“We Are Marching toward Death through Fire”

Reflection on Umberto Eco’s essay The Beauty of the Flame, from his book Inventing the Enemy


“I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”

This is a quote from one of the pilots who dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Umberto Eco mentions in the essay “the conquest of fire… the domination of man over nature“, it is quite frightening to think that human beings are now capable of destroying the entire nature, including humanity itself, with their invention ; nuclear weapons.

As current international politics and relations are getting worse each day, more and more people are leaning toward the nuclear deterrence theory. But how many people here, who are in favor of this theory, are aware of the fact that nuclear weapons can literally destroy the earth completely?

Do they realize that supporting nuclear weapons means ending the human race with their own hands?

I suppose this is how Umberto Eco came to write this phrase “We are marching toward death through fire“. The discovery of fire enabled human beings to invent not only things that serve good purposes, but also things that mean to harm. And the harm that nuclear weapons will cause, is immeasurable and unlimited.

Now that we have weapons which are able to even eradicate ourselves in a moment, I am not really sure whether the discovery of fire by our ancestors has led us to a better future…

As Umberto Eco says, “Perhaps it should have left the production of fire to the gods, who would have given it to us only once in a while, in the form of thunderbolt“.

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