Our Oppenheimer look!

So everyone who has seen Oppenheimer has said it reminded them of me.

And I just watched the movie and, eesh, they’re on to something aren’t they?

Sure a man of myopic focus, brilliance, and endless capability. Always seemingly blinded. Neurotic. But ultimately unstoppable.

But why?

The great theme of the movie, of course, is whether history can forgive the man who created the atomic bomb. In the end he wore his moral objections as a badge of honor, but where were these feelings when he worked to develop the bomb?
But these ideas are too small, ultimately.

I like the big question.

Could anyone else have done it?

Or was it simply Oppenheimer. Alone, in the universe. In the history of the world that could have done it?

Might we not have the bomb even until this day if it wasn’t for him?

See now, that’s the good question. The one no one really asks because it seems so impossible.

Queenie and I about to watch the film.

Of course someone else would have done it. Just as we assume someone else would have invented the airplane if it wasn’t for the Wright brothers.

Of course someone else would have come along eventually…


But I wonder if it is so. I wonder whether history chooses some. The universe selects some handful to perform this miracle or that, and no one else ever could. It was simply, and only, for them.

And then forgiveness is not really a requirement, now is it? Because it had to be done when it was done and only their hand could have done it.

And then we need not forgive the vessel, but only the universe?

Chain reaction….

But I do marvel at how useless it all was ultimately.

Imagine America creating its first great deficit–a monetary debt it never ended up paying back and that forms the base for the same national debt we carry to this day–and the idea of ironically nationalizing our scientific community and industrial might to deliver the great weapon.

The weapon to end all war.

But it didn’t, did it?

Perhaps Oppenheimer, the man of great genius, knew it wouldn’t end all war. Or perhaps he didn’t. But I suspect it wouldn’t have mattered.

What Nolan misses in romanticizing the manipulation of redemption is that Oppenheimer, the genius, would have had no interest in any of it.

His was not a concern for morality. Beyond good and evil, and all that.

And it certainly was never about serving his country. Laughable.

Or even protecting “his people” from the Nazis.

Men like Oppenheimer have no people.

They are not really “people” at all, now are they?

No. His was a mission. And it was not for anyone or anything. It was simply to solve the great puzzle.

To win.

In a way that no one else ever had.

And, probably, that no one else ever could.

To do the impossible.

Maybe he realized, later in life, the terrible cost of the puzzle he had solved. The great error of delivering to savage mortals the light of the gods.

But I suspect, if he was ever asked, he would never have said he regretted it. It was the great work of his life. His singular purpose. The thing he was created to do.


And so we can–and should–juxtapose Nolan’s work in Oppenheimer against the cringe-worthy Barbie movie and see the contrary arcs.

Oppenhemer, a product of sheer will and purpose fulfills his promise and leaves the world to grapple with the effects of his creation.

Barbie… well, she just runs away from everything doesn’t she?

God, what an awful fate.

None of that for me thanks.

It ought to be said, however, that despite Oppenheimer’s ability to see through worlds and theorize the impossible he is easily outplayed–at least in the smallest of battles–by others.

The systems of man–and the power of obligation– present themselves as unsolvable conundrums to a man that can seemingly see through walls. And he finds himself outplayed easily and often.

Nolan, of course, bails him out–the movie is called Oppenheimer after all and not Strauss— but only, we are told, because other scientists came to his aide in furtherance of truth. How perfectly didactic.

But real life doesn’t work that way. And I love the ultimate lesson of Einstein– Oppenheimer’s redemption from men wasn’t for him. It was for them. Just as the movie’s arc forgiving Oppenheimer isn’t for the audience to forgive him but to forgive themselves.

I’ll let that one sink in.

Finally, recall Oppenheimer was a man described as incapable of running a hamburger stand. And he agreed.

Yet, he unstoppable in fulfillment of his purpose.

Because the universe says so, of course.

And so it is. The most gifted are always the most flawed. And there is, indeed, a heavy price to be paid for the ability to see beyond our world. Or, the world. Or…perhaps… your world.

Except for the Czar, of course. The Czar is quite perfect.

“A prophet can never be wrong.” 🙂

But everything happens for a reason.

That great chain reaction.

Toward… what end?

Goodnight TCPAWorld.


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