I agree. Satire & irony tend to create more memorable work because they combine sensory apparatus with meaningful effects like riding a bomb into oblivion.

On 25 Nov 2015 4:24 p.m., Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Ken


The other thing about Strangelove is that it is a bit like something we say in Australia that some people behave as if sport is about life and death but it’s more important than that. General Turgidson has a folder in front of him labelled “World Targets in Megadeaths” .

Farce can focus the mind on horrors effectively I think.





From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:TSE@PO.MISSOURI.EDU] On Behalf Of Ken Armstrong
Sent: Thursday, 26 November 2015 11:09 AM
Subject: Re: OT: Hemingway


Never saw or read Fail Safe, though as I recollect every high school student was required to know something about it. My guess as to why Dr. S would be more compelling, based only on Tom's comments, is that it is in fact much more realistic. For starters, there is no such thing as a perfectly rational system. If that's the premise, the unreality of it would make the threat presented by it evanescent. Dr. S, on the other hand, is chock full of reality: people with ticks and prejudices and crazy beliefs and blind spots; the idea that a "perfectly rational system" could be overlaid on THAT, which is in fact the day to day reality we all face and contribute to -- now that's unrealistic.

Ken A

On 11/25/2015 6:47 PM, Tom Gray wrote:


Part of the reality that I saw in "Fail Safe" was that of the bomber crew on their way to Moscow. They know that  they are performing an insane act but are compelled to do it by the entirely rational system in which they are enmeshed. Eveyr contingency had been analyzed and the conditions set so that only one outcome is possible. Even direct orders from their President and pleas from the pilot's wife had been analyzed as possible enemy ruses. Their decision to plunge their bomber into the bomb blast is a response to the rational irrationality of their situation. I found this much more realistic than the rodeo scene of Slim Pickens riding the hydrogen bomb to oblivion.


On Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 5:36 PM, Peter Dillane <> wrote:

Hi Tom


I would say that perhaps the reason people forget Fail Safe is that human kind cant bear very much reality but in fact I didn’t find Fail Safe very compelling in the reality stakes. I haven’t seen anyone offering similar actions to Henry Fonda’s character for the bombing of the MSF hospital recently .....rather it is just an unfortunate mistake – you know .




From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:TSE@PO.MISSOURI.EDU] On Behalf Of Tom Gray
Sent: Thursday, 26 November 2015 9:20 AM
Subject: Re: OT: Hemingway



There were two movies made form the same book - "Doctor Strangelove" and "Fail Safe".  Fail Safe" with Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau is much the better movie. There are no military stereotypes like Turgidson in "Fail Safe". The characters are all reasonable and intelligent but they are caught up in a system in which a single electronic fault leads them to disaster. I have never understood why "Doctor Strangelove" is remembered while the much better "Fail Safe" is forgotten. 


On Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 4:48 PM, Peter Dillane <> wrote:

Point taken Carrol but Buck was grim enough for me

-----Original Message-----
From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:TSE@PO.MISSOURI.EDU] On Behalf Of Carrol Cox
Sent: Thursday, 26 November 2015 1:49 AM
Subject: Re: OT: Hemingway

It was nice to see the word it reminded me of General Buck Turgidson in Dr Strangelove:

"Mr. President, if I may speak freely, the Russkie talks big, but frankly, we think he's short of know how. I mean, you just can't expect a bunch of ignorant peons to understand a machine like some of our boys. And that's not meant as an insult, Mr. Ambassador, I mean, you take your average Russkie, we all know how much guts he's got. Hell, lookit all them Nazis killed off and they still wouldn't quit."


This is grimmer than one might think: it was probably a direct allusion to the unstated premise for the legal lynching of the Rosenbergs: "Those stupid Russian peasants could never have built a nuclear weapon by themselves.