Friday, April 01, 2011

New Cross Bombed and Bombing

Some reflections by Les Back, published in the new issue of The Paper (April 2011):

'Britain is a bombed and bombing culture. This is captured in the opening of Virginia Woolf’s essay Thoughts on Peace in an Air-raid written for an American symposium on women in the war in August 1940. As part of the recent graduate Collective Futures symposium at Goldsmiths we took these insights for a walk along the New Cross Road. Pausing at the house of Barnes Wallis, inventor of the ‘bouncing bomb’ immortalised in the 1954 film The Dambusters, to read at the curb side extracts from W G. Sebald’s On the Natural History of Destruction. The plaque on Wallis’ former home makes no mention of his deadly inventions or the raids or attacks on the Möhne, Eder, and Sorpe dams in the Ruhr area that resulted in the drowning of close to 2000 people. Drifting down the street the group including students from all over the world stopped by the Rising Sun café to hear a reading from Virginia Woolf’s essay in the ‘bomb print’ of a V2 rocket that killed 168 people in 1944. The readings evoked the shared human frailty of the civilians who died in Hamburg, Berlin and London'.

Full article - Fear that Stops the Thinking

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