Moral Mutation and the apocalyptic future Essay
Moral Mutation and the apocalyptic future
The two texts, the film and the book, were set in a post-Hiroshima world where arsenals were being further improved to generate a more efficient way to participate in warfare and be the leader in these developments. By lumping two stories together in an analysis, it is inevitable for traits to be observed in the chosen texts. Dewey in his analysis of Cat’s Cradle described Dr. Hoenikker as a “man-child curiously unfamiliar with concepts such as sin and God” (57).
He then identified in the doctor a “moral mutation who believes with Faustian pride that humanity can manipulate, dominate, even annihilate nature” (57). When the Russians and the Americans in Dr. Strangelove developed their own military hardware in order to upstage the enemy and scare them into submission they demonstrated the characteristics of this mutation. Because of the belief that man can dominate nature, these weapons were made to possess qualities that rivalled the greatest strength of the natural world.
Hence, should the enemy ever attack, they could immediately launch a counter-attack and prove their superiority. The will to dominate and annihilate nature is not the only characteristic of this moral mutation. Egocentrism plays a focal point in this mutation, for it fuels the foolishness of the characters and magnifies their ignorance. Dr. Hoenikker announced that he saw himself as a child that allowed curiosity to get the better of him and strove to study anything that caught his interest.
All his studies he did for himself and he seemed to have no regard for others: he did not take good care of his wife who turned her back on everything for him; he pulled out Angela from school because he wanted someone to take care of him; and he never considered the effects of his inventions, he saw them only as playthings and never thought of the consequences that will affect the lives of millions of people.
Westfahl interprets this as a jab at notion that the scientist can be relieved of responsibility in developing such instruments because he is only interested in science and not in wealth and fame (957). After his death, his children distributed the ice-nine between themselves, as he had neglected to keep such a dangerous substance in an appropriate place. The children used the seed crystal to suit their own wants, provided warring powers with the weapon and caused the apocalypse. General Jack D. Ripper acts as the Dr. Hoenikker of Dr.
Strangelove. He allowed a theory that he had formed out of sexual fatigue to dictate his decisions as a general; he was too confident in his analysis of the situation and stubbornly stood by his actions, not bothering to consult with other officials. In the last stages before the explosions, he never checked on how the people around him were doing and only worried of what will become of him should his building be stormed and his enemies come after him. In the end, he chose to save himself rather than face the consequences of his actions.
The two texts present the end of the world in a manner of a ticking bomb. The countdown in Cat’s Cradle starts after the reader is made aware that the events presented lead to the unfortunate end. In Dr. Strangelove, the countdown is in the form of time-measure; the length of time it would take for the B-52s to reach their targets thus activating the doomsday device. Looking at the two texts, the direct causes of the end of the world stand on a far distance from the other. Dr.
Strangelove’s tension before the cataclysm was between two world powers, and elements that sprout from this tension eventually sprouted the doom. The film’s end was caused by the actions of people and abrupt: showing only scenes of the bomb explosions but none of what happened after. Perhaps this hinted that nothing survived after the event and it was truly the there were no more stories to tell. In Cat’s Cradle, what caused the end was the body of a dictator of a small island which nobody wanted to rule.
The narrator believed that this was destined and all that he experienced were pointing to that event and to his destiny after the apocalypse. As he still had something to accomplish after the ice-nine incident, Jonah kept accounts of what had happened up until the point he meets Bokonon face to face. The two texts tackle different viewpoints regarding scientific development and the participation of people in history. The suggestions and portrayals of Cat’s Cradle may not completely coincide with those of Dr. Strangelove’s, but similarities still exist between the two texts.
Dewey, Joseph. In a dark time: the apocalyptic temper in the American novel of the nuclear age. Indiana: Purdue University Press. 1990. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb . Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens, Sterling Hayden, James Earl Jones. 1964. DVD. Columbia Pictures, 2004. mininova. Cat’s Cradle. 1 June 2009. <http://www. mininova. org/tor/1359220> Westfahl, Gary. The Greenwood encyclopedia of science fiction and fantasy: themes, works, and wonders. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. 2005.