Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Hidden in Plain Sight - The Life of Ava Helen Pauling,” Dr. Mina Carson

November 30, 2009

Video: “Hidden in Plain Sight - The Life of Ava Helen Pauling” 

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0:44:21 - Abstract | Biography

Transcript

Cliff Mead: Good afternoon everybody and thank you for coming to the latest iteration of the Pauling Resident Scholar talk. This is one of the series of Resident Scholar talks that we are giving this past year. These Resident Scholar awards have been made through the generosity of the Peter and Judy Freeman fund and Judy is here, again thank you and your husband. I am sorry that Peter is home sick with a cold but we are taping this so he will be able to see this at a later date.

Our speaker today is Mina Carson, associate professor in the department of history at Oregon State University where she teaches courses in United States social and cultural history, in particular the Progressive and New Deal eras. She deals with women in the 20th century, American families, and the gay and lesbian movement. Carson’s research interests have led her from the post civil war era to the turn of the 21st century. Her dissertation on the settlement house movement was published as "Settlement Folk: Social Thought and the American Settlement Movement, 1885-1930" published by the University of Chicago Press in 1990. Pondering the evolution of the settlement workers’ professional training led to an investigation of the development of professional home economics, family science, and then the emergence of family therapy in post World War II era. In 1992, Professor Carson began training as a professional social worker at Portland State University. After earning her MSW in 1995, she began practicing as a therapist at local agencies. Her particular research interests in this field is the history of psychotherapeutic relationships.

Her talk today, "Hidden in Plain Sight: The Life of Ava Helen Pauling" is a preliminary foray into what we hope will be the first full length biographical study of Ava Helen Pauling. And now I am going to quote from professor Carson’s Pauling Resident Scholar proposal: "to a scholar of modern American women history, as well as the history of the modern American reform activism, the need for a biography of Ava Helen Pauling is patent. She was a mover and shaker in women peace movements, a true organization woman. She excelled as a public speaker and organizer and seems that although she thought of herself as a life partner to Pauling and an enabler of his work, she was unwilling and unable to be submerged by her domestic roles. It also seems that Pauling, Linus Pauling, while nurturing a healthy ego, listened and responded to his spouse, both in terms for what she wanted for herself and for their family and what she believed that they both aught to do in relation to the world’s needs and issues. I give you professor Mina Carson.

Mina Carson: Hi, I have to turn this off now, well I don’t have to I can keep going and you know, then you could just watch it in case I get boring. But I mean what are the chances of that, really? Maybe I can just... I don’t know what I can do. Oh close it, okay, heaven knows what’s going to be behind it. Okay do I want to save the changes? Yes, why not? Alright well, I want to begin by acknowledging some people, less profusively than you deserve because of time limitations, sort of like the Academy Awards. First Linda Richards, Linda Richards is the one who told me one day in the history department hallway, I always get my book ideas in the hallway, well actually in parking lots as well, parking lots and hallways, but she told me rather pointedly that no body had done a book on Ava Helen Pauling and that Mary Brown of the OSU Press might be willing to have a conversation about that. So I owe Mary gratitude for ensuing conversations and hopefully some yet to come. I want to thank Judy Freeman, Judy and Peter Freeman for the fellowship support that enabled me to spend some weeks in the archive over the summer and really on a continuing basis. I also most gratefully acknowledge the expertise and hospitality and good cheer of the Special Collections staff, Cliff Mead and Chris Petersen and the students who are unbelievable and smart, like know really a lot and have helped me a lot. So I thank you for the past months and the months to come. And that’s probably finished saving right? So if I close it what will happen? Okay there we go. [6:20]

So Ava Helen Pauling was as you can tell from the photos, a beautiful, charismatic, outspoken, strong minded, fire brand. Well you can tell that she was beautiful from the photos but the rest of it you have to take, you know, from me. For those who want to be oriented in time and place, she was born on Christmas Eve in 1903, near Beaver Creek Oregon and she died in 1981 in Portola Valley California just shy of her 78th birthday. She was a small town Oregon girl, who in 1923 married her college sweetheart, a smart, naïve Portland boy and dropped out of college to be with him through graduate school. He received his financial support from Caltech but certainly benefited from her moral support, her lab assistance, and above all her life administration and I choose that term with tongue and check because her family work went way beyond housekeeping. They stayed together in a passionate marriage until her death almost 59 years later. Together these two Oregon kids raised four children and changed the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with these papers for a few months now and I anticipate plenty more time on the fifth floor because the archive is so extensive and the records so deep, there are questions I don’t even know to ask yet and I can guarantee that I won’t be able to answer all the questions you may have for me at this point and that’s okay. Work in progress, work in progress.

So today I want to raise a few questions about Ava Helen Pauling and about the process of writing her life that I think may interest you and certainly have grabbed me from the very beginning. I’m going to twine the questions around each other because I’m not a particularly linear thinker and because these questions are really all tangled up with each other. One question has to do with Ava Helen Pauling’s life choices. How did she, because she did, how did she come to question her own journey even as she pursued it, seemingly fearless and strong? The other question is this; how do you write the life of a wife, one who had her own world changing career but whose life and work were inseparably fused with and in many ways dependent on her husband’s work and his fame as well as his steadfast adoration? I’m going to tip my hand and say that the later question is a real stumper for me. Part of the answer is a matter of shifting perspective, which nobody has ever done yet for Ava Helen so I am very, very lucky in that sense, to dive into this work that hasn’t yet been done. Thank you Linda. So part of it is shifting perspective, looking at these fifty nine years with Linus Pauling as well as the years before that, through her daily schedule and correspondence rather than through his. But that’s kind of the easy way to answer, the harder question is to the question of why we undertake her biography in the first place. [9:22]

Bernard Bailyn, my colonial history professor and one of the great deans of American history, used to ask us "Why we might write the biography of Peter Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s father? What purpose would it serve?" There are many answers but the least satisfying one, of course, is that casts more light on Thomas Jefferson. Gee whiz, I don’t want to write Ava Helen’s biography mainly in order to cast more light on Linus Pauling, although the more I meet him in the papers, the more I like and admire him. You can hardly help that. In all of his own stubbornness and brilliance and narcissism, I have to be honest with you about these things, I hope I will cast that light, to be sure. I’m a real fan of Pauling’s biographers, Hager and Paradowski and Cliff and Chris and Barbara Marinacci and the others. To have an excuse to chat with these folks about the Pauling family is very appealing. Its also tempting to write Ava Helen’s Biography as a family biography, because the deeper I get in the papers, the more stunning and hilarious and intriguing stories I come across, of course. Like the letter Linda Pauling’s future father-in-law wrote to the House Un-American Activities Committee denouncing Pauling as a corruptor of the nation’s youth. That’s a great story and one that I am continuing to look at, because it’s a really, really good story. And to some extent this has to be a family biography, Ava Helen Pauling was a weaver of webs, a family administrator, a social sparkplug. Whether or not one always agrees with her parenting, she was a strong minded parent and the center of the household. Also she herself identified as a spouse and a mother, a homemaker as we used to say. Although in later interviews she vacillated between emphasizing that she did not have a career and suggesting that she gave up a career in research chemistry to keep house, this does show up in several interviews, which is very interesting. She basically identified herself as a wife and a mother, in that order.

But now we get back into questions of focus, informed by our modern day feminism. A family biography, even if it puts Ava Helen at the center, is somehow unfair to her. It doesn’t put front and center her leadership in the global fight against war and nuclear pollution, which was very important, not just because the stuff is important but because she was truly important in those fights. It treats her as an interesting person because she was married to Linus Pauling, and had four successful kids, and also had a few hobbies like political activism on the side but a biography that focuses her activism and treats her family life as an aside is not particularly satisfying to me, though it could be a good book. That book doesn’t deal sufficiently with the ways Ava Helen used her partnership with Linus to further what she saw as the world’s cause and it doesn’t really with the way she spent most of her time. Somehow the life as homemaker and the life as a political activist need to be seen and written as an organic whole, with an eye to her growth through these intertwined careers and people do change over time, particularly parents, because children do grow up and one suffers and rejoices through all of that. And you change along the way as the kids and then the grandchildren need different things. So as I go through this remarkable collection, I’m struck by how much this couple resembles the adults I grew up with, I hasten to add that my family hasn’t won any Nobel Prizes and I don’t see any on the horizon. Certainly the older generation which is gone, but their approach to the world was so similar, that I feel I’m stepping into my living room at home, with the stacks of old New Yorkers and medical journals spilling off the coffee table. As I read Ava Helen’s letters to her friends and neighbors, these adults, the Paulings, had separately found their ways to the religious skepticism and political liberalism that eventually landed them into the Unitarian church. They were shocked by what they experienced as the deadly idiocy of the world leaders of their day. They adapted their style of activism from the working philosophy that life in twentieth century America was and should be pleasant and comfortable, yet also exciting, sociable, and interest.

As far as they were concerned, leaders who diverted American energies from the task of spreading this abundance of lovely things, of pleasure, of intellectual opportunity and of interesting conversations to all the people of this nation and the world were stupidly irresponsible but they might be brought around by reasonable argument. If the arguments worked the first time, maybe that hadn’t been phrased quite right. Of course, their arguments would be heard, they assumed, initially they assumed this, because human discourse was about reasonable argument between reasonable people. And good guys would eventually band together to defeat evil and injustice. So one of the most remarkable phases of the story of this couple is that after they learned that reason was not enough and that sitting down and dealing face to face with them on these obvious problems in the world was not going to change the leaders’ approach to these problems. They kept talking and they kept fighting and they marched and they wrote letters and they circulated petitions all in the face of threats to Linus’ academic career and the hate mail and the death threats and the grants and passports denied and their own respected standing in their community and on the Caltech campus where Linus Pauling spent forty years. All of this they did indeed put in jeopardy, which to me is very interesting. So they went way beyond the genteel middle class life and sweet reason they based their approach to the world on. [15:40]

One of the other remarkable things about these two characters holding this philosophy of entitlement and sweet reason is that they were precisely, two Oregon kids from struggling single parent homes. Linus’ pharmacist father died when the boy was eight and Linus’ mother barely kept things together, either financially or mentally. He fled home as soon as possible and against her entreaties and without a high school diploma to enter Oregon Agricultural College. He was good and ready and he was going to go. Ava Helen Miller’s parents were divorced when she was nine I think, there are several different times given in the papers but I think it was nine. She grew up partly in her mother’s household partly during her accelerated trip through highschool in her older sister Nettie’s household on Court’s Street in Salem. Anyways these two strivers created for themselves a literate, skeptical, liberal, American mid-century bourgeois professional family. At their home in Pasadena, they had a swimming pool. In 1956 they bought a ranch at Big Sur. They traveled the world constantly, from the time Linus held a Guggenheim fellowship in Munich in 1926 to their last trip to China 1981, when Ava Helen’s excruciating painful stomach cancer forced them to come home. They had to terminate the trip early.

The day by day record of Linus Pauling’s activities, and by extension Ava Helen’s, is geographically dizzying. They bought artwork and other beautiful things, they sponsored visiting international students, they sent their children to excellent universities at home and abroad, they maintained two extensive households, and they entertained their friends and family with great hospitality, though Ava Helen was, by nature, more sociable than Linus, who needed much time alone, and used her as his shield, which she generally respected and tried to honor as I understand from my reading of the papers so far, especially as they grew older and knew each other ever better. But of course this family biography is more complicated and interesting then the story of two petit bourgeois kids who made it to the upper middle class. They made it all look easy and natural because they were such a good match and because one thing just kinda led to another. But as I mentioned just now, starting almost from the beginning of their marriage, they bucked expectations and made conventional people uneasy, even as themselves they were very conventional.

From the time Ava Helen decided to leave their first born infant son at home with her mother so that she could accompany Linus to Europe for a year and a half of study. They contended both actively and passively with the constant low level buzz of opposition, that regularly flared into genuine threats to their status and wellbeing. We could argue in hindsight that this couple, so strongly motivated by fears for the health of the world’s children, were not particularly compelled by their own parenting project, but that’s another paper. I’m not sure the Pauling kids would fight me on this one, but the Paulings themselves would undoubtedly be shocked and hurt by this aside. That’s another of the biographer’s challenges and again that’s a different paper. [19:08]

One way to summarize the impetus behind Linus Pauling’s political activism is that Ava Helen made him do it. As far as I’ve been able to understand, this was pretty much true initially. Linus grew up a republican who didn’t think much of politics until he met Ava Helen, and of course I need to point to what most of you know already, which is that republican and democratic parties were very, very different at the turn of the last century than they are today. She, on the other hand, was a democrat even before the New Deal and she’d grown up with a socialist father and fearless debating around the dinner table and with adult family friends in a book she wrote about men of her childhood. She wrote one about a Dr. Morse, "he’s the finest doctor I know, we quarreled about politics. He is a republican." She was a humanist and humanitarian by upbringing. To her, these stances were common sense as well as inherited family wisdom. She was also again initially not particularly a feminist, at least not in all ways. A notebook of reflections on life and reading written around 1927 concludes, this was in her words and Linus Pauling would later quote this in an interview, "If a women thinks honestly and clearly, she must soon reach the conclusion that no matter what life work she chooses, it could be done better by a man and the only work in which this is not the case is the work involved in a home with children". In this way she contributes truthfully and substantially to the career of her husband and through her children to the improvement of the world. Now this could be a statement written by a 19th century apologist for the cult of true womanhood, as most of you know, with our biographers advantage of hindsight, we can infuse these sentences with all sorts of tension and unacknowledged internal conflict. After all they seem to be written in Europe during the Guggenheim year when she hung out with Linus and his scientist friends and attended a number of science lectures. Alternatively we can guess that she had in fact met a man who satisfied her emotionally and intellectually and sexually and that her deepest and quite conventional inclination in the 1920s was to support and promote his career.

Thus again attending the science lectures and joining in the conversations in Europe might be explained as helping her to understand and help in Linus’ work. Later documents suggest that both things were correct, that she loved Linus Pauling and wanted to do everything she could to promote the man who was a rising star, even when she met him when they were both undergraduates at Oregon Agricultural College and that she would ultimately wonder if she made all the right choices in subsuming the potential of her own fine mind to promoting his career and building his household. Interestingly, these later reflections came after she had built her own unpaid career as peace and feminist activist and sought after speaker in 1950s and 1960s. In an interview with Lee Herzenburg in 1977, that is when Ava Helen was 74 years old, she reflects on the time where she began to question her choices in life. At the time of the interview she dated these questions back to the 40s and 50s. When she became active in the peace and antinuclear testing movement with women’s groups, the coming of the second European war had jolted both of the Paulings into increased activism. She is kind of a matter of course and he as a new and rather satisfying activity. They joined the Union Now movement, which gained steam in 1940, which preached the necessity of the United States joining Britain and fighting fascists. Ava Helen Pauling also helped in the work of sheltering British children from Nazi bombing by helping to bring them to the United States.

During the war, Linus did scientific war work for the government, although he deflected Oppenheimer’s invitation to join the Manhattan project because he didn’t want to move this family to New Mexico desert and really who could blame him. The atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 galvanized both Paulings. Ava Helen became active in the women’s international league for peace and freedom, a group that dated back to 1915 and the heyday of women’s peace activism before America entered into World War I. And in 1961 she joined the Upstart group, women’s strike for peace. She became an outspoken leader in both groups. She, I called her charismatic in the first sentence of this paper and its clear that these movements profited greatly from her firm delivery and personal charm. She spoke, she marched, she traveled, both with Linus and by herself, she even sneaked into the Netherlands in 1964 after she was turned back at the border trying to enter directly from the United States, as Dutch officials tried and failed to block the women’s strike for peace from staging a silent march outside the NATO ministerial conference in May of 1964. Looking back at that 1977 interview, she hints that as she became a woman activist she began reflecting on what women might want and need that was different or distinct from what men need and also on why they did not take a more active role in opposing the war and nuclear fallout. [25:00]

In her earlier interviews in the late 1950s and the first half of the 1960s, we do see that her liberal feminism was already well developed. In 1963, she characterized herself as a modern feminist, these are her own words. By 1964, her positions on the status of women were well articulated and they implicitly questioned some of her own life choices. Quote "why do so many girls need the emotional security they think an early marriage will bring?," she asked pointedly "why has the number of women who take advanced study decreased?," "why do so many women in this country make a career of researching beauty aids rather than researching these questions?" By 1965 she delivered her talk "the 2nd X chromosome: the study of woman" quite frequently. From this perspective, these seem like the glory years for Ava Helen Pauling, that is the years in which she came into her own in all ways, her children were grown and having children of their own, although one’s kids are never quite gone and Paulings were no exception. She was a loving but perhaps the opposite of a clinging mother, she writes in her letters of building a cabin or bunk house at the ranch so that the kids and grandkids could visit without getting in the senior Paulings’ way. She was being recognized in her own right as a powerful speaker and thinker, and a spokesperson for causes she cared deeply about.

When Linus Pauling won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1963 for the year 1962 for acts that they had both participated in, that had put their lively hood, if not their lives on the line, some friends and allies said that the Paulings should have won it jointly and Linus Pauling concurred. In fact, Pauling cut way back on the science that he loved so much to do his peace work, Ava Helen Pauling stepped into it as if it had been waiting for her all along. It was her time. Linus Pauling Jr. concurs with a son’s frankness and acerbity he remarked in a talk about life with his parents recorded here in 2001, that, quote "As the years went by, she became more and more insistent on recognition for herself, saying for example, if I hadn’t been busy rearing children and running this family, I would have been winning Nobel Prizes." End quote. He goes on to say "I took that with a sizable grain of salt" this is his father’s son speaking "because although she was very intelligent, she lacked the incredible memory, integrative ability, intuition, creativity, and charisma that characterized his genius." I actually have to disagree with, at least, on the charisma part based on my own reading of her life so far. I mean he was very charismatic but so was she. So here’s a big piece of the story, Ava Helen Pauling’s emergence in her 50s and 60s into the limelight at exactly the time that activist women were starting to say "hey, we are so tired of making the coffee and running the mimeograph machines for those causes that we’ve given so much to." Ava Helen did join women’s activist groups but she also joined and lead groups like the ACLU that had had both men and women as leaders and foot soldiers all along.

Thus another part of the story is the incredible union of Ava Helen Pauling and Linus Pauling, which survived not only the sexual and parenting tensions of their early adulthood, but also what could have been the destructive competition and cross-cutting pressures of middle age. In one wonderful interview of the early 60s, Ava Helen Pauling remarked that "many people asked ‘if she and Linus Pauling ever quarreled.’" "Well of course we do" she replied to these phantom questioners "we have the very hottest of arguments at times, to live with someone with whom one always agreed would be unbearable, surely one would have to be an nincompoop and the other a tyrant or possibly both could be liars." This marriage was a life’s work in itself and it has to be the envy of most of us. The tensions grew out of the twin and usually conflicting pulls of two vital kinds of work for Linus Pauling as well as the Paulings trying to live chronically at the fever pitch of global engagement while also tending to science for one of them and for the other a series of troubled caretakers at the ranch, the grown children’s turbulent personal lives and her strong responses to these fluctuations, and ever vast correspondence as well as grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and the health challenges of later middle age. "We are well but tired", their letters say over and over, "we are well but we are tired."

But these are the marital tensions that are avoided only by ratcheting down ones commitment to their work and to the world, something the Pauling’s were unwilling to do. Increasingly we hear hints in Ava Helen’s interviews and letters that perhaps, perhaps, she could have lived a different kind of life if she’d started younger or if she’d valued her own mind. For all their unconventionality; however, this couple chose to act out the conventional gender roles and that was not without a price for Ava Helen. But I think its fair to say that neither partner was outmatched by the other, though Linus towers over Ava Helen in their pictures as you saw. This is about as far as I am ready to go in starting to resolve any of my questions, the other set of questions that I won't explore today concerns the politics of writing a biography of subjects so very close to one’s own time, I’m thinking that 19th century is really a nice place to be, with descendents still living, I’m glad of that, and with those family members as well as colleagues interested in what I might have to say, someone’s always taking the risk of making people mad. In addition like Ava Helen Miller only with many fewer brain cells I must crank myself up to understand at least minimally on a lay level what that science was all about or I’ll commit the intellectual crime of what David Luft might call a bad translation, a literal attention to only the part of the record I can use Google translator to understand. And this then is the final paper that I am not going to deliver today. So thank you very much. [32:02]

Cliff Mead: Are you willing to entertain some questions?

Mina Carson: I’m willing to entertain some questions that I can’t possibly answer?

Audience member: I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural address from the Linus Pauling series here at OSU with Pauling himself who spoke not long after Ava Helen’s death and his talk was largely attributed to her. I understand from Linda that the text of the talk that he gave that evening is extant but I was wondering whether there was any kind of recording whether audio or visual recording that you might have, if so...

Cliff Mead: As far as we can tell they did not record it, that probably was in 1982 and that was the first of the Pauling Peace Lectures. It was originally called the Ava Helen Pauling Peace Lectures before we changed the name.

Mina Carson: Did they change it?

Cliff Mead: They did change it but currently the College of Liberal Arts did not at that time have the foresight to think of recording it. They did it later I think so we have stuff from the late ‘80s, I think around ‘87 was the first time they started recording so we are missing the first five years.

Mina Carson: And he was just taken apart by her death, Tom Hager has this incredible, there are a number of accounts, but I’ve looked at Tom Hager’s closely and he just has this incredible heart wrenching account of how Pauling coped with her, initially of course, didn’t cope, with her death. How he went through that process. [33:52]

Audience member: So I’m curious about how do biographers of Linus Pauling treat Ava Helen, is she a figure of substance, I know we have some biographers here. Or is she overshadowed by him, what sort of things are you up against?

Mina Carson: Yeah, luckily the papers are so huge that people are not disrespectful to Ava Helen Pauling, I mean the biographers, but she is, I mean this is where the shift of perspective comes from, I mean for me, is as I go along through the biographies after having looked some of the papers, she’s just kind of in there a little bit. You know, here and there, because what most of the biographers are looking at is scientific career which is so huge that and also his peace career. But they’ll sort of say "well Ava Helen made him do it" and they very honestly and genuinely and generously attribute his interest in peace to Ava Helen Pauling. But there are no family biographies, so I think that’s what you’d have to have and that’s what I’m facing in looking on well how do I do this biography cause Mary and I talked about a reasonably lengthed... but embedding her in the family is just so important and yet its such a trick because you want to put her here and...

Audience member: I enjoyed your talk, I think you really have great ideas about how to do this and I just want to ask a political question, since it sounds like the peace movement became really important to her later on and as a European I am always puzzled about how Americans think about these things. You guys have all this worked out but in the first world war, it seems as if historians are very proud of Woodrow Wilson for going off to war, then of course Paulings are very proud to go off to war, in the second world war, then suddenly everything gets very moralistic after that. Is that because of nuclear weapons? Do they see the joke in that they’ve gone from being pro-war to anti-war without missing a beat? And do historians agonize about that? What’s that mean that for the first half of the century we are in it then the second half of the century we are revert, or vice versa.

Mina Carson: That’s a good question, other emeritus please chime in, but my quickie reading of this is that historians have agonized, themselves have agonized over the decision to drop the bombs.

Audience member: Right that’s clear, but I meant why the sudden turn, that is nobody ever says look here’s a woman who was the key person in getting us into the second world war and then she becomes a peace activist. Was she conscious of the confusing tensions in that? I mean firebombs on Britain isn’t any fun either. I don’t think its just nuclear weapons that makes war unpleasant.

Mina Carson: No, no, I think antifascism is the motivating, as I say they were involved in the Union Now movement, which was not pacifist movement at all. But they said "hey, Britain is dangling out there." But I think its, I have to be careful not to speak from my own stances as a historian but to speak from the Pauling’s point of view, I think literally and other biographers say this as well, it was the dropping of the bomb that just blew them away, and "oh this was a project that I wasn’t involved in" and he wasn’t clueless about the science. [37:53]

Audience member: It was the scientific connection that made it compelling for him?

Mina Carson: Well it was more than that, because when he got involved, he was very compelled from the beginning, after the dropping of the bomb, he started giving lectures and really as early as from 45 or 46 for civilian control of atomic energy. And he would give these lectures and Ava Helen would always be with him when he gave the lectures and after a while she said to him "look, you know what, when you give these lectures you, your talking of science is very compelling but when you segue into this peace and politics stuff, you’re not compelling at all, because you don’t know what you’re talking about." and he said "okay then", and he went and found out what he was talking about so he himself did the political study that would enable him to be effective as a spokesperson against the unfettered development of these weapons and the testing of them in the atmosphere and that really was what motivated, I believe, both of the Paulings. The patent dangerous to the Earth and to humanity. And then they did become very strong anti-war activists during the Vietnam conflict, so their generation, I don’t think I addressed the question totally... [40:06]

Audience member: I just wonder why aren’t people more conscious of the moral tension between spending your life from one to fifty being in favor of war then being famous from fifty on for being against war. I mean, I’m just a simpleton but people who were in favor of peace in the 1930s were called fascists, they were called pro-Nazi in the United States, that is they were non-interventionists. If you look at all of this, even if you look at the English way of the first world war, the book analysis says that the first world war was their fault. When we go to Iraq, when we go to Europe, when we go to these places, we have an impact. What we imagine isn’t what happens, so we go from finding it quite normal to tell other people how to live and its suddenly thinking that it’s a bad thing to do and I guess its just nuclear weapons.

Mina Carson: Well, Jake can you bail me out here?

Audience member: Maybe, I guess I have a comment to make, you don’t have to be against war to win the Nobel Peace Prize and this is not necessarily, we call it peace activism. Being against nuclear fallout, that’s against fallout from peace time nuclear testing, and I’m sure he was anti-war but what he won the prize for and what he was known for was peace time, we were being subjected to nuclear fallout and the tests that were done, the weapons tests that were done during peace time. So its not necessarily...

Audience member: So they were not pro-peace, they were anti-nuclear fallout.

Mina Carson: Well but they were that too.

Audience member: They were both that. His contribution to all this, at least in the fifties, is helping to show the effects of nuclear fallout and eventually that test ban, of course there’s a big legacy "oh yes, Pauling and others were involved in all that." That’s not being against a particular war.

Mina Carson: There’s another piece, Paul, I wanted to make a little more sense and then come in but there’s another piece which is really important which has to do with the dynamic of all this which is that he became increasingly, Pauling became under fire by people who really were idiots. Well there were idiots in public and there were idiots who are, you know, elected legislators and policy makers, who dragged him in front of committees and shook him to get names, so they became the Paulings became, as they were harassed became increasingly active in the civil liberties causes. And in time to gather the insanity in the United States. [42:58]

Audience member: Does everybody remember sort of their frame of mind and frame of reference of emotionally on September 10, 2001? What I’m getting at is that my mom grew up in a "Bridgetown" city. And I remember how radically different the world felt than it looked 24 hours later, even from a person who’s covered war as a journalist. There was a seismic shift in just the parameters of the consciousness in that 24 hour period and that’s what people who lived and had lives before World War II started experienced in August of 1945. Even the scientists and look at Bertrand Russell, look at the other guys, where they came out over the next few years. It was that same chaotic, totally adrift from everything they had known before and everybody was looking for something to hold on to. Some moral ground that was firm and it sounds to me that that’s exactly what Pauling did and as in any period following it, there was a certain amount of chaos. For years they had to sort out, look at what Oppenheimer went through, look at what all the scientists on the project went through, and the people on the bridge went through. It wasn’t just a light switch going on and off where it was a clear path, people had to make it up. They had to invent a whole new kind of morality to deal with the possibility of end time. That had never existed before.

Mina Carson: The alliance with the Soviet Union that couldn’t just be terminated, people feelings about the being alive in the Soviet Union during the war that couldn’t just be terminated. More questions. [44:21]

 

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