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