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261 REPRINTS AVAILABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE PUBLISHERS. PHOTOCOPYING PERMITTED BY LICENSE ONLY© BERG 2008 PRINTED IN THE UK CULTURAL POLITICS VOLUME 4, ISSUE 3 PP 261–268 CULTURAL POLITICS DOI 10.2752/175174308X339144 INTRODUCTION: HOT AND COLD ROCKS TIM ARMSTRONG David Humphrey’s notes for this issue point out that Ike’s amateur paintings – done to cool down after running the country – include “oddly rendered rocks” which return as disturbing blobs in Humphrey’s artwork. We might think of the legacy of the Cold War in terms of such rocks, cold and hot. The former include the moon rocks, trophies of the space race doled out to Western museums by NASA; or alternatively the remnants of the Berlin Wall, tokens of reunification, scattered across thousands of German living rooms and garages and even traded (with certificates of authenticity) on eBay. “Cold rocks” speak of the end of the Cold War and its establishment as an area for historical investigation, safely located in the past, with its paradigms and tropes (containment; surveillance; paranoia). “Hot rocks,” on the other hand (the title is borrowed from one of the articles in this issue) include the thousands of bombs still in commission, or in vulnerable storage facilities where they threaten to spill out into new conflicts. Or the radioactive materials used to kill the former Soviet agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, poisoning Anglo-Russian relations. Hot rocks suggest live issues, and the question of whether the Cold War has ever gone away. TIM ARMSTRONG IS PROFESSOR OF MODERN LITERATURE AT ROYAL HOLLOWAY, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON. HIS PUBLICATIONS INCLUDE MODERNISM, TECHNOLOGY AND THE BODY (CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1998), HAUNTED HARDY (PALGRAVE, 2000), AND MODERNISM: A CULTURAL HISTORY (POLITY, 2006). > CULTURAL POLITICS 262 TIM ARMSTRONG That question has often, recently, been given a rapid answer: it has (it is said) returned, after a decade-and-a-half in which America declared itself the only superpower, with Putin enacting atavistic gestures for the press; with the extension of Russian state power overseas via energy policy and covert operations; with the return of notions of spheres of influence; and with a renewed cry for resistance to Russia from some sections of opinion in the West. It is a measure of the power of a historical mythology that despite obvious differences – the breakup of the Soviet Union and of Soviet satellite states, the “War on Terror,” energy shortages, China’s rise as a world power – recent events are nevertheless seen in terms of an attachment to the past, as in the Russian leadership’s alleged nostalgia for KGB-era certainties. The accusation of Cold War nostalgia has, earlier and in different ways, also been applied to the USA: to Bush’s search for an external enemy who would replace the old enemy, and the subsequent revitalization of the military-industrial complex through the “Homeland Security” industries and the global search for Al Quaeda. And, of course, in significant senses it is still with us in America’s actions – in its continuing military presence around the world and its actions against left-leaning regimes in Latin America, for example (see Johnson 2004). All this suggests that our relation to the Cold War is, to say the least, complex and often confusing, offering a series of potentially dangerous mappings and moments of déjà vu rather than any firm sense of reenactment or return. If one question about the Cold War is when (among a number of possibilities) it “ended,” or whether it ended, then we are talking about the use of historical periodization per se; about our own sense of repetition and difference, and the way we see underlying historical continuities. At such a moment, one might posit, the iconic texts of Cold War culture – texts we know almost too well, in some cases – risk a kind of blanching overexposure in which their postures edge toward self-parody. What do a Strangelove, a Quiet American, or protesters levitating the Pentagon (all discussed in this issue) offer the post9 /11 world in terms of critique? Do they speak of continuities of cultural experience, or mark differences we should note before we turn back to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1751-7435
Print ISSN
1743-2197
Pages
pp. 261-268
Launched on MUSE
2016-07-06
Open Access
No
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