Scientism and instrumentalism After the Bomb: Dr Strangelove, End Zone, Crash and The Wire

No Thumbnail Available
Heffernan, Niall
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University College Cork
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
This thesis argues that through the prism of America’s Cold War, scientism has emerged as the metanarrative of the postnuclear age. The advent of the bomb brought about a new primacy for mechanical and hyperrational thinking in the corridors of power not just in terms of managing the bomb itself but diffusing this ideology throughout the culture in social sciences, economics and other such institutional systems. The human need to mitigate or ameliorate against the chaos of the universe lies at the heart of not just religious faith but in the desire for perfect control. Thus there has been a transference of power from religious faith to the apparent material power of science and technology and the terra firma these supposedly objective means supply. The Cold War, however was a highly ideologically charged opposition between the two superpowers, and the scientific methodology that sprang forth to manage the Cold War and the bomb, in the United States, was not an objective scientific system divorced from the paranoia and dogma but a system that assumed a radically fundamentalist idea of capitalism. This is apparent in the widespread diffusion of game theory throughout Western postindustrial institutions. The inquiry of the thesis thus examines the texts that engage and criticise American Cold War methodology, beginning with the nuclear moment, so to speak, and Dr Strangelove’s incisive satire of moral abdication to machine processes. Moving on chronologically, the thesis examines the diffusion of particular kinds of masculinity and sexuality in postnuclear culture in Crash and End Zone and finishing up its analysis with the ethnographic portrayal of a modern American city in The Wire. More than anything else, the thesis wishes to reveal to what extent this technocratic consciousness puts pressure on language and on binding narratives.
The Wire , Cold war , Post-nuclear , Technology , Ballard , DeLillo , Kubrick , The Wire
Heffernan, N. 2013. Scientism and instrumentalism After the Bomb: Dr Strangelove, End Zone, Crash and The Wire. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.