This was 13 years, 6 months, 11 days ago

several things:

1) Reading fiction is so much easier than reading theory. Not to say that one is above the other -- difficulty level is divorced from merit. (or, difficulty and merit are perhaps corellated but not causal). Thomas Pynchon, although discursive (and I mean discursive in the rambly, wordy, perambulatory sense, not the Foucaultian one) and wandering and such, flows directly into my brain and I understand crisply and precisely (accuracy not guaranteed) what he's saying, at least in terms of grasping movement and flow. Perhaps this is the time to re-read Ulysses again.

2) I can see why people call Pynchon postmodern, as in the after-Modernism sense, as in global capitalism makes comprehension impossible, that there are micronarratives that reject the hegemonic dominance of the grand narrative of Modernism speaking for all of humanity, that it deals with simulacra that is a copy without an original, copies copying copies:

"But our beauty lies," explained Metzger, "in this extended capacity for convolution. A lawyer in a courtroom, in front of any jury, becomes an actor, right? Raymond Burr is an actor, impersonating a lawyer, who in front of a jury becomes an actor. Me, I'm a former actor who became a lawyer. They've done the pilot film of a TV series, in fact, based loosely on my career, starring my friend Manny Di Presso, a one-time lawyer who quit his firm to become an actor. Who in this pilot plays me, an actor become a lawyer reverting periodically to being an actor. The film is in an air-conditioned vault at one of the Hollywood studios, light can't fatigue it, it can be repeated endlessly."

The desire to seek this metanarrative, some overarching order:

She drove into San Narciso on a Sunday, in a rented Impala. Nothing was happening. She looked down a slope, needing to squint for the sunlight, onto a vast sprawl of houses which had grown up all together, like a well-tended crop, from the dull brown earth; and she thought of the time she'd opened a transistor radio to replace a battery and seen her first printed circuit. The ordered swirl of houses and streets, from this high angle, sprang at her now with the same unexpected, astonishing clarity as the circuit card had. Though she knew even less about radios than about Southern Californians, there were to both outward patterns a hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning, of an intent to communicate. There'd seemed no limit to what the printed circuit could have told her (if she had tried to find out); so in her first minute of San Narciso, a revelation also trembled just past the threshold of her understanding. Smog hung all round the horizon, the sun on the bright beige countryside was painful; she and the Chevy seemed parked at the centre of an odd, religious instant. As if, on some other frequency, or out of the eye of some whirlwind rotating too slow for her heated skin even to feel the centrifugal coolness of, words were being spoken. She suspected that much. She thought of Mucho, her husband, trying to believe in his job. Was it something like this he felt, looking through the soundproof glass at one of his colleagues with a headset clamped on and cueing the next record with movements stylized as the handling of chrism, censer, chalice might be for a holy man, yet really tuned in to the voice, voices, the music, its message, surrounded by it, digging it, as were all the faithful it went out to; did Mucho stand outside Studio A looking in, knowing that even if he could hear it he couldn't believe in it?

The spatial layout of the city is overlaid with the planned and orderly creation of a circuit board populated and organized by transistors, resistors, only in relation to an unseen yet tangible order and flow of power on the other side of the PCB, rivulets of metal, conduits of organization and relation. Oedipa's own hallucinatory mirage-like conception of this city is her own conception, a nostalgic specter for technological/Enlightement rationality and order -- unlike the desperate floundering of her husband who has already rejected this and cannot believe. Desire for order.

jamesonian, lyotardian, baudrillardian postmodernisms.

3) Moments and moments at these tangents of paranoia and skepticism I am reminded of Fredric Jameson's quote on conspiracy. Conspiracy, and its accompanying paranoia in the novel is ultimately defined by probability, or improbability, staged-ness, uncertainty:

Either he made up the whole thing, Oedipa thought suddenly, or he bribed the engineer over at the local station to run this, it's all part of a plot, an elaborate, seduction, plot.

In other words: What are the chances? What are the probabilities of these connections, matching-ups, these coincidences? The sheer repeatedness and volume of this constellation-like occurences push events into conspiracy, overarching order, and Oedipa sees this -- "it was part of her duty, wasn't it, to bestow life on what had persisted, to try to be what Driblette was, the dark machine in the centre of the planetarium, to bring the estate into pulsing stelliferous Meaning, all in a soaring dome around her?"

Fredric Jameson: Conspiracy, one is tempted to say, is the poor person's cognitive mapping in the postmodern age; it is a degraded figure of the total logic of late capitalism, a desperate attempt to represent the latter's system, whose failure is marked by its slippage into sheer theme and content.
Fredric Jameson, "Cognitive Mapping"

Jameson's notion of conspiracy is ultimately pessimistic in that he believes in the impossibility of total comprehension and representation of the logic of late capitalism, and that conspiracy is a perhaps anachronistic pre-postmodern method of understanding the world, of coordinating or generating divisions of syntax between coherent/incoherent, meaningful/unmeaningful, dividing pure form into content and non-content as this operation of generating meaning. But a conception of the impossibility of the accuracy of this task is contrasted by the fact that this narrative exists only within a novel -- a novel/story also being a linear progression of words that generates a sequence of meaning (whether the plot itself is linear or not). Out of a linear, logical sequence arises a haphazard alchemic mixture of meaning -- another mapping of sorts. If narrative and story generates these cognitive mappings, then The Crying of Lot 49 perhaps exists as story of story, mapping about mapping, a conspiracy of conspiracy....