A Note on Pynchon's Themes

From Upper West Side Story: On ''Bleeding Edge'' and Thomas Pynchon's Tangled Web by .

Though their settings have varied wildly, from colonial America to 1970s Los Angeles, Mr. Pynchon’s basic themes have remained remarkably consistent: the dark underside of technological progress, the hidden networks of power that bind corporate interests and government control, the inability of a single narrative to neatly contain the messy complexities of a given event.

That's a good bit of what I think are the themes in Pynchon's work. At least the work of Pynchon that I've read... I would add to it the powerful appeal of and the futility of paranoia as a way of coping with the world late capitalism has created.

What is the world that late capitalism created? In Bleeding Edge, it is a world that is indexed and tamed by the tag-team of corporations and governments. A world where a simulacrum of the frontier is offered as a product for those who want to experience the frontier without the mess of having to actually experience it. (Another example of this sort of fake frontier offered as an experience to those who can afford it would be Westworld.) Throughout Bleeding Edge, Pynchon uses something called DeepArcher to signify a sort of virtual frontier that was not available to him in his early novels.

For Mr. Pynchon, the hopes embodied by the untouched frontier, whether terrestrial or virtual, are dashed the moment it is explored. In spite of the DeepArcher creators’ West Coast hippie-hacker ethos of a free space beyond the reaches of corporations or surveillance, Mr. Pynchon makes clear that its promise was always illusory.

An observation about Bleeding Edge that Wetzler makes about Bleeding Edge is,

Like most of Mr. Pynchon’s novels, plot is something of a secondary consideration, a loose scaffolding that serves as little more than a pretext

A pretext to what? To look at interesting things and stuff having to do with the themes written about above.

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