The mysterious, misunderstood threat that propels the classic
Kiss Me Deadly; it turns out to be a suitcase of a glowing, uncontrollable radioactive substance.
whatsit need not name anything
specific: it refers
to any nebulous but presumably devastating threat that becomes an obsession for an individual or even an entire
nation, regardless of its materiality. Much of its terror comes by way of implication. Examples include the communists of the 1950s, the JFK conspiracy and Weapons of Mass