In a poem called “Fall 1961,” Robert Lowell wrote:
All autumn, the chafe and jar
of nuclear war;
we have talked our extinction to death.
These words, provoked by a Berlin crisis, suggest that it is possible to kill a subject by anguished attention; indeed to kill even a subject that is not a subject in the conventional sense at all.
Even this subject, is infinitely more than a subject—the subject of human extinction—can...
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