Atomic anger

Posted 12.07.12

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | I would like to propose a new English-language expression, one representing a refinement in our ability to speak more clearly and more expressively. Clarity -- and caution – would be better conveyed by this.

The concept is energy -- and our sources of energy. Today, debates rage continually about burning oil, coal, or natural gas and about using wind, tide, and solar.

Nuclear is the big dark horse. Atomic energy is the door to so much debate - and confusion. Shouldn't we cut through some of that confusion if we could by speaking more clearly?

The American poet Joy Harjo has used the expression "atomic anger." Her intent was different, but wouldn't this expression add some sophistication to our chaotic discussions? We should be debating using or not using "atomic anger" as an energy source.

"Atomic anger" is a better description of the reality we face than "atomic energy." All of us know that anger in itself is a powerful form of energy. We've felt it! From seemingly nothing can grow an energy storm of unpredictable consequences -- and that's the problem with atomic anger, controlling it.

"Anger" tells us more, carries more information, that the word "energy". Anger already contains the concept of energy. Anger can be dangerous, can fly out of control, and shows to the public a hostile, burning face, or edge. All this is how we describe atomic energy. Therefore "anger" is a most useful word in this discussion of energy sources.

"Anger" gives us even more information -- it urges caution and care, and suggests there's a danger of deep hostility. "Handle with care" is the message we get with the word "anger". The word "energy" expresses none of this.

"Atomic anger" sounds strange and even poetic. But if we think of how we might use the expression, it doesn't sound weird at all. An "atomic anger power plant" sounds nativist because now we're dealing with the anger of the earth, of Mother Earth, over humanity's mistreatment and lack of respect for her, and for our own place within her regime. Yet we are taking her anger at us and controlling it to use for our own benefit -- that's the additional information in the phrase "atomic anger power plant."

This becomes a very interesting picture, even if not very comforting. It is interesting because "anger" better reflects the real complexities and the dangers of unexpected consequences from our use of radioactive decay as a means of generating electricity.

This is not an anti-nuclear argument. We do need non-carbon sources of power, and if the anger of the earth will provide that, plus supply its own constant warning to us (which the words "atomic energy" do not supply), why not use this poetic expression?

Put it to the test. Use the expression "atomic anger" a few times; use it in conversation. It quickly loses its strangeness, and its expressiveness is impressive. It speaks for itself. Try it.

Copyright © 2012 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/12.12