A Blue Hand

Ange Mlinko writes:

Robert Oppenheimer knew Sanskrit. Quotations from the Bhagavad Gita flashed through his mind when he witnessed the first atomic explosion in New Mexico in 1945: ‘Suppose a thousand suns should rise together into the sky: such is the glory of the Shape of the Infinite God.’ Reading that same chapter of the Bhagavad Gita in Darjeeling in 1962, Allen Ginsberg thought of something else: the coloured wheels of psilocybin-induced visions. That two of the 20th century’s most consciousness-altering inventions, the atom bomb and the LSD pill, could be conjoined under the sign of the mushroom cloud is just the sort of thing that convinces poets of the doctrine of secret correspondences in nature, of a transcendental logic ruling reality.

(LRB 20 November 2008)