Skip to main content
main-content

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. On Preliminary Matters

Abstract
Game Theory,” as John Davis Williams (1909–64) elucidates inThe Compleat Strategyst (1954), is shorthand for “the Theory of Games of Strategy” (3; emphasis original). The word strategy, “as used in its everyday sense, carries the connotation of a particularly skillful or adroit plan, whereas in Game Theory it designates any completeplan.” In short, “a strategy is a plan so complete that it cannot be upset by enemy action or Nature; for everything that the enemy or Nature may choose to do, together with a set of possible actions for yourself, is just part of the description of the strategy” (16; emphasis original). Each strategic participant is a self-interested player. Individual players or teams of individuals are distinct (or atomistic) agents. “In some models,” as Paisley Livingston notes, “a single ‘player’ is comprised of a number of ‘agents’ that are not even aware of each other’s moves and strategic rationales” (69). Situations that involve two or more players who cannot or will not communicate definitively are acutely relevant to the human condition.1 In these coordination problems, players must make choices in the knowledge that other parties face the same options, that a coordination condition equivalent to silence pertains between the players, and that the outcome for each party will result from the decisions of every player.
Michael Wainwright

Chapter 2. On Game Theory, the Art of Literature, and the Stag Hunt

Abstract
In 1915, Albert Einstein (1879–1955) published one of the greatest conceptual revolutions in science since Euclid’s Elements of Geometry (c. 300 bc): his theory of general relativity. Max Born, who had studied his compatriot’s working papers on the subject in 1913, thought Einstein’s breakthrough “the greatest feat of human thinking about Nature, the most amazing combination of philosophical penetration, physical intuition and mathematical skill” (Physics 109). Born’s only concern with the theory was its lack of experimental corroboration. Fortunately, confirmation of Einstein’s curved spacetime concept came four years later when, as Stephen Hawking chronicles, “a British expedition to West Africa observed a slight bending of light from a star passing near the sun during an eclipse” (19–21). Although this finding was of comfort to Einstein, a challenge to related principles, which would eventually seed the quantum theory posited by Max Planck in 1900 with ambiguity, was beginning to trouble him.
Michael Wainwright

Chapter 3. On the Postwar Strategic Background, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and In Cold Blood

Abstract
Dating the first appearance of postmodernity remains what philosophers call an empty question, and although the continual contestation prompted by such queries sometimes makes them annoyingly unappealing, they are often usefully addressable.1 In broad terms, postmodernity emerged as modernity declined, a process that Marianne DeKoven traces over a 20-year period starting in the mid-1950s, but that Brian McHale dates to “one year in particular: 1966” (400). McHale also cites, however, Charles Alexander Jencks’s claim “to know exactly when postmodernism began. It began, Jencks says, on July 15, 1972, at 3:32 p.m., when part of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in St. Louis was demolished” (391–92; emphasis original).2 Built according to modernist precepts, but unlivable in practice, Pruitt-Igoe “marked the failure of high modernism in architecture.” The detonation of well-placed charges leveled such architectural pretensions. Hence, as McHale states of Jencks’s proposition, “postmodernism began with a bang— literally explosively” (392; emphasis original).
Michael Wainwright

Chapter 4. On Chicken in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

Abstract
While the critical reception for Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), a biopic about American entertainer and producer George M. Cohan, earned James Cagney (1899–1986) an Academy Award for Best Actor, the box-office success of the film persuaded its star to establish his own production company. Independence from the studio system afforded Cagney the creative freedom he desired, but his strategy backfired, with the remainder of the decade encompassing what Patrick McGilligan identifies as Cagney’s “leanest period of activity” (Cagney 112). Between 1942 and 1949, he appeared in only four films, three of which were the sum total of Cagney Productions. With the added pressure of “mediocre box office, poor distribution and even lawsuit difficulties (with the Sam Goldwyn Studio—Cagney Productions reneged on a space rental contract—the suit was settled out of court),” Cagney resigned himself to “a distribution-production deal with Warners and an agreement to return to profitable gangsterism” (112). Public Enemy (1931) had made Cagney a star, his new contract was “the logical retreat for the aging star” (112), and White Heat (1949) was the immediate result.
Michael Wainwright

Chapter 5. On Countercultural Chicken in Fahrenheit 451 and A Raisin in the Sun

Abstract
That other countries eventually but successfully responded to the asymmetry of power afforded to America and the Soviet Union by nuclear weapons comes as no surprise. On October 3, 1952, Operation Hurricane witnessed the first British test of an atomic device. This successful trial, which took place on HMS Plym—an obsolete frigate moored in the Timor Sea at Main Bay, Trimouille Island—made Britain an additional danger to Soviet security. A third player had joined the Prisoner’s Dilemma predicated on MADness. British cinema tangentially anticipated this situation with Michael Powell (director) and Emeric Pressburger’s (screenwriter) treatment of the Pimpernel legend. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon, had been a box-office sensation, and “Powell and Pressburger,” as James Howard relates, “saw no reason to remake a story which had already been definitively filmed” (70). To Pressburger, “who had always striven above all to do something original and fresh,” as Kevin Macdonald chronicles, “the thought of a remake was anathema.” Producer Alexander Korda, however, persisted. Pressburger turned to Emmuska Orczy’s series of Pimpernel novels for inspiration. “Emeric,” reports Macdonald, “went ten rounds with Baroness Orczy’s Pimpernel books trying to squeeze a decent script from them” (303).
Michael Wainwright

Chapter 6. On Coldblooded Chicken in In Cold Blood

Abstract
Farming was the mainstay of Holcomb, Kansas, where the hardworking and law-abiding Clutters were typical of a community overwhelmingly comprised of Republican Methodists. In politically and religiously neutral terms, Holcombites represented the respectable, uncontroversial, orthodox bedrock of America in the immediate postwar decades, and the Clutters “lived,” as Ellsworth Lapham Fersch remarks, “a quiet, ordinary life in the middle of the United States” (79). The family comprised staunch churchgoers, with an emphasis on exhibiting their practice of religion—so much so that incredulity characterized the parishioners’ realization of their nonattendance on the morning of November 15, 1959. “That’s impossible,” expostulated Nancy Clutter’s friend Nancy Ewalt. “Can you imagine Mr. Clutter missing church?” (69; emphasis original).
Michael Wainwright

Chapter 7. On Called Bluff in Capote, Deadlock in Twain, and Bully in Faulkner

Abstract
If the friction emanating from chaffing sequestration undermines cooperation between two ideologically opposed governments, and if the implementation of superpower remains a viable strategic option for each administration, then nuclear confrontation beckons. Despite the erection of the Berlin Wall, which had dispelled the game of international Chicken first named by Bertrand Russell in Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare, prospective Armageddon still articulated West–East relations, and William Faulkner disarmingly acknowledged this frightening outlook when he visited the Military Academy at West Point, New York State, from April 19 to 20, 1962. Asked how writing about “perversion and corruption in men” contributes to the promotion of “courage and honor,” Faulkner replied, “that one must show man [ … ] in all his phases, his conditions”. That notwithstanding “his base attitudes,” man “continues, he has outlived the dinosaur, he will outlive the atom bomb, and I’m convinced in time he will even outlive the wheel” (52). The twentieth century has witnessed two world wars, but man “has outlasted his own disasters, and I think that he will continue”. For Faulkner, humankind was a consequence of theistic evolution, and “the species which has created the fine pictures, the music, the statues, the books, is too valuable for omnipotence, God whoever he is, to let perish” (110).
Michael Wainwright

Backmatter

Weitere Informationen