domingo, 26 de fevereiro de 2012

"Is the Rocket the Real Text? " - Pynchon, Paranoia, and Literature, by Leo Bersani

 Rendlesham-Bentwaters's Myth. They were not Germans! Excellent stuff waiting for Hollywood. Completely irrelevant whether "real" or hallutination. It is simply extraordinary beautiful as tale




LEO BERSANI
Pynchon, Paranoia, and Literature

Any novel that uses the word paranoia as frequently as Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow does is likely to make the reader somewhat paranoid about the very frequency of its use. Not only is it the narrator's most cherished word and concept (the word even gives birth to a new English verb: Tyrone Slothrop "paranoids from door to door" in a Nice hotel); (1) the characters in Pynchon's work also repeatedly refer to themselves as paranoid. There, of course, is the hitch: since when do paranoids label themselves as paranoid? When they do, they are of course speaking for others, using the label for themselves before it can be used against them. "You must think I'm really paranoid about people's opinion of what I write" can be given to us as: "I'm really paranoid about people's opinion of what I write," but the judgment of that anxiety as paranoid can only come from others. These others can of course also exist in me, and I can make a clinical joke of my own worries, but I would not have them if I were not also convinced of their rightness. "I" can never be the subject of "I am paranoid" as an uncontested, undivided judgment.

The word paranoia has had an extraordinarily complex medical, psychiatric, and psychoanalytic history. I have been using it (as, in fact, Pynchon also tends to use it) as if it were merely synonymous with something like unfounded suspicions about a hostile environment, but the fear of persecution is only one aspect of a symptomatological picture that, at various moments and as it has been drawn by different thinkers, has included such things as delusions of grandeur, schizophrenic dissociation, and erotomania. The concept has been at the center of considerable classificatory turbulence, especially with respect to the question of whether or not it should be counted as one of the schizophrenic psychoses. More than any other psychoanalytic term, paranoia has been the focus of a nosological disarray not unlike the symptomatic panic of paranoia itself. There is, in both cases, interpretative distress. Freud explained paranoia as a defense against a desired homosexual "attack," a defense that depends to a great extent on the success of a strenuous interpretative effort. The potential benefits of interpretative control are dramatically illustrated by the ease with which Dr. Schreber, the subject of Freud's most celebrated analysis of paranoia, transcends his paranoid anxiety and even changes a plot of cosmic hostility into an epic of cosmic self-centering. God's desire to use Schreber as a "wife" in order to engender a new race rewrites catastrophe as apotheosis; the dreaded attack will still take place, but in its idealized, divine form it can finally be recognized as an object of desire.

Schreber ends exactly where he began: in anticipating the pleasure of being destroyed as a result of taking a "passive" homosexual role. But he must first analyze the components of "I love him" in ways that will allow a homosexual desire to be satisfied without danger. In the paranoid's case, "I love him" is equivalent to "I love being attacked by him"; only if this is reformulated as something like "I hate being attacked by a hostile world" can a megalomaniacal defense against persecution become powerful enough to make Schreber desirable to God Himself. It is as if a defensive self-love were contagious or perhaps even operated as an argument that "convinced" God of Schreber's irresistible appeal. The paranoid stage of Schreber's illness allows the original masochistic wish to become conscious by creating the conditions in which it can be reformulated as a triumphant\narcissism. The original (and repressed) interpretation of a "feminine" ( passivity as self-annihilation is—in a move that a biological realism perversely authorizes—reinterpreted as self-perpetuation.

More interesting to us is Freud's recognition of Schreber's interpretative acuity. At the end of his analysis of the case, Freud notes a striking similarity between Schreber's delusions and Freud's theory about those delusions. The Senatspraesidents "rays of God," for example, "which are made up of a condensation of the sun's rays, of nerve-fibers, and of spermatozoa, are in reality nothing else than a concrete representation and projection outward of libidinal cathexes"; they may be what Freud calls "endopsychic perceptions" of the very processes that he himself has proposed in order to explain paranoia. With just a hint of paranoia about the possibility that he may be accused of having lifted his theory of paranoia from Schreber's book, Freud protests, in advance of any such accusation, that he can "call a friend and fellow-specialist to witness that [he] had developed [his] theory of paranoia before [he] became acquainted with the contents of Schreber's book. It remains for the future," Freud concludes, "to decide whether there is more delusion in my theory that I should like to admit, or whether there is more truth in Schreber's delusion than other people are as yet prepared to believe."(2)

The delusion, however, may be inherent in the move that predicts some future sorting out of truth from delusion in either Schreber's fantasies or Freud's theories. What else could the truth of paranoia be than a replication, on a different discursive register, of the paranoid's delusions? Freud's concluding remarks bizarrely suggest that there is some ordering truth of paranoia—of paranoia as distinct from the classificatory and theoretical discourse that in fact constitutes it—different from both paranoid ravings and theories of paranoia. This is precisely how Pynchon defines paranoia itself: it is the "reflex of seeking other orders behind the visible" (219). The paranoid restlessness in the theory of paranoia—evidenced in Freud's insistence that he had the theory before studying the case as well as in his uneasy perception of the specular relation between the case and the theory— is expressed as a mistrust of the symptomatic language of paranoia. The theoretician distrusts the theorizing activity of paranoia—as if the "truth" of paranoia might turn out to be that theory is always a paranoid symptom. But Freud has perhaps already accepted that conclusion in continuing to hope for a truth by which the value of theory can be measured, a truth that would finally rescue psychoanalytic discourse from the theorizing which, it is feared, may be nothing more than a manifestation of paranoid behavior. The theoretician's distrust of theory—the sense that what theory seeks to signify is hidden somewhere behind it—repeats the paranoid's distrust of the visible.
The Schreber case also points, however, to a wholly different alternative: the embrace of theory as final and the renunciation of any hope that "truth" will finally render theory obsolete. The customary distinction between delusions and truth too accurately replicates the illusional structures we may wish to understand. If nonparanoid theorizing is a contradiction in terms, there may be—and Pynchon will help us with this—a way to crack the replicative mirror so that the theory of paranoia will send back a partially unrecognizable image of paranoia. Knowledge—but do we even need that word?—would then have to be redefined in terms of the inaccuracy of a replication.

For all the shifts of interpretative perspective on paranoia, the word, faithful to its etymology (paranoia is a Greek word designating a distracted or deranged mind), has always designated a mental disorder. At least until Gravity's Rainbow. All the paranoid thinking in the novel is probably justified, and therefore—at least in the traditional sense of the word—really not paranoid at all. I say "probably" because Pynchon is less interested in vindicating his characters' suspicions of plots than in universalizing and, in a sense, depathologizing the paranoid structure of thought. Were he content to certify that all the plots they imagine are real plots, he would be making merely a political point, a point for which he has frequently been credited and that undoubtedly helps to explain the popularity of his immensely difficult work. This is what we might call the sixties side of Pynchon, Pynchon as defender of such lovable slobs as Slothrop and, in V., Benny Profane the schlemiel against the impersonal efficiency of information systems and international cartels. The narrator of Gravity's Rainbow, it's true, lends his authority to his characters' paranoid suspicions; in fact, he frequently passes on information that justifies their worst fears. Thus the wildest paranoid imagination would probably not come up with the incredible but true story of IG Farben's surveillance of Slothrop right back to his infancy. The Pavlovian Laszlo Jamf's conditioning of baby Tyrone's hard-ons (more on this later) has to be seen in the light of Jamf's complex business deals between the two World Wars, business deals involving supercartels that were themselves perhaps involved in efforts to ruin the mark as part of a strategy to get Germany out of paying its war debts.

Was Slothrop "sold to IG Farben like a side of beef," did they finance Jamf's experiments on him, has he been "under their observation—m-maybe since he was born? Yaahhh ..." (333). None of this is absolutely certain (except for Jamf's work with Slothrop's infant hard-on, which has been described much earlier in the novel as historical fact), and the business deals and connections t elliptically referred to are mind-boggling in their intricate inter-connectedness. But if IG Farben's sinister interest in Slothrop is not unambiguously confirmed, Pynchon, at the very least, clearly dbgs not expect us to find Slothrop's most paranoid scenarios implausible. Pynchon himself certainly has no problem with the cartel-conspiracy ideas. War, he writes, is just a cover-up, a "spectacle" or "diversion from the real movements of the War." "The true war is a celebration of markets," as its "real business ... is buying and selling, the murdering and the violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals" (122). An "outfit like Shell" has "no real country, no side in any war, no specific face or heritage: tapping instead out of that global stratum, most deeply laid, from which all the appearances of corporate ownership really spring" (283).
Rendlesham Forest incident: They were also not the The knights who say "Ni"!

The paranoid reflex, we remember, seeks "other orders behind the visible"; speaking, in another passage, of the paranoia often noted under the hallucinatory drug Oneirine, Pynchon writes: "Like other sorts of paranoia, it is nothing less than the onset, the leading edge, or the discovery [note: the "discovery," not the "suspicion"] that everything is connected, everything in the Creation" (820). And, as the Jesuit Father Rapier preaches during some undefined Convention in the Zone, "Once the technical means of control have reached a certain size, a certain degree of being connected one to another, the chances for freedom are over for good" (627).

The paranoid intuition is, then, one of an invisible interconnectedness. Technology can collect the information necessary to draw connecting lines among the most disparate data, and the very drawing of those lines depends on what might be called a conspirational interconnectedness among those interested in data collection. To put things into relation with one another is already a conspirational move, or at the very least a gesture of control. In Gravity's Rainbow, the discovery of connections is identical to the discovery of plots. The plotters get together— they "connect"—in order to plot the connections that will give them power over others.
Nick Pope: Bridging a new fantasy territory between the best British Science Fiction Tradition and a mythology of the present


The "orders behind the visible" are not necessarily—are, perhaps, not essentially—orders different from the visible; rather, they are the visible repeated as structure. Paranoid thinking hesitates between the suspicion that the truth is wholly obscured by the visible, and the equally disturbing sense that the truth may be a sinister, invisible design in the visible. To have "a paranoid structure worthy of the name," you have not only to "show some interlock" among individuals, events, and companies you assumed were unrelated, but also to establish different or parallel lines of connectedness" (678). Paranoia repeats phenomena as design. What you thought was a chance juxtaposition may turn out to be a deliberate coupling. If that possibility inspires panic, it is also desired. Would we ever want a life without paranoid terror? "If there is something comforting—religious, if you want— about paranoia, there is still also anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long" (506).
Lieutenant Colonel Charles I. Halt

Not only that: to escape from paranoia would be to escape from the movement that is life. Slothrop, on the run in the Zone, thinks how nice it would be "to lie still" for a while with the heartbeat of the young woman who shelters him one night; "Isn't that every paranoid's wish; to perfect methods of immobility?" (667). Only by freezing things can we prevent them from connecting, from coming together to form those invisible designs that may include us within them without our knowing it. For all the paranoid scares in Gravity's Rainbow, it would be even scarier, Pynchon suggests, if we began to stop suspecting "hidden orders behind the visible." "Either they have put him here for a reason," Slothrop speculates during "the anti-paranoid part of his cycle," "or he's just here. He isn't sure that he wouldn't, actually, rather have that reason" (506).


Not that there's much danger of running short of reasons—or, to put this in other terms, of imagining that our being anywhere can be a wholly plotless event. Paranoia is a necessary and desired structure of thought. It is also a permanent one, which means that there is nothing substantially new in the latest version of it. To put this in the contemporary jargon with which Gravity's Rainbow is obsessed: paranoia is a necessary product of all information systems.


                Sgt. James Penniston 

The Pynchonian opposition between They (IG Farben, etc.) and We (Slothrop, Roger Mexico, Pirate Prentice, etc.) is a replay of the opposition of Slothrop's Puritan forefather's polarity of the Elect and the Preterite. Information control is the contemporary version of God's eternal knowledge of each individual's ultimate damnation or salvation, and both theology and computer technology naturally produce paranoid fears about how we are hooked into the System, about the connections it has in store for us.
Can we escape being manipulated—perhaps even destroyed—by such systems? Familiar tactics of protest and subversion create local disturbances that are easily forgotten and leave the most menacing paranoid structures perfectly intact. We should be suspicious of some of the most appealing alternatives that Gravity's Rainbow offers to its own paranoically conceived apocalypses.


Rendlesham forest binary code

I'm thinking especially of love, anarchy, and randomness, all of which bring us back to Pynchon's credentials as a hero of the counter¬culture. Perhaps nothing is treated with a more tender seriousness in Gravity's Rainbow than Roger Mexico's love for Jessica Swanlake. Simply by existing, that love opposes the war ("They are in love. Fuck the war"; 47), but the opposition, as the parenthetical quote suggests, is more rhetorical protest than anything else. Their love is the idealized version of Roger's pissing on the shiny table and on all the bigwigs sitting around it in Mossmoon's office (an act reminiscent of such engaging antics of the early seventies as Jerry-Rubin's "occupation" of the New York Stock Exchange). Pynchon's work generously, and ambiguously, recapitulates the saintly assumptions of Rubinesque subversion: profound social change will not result from head-on assaults (terror is ineffective and unacceptable, revolution is unthinkable in the West, and even revolutionary regimes have shown themselves to be changes of personnel unaccompanied by changes in assumptions about the legitimacy of power), but rather from a kind of aggressively seductive subversion of the seriousness with which networks of power conduct their business. But, as we shall see, oppressive seriousness can be corrupted only if it is recognized that paranoid thought itself is inherently unserious, and not by violent or nonviolent opposition to the plots of power. The counter-culture style of the sixties can provide nothing more than the (always appealing) historical inspiration for more complex models of nonoppositional resistance. Roger and Jessica's love is both venerated and discredited in Gravity's Rainbow. The love is a kind of "secession" from war, "the beginnings of gentle withdrawal ... both know, clearly, it's better together, snuggled in, than back out in the paper, fires, khaki, steel of the Home Front. That, indeed, the Home Front is something of a fiction and lie, designed, not too subtly, to draw them apart, to subvert love in favor of work, abstraction, required pain, bitter death" (47). On the contrary: their "snuggled" state, their "gentle withdrawal" is the fiction (with its sentimental apotheosis on the evening their hearts are "buoyed" as they listen to Christmas songs in a church somewhere in Kent; 151), a marginal, harmless fiction that Jessica will drop in order to return to her husband and the securities of "work, abstraction, required pain, bitter death."

Is randomness a more effective route of escape? Power depends on the control of information, on the ordering of data; what happens when data resist the ordering process? This is presented as a particularly seductive possibility in Gravity's Rainbow (as in anarchy, the political corollary of unprogrammed events and acts), although Pynchon also presents the random as nothing more than a momentary malfunctioning of the cybernetic machine, one that the machine is fully equipped to take account of.




Super radioactive and geometrical practical jokers rabbits made these three perfect triangle indentations during the night as a Christimas's prank



Thus the fucked-up pinball machines sent by Chicago gangsters to "one Alfonso Tracy, Princeton '06, St. Louis Country Club, moving into petro-chemicals in a big way" and stored in a gigantic Masonic Hall in "the green little river town of Mouthorgan, Missouri" (678-79): has it happened "at real random, preserving at least our faith in Malfunctioning as still something beyond their grasp," or is there somewhere "in the wood file cabinets ... a set of real blueprints telling exactly how all these pinball machines were rewired—a randomness deliberately simulated?" (683). The control of randomness has been mentioned before, and not merely as a possibility. Rocket-City "is set up deliberately To Avoid Symmetry, Allow Complexity, Introduce Terror (from the Preamble to the Articles of Immachination)—but tourists have to connect the look of it back to things they remember from their times and planet—back to the wine bottle smashed in the basin, the bristlecone pines outracing Death for millennia, concrete roads abandoned years ago, hairdos of the late 1930s" (346). The random itself can easily be programmed.


There is, however, something else—something more sinister, but perhaps also more promising—in the passage just quoted. As part of an "immachinating" strategy, They duplicate mnemonic images originally outside Their control. The novel is full of references to enigmatic and frequently eerie replications. Lyle Bland comes back from his "transmural" voyages through space and time "raving about the presences he has found out there, members of an astral IG, whose mission ... is past secular good and evil: distinctions like that are meaningless out there" (187).

Or: people who get hit by lightning are carried off by bareback dwarves to places that look like the world they left, "but it'll be different. Between congruent and identical there seems to be another class of look-alike that only finds the lightning heads. Another world laid down on the previous one and to all appearances no different. Ha-ha! But the lightning-struck know, all right!" (774). Slothrop, walking with Katje on the esplanade along the beach at Nice, suddenly feels that the brilliant whitecaps can't be getting their light from the real sky above them. "Here it is again, that identical-looking Other World—is he gonna have this to worry about, now? What th'—lookit those trees—each long frond hanging, stung, dizzying, in laborious drypoint against the sky, each so perfectly placed" (262). Finally, the entire Zone may be a spectral double of the real world, a collection of images simulating scenes from all over the universe:



In the Zone, in these days, there is endless simulation—standing waves in the water, large drone-birds, so well-known as to have nicknames among the operators, wayward balloons, flotsam from other theatres of war (Brazilian oildrums, whisky cases stenciled for Fort-Lammy), observers from other galaxies, episodes of smoke, moments of high albedo—your real targets are hard to come by. (570)

How are we to understand all these references to simulations-and to doubling? The hidden double can inspire the most panicky paranoid suspicions. Am I being given the real thing, or an ontological look-alike? Thus doubling would seem to be merely one aspect of the pattern of events in Gravity's Rainbow that gives rise to the paranoid compulsion or "reflex of seeking other orders behind the visible."

But we should look at that reflex more closely in order to determine if it is an appropriate response to phenomena of doubling and simulation. Enzian, the leader of the Southwest African natives transplanted by the Germans to Europe and now in pursuit of the rocket's secret and site, comes to wonder if he's pursuing the wrong object. Are the Herreros "supposed to be the Kabbalists out here ... the scholar-magicians of the Zone, with somewhere in it a Text, to be picked to pieces, annotated, explicated, and masturbated till it's all squeezed limp of its last drop"? They had of course assumed that the Rocket was "this holy Text," their Torah. "What else? Its symmetries, its latencies, the cuteness of it enchanted and seduced us while the real Text persisted, somewhere else, in its darkness, our darkness" (606).

Is the rocket the real Text? This question is an urgent one not only for Pynchon's characters but also for us. What if, as Enzian suggests, the rocket-text seduced us and blinded us to an even more important text, something in the work that it is even more necessary to read correctly than the rocket, something that would be the real key to its sense? Indeed, as we have seen, Pynchon teases us with this possibility in more than one way. The rocket and the war for which it was built are just "cover-ups," a "spectacle" or "diversion" from "the true war," which is "a celebration of markets" and whose "real business ... is buying and selling." But if something like international cartels is the real text that the paranoid imagination should be reading, then we, like Enzian, are being deceived by all the prime time and space being given to the rocket. We can't resolve the issue simply by saying that Pynchon's "real" subject is how his characters are victimized by that deception, and that in order to read that text the reader has to be set straight about the true center of historical power.

For in fact the presumed real historical text is as obscure to us as it is to Enzian. Pynchon outlines some of the extraordinarily complex moves of international "buying and selling," the durable financial connectedness among nations from which wars would merely "divert" us, but he also raises the possibility of a plot for which "the cartelized state" itself is merely a screen. The use of war to establish "neither Red communism nor an unhindered Right, but a rational structure in which business would be the true, the rightful authority" would, in comparison with that plot, be nothing more than "a damned parlor game," stuff that "even the masses believe." Are cartels the ultimate plotters?

International business interests may be providing just another front, behind which lie still "other
orders," orders that might involve ("if one were paranoid enough" to believe this) a collaboration between the living and the dead, "between both sides of the Wall, matter and spirit" (192-93). But is it even necessary to go that far, to evoke, as Lyle Bland does after his "transmural" voyage, "an astral IG"? What, exactly, are the earthly Shell and IG Farben? How are we to understand the historical referentiality of those names when, in the novel, they refer to cartels obsessed with the predictive power of Slothrop's erections? Is there an actual place—on earth or in space, in life or in death— where paranoid suspicion can finally be satisfied, put to rest?


If such a place exists, the reader of Gravity's Rainbow will certainly never enjoy its comforts. Compared to Pynchon's novel, James Joyce's Ulysses, for all the arduous work it requires, is play for a child-detective. Certainly, Joyce wants us to suffer, but there will also be a term to our suffering. The puzzles of Ulysses are like Stations of the Cross; they are ritual agonies through which we must pass in order, finally, to be at one, far above the consciousness of any character in the novel, with Joyce's remarkably cohesive cultural consciousness. Ulysses promises a critical Utopia: the final elucidation of its sense, the day when all the connections will have been discovered and collected in a critical Book that would objectively repeat Ulysses, which, in being the exegetical double of its source, would express the quidditas of Joyce's novel, would be, finally, Ulysses replayed as the whole truth of Ulysses. Nothing could be more different from Gravity's Rainbow. Far from holding out the promise of a postexegetical superiority to the world that it represents, Pynchon's work permanently infects us with the paranoid anxieties of its characters.

Just keeping track of all the plots—and their incredible interconnectedness—is a near impossibility. The most important facts about the rocket, and the technology that made it impossible, are either shrouded in impenetrable secrecy or simply ignored. What exactly is the Schwarzgeraet? Were the infant Tyrone's hard-ons conditioned by the smell of Imipolex G (even though the experiments took place years before Jamf developed that plastic for IG Farben), a smell that somehow precedes the arrival of the rockets themselves over London? More importantly, what does this casualness mean? Is it or isn't it important to get all the information straight?
Such questions can generate the most extreme anxieties, and yet the information we do get—such as the account of Jamf's experiments with little Tyrone—do little to allay them. For the major anxiety provoked by Gravity's Rainbow is ontological rather than epistemological. The characters themselves frequently worry about what they know and don't know, but they too, as we have seen in Slothrop's uneasiness about the scene on the esplanade at Nice, can begin to wonder about their world's identity.

Is the Zone a part of Europe, and if not what is it? For the reader, the characters themselves become part of the question. We have enough information about Slothrop to say who he is, but as the novel progresses, especially as he begins "to thin" and to scatter into the Zone, the much more disturbing question is raised of what he is. More generally, more or less realistic passages are casually juxtaposed with such surrealist tidbits as Slothrop's excursion into, among other things, a kind of homosexual Western when he follows his mouthharp down a toilet, and the by now celebrated adventures of Byron the Bulb. Is Gravity's Rainbow serious about history? Are the categories of serious and nonserious even relevant to it? What is Gravity's Rainbow?
And whose side is Pynchon on? Could he be one of Them? To the extent that such questions are justified, they testify to Pynchon's success in making us move on the same field of paranoid anxiety as his characters. Pynchon willingly accepts, and accentuates, a writer's unavoidable complicity t with the plots that torture his characters. If literature is to have a potential for political resistance, that potential will have to be disengaged from literature's very collaboration with the systems it would oppose.

In making literature continuous with both the creation and suspicion of orders in other areas of life—in "systems" as diverse as Puritan theology, Captain Marvel comics, international cartels, and computer technology—Pynchon both denies literature its status as a privileged form-maker and insists on its inescapable complicity with the most sinister plot-making activities and strategies of control. By taunting us with the secrets of its own hidden (or inexistent ... ) orders, Gravity's Rainbow places us in a predicament not too different from Slothrop's. To say this is to see how far we are from the more comforting image of Pynchon the good guy (a sort of authorial version of Roger Mexico), anxious to work out, for and with the reader, some humane alternative to the impersonal and dehumanizing technique of control made available to the unscrupulous few by modern technology. Such alternatives can be nothing more than fantasy resting points within paranoid trains of thought.

And it is not only because Pynchon is a plot-making novelist that we are bound to suspect that he is working against us. While it is obviously not a question of Pynchon being "on the side of" the oppressors in the sense of sympathizing with their ambitions, he is on their side in a sense that is true for all of us. We cannot, that is, help but be an object of suspicion for others.

To inspire interest is to be guaranteed a paranoid reading, just as we must inevitably be suspicious of the interpretations we inspire. Paranoia is an inescapable interpretative doubling of presence.
If, then, there is no escape from the paranoid structure of thought, there may also be no escape from the murderous opposition generated by that structure. The polarity of We and They in Gravity's Rainbow is a paranoid polarity, and They are all the more threatening in that We can "know" them only through our suspicions about them. And, as I have suggested, that polarity may even be repeated in the relation between the reader and the text. The latter mystifies us not so much because of the information it may be hiding, but above all because of the success with which it hides its own nature. It is as if we could know everything and still not know what kind of a text Gravity's Rainbow is. It would not exactly be a question of something missing, but rather of the text's "real" nature as a kind of superior intelligible double of the text we read.

Pynchon's novel would signify nothing but itself, without, however, letting us move beyond the opaque surface of the signifying narrative itself. And that opacity would constitute Thomas Pynchon as the reader's They; he is the enemy text.
There may, however, be another way to think about this. It is a peculiarity of the paranoid structure to combine opposition with doubling; the former is, in fact, a function of the latter. The paranoid sees the visible as a simulated double of the real; it deceptively repeats the real. Or, more accurately, it deceitfully repeats the real: as if such doubleness would not occur if there were not an intention to deceive.

Otherwise, so paranoia reasons, we would have the Real Text. Thus the paranoid imagination operates on precisely that assumption which its enemies—if they existed— would wish it to operate on: the assumption that simulations belong to the other side, that doubles have no reason to appear or to exist except to prevent us from seeing the original. The self-protective suspicions of paranoia are, therefore, already a defeat. The paranoid We must lose out to the enemy They, and this by virtue of the fact that it authorizes, or creates, the condition of possibility of They-ness by a primary, founding faith in the unicity of the Real.

On the basis of that faith, or conviction, all appearances risk being seen as treacherous simulations and other people have merely to fill the slot, or take the structural position of a dissimulating They, in order to have us, at once, in a position characterized by anxiety-ridden suspicions and permanent subordination. In paranoia, the primary function of the enemy is to provide a definition of the real that makes paranoia necessary. We must therefore begin to suspect the paranoid structure itself as a device' by which consciousness maintains the polarity of self and nonself, thus preserving the concept of identity.

In paranoia, two Real Texts confront one another: subjective being and a world of monolithic otherness. This opposition can be broken down only if we renounce the comforting (if also dangerous) faith in locatable identities. Only then, perhaps, can the simulated doubles of paranoid vision destroy the very oppositions that they appear to support.
It is, then, only within the paranoid structure itself—and not in some extraparanoid myth such as love or anarchic randomness—that we can begin to resist the persecutions which paranoia both imagines and, more subtly, authorizes. Paranoid doubles dissimulate their source; could they also be thought of as eliminating origins by disseminating targets? Let's consider the mysterious relation between Slothrop's hard-ons and the V-2. Slothrop's penile sensitivity to the rocket is an object of both military and scientific interest. His erections seem to be a response to an imminent rocket attack, a "response," however, that happens from two to ten days before its presumed stimulus.

That this is a stimulus-response relation between the penis and the rocket is strongly suggested to Pointsman the Pavlovian and his colleagues by the amazing identity between the patterns on the map of London that Slothrop uses to mark (and to date) his sexual conquests and those that record rocket strikes on Roger Mexico's map of the city. But how is this possible? Slothrop is, apparently, responding to a stimulus before it is presented.

Furthermore, the normal order of the stimuli themselves is reversed with the V-2 rocket, which hits before the sound of its coming in can be heard. Pointsman speculates that Laszlo Jamf originally conditioned tiny Tyrone's hard-ons to occur in response to a loud noise. Having failed to extinguish Slothrop's hard-on reflex at the end of the experiment, Jamf guaranteed the survival of the reflex right up to the present. There wouldn't be any problem if Slothrop were reacting to the V-l rocket, whose sound precedes its strike: then, Pointsman reasons,



Any doodle close enough to make him jump ought to be giving him an erection: the sound of the motor razzing louder and louder, then the cutoff and silence, suspense building up—then the explosion. Boing a hardon. But oh, no. Slothrop instead only gets erections when this sequence happens in reverse. Explosion first, then the sound of the approach: the V-2. (99)

In other words, Slothrop's hard-on is separated from its (presumed) stimulus by an event that has not yet taken place at the moment of the hard-on, which, so to speak, makes his hard-on a logical impossibility. Unless, Pointsman wonders, Slothrop has his predictive erections in what Pavlov called a "transmarginal" or "ultraparadoxical" phase, that is, a phase in which the idea of the opposite has been radically weakened.

A dog in the ultraparadoxical phase, for example, responds to a food stimulus when it is not there, just, perhaps, as Slothrop no longer recognizes the binary opposition between the presence and the absence of his hard-on stimuli, thus making possible the apparent reversal of normal cause-and-effect sequence. But, with what may be less than ideal consistency, Pointsman also holds on to a modified version of a strictly Pavlovian theory of cause and effect, "the true mechanical explanation" that Pavlov believed to be "the ideal, the end we all struggle toward in science" (102). Slothrop is perhaps responding to '"a sensory cue we just aren't paying attention to.' Something that's been there all along, something we could be looking at but no one is" (56). Everyone has a theory for Slothrop's penile anomalies (Roger thinks it's "a statistical oddity," Rollo Groast calls it "precognition," and the Freudian Edwin Treacle calls Slothrop's gift "psychokinesis": he makes the rockets fall where they do, thus satisfying a subconscious need "'to abolish all trace of the sexual Other'"; 98), but in a way the most intriguing one remains the orthodox Pavlovian reading, which the narrator reformulates in the following terms:

But the stimulus, somehow, must be the rocket, some precursor wraith, some rocket's double present for Slothrop in the percentage of smiles on a bus, menstrual cycles being operated upon in some mysterious way—what does make the little doxies do it for free? Are there fluctuations in the sexual market, in pornography or prostitutes, perhaps tying into prices on the Stock Exchange itself, that we clean-living lot know nothing about? Does news from the front affect the itch between their pretty thighs, does desire grow directly or inversely as the real chance of sudden death—damn it, what cue, right in front of our eyes, that we haven't the subtlety of heart to see? (99)

By the time we get to these speculations, we may be prepared to find them rather plausible; we have been made ready for a state of interpretative raving. The crazy story of Jamf's experiment has been told in such a matter-of-fact way that we are inclined to accept it as the realistic underpinning of Slothrop's current penile behavior.

The problem can then seem to be to figure out where the stimuli are to which he is responding: rocket preparations across the channel may affect menstrual cycles in a way that increases women's sexual receptivity to Slothrop, just before each rocket strike, or desire may grow when death is imminent ... All this is not just a joke, but it would be a joke on us if we read its seriousness in terms of the cause-and-effect sequences that Pointsman hesitates to give up. Let's try to define that "seriousness" (without knowing what this word will now mean) in terms that have nothing at all to do with cause-and-effect narrativity, or with the realistic probabilities that such narrative lines tend to produce.
We can take our cue from the phrase "some rocket's double." What Slothrop responds to is a climate of being, a rocketness that manifests itself in different ways, at about the same time in Germany and in London. And Slothrop's response is a further manifestation: his erections are replicative mutations of the rocket.

Gravity's Rainbow can be very explicit about the rocket's phallic significance (Katje, for example, "has understood the great airless are [followed by the rocket] as a clear allusion to certain secret lusts that drive the planet and herself, and Those who use her—over its peak and down, plunging, burning, toward a terminal orgasm"; 260), but I don't think that the rocket is meant merely to symbolize repressed sexuality. The "secret lusts that drive the planet" can't be reduced to psychological lusts, although they can certainly recur as psychology. No single reoccurrence, however, should be given priority as the founder of the series. Rockets are not fired because of unsatisfied phallic lusts, and we must remember that if the rocket is a double of the phallus, it also doubles—and is doubled by—the rainbow.

On the day Slothrop becomes a crossroad in the Zone, he "sees a very thick rainbow here, a stout rainbow cock driven down out of pubic clouds into Earth, green wet valleyed Earth" (729). The series rocket-cock-rainbow may be intelligible mainly in graphic terms: the rocket's rise and fall, the line from the base of the erect cock to the place on the ground where its semen might fall, and the curve of the rainbow all trace a parabola, a figure that can itself be taken to chart a kind of erotic relation of resistance and abandonment to gravity. The rocket's murderous power is, then, somewhat deemphasized by the way it replicates itself inaccurately (but the only accurate replications are fantasy—denials of the simulations that constitute the real) as exuberant phallic sexuality and a visual spectacle of radiant calm in nature. This is not to say that the novel denies, or is indifferent to the rocket's destructiveness; rather, in Gravity's Rainbow Pynchon subordinates political and historical seriousness to certain deployments of being that can in turn affect the way we think about history and conceive our resistances to power.


Rocket power is everywhere, and its violence can take many forms, including the appeased violence of the rainbow's stilled parabolic curve. Slothrop, with his replicative hard-ons and his vision of a "rainbow cock" (after which he "stands crying, not a thing in his head, just feeling natural"; 729), is the principal carrier of this cracked ontological mirror in Gravity's Rainbow. Consequently, he is therefore also the principal threat to a projected They-ness that would reserve rockets for destruction or allow us to analyze them, with incurable melancholy, as merely substitutive versions of an equally destructive phallic drive. Slothrop must be pursued, and he will "fight back" by disappearing into roles that are themselves simulations of comic-book stereotypes and folkloric heroes. He wanders through the Zone as Rocketman and in the suit of Plechazunga the Pig-Hero "who, sometime back in the 10th century, routed a Viking invasion, appearing suddenly out of a thunderbolt and chasing a score of screaming Norsemen back into the sea" (661). Slothrop loses his "personal density," he begins "to thin, to scatter" (593), thus becoming unfindable.

But at the same time the rocket itself loses some of its awesome prestige by virtue of its debilitating repetition in Slothrop as both his comical horniness and his metamorphosis into the rocket's legend. I of course don't mean that such replications prevent real rockets from being fired in historical time. But Gravity's Rainbow, as we should now realize, takes place in a different kind of "time," a nonhistorical time in which the rockets and the murderous forces behind them are denied the ontological privileges that make them possible. Slothrop as a novelistic personality is, we might say, sacrificed to this operation, and the extraordinary poignancy of his robust yet menaced presence in Gravity's Rainbow is the premonitory sign that he is condemned to be lost. Through Slothrop we mourn the loss of personal presence, of a myth of personality that may, after all, be the only way in which our civilization has taught us to think about ourselves (to think our selves), a loss that, however, must be sustained if we are also to disappear as targets, and therefore as conditions of possibility, of rockets and cartels. (3)
In Gravity's Rainbow, the paranoid double—the Real Text behind the visible orders—is inaccurately and subversively replicated as serial doubles that ruin the very notion of Real Texts.

The story of Slothrop narrativizes a more general process of replicative positioning throughout the novel. If we have such trouble keeping track of what's going on in Gravity's Rainbow, it is perhaps less because of the multiplicity of characters and events than because so much of what happens has almost happened already. When Thanatz is quizzed by Herreros about the Schwarzgerat, is it the realization of Narrisch's fearful anticipation, much earlier in the novel, that he will be interrogated about the S-Gerat by the Russians? Psychological and dramatic particularities are blurred by parallelisms. Pokier loses Use. Thamatz loses Gottfried and then Bianca, and Slothrop loses Bianca. The thematic depth that such repetitions might create—say, an obsession with the loss of a young girl—is forestalled by the psychologically thinning effect that they have in Gravity's Rainbow. For the repetition works here not to open up depths, but to cast doubt on the singularity of character. Thanatz comes to realize that "the two children, Gottfried and Bianca, are the same" (783). And Slothrop, having lost Bianca, understands, while listening to Pokier, that "Use, fathered on Greta Erdmann's silver and passive image, Bianca, conceived during the filming of the very scene that was in his thoughts as Pokier pumped in the fatal charge of sperm [into Leni]—how could they not be the same child?" (672). And even before Slothrop begins to "thin" and "scatter," he is already difficult to locate.

Who, or what, is Pirate Prentice, with his talent "for getting inside the fantasies of others: being able, actually, to take over the burden of managing them" (13)—a talent that will be made nothing of in the novel, except as an anticipatory double, an annunciation of Slothrop and his special divining talent? Finally, Slothrop learns that Roosevelt died when he, Slothrop, "was living on the Riviera, or in Switzerland someplace, only half aware of being extinguished himself."

After he gets the news, "the wide necropolis" of Berlin "begins now to draw inward, to neck down and stretchout into a Corridor, one known to Slothrop though not by name, a deformation of space that lurks inside his life, latent as a hereditary disease." In that space, Roosevelt's doctors move toward the man who—if indeed they were the same—in his black cape at Yalta, "conveyed beautifully the sense of Death's wings" and prepared a nation "for the passing of Roosevelt, a being They assembled, a being They would dismantle" (435). But what is Slothrop himself if not an assembled and then dismantled being, "extinguished" at the same instant as the President whose last moments he relives in that strange Corridor outside historical space and time? Is Slothrop FDR?


No matter how much we work on Gravity's Rainbow, our most important interpretative discovery will be that it resists analysis—that is, being broken down into distinct units of meaning. To talk about Bianca is to talk about Use and Gottfried; to describe the Zone is to enumerate all the images of other times and places that are repeated there. Pynchon's novel is a dazzling argument for shared or collective being—or, more precisely, for the originally replicative nature of being. Singularity is inconceivable; the "original" of a personality has to be counted among its simulations. Being in Pynchon is therefore not a question of substance but rather of distribution and collection. Slothrop is consecrated (and sacrificed) as a collectible of sense the day he becomes a crossroads.

"At last, lying one afternoon spread-eagled at his ease in the sun, at the edge of one of the ancient Plague towns he becomes a cross himself, a crossroads, a living intersection where the judges have come to set up a gibbet for a common criminal who is to be hanged at noon" (728). Before the hanging, Slothrop takes the criminal's place, is "executed" for him, or rather merely before and with him, since there is no redemptive sacrifice in Gravity's Rainbow that might become the Ultimate Sacrifice exempting the rest of us from a similar fate. Slothrop is immolated to his own lack of originality, to his "thinning" or "scattered" nature, to his being, for example, an anticipatory replay of a common criminal's execution.


And nothing is original here. The very scene in which the sacrifice is enacted is itself a serial element: the cross that his spread-eagled body makes is also the cross made by all the churches he passes on his wanderings, which in turn repeats the shape of the A4 rocket ("apses out to four sides like rocket fins guiding the streamlined spires")—to which we must also add "other fourfold expressions" such as "swastikas, gymnastic symbols FFFF in a circle symmetrically upside down and backward, Frisch Fromm Fröhlich Frei over neat doorways in quiet streets, and crossroads," and, finally, the mandala shape of Herrero villages in Südwest. All these images "speak to" Slothrop, as do the heterogeneous images from his own American past that also seem
to cross his mind—to make him by crossing through him—now that he had been "consecrated" as a crossroads:


Crosses, swastikas, Zone-mandalas, how can they not speak to Slothrop? He's sat in Saure Bummer's kitchen, the air streaming with kif moires, reading soup recipes and finding in every bone and cabbage leaf paraphrases of himself... news flashes, names of wheel-horses that will pay him off for a certain getaway... He used to pick and shovel at the spring roads of Berkshire, April afternoons he's lost, "Chapter 81 work," they called it, following the scraper that clears the winter's crystal attack-from-within, its white necropolizing ... picking up rusted beer cans, rubbers yellow with preterite seed, Kleenex wadded to brain shapes hiding preterite snot, preterite tears, newspapers, broken glass, pieces of automobile, days when in superstition and fright he could make it all fit, seeing clearly in each an entry in a record, a history: his own, his winter's, his country's ... instructing him, dunce and drifter, in ways deeper than he can explain, have been faces of children out the train windows, two bars of dance music somewhere, in some other street at night, needles and branches of a pine tree shaken clear and luminous against night clouds, one circuit diagram out of hundreds in a smudged yellowing sheaf, laughter out of a cornfield in the early morning as he was walking to school, the idling of a motorcycle at one dusk-heavy hour of the summer ... and now, in the Zone, later in the day he became a crossroad, after a heavy rain he doesn't recall, Slothrop sees a very thick rainbow here, a stout rainbow cock driven down out of pubic clouds into Earth, green wet valleyed Earth, and his chest fills and he stands crying, not a thing in his head, just feeling natural. (729)


Slothrop is, then, a sacrificial condensation of the scattered nature of sense. And nothing is stranger than that feeling of naturalness at the very moment of his own disappearance. Not only does Slothrop's sacrificial pose make him a mere replication of numerous other crosses; his most personal history is a collection of scenes from the outside, of imprints made by the human and natural landscape of his New England home. Slothrop is so glutted with otherness as to render superfluous the very notion of otherness. Slothrop is no one; he is a certain position on—to use another favorite Pynchonian term—the "interface" between himself and the world ("Could Outsider and Insider be part of the same field?" Pointsman wonders; 168), or between his individual existence and his doubles (between his erections and the V-2, between his cross [road] state and "other fourfold expressions").

Or rather, Slothrop moves in that "space" between inside and outside, between one simulation and another, which defeats polarities. Seen from the interface, the loci of oppositions have become vaguely delimited, even blurred marginal areas; they can no longer organize relations. Thus the very replications that characterize paranoid doubling in Gravity's Rainbow attack the binary paranoid structure of We opposed to They. There is no escape from that doubling, no alternatives that would put to rest once and for all our paranoid suspicion of invisible repetitions of what we see. But there is, so to speak, a horizontalizing of the replicative process, a displacement of the hidden double from its privileged position as the original reality behind the deceptive appearance to serial positions along phenomenal "lines" that have neither terminal points nor points of departure. Rather than Real Texts imperfectly designated by ontologically inferior signs, we have a replicative series of underived simulacra.
Resistance must therefore be thought of as an inaccurate synonym for conformity.

Not only is paranoid terror defeated by replicative processes that both conform to paranoid structures and yet eliminate the They and the We that give rise to terror; the very excessiveness with which images are appropriated and duplicated may also work to defeat networks of power. Paranoid terror asks: how can we escape incorporating the images by which They could define—and control—us? A paranoid resistance, far from confronting apparatuses of control with the impenetrable fortress of a unique selfhood, opens the subject up, makes of the subject a helplessly passive recipient of alien images. And in this apparently docile doubling or reflection of the multitudinous forms of information by which a self might be programme J, the subject can perhaps also disappear as a target of the program.
The most striking aspect of Slothrop's apotheosis as an intersection of identities is the reappearance of the random as an effect of (and not in opposition to) his having been so massively programmed. Slothrop is now everything but an interiority: a swastika, the fins of a rocket, a Herrero village, snot-filled wads of Kleenex, a pine tree luminous against night clouds, the idling of a motorcycle, variations on Franz van der Groov's cosmic windmill...

But, to articulate still another inaccurate replication: just as the effects of Jamf's experiments far exceed the purpose of his original work with tiny Tyrone's hard-ons, Slothrop is reconstituted as, perhaps, a free if unbeatable subject by the incommensurability of the images stored within him with any controlling designs. If modern technology has made it possible for human beings to be bombarded with more types of information than ever before in the world's history, and if this means that we are mainly constituted not as private selves but as collections of alien images and discourses, it is also true that we are thereby conditioned beyond any uses which such conditioning might be made to serve. In his absolute—indeed mythic— otherness, Slothrop manifests the constitutive (and not merely reflective) nature of his massive absorptions. By the very extravagance of his acquiescence in the plots that surround him, the paranoid is thus saved—at least intermittently—from his conviction that his interpretative suspicions about the real merely correspond to designs already there. In the paranoid's reenactment of given plots, he constitutes a kind of shallow subjectivity that exceeds them.


This peculiar, self-less freedom depends on both the richness and the triteness of plots in the modern world. Pynchon is especially sensitive to the media that vehicle such plots: comic books, the encapsulated romances on billboard posters, and above all, movies. More than any other literary work I know, Gravity's Rainbow receives and somewhat ironically replicates the alluringly corny plots of popular culture. Unlike the orders of high culture, the comic-book and movie plots that Pynchon's work lovingly quotes can never seduce us into accepting them as reflections of our Real Nature. The very aspect of popular culture that perhaps most offends its detractors—its superficial and frivolous images of human character—allow for mobile self-identifications perhaps too slippery to be coerced into any fixed psychological or moral positions. More exactly, the plots of popular culture are overwhelmingly coercive without constituting anything more definite than a readiness to be seduced by other plots. Comic books and -movies provide the mode of Gravity's Rainbow's seriousness, which is the mode of ontological comedy.


The novel's ungraspability is both a resistance to our attempts to take possession of it and a model of freedom that it invites us to emulate. Gravity's Rainbow moves us from a world of measurably effective action on human and natural environments—a world that we recognize, and that is perhaps made possible, by relatively stable identifications of its actors—to a world of ontological play. It allegorizes a substratum in personal and historical narratives, a substratum where the human and the nonhuman are no longer related as subject and object, but rather in the mysterious and non-narrative "unity" of inaccurate replications. If it is both natural and inevitable that we should center an idea (and an ideal) of human rationality in the narratives that organize the real for us, Pynchon's work—while occasionally paying nostalgic tribute to such ideas and ideals—restructures the relation between human beings, their artifacts, and the natural world in which they live in terms of doubles, parallelisms, and simulacra.


The forms of being constitute a planetary community in which rockets are parallels of erections and rainbows. From this perspective, the privilege of the human extends no further than its perception or consciousness of a relational mode that ignores the hierarchical privileges of humanity. The contribution of popular culture to this perspective is its preciously reductive view of the human; as Rocketman, Slothrop has the paradoxical freedom of a cardboard being, a being no longer constrained by the targetlike singleness of a rich and unique selfhood.
We must, however, not exaggerate these benefits. I have been suggesting that Gravity's Rainbow does not merely refer to such things as the heroes of comic-book adventure, but that its own nature cannot help but be affected by the cultural forms that it incorporates. At the same time, Pynchon's novel signals its distance from those forms by its worried complicity with paranoid suspicions about the Real Text.

Not only that: literature, far from saving us from the controlling designs served by information systems, is itself an information system that threatens its readers' freedom by the very elusiveness of the demands which it makes on them. The unreadability that is the sign of the novel's escape from the excessively readable oppositions of plotters and victims (of They and We) cannot help— however perversely—but reconstitute an opposition between Pynchon the plotter and his reader-victims. Literature is never merely an agent of resistance against networks of power-serving knowledge; rather, it is one of that network's most seductive manifestations. It can never stand outside the oppressive manipulations of social reality and negate those manipulations by a willed alienation from history. Literature is on a continuum with those forces by which it has habitually proclaimed itself to be menaced.




Nick Cook: Searching the hints of the " Industry s Holy Graal": Aurora, the Next Generation

If there is a menace, it is not to literature as a guardian of cultural and ethical values but rather to literature as a preeminent plot-maker. Social history has probably always been made by forces that, if they took the trouble, could easily demonstrate how little they need literature. Encyclopedism has frequently been literature's defense against its exclusion from (or its marginal place in) the information systems; the political, economic, and scientific networks of power; and even the symbolic orders by which a society defines itself.

Thus, the encyclopedic work in the modern period would demonstrate, first of all, that even in a culture saturated with scientific knowledge, art can reassert its claim to be thought of as the privileged medium that processes and "humanizes" that knowledge—that is, which integrates it into those symbolic discourses where, from the beginnings of history, human beings have ordered and sought to master their experience. At the same time, in a technological world whose ordering capacities seem to owe even less to art than (at least in our possibly pastoral fantasies) did prescientific cultures, a world in which the work of art is no longer epistemologically central but merely the occasion for epistemological leisure, art can aspire toward what we might call a redemptively dismissive encyclopedism, an annihilative absorption of its culture's most ambitious projects into the superior "atmosphere" of art. Such redemptive intentions naturally leave history intact (thus even more radically marginalizing art), while art itself becomes the sublime We in paranoid opposition to a dehumanizing They, denying its own perennial if largely unnoticed participation in the exciting uses of knowledge for purposes of mastery. Nothing could be further from Pynchon's fiction, which participates—even exuberantly participates—in an insanely industrious plotting that is also the object of his characters' anxious—and probably justified—suspicions.

The exuberance is perhaps the sign of that participation—as if we could not help but be thrilled by our interpretative ingenuities, however little they may correspond to that which exists outside of them and in spite of the violence with which they reinvent the lives of others.


Slothrop, who is both the central agent of suspicion in Gravity's Rainbow and the major victim of its plots, follows a course curiously similar to that of Oedipus. Like Sophocles' hero, he learns with astonishment of aU the connections in his past, and that his life has, since infancy, in all * likelihood been plotted by those modern agents of inexorable and malevolent fate, Shell and IG Farben. Also like Oedipus, he assumes the plots he has been in terror of living, although, unlike his ancient counterpart, Pynchon never offers us a cathartically maneuvered exemption from his hero's fate as an awesome scapegoat for the crimes of our paranoid imagination. Slothrop assumes his fate by disappearing into a pop version of the (already pop) role created for him, and his annunciatory virtue with regard to the rocket is erased by his very assumption of his Rocketman identity, by a sacrificial similitude in which the cause-and-effect logic of military planning is inoperative. No wonder Shell is furious when Slothrop gives them the slip and gets lost in the Zone. Far from coercing him into self-knowledge (as Oedipus is coerced by his inexorable fate), Their designs allow Slothrop to slip into an identity so parodistically clear as to be unreadable. But he is of course on the run from us too, from the interpretative babbling that he sets off and never satisfies and that is so hard to stop. But why should we stop? In our paranoid criticism we will, after all, be running parallel to Slothrop, thus providing, if we are lucky enough, another model of unreadability, a convincing failure of self-knowledge, a defiant act of Slothropian Oedipalism.


NOTES
1.Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (New York, 1973), 295. All references to Gravity's Rainbow will be to this edition, and page numbers are given in the text.
2. "Psycho-analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides)," in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. James Strachey, 24 vols. (London, 1953-74), 12:78-79.
3. Pynchon's attachment to that myth, and to the presumed obligation of the novelist "to develop plot and characters," is evident in the astonishing introduction he wrote for the recent publication of his early short stories, Slow Learner (New York, 1984), xxviii.

In: Thomas Pynchon. Bloom s Modern Critical Views. Edited and Introduced by Harold Bloom. Chelsea House Publishers. Philadelphia. 2003, p.145-167.
Representations © 1989 University of California Press.

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