1953: “House for the Atomic Age”
“A swimming pool that becomes an automatic decontamination bath during an A-bomb attack is one of the features of a home that Hal B. Hayes, Hollywood contractor, is completing for himself. In the hillside next to the swimming pool he’s building an underground sanctuary that you reach by diving into the pool. His house is designed to “bring the outdoors indoors” for ordinary peaceful living, yet has a structure built to resist great destructive forces. Several of the walls are completely of glass that would be swept away by a powerful shock wave, but could later be replaced. A continuation of his living-room rug is pulled up to shroud the glass wall in that room when a button is pressed.
Other walls of the house have a fluted design to resist shock wave and a fireproof exterior surface of Gunite.
A garden growing in half a foot of soil on the flat roof provides insulation against extreme heat or shock. All exposed wood, inside and outside of the house, is fire-resistant redwood coated with fire-retarding paint. In addition to the underground sanctuary, equipped with bottled oxygen, there is a bombproof shelter in the house itself, consisting of a large steel and concrete vault containing a sitting room and bathroom. Other features of the home include a three-story indoor tree…”
Kinué was the daughter of a wealthy landowner. She had been somewhat strange since an unfortunate love affair, and she had been in a mental hospital for six months. She had a curious syndrome described as delirious depression or depressed intoxication or something of the sort. There had been no serious outburst since, and it had settled into a conviction that she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
Because of the delusion, she had been able to break the mirror that so tormented her and fly off into a mirrorless world. Reality became malleable, selective, a seeing of what was desirable and a rejection of everything else. The guiding principle would for most people have been a tightrope inviting almost certain disaster, but it brought her no complications and no sense of danger. Having thrown the old plaything of self-awareness into the garbage can, she had started to make a new plaything of wonderful ingenuity and intricacy, and now she had adapted it perfectly to her needs and set it to work like an artificial heart. When she had finished shaping it, Kinué had attained perfect happiness; or, as she would have put it, perfect unhappiness.
Probably the romantic misfortune had come about when a man made mention of her ugliness. In that instant Kinué saw the light down her only road, the defile open to her. If she could not change her own looks, then she must change the world. She set to work on her own secret plastic surgery and achieved a reversal, and a gleaming pearl emerged from the ugly, ashen shell.
Like a beleaguered soldier finding an escape, Kinué came upon a basic but elusive link with the world. With that as her fulcrum, she stood the world upside down. A most extraordinary revolution. Exquisite craftiness in taking for misfortune what in her heart she desired above all.
His way of holding a cigarette somewhat old for his years, Tōru leaned back and stretched out long legs in blue jeans. He found nothing the least novel in her discourse, but he gave not a sign that he was bored. Kinué was very sensitive to her audience.
He never made fun of her as her neighbors did. That was why she visited him. He felt in this mad, ugly woman five years his senior a comrade in apartness. He liked people who refused to recognize the world.
If the hardness of the two hearts, the one protected by lunacy, the other by awareness—if the degree of hardness was about the same, then there need be no fear of wounds, however much they brushed against each other. Nor need there be a fear of carnal brushes.