“Why worry so much about the future of a doomed world?”
A delightfully nihilistic quote attributed to physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the main architects of the Manhattan Project and of the first atomic weapons, although it’s probably apocryphal. It seems to originate in French from Michel Houllebecq’s book H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life. The English translation of Houllebecq actually mentions in a footnote that the quote is untraceable.
Houllebecq is, shall we say, a not uncontroversial writer who may conceivably be projecting his own profound misanthropy and negativity onto Oppenheimer; Lovecraft’s, too. Even so, it’s in character for a man who made it possible for the human race to render itself and most other life on the planet totally extinct within a matter of minutes.
It’s also in character for Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “The first ten million years were the worst, and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million I didn’t enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline.”