To Keep It Bouncing: Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and a Paranoid Chaotics

Document Type: Research article

Authors

1 Persian Gulf University

2 Faculty of Humanities, Persian Gulf University, Bushehr, Iran

Abstract

Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 (1965) is an artistically convoluted narrative in which parallel, alternative worlds interpenetrate consistently and continuously, providing a fine instance of what, in Chaos Theory, is called an open system. The discovery of the chaotic connections in this narrative is in harmony with effecting a sense of indeterminacy, plurality and uncertainty which prevails all through the story and keeps flustering Pynchon’s protagonist, Oedipa Maas. Oedipa, engulfed by the chaotic flux of information which most tenaciously and purposefully resists any linear, causative ordering, struggles to fabricate, against all odds, an orderly nexus among the bizarre set of incidents that she encounters through resorting to paranoia. Paranoia, in Oedipa’s case, becomes therapeutic and constructive since fantasizing a conspiracy would warrant an escape from insanity which is an intrinsic attribute of chaos. The two consequential determinants in this narrative, therefore, are chaos and paranoia the convoluted interactions of which create an intriguing, chaotic, postmodern tale. Unlike the dominant trend of considering paranoia merely as a prevalent thematic concern in Pynchon, this study seeks to provide a new reading of the mentioned narrative in the light of the dynamic interplay of chaos and paranoia and its function in portraying Oedipa as the one who projects, author-like, a world of her own which, though still governed by the regulations and principles of chaotic, open systems, guarantees sanity, existence and authority. 

Keywords


Adams, R. (2007). The ends of America, the ends of postmodernism. Twentieth Century Literature, 53(3), 248+. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/read/1G1-176375403/the-ends-of-america-the-ends-of-postmodernism

Barth, J. (1995). Further Fridays: Essays, lectures, and other nonfiction, 1984-1994. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Barth, J. (1984). The Friday book: Essays and other nonfiction. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Eliot, T.S. (1943). Four Quartets. In Nina Bayam, et al. (Eds.) Norton anthology of American literature. (3rd edition) (2nd vol). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989.

Freud, S. (1938). The basic writings of Sigmund Freud. Ed. A. A. Brill. Trans. A. A. Brill. New York: Modern Library.

Freud, S. (1920). A general introduction to psychoanalysis. Trans. G. Stanley Hall. New York: Horace Liveright.

Freud, S. (1918). Totem and taboo: Resemblances between the psychic lives of savages and neurotics. New York: Moffat, Yard.

Hall, C. (1991). “Behind the Hieroglyphic Streets”: Pynchon’s Oedipa Maas and the dialectics of reading. Critique, 33(1), 63-77.

Hassan, I. (1973). The new Gnosticism: Speculations on an aspect of the postmodern mind. In Paul A. Bové (Ed.), Early Postmodernism: Foundational Essays (1995) (pp. 77-89), Durham: Duke University Press.

Kohn, R. E. (2009). Pynchon’s transition from ethos-based postmodernism to latepostmodern stylistics. Style, 43(2), 194+. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/read/1G1-208130359/pynchon-s-transition-from-ethos-basedpostmodernism

Mackey, L. (1986). Paranoia, Pynchon, and preterition. In Harold Bloom (Ed.) Modern Critical Interpretations: Thomas Pynchon’s gravity’s rainbow. (1986) (pp.11-20) New York: Chelsea House Publishers.

Matz, J. (2004). The modern novel: A short introduction. Malden, MA.: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

McHale, B. (1988). Telling Postmodern Stories. Poetics Today, 9(3), 545-571.

Melley, T. (2000). Empire of conspiracy: The culture of paranoia in postwar America. New York: Cornell University Press.

Moddelmog, D. A. (2014). The Oedipus myth and reader response in Pynchon’s The crying of lot 49. Papers on Language and Literature, 50(3-4), 298+. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/read/1G1-398829874/the-oedipus-myth-andreader-response-in-pynchon-s

Moore, T. (1987). The style of connectedness: Gravity’s rainbow and Thomas Pynchon. Colombia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press.

Pynchon, T. (1973). Gravity’s rainbow. Toronto: Bantam Books.

Pynchon, T. (1965). The crying of lot 49. The United States of America: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.

Quinodoz, J., & Alcorn, D. (2005). Reading Freud: A chronological exploration of Freud’s writings. New York: Routledge.

Safer, E. B. (1990). Pynchon’s world and its legendary past: Humor and the absurd in a twentieth century Vineland. Critique, 32(2), 107-125.

Slethaug, G. E. (2000). Beautiful chaos: Chaos Theory and metachaotics in recent American fiction. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Stonehill, B. (1988). The self-conscious novel: Artifice in fiction from Joyce to Pynchon. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press.

Watson, J. T. (2017). The suffusion of the televisual in The crying of lot 49. Style, 51(2). 146+. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/read/1G1-496566427/thesuffusion-of-the-televisual-in-the-crying-of-lot

Waugh, P. (1992). Practicing postmodernism: Reading modernism. New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Inc.