- Investigations and digressions into the realms of human sexuality, psychology, sociology, mathematics, science, and technology recur throughout Pynchon's works. One of his earliest short stories, "Low-lands" (1960), features a meditation on Heisenberg's uncertainty principle as a metaphor for telling stories about one's own experiences. His next published work, "Entropy" (1960), introduced the concept [entropy] which was to become synonymous with Pynchon's name, (though Pynchon later admitted the "shallowness of [his] understanding" of the subject, and noted that choosing an abstract concept first and trying to construct a narrative around it was "a lousy way to go about writing a story"). - (Wiki)
Sure enough, this same book was listed as required reading in a syllabus for a class called, "Physics for Poets," relevant to the topic of thermodynamics. (That was recently posted in THIS LJ entry).
- The Crying of Lot 49 also alludes to entropy and communication theory, and contains scenes and descriptions which parody or appropriate calculus, Zeno's paradoxes, and the thought experiment known as Maxwell's demon. At the same time, the novel also investigates homosexuality, celibacy and both medically sanctioned and illicit psychedelic drug use. Gravity's Rainbow describes many varieties of sexual fetishism (including sado-masochism, coprophilia and a borderline case of tentacle erotica), and features numerous episodes of drug use, most notably cannabis but also cocaine, naturally occurring hallucinogens, and the mushroom Amanita muscaria. Gravity's Rainbow also derives much from Pynchon's background in mathematics: at one point, the geometry of garter belts is compared with that of cathedral spires, both described as mathematical singularities. Mason & Dixon explores the scientific, theological, and socio-cultural foundations of the Age of Reason while also depicting the relationships between actual historical figures and fictional characters in intricate detail and, like Gravity's Rainbow, is an archetypal example of the genre of historiographic metafiction. - (Wiki)
The CIA vs. The Presidency: This Is Not The First Time
The original report:
Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49 - by Charles Hollander ...
"Implicit in Pynchon’s fiction is the view that events in recent American history have led to a virtual constitutional crisis, a challenge to the supremacy of the presidency by the intelligence community...
"On the surface, The Crying of Lot 49 is so much a novel about Oedipa Maas, her life, her loves, her thoughts, that it hardly qualifies as what Irving Howe would describe as a political novel. 1 Yet while this miniature masterpiece is not a manifesto or a call to arms, some critics see reading it as a "subversive experience" that could generate contempt for power, a disrespect for the national leadership, because Lot 49 is a scathing history lesson, a look behind the political events and historical figurations that led America into the mess that was the mid-sixties. (Kolodny) To study Lot 49 is to decrypt Pynchon’s encoded messages and enter split–level consciousness, to read the narrative against the counter–narrative of historical allusions, to find how skepticism toward government is central to Pynchon’s work. When we do, we find Lot 49 to be Pynchon’s encrypted meditation on the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy."
So - this little book may have presented the antipode to our comfortable expectation of the American Dream, as embodied in the self-willed, popularly-elected presidency. Who would have known that such shadows might have been lurking in this pleasant little grassy knoll of a book?
Where can I find a PDF of The Crying of Lot 49? - See ALSO:
Gutenberg 1 / Gutenberg 2 / Buy for $5 / Online 1 / Online 2
MORE ABOUT THOMAS PYNCHON - FROM WIKIPEDIA:
- A collection of Pynchon's early short stories, Slow Learner, was published in 1984, with a lengthy autobiographical introduction. In October of the same year, an article titled "Is It O.K. to Be a Luddite?" was published in the New York Times Book Review. In April 1988, Pynchon contributed an extensive review of Gabriel García Márquez's novel Love in the Time of Cholera to the New York Times, under the title "The Heart's Eternal Vow". Another article, titled "Nearer, My Couch, to Thee", was published in June 1993 in the New York Times Book Review, as one in a series of articles in which various writers reflected on each of the Seven Deadly Sins. Pynchon's subject was "Sloth".. - (Wiki)
- In celebration of the 100th anniversary of George Orwell's birth, (2003), Pynchon wrote a new foreword to Orwell's celebrated dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The introduction presents a brief biography of Orwell as well as a reflection on some of the critical responses to Nineteen Eighty-Four. Pynchon also offers his own reflection in the introduction that "what is perhaps [most] important, indeed necessary, to a working prophet, is to be able to see deeper than most of us into the human soul.". - (Wiki)
- Pynchon made two cameo animated appearances on the television series The Simpsons in 2004. The first occurs in the episode "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife", in which Marge Simpson becomes a novelist. He plays himself, with a paper bag over his head, and provides a blurb for the back cover of Marge's book, speaking in a broad Long Island accent: "Here's your quote: Thomas Pynchon loved this book, almost as much as he loves cameras!" He then starts yelling at passing cars: "Hey, over here, have your picture taken with a reclusive author! Today only, we'll throw in a free autograph! But, wait! There's more!" In his second appearance, in "All's Fair in Oven War", Pynchon's dialogue consists entirely of puns on his novel titles ("These wings are 'V'-licious! I'll put this recipe in 'The Gravity's Rainbow Cookbook', right next to 'The Frying of Latke 49'."). The cartoon representation of Pynchon reappears in a third, non-speaking cameo, as a guest at the fictional WordLoaf convention depicted in the 18th season episode "Moe'N'a Lisa". The episode first aired on November 19, 2006, the Sunday before Pynchon's sixth novel, Against the Day, was released. According to Al Jean on the 15th season DVD episode commentary, Pynchon wanted to do the series because his son was a big fan.- (Wiki)
- In July 2006, a new untitled novel by Pynchon was announced along with a synopsis written by Pynchon himself, which appeared on Amazon.com, it stated that the novel's action takes place between the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the time immediately following World War I. "With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead", Pynchon wrote in his book description, "it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred." He promised cameos by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi and Groucho Marx, as well as "stupid songs" and "strange sexual practices". Subsequently, the title of the new book was reported to be Against the Day and a Penguin spokesperson confirmed that the synopsis was Pynchon's.. - (Wiki)