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By: V.

Lemmergaard Supervisor: Camelia Elias

Let Down Your Hair Mrs. Maas. Interpreting: The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Master Thesis, English, 2012 (72 Standard Pages): Let Down Your Hair Mrs. Mass. Interpreting: The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon Department of Culture and Identity Roskilde University

Or you may find yourself with a quite complex complex, And you may end up like Oedipus. I'd rather marry a duck-billed platypus, Than end up like old Oedipus Rex. The out-patients are out in force tonight, I see.

Oedipus Rex Song lyrics, Tom Lehrer (1959)

Table of Contents 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Introduction Thesis Thesis Question Delimitations Structure Postmodernist Theory 5 7 8 8 9 10 11 15 21 25 26 26 28 31 43

6.1.0. Different Outlooks 6.2.0. McHales Dominant: The Ontological Instability of Postmodernism 7. 8. 9. 10. Meaning, Intention, Text, Context and Reader Method The Crying of Lot 49 A Brief Summary Analysis

10.1.0. Rapunzel 10.2.0. The Crying of Lot 49 10.3.0. Overlays in The Crying of Lot 49 and their Significance

Table of Contents 10.3.1. Communication Overlay 10.3.2. Names Overlay 10.3.3. Magic Overlay 10.4.0. Characters and Characterisation 10.4.1. Oedipa Maas The Maiden in The Tower 10.4.2. Pierce Inverarity The Shadow The Injured Prince 10.4.3. Metzger The Koshered Child The Substitute 10.5.0. The Obscure Plot: The Lovers Tryst/The Secret 11. 12. 13. Discussion Conclusion Resum 43 47 51 56 56 63 67 68 70 72 73

Bibliography I. Appendix: Rapunzel

76 81

1. Introduction She searches for the truth, but how can she be sure that she has found it, when the truth turns out to be a duck-billed platypus1 neither this nor that? Is that what happens to truth-seekers, especially those who are named after a blind prince? Oedipa Maas the novels protagonist leads the reader through one of the oddest literary experiences I have ever known. Pynchons novel The Crying of Lot 49 reads like a memory box of trinkets. To a stranger these trinkets are just different things, randomly picked from life and books, dissimilar, unrelated, yet boxed in together as a collection, a scope for analysis, an inquiry, a seeking. Usually, we say that every seeking is guided from the beginning by what is sought, because, if it is not we will not know what it is we have found when we eventually find it or will we? I began my seeking when I read Pynchons little story a while ago guided only by my own curiosity. Having finished it I was rather mystified and thoroughly exhausted by its informational and referential overload. My first impression was a very strong sense of construction and within this construction a scheme that kept eluding me because the story was pointing in so many different directions, especially in relation to the conception of space. Thematics of revelations, religious instants and death and themes of duality and liminality are emphasised in the novel. Pynchon himself, as well as his reader, is slowly building up a repertoire of half-buried quotations and intertexts where almost every word is found to be pregnant with scriptural memories and foreshadowings. (Petillon in ODonnell: 1991, 145) The novels play with epistemological dichotomies like reality and appearance, solipsistic ideas and thematics like transition between realities, in-betweenness, made me think of Buddhist philosophy2 but also of the dual worlds in the fairy-tale Rapunzel,3 which has been incorporated into the story from the beginning and seems to indicate a point of departure to the whole story. However, the novels original point of departure might have been a more Christian religious metaphysical theme, because, on the publishers page inside the book it states that: A portion of this novel was first published in Esquire Magazine under the title The World (This One), the Flesh (Mrs. Oedipa Maas), and the Testament of Pierce Inverarity. In his essay on Pynchons novel Pierre-Yves Petillon equates the Maas surname with the flesh: masse grave feeling the downward pull of
1 2

From Tom Lehrers song: Oedipus Rex (1959) In Buddhist philosophy all phenomena originate in the mind and do not possess any form, hence, the phenomena of the three worlds of desire, of form and of non-form are all creations of the mind. Evans-Wentz, W.Y. (1961) Tibetan Book of the Dead, Chapter V. Reality 3 In Rapunzel (1812, Ed. 1857) the dichotomy of appearance vs reality and transition are major thematics, however, here it is referred to as the two worlds, because it would be pointless to talk of reality in a fairy-tale

gravity and going the way of all flesh, heavy (gravis) in more ways than one.4 (Petillon in ODonnell: 1991, 137) The novels mention of the Book of the Dead 5 could refer to either Egyptian or to Tibetan Buddhist religious practice. New religious philosophical angles kept popping up, like the bones of the dead and the muted horn - to wake the dead, eventually, when un-muted? The novels constant references to the language of the sacred, to religious instants and revelations; the promises of hierophany and the emphasis on the significance of maps, circuits and layouts of streets again pointed to more esoteric traditions. But, it also pointed to parity,6 isometrics and the mapping of landscapes7 and tied in with the protagonists search for clues in a strange landscape of multiple worlds to prove the existence of underground communication systems and communication across time and space. Faux historical intertexts illustrated by a Jacobean Revenge Play, a naval battle and a battle to gain control of the American postal courier service during the civil war all pointed to themes of communication bridging the gap between appearance and reality, the epistemological theme par excellence according to McHale. (McHale: 2001, 16) This short, dense emporium galorium of a novel intrigued me and it annoyed me. On the one hand the novels form is classically modernist set up as a detective story (McHale: 2001, 23). On the other, its sheer maximalism and its ontological inquiries into the meaning of being are quite perplexing like all the information that never seems to transfer to knowledge; the surrealist inputs; the constant interruption of the flow by things or events that seem to fit neither the story nor the reality constructed by, in or with the story. However, there is a recurring theme in the novel the theme of the Maiden in the Tower. The integration of the fairy-tale Rapunzel early on in the story and our protagonists strange amalgamation with its heroine are very explicit, very foregrounded in more ways than one, and, in my view, remain thus throughout the novel.

Petillon links Pynchons original title in Esquire to the French Baroque poet Jean de Spondes (1557-95) sonnet XII, where he lists the three things that tempt Sponde and threaten the interior realization of Gods Temple: Tout senfle contre moy, tout massault et me tente et le monde [the World], et la chair [the Flesh], et lAnge revolt [the rebellious Angel]. 5 In The Crying of Lot 49: some promise of hierophany: printed circuit, gently curving streets, private access to the water, Book of the Dead (p. 20). There is no mention which Book of Dead it refers to. In his Psychological Commentary to the Evans-Wentz edition (1961) of the Tibetan Book of the Dead C.G. Jung writes that the Tibetan and the Egyptian Books of the Dead are both intended as guides to the deceased during the period of his Bardo-existence, symbolically described as the interim period between death and re-birth that lasts for 49 days. 6 In chapter one the protagonist Oedipa Maas reads the book reviews of Scientific American, where Martin Gardner had his own Mathematical Games column from 1956 to 1986. He also wrote about parity and in 1961 he wrote The Ambidextrous Universe: Symmetry and Asymmetry from Mirror Reflections to Superstrings. 7 Pynchons novel Mason and Dixon (1990) is, among other things, about surveying and mapping and in his introduction to the 1984 compilation of his short stories Slow Learner he admits that the major source for his short story Under the Rose (1961) which takes place in Egypt, was Karl Baedekers guide to Egypt from 1899.

2. Thesis There is an odd sense of detachment in The Crying of Lot 49 not so much from reality, although that is certainly the case too, as from itself. In my view this detachment from itself is mainly caused by an ontological contingency, an absence of truth. But, it is also owing to a layered thematic structure, where the different layers are presented not as sediments but rather as a palimpsest rendering each layer perspicuously transparent but lacking in cohesion. Reading Pynchons novel is a peculiar experience as Petillon points out, and he continues As the story unfolds, the reader is made increasingly word-conscious as each word becomes, figuratively, more conscious of both its etymological roots and its semantic field, so that eventually each word potentially suggests a whole knotty cluster of meanings [.] (ODonnell: 1991, 145) This tends to perplex the reader, mainly because every thematic is overly emphasized; e.g. almost all the names are linked to Freudian psychology, they have psycho sexual connotations and connotations of paranoia. All thematics pertaining to religion are somehow related to death. They are juxtapositions of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and ancient Egyptian theology and mythology picked randomly and served as a bowl of magic soup. A well-known fairy tale frames the story, whereas the story itself is set up as a detective story with its protagonist Oedipa Maas in the role of the classic private-eye who struggles to discern reality from appearance in a world where every clue is prepared and laid out by her former, dead lover. (McHale: 2001) All she has to do as executor of his will is follow the dead mans instructions whatever they are and wherever they take her. The names, religious instants, fairy-tale and detective story of this novel are foregrounded thematics that have all been transformed into free flowing states disengaged from their usual marks of identification. They have become simulacra.8 In stead of creating a world has Pynchon created a constellation of bibelots?9 Is Oedipa an enlightened mediator who can guide the reader through this fictional world or is she obliviously following the yellow dotted line drawn by her former lover; or is she dreaming it all up as if she were some kind of postmodern Dorothy? Is Oedipa reflective, aware of the fact that the thing she is looking for could be her
8 9

Baudrillard, Jean (1983) Nabokov, V (1992) vii. In his introduction to the 1992 edition of Vladimir Nabokovs novel Pale Fire from 1962 Richard Rorty quotes from Saul Malloffs sour review that the novelists immemorial purpose and justification was to create a world, and that Nabokov had created only a constellation of elegant and marvellous bibelots, an art which is minor by definition. Throughout the thesis I shall be using bibelots and trinkets to highlight Pynchons partiality to odd words, sentences, ideas, views and concepts that seem to have been picked randomly and used indiscriminately.

own projection, her creation, a solipsistic delusion? Is she hallucinating? Or, is she the pining Echo to Pierces Narcissus? In my view, the constant conflict between the dichotomy of reality and appearance and its eventual breakdown is a strong theme in this story. The novels multiple religious thematics seem to suggest an interpretation of navigating between binaries: good/bad, dead/alive, what we can know/what we cannot know. Postmodernist features are typically juxtaposed with and organized in oppositions with features of modernist poetics (McHale: 2001, 7). In Postmodernist Fiction (2001) McHale formulated a general thesis about the connection between modernist fiction and postmodernist fiction saying that the two isms are interdependent, the former being essentially epistemological (how can I interpret this world and my place in it?), the latter essentially ontological (what is a world and which world is this?). I shall apply McHales thesis as a methodological tool in my analysis of The Crying of Lot 49. The plot of Pynchons story is presented in the form of a detective story, which according to McHale is essentially epistemological. The protagonist sets out on a quest to unravel what seems to be an extensive conspiracy revolving around an underground postal service system. My thesis proposes that this epistemological quest conceals an obscure plot, which permeates and supports the entire story. This obscure plot is the well-known fairy-tale Rapunzel, but presented in a postmodern variation, which, contrary to more modern representations,10 seeks to up-hold the traditional formula for fairy-tales: an innocent story on top and underneath deep, dark murky waters of meaning that may or may not be penetrated. 11 3. Thesis Question What evidence is there of an obscure plot in The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon? How can this plot be interpreted as a postmodern adaptation of the old fairy-tale Rapunzel? 4. Delimitations There is a generous amount of intertextuality in this novel, but I have chosen only to point to intertextual references insofar as it coheres with my thesis. Additionally, I have decided to use Pynchons previous works as a reference; his novel V. and his collection of short stories in Slow Learner. Only rarely shall I refer to his later works. I have preferred in this thesis not to speculate whether its author intended the one or the other when he wrote the novel, or
10 11

Since approximately the late 30s, Disney a.o Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm (1857) Grimms Fairy Tales (see Appendix)

otherwise try to guess any deeper intrinsic meaning related to his personal life. I shall mention, however, that there are some discrepancies in the pieces of information I was able to obtain with regard to where he lived just prior to or while he wrote the novel. He is supposed to have stayed in Mexico during the early to mid 60s, and that is presumably where he in 1964 at an exhibition of paintings by the Spanish exile Remedios Varo saw the central painting of a triptych titled Bordando el Manto Terrestre. I shall be using the triptych as reference as it is elaborately described in the novel. With regard to complications concerning cross quoting in American English and British English it has not been easy to draw a sharp line between the two. I write and speak British English and this thesis is meant to reflect my language, however, it has been very difficult to keep my language and the American language used by Pynchon separated. When I refer to the lawyer Metzger, I shall continue to use the word lawyer throughout in order to avoid confusion. The same applies to any other discrepancies from British English: I shall choose the word used in the novels text and go with that. 5. Structure of the Thesis The thesis will be structured in the following way: I shall begin with a few different outlooks on postmodernism, on what that particular ism comprises from the points of view of theorists like Fredric Jameson, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard and continue with Brian McHales view, which attempts a narrower definition of the concept providing it with a dominant. I shall endeavour to stay within the limits of my thesis question, however, owing to the novels ontological contingency and the layered structure with its glut of information that has to be handled before I can begin my analysis and interpretation, I have deemed it necessary to present some thoughts about interpretation and meaning touching upon the Peircean idea of unlimited semiosis. The analysis will be split up into three sections beginning with an identification of the different thematics and themes of the fairy-tale Rapunzel followed by an analysis of The Crying of Lot 49 where each chapter of the analysis will take its point of departure in the thematics that were found in Rapunzel. Then, I shall proceed with an analysis of the layered structure of Pynchons novel. I have identified three different layers. These layers have a dual function. They are overlays that serve to highlight the ideas and theories at work in the story and they provide the story with a specific atmosphere or mood that reflects its plot and, eventually (hopefully), its obscure plot. The layered structure will be followed by an analysis of the novels characters comprising the protagonist and two major characters,

whereas the analysis of minor characters falls under the overlays chapter. The analysis chapter should result in a new plot. This will be followed by a discussion and a conclusion. 6. Postmodernist Theories The Crying of Lot 49 was first published in 1966 and the spirit of its text is very much in alignment with the spirit of its time, the early 60s. Postmodernism is not a label that can be glued on to the literature of a specific period in time. It is a construction which is conceived as a cultural movement following another cultural movement called modernism. Most often it pertains to art and literature written after World War II. Its point of departure is still the human condition, but, because the human condition changed so rapidly and radically after the war, especially in the United States in terms of new technologies and new ways of living and consuming, it often lead to a mystification of human relations. Man increasingly used technology to combat nature and its obstacles. The Interstate Highway System designed to link the cities of America had been initiated in 1956. Now, nothing stopped a person from going wherever or doing whatever he wanted. Eight million cars were sold in America in 1955, marking the 50s as the decade when America started its love affair with cars. To accommodate the post war baby boomers grand scale suburban housing projects were initiated, rows upon rows of identical houses, the so-called Levittowns.12 When the first housing development was completed in Norfolk, Virginia it consisted of more than seventeen thousand houses and eighty-two thousand residents, making it the largest housing development ever built in the United States. Prices were low, and only 10 per cent were asked as down payment. (Cullen: 2004, 151) By 1960 approximately 60 per cent of Americans owned their own home. Post war America had enormous resources to invest, but the idea at that time was that there had to be a unity of idea and purpose. We may draw a parallel to the industrial revolution in Britain of the late eighteenth and most of the nineteenth century, where new and better inventions emerged almost daily. But unlike Britain a large part of the American population benefitted from the new technologies. There was an obsession with technology and gadgets that prevails today. There would be TV for nearly everybody; there were airplanes, spacecrafts, rockets and finally in 1969 man on the moon. It was a kind of euphoria; it was the bright side of America. On the dark side was an increasing gap between the white middle classes and the black mainly Afro American minorities living on the fringe of society, often working as farm hands and
Suburban housing developments initiated by Abraham Levitt and his sons William and Alfred in the late 1940s providing cheap housing for blue collar workers in North America (Cullen: 2004, 150)


domestic servants and subject to a different set of laws, which frequently caused racial tension and fuelled hate and anxiety in many parts of the American society. There were so many fear provoking incidents in the American fifties and sixties. The fear of Soviet spies fuelled the McCarthy era. The great diplomatic stand-off: the arms race of the Cold War with its near miss crises like the U2 incident and the Cuban Missile Crisis added fuel to the fear of nuclear war and gave rise to the American emphasis on core values like Family, Faith and Flagg. When the Crying of Lot 49 was published in 1966 one of its main themes the element of the two worlds could be seen as a reflection of American society at that time. The anxiety caused by living in a sort of hotbed between euphoria and tension is echoed in the foregrounded themes of the novel in the paranoia, the jumble of new-age religious references, the predilection to communication through time and space and the intertextual play with strange allusions mixed with echoes of formal historical text. Pynchons novel is embedded in the American history of the sixties, and it is not surprising why literary critic Brian McHale should favour 1966 as year zero.13 The novel not only reflects the physical, mental and cultural environment of its time, it also reflects the spiritual opening towards eastern philosophies that came to characterize the sixties. The influence from eastern religious philosophy promulgated by people like e.g. Alan Watts (1915-73), who lived and taught in California in the fifties and sixties, is evident. For the artist, musician, painter or writer it was a new age, the Age of Aquarius, an age of seeking and experimenting with altered states of consciousness and ways of living and being in the world. 6.1.0. Different Outlooks There is still some debate about whether there is a clean break between the periods of modernism and postmodernism, a view supported by Jameson and, to some extent, Baudrillard, or whether postmodernism stands on the shoulders of modernism and could actually be seen as a corollary to modernism; a view advanced by Brian McHale. Lyotard took a different stand. Apart from the fact that he uses the historical terms modern/postmodern interchangeably with the forms denoting the cultural movements modernism/postmodernism, he did not accept


The Crying of Lot 49 was published in 1966, one of the reasons why McHale favours 1966 as year zero of

postmodernism (www.electronicbookreview.com). What is Postmodernism? By Brian McHale, 2007.12.20 of 2012.01


postmodernisms claim as a periodizing concept, but called it a mode of the modern, anchored within the modern, but with a change in aesthetics and a new set of rules. The modern aesthetic, he explained, was an aesthetic of the sublime. It was nostalgic and only allowed the unpresentable to be invoked as absent content, whereas in the postmodern we may discern the unpresentable in writing, in the signifier: The postmodern would be that which in the modern invokes the unpresentable in presentation itself [.] (Lyotard: 2003, 14- 15) Lyotard emphasized Joyce, who belonged in the modernist avant-garde, because he made us discern the unpresentable in writing itself, in the signifier:
A whole range of accepted narrative and even stylistic operators is brought into play with no concern for the unity of the whole, and experiments are conducted with new operators. The grammar and vocabulary of literary language are no longer taken for granted; instead they appear as academicisms, rituals born of a piety (as Nietzsche might call it) that does not alter the invocation of the unpresentable. (Lyotard: 2003, 14)

The above quote proposes a postmodernist objective of ontological instability, a literary chaos as opposed to the aesthetic of the sublime which characterised modernism. Essentially what he proposes is that postmodernism is the naughty child who is not only allowed to sit at the modernist table, but allowed to run the whole household. Abrams explains that as postmodernisms attempt to break free from the modernist forms, whose counter traditional experiments had eventually become conventional. The elitism of modernisms high art was to be replaced by entertainment for the masses. (Abrams: 2005, 176) In Simulations Baudrillard contemplates the ramifications of this new changed pattern, and sees it as a distortion of the sign, insofar as representation used to indicate, as a point of departure, an equivalence of the sign and the real. He acknowledges, however, that this equivalence is utopian; it is an axiom. But, nonetheless, he maintains that simulation starts from the utopia of this principle of equivalence, from the radical negation of the sign as value, from the sign as reversion and death sentence of every reference (Baudrillard: 1983, 11). What Baudrillard proposes is essentially that postmodernism by its distortion of the sign dislodges the unity of meaning. By acknowledging that the equivalence between the sign and the real is utopian, an axiom, and that simulation starts from the utopia of this principle, he also acknowledges that what he calls simulation necessarily must be ideologically and politically grounded. The equivalence of the sign and the real is rooted in history and in ideology; what is agreed upon by a certain group of


people at a certain point in history. The foundation of the real is shaken in postmodernism, but only because it can be shook. Perhaps the real in postmodernism is merely perceived as a point of departure, a good starting point for an equation that may be changed at will. For every starting point there will be a reference, and in my view every reference will contain an echo of some other starting point, because every starting point is based in the human condition, even the fantastic and science fiction. And nothing human is foreign to us, especially not in a global world. The intention to overthrow the modernist elitism of high art in favour of entertainment for the masses (Abrams: 2005, 176) is in itself a very elitist view render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars that belongs in the past. In spite of the different interpretations with regard to importance of the [post-] and the [modernist] in postmodernism; there seems to be a general agreement to some of the differences between modernism and postmodernism. Postmodernism
mistrusts reason, and the rational shows that reason leads to oppression critiques Enlightenment suspends the opposition between rational and irrational denies external objective reality

Where modernism is about alienation from versus finding ones place in the world; that is, making sense of what is there, emphasizing roots, substance and centre; postmodernism is about fragmentation, free-floating, isometrics, parity and the dissolving of substance. Jameson talks of the severing of ties, the loss of anxiety and as a consequence, the loss of feeling the death of the subject (Jameson, Fredric: 1991, 20). Actually, this condition was idealised in one of the most influential Marxist manifestos in years: Empire by the Marxist authors Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. It suggested a worldwide symbolic death and rebirth into Marxist bliss, a spatial and temporal differentiation, the world transformed into a temporal/spatial whole, a wondrous now, devoid of anxiety, consequence, feeling and memory. In postmodernity, instead, time is no longer determined by any transcendent measure, any a priori: time pertains directly to existence. (Hardt and Negri 2000, 401) Oddly enough, this idea is very much in keeping with the way we view the American sixties today: that everyone suddenly lost touch with history and chose to go with the surf. It is a distorted view; however,


new forms of representation did emerge in post-war American culture from the beat generation of the late fifties to the hippie cultures of the late sixties and seventies. We were at a transition point, a strange post-Beat passage of cultural time with our loyalties divided. As bop and rocknroll were to swing music and postwar pop, so was this new writing to the more established modernist tradition we were being exposed to then in college (Pynchon in Slow Learner: 2000, 9) One of the identifying signs of postmodernism is that it suspends the opposition between rational and irrational, but why was this change acceptable in a western world that was still deeply anchored within the Enlightenment. Jameson dismisses the idea that it had anything to do with new the conceptualities or new terminologies that were seemingly a break with tradition. He suggested that the change had something to do with our new technologies. Mulling over Kants phenomenological reasoning that a cause of this phenomenal world must exist, a thing in itself, a noumenon, (the place of the eerie and uncanny) he puts forward the idea that today we have some advantage over tradition because we have the new technologies. He admits that the thing in itself is not representable; it is an empty concept that cannot correspond to any experience, however:
Film in particular may allow us to square this particular circle in a new way to represent a little better what was fundamentally defined as escaping representation altogether. If indeed the philosophical meaning of film [.] is to show us what the world might look like in our own absence.then perhaps today the noumenon can come before us with a properly filmic Unheimlichkeit, as some grisly set of eerily lit volumes projecting a kind of internal visibility out of themselves like an infrared light: the element of horror films and trick photography. (Jameson: 1991, 248-249)

Film and photography have become an integral part of life in the west. Because of it not much escapes representation. Although it is man who creates film, film itself creates a reality beyond the real which is readily accepted as a part of reality. Film can be stored for years like photographs thus granting us access to life before life, even to death,14 to history, even to history before history. But this generous perception of reality is not new. History and nonJameson talks of horror films, but to many people some of the more eerie representations of life and death before life are Victorian and early Edwardian memento mori photographs.


fiction have always been mediated and, of course, relied on ideology and habit. But, until recently there has always been a built-in search for the truth of what came before; of the first principle. Maybe, owing to the new technologies that search has been abandoned and replaced by something else, which would certainly present a departure from earlier thinking. The squaring of the eternal circle of cause and effect by using film to uncover the thing in itself is reflected in the scenes early on in Pynchons novel, (Pynchon: 2006, 17-30) but not in quite the same way Jameson envisions it. In Pynchons novel the protagonist Oedipa Maas is seduced in a strange anachronistic world where the action of an old film playing on TV starts to interplay, interrupt and drag out her seduction, while the films outcome suddenly becomes dependent of the outcome of the seduction, instead of the other way around.15 The opposition between the rational and the irrational has not just become suspended; the rational and the irrational have merged and formed a space that harbours both. McHale later contemplates that space as does the novels protagonist. McHale finds it interesting; the protagonist thinks it is bad shit. They both call it the excluded middle. 6.2.0. McHales Dominant: The Ontological Instability of Postmodernism Brian McHale explains POSTmodernISM in the following way: POSTmodernism follows from modernism, in some sense, more than it follows after modernism. PostmodernISM is a movement following the modernist movement. What he means is that it is a corollary. The question that remains to be asked is how in the course of literary history one system has given way to another. [This question] cannot be answered without the intervention of something like the concept of the dominant. (McHale: 2001, 7) The determining of the dominant(s) is a way of conceptualizing the organization of literary history e.g. what cluster of features organized in this specific way constitute an affiliation with modernism and what cluster of features organized in that specific way constitute an affiliation with postmodernism. There may be many different dominants depending upon the level, scope and focus of the analysis (McHale: 2001, 6).

Oedipas seduction scene from Pynchons novel will be subject to analysis several times, but each time from a slightly different angle. cf. Analysis: Characters and Characterisation: Pierce, Metzger and The Crying of Lot 49 The Injured Prince and his Kingdom and Postmodernist Theories McHales Dominant



The dominant may be defined as the focusing component of a work of art; it rules, determines, and transform the remaining components. It is the dominant which guarantees the integrity of the structure. A poetic16 work [is] a structured system, a regularly ordered hierarchical set of artistic devices. Poetic evolution is a shift in this hierarchy. (McHale: 2001, 6)

McHales thesis is that the dominant of modernist fiction is essentially epistemological: How can I interpret this world of which I am part? And what am I in it? (McHale: 2001, 9) He adds other typical modernist questions:
What is there to be known?; Who knows it?; How do they know it, and with what degree of certainty?; How is knowledge transmitted from one knower to another, and with what degree of reliability?; How does the object of knowledge change as it passes from knower to knower?; What are the limits of the knowable? And so on. (McHale: 2001, 9)

It is only when the limits of this epistemological process are reached; when the process breaks down; when the limits of the knowable have been reached and fictionalizing through improvisation of possible worlds what could or must have happened becomes necessary that a shift occurs; a shift from problems of knowing to problems of modes of being from an epistemological dominant to an ontological dominant (McHale: 2001, 10). McHales second thesis is: The dominant of postmodernist fiction is ontological. (McHale: 2001, 10)
[Postmodernist] fiction deploys strategies which engage and foreground questions like the ones Dick Higgins calls post-cognitive: Which world is this? What is to be done in it? Which of my selves is to do in it? Other typical postmodernist questions bear either on the ontology of the literary text itself or on the ontology of the world which it projects, for instance: What is a world?; What kinds of world are there, how are they constituted, and how do they differ?; What happens when different kinds of world are placed in confrontation, or when boundaries between worlds are violated?; What is the mode of existence of a text, and what is the mode of existence of the world (or worlds) it projects?; How is a projected world structured? And so on. (McHale: 2001, 10)


On explaining postmodernism McHale refers to poetics as an organized structured system that is both independent of and is considered as a corollary of and belonging to a previous system like postmodernisms dependence of modernism, the Renaissance, the Romantic period etc.


He also contemplates various other dominants of cultural history apart from the dominants of these isms. While aesthetic function is seen as the trans-historical dominant, painting is considered the dominant art-form of the Renaissance, music the dominant to the Romantic period, and so on, but adds that dominants are numerous and differ depending on the level, scope and focus of the analysis. (McHale: 2001, 6) McHale emphasises that postmodernisms ontological dominant is not the same as the ontology of postmodernism. Within postmodernism there is an inherent ontological instability, and in the case of Pynchon and Beckett, anguish in the face of a world that seems without ontological grounding (McHale: 2001, 26). One could argue that because ontological instability is the dominating factor of postmodernism, postmodernisms dominant is instability and not ontology. One should think that classic epistemology always hides an inherent ontology, an inquiry, if not into the first principle, then at least into Daseins being a peak under the veil of its whence and whither.17 If we consider ontologically the amalgamation of identities shared by our protagonist: Oedipa Maas (Oed): Californian housewife, Oedipa: the detective, Maas: the Flesh, OM: the sound, Oedipa Maas: Rapunzel/The Maiden in the Tower, Oedipa: the sensitised one, and add to this our protagonists partial sharing of identity with her namesake, who could not escape fate, the solver of riddles Oedipus (the swollen one) we find, with regard to identity, an ontological instability, a platypus, but we also find an absence of identity, because to be and to become are now indistinguishable. If we throw this platypus into equally unstable representations of time and space and construct a world around it, e.g. a tower, what comes out at the other end? Is that what postmodernism entails? When we reach the limits of our knowledge we create another possible world, we fabulate says McHale and refers to the protagonist Oedipa Maas when she realizes that she has reached the limits of her knowledge: Shall I project a world? (Pynchon: 2006, 64) In my view the dominant of The Crying of Lot 49 and of the fairy-tale Rapunzel is solipsism, which essentially proposes that nothing exists; even if something exists, nothing can be known about it; and even if something can be known about it, knowledge about it cannot be communicated to others.18 (Freeman: 1957, 127-128) Pynchons novel introduces the
Sandeman et all: 2007, 58 Proposition builds on the philosophy of the sceptic Gorgias of Leontini (latter half of fifth century B.C.) For further reference see Descartes, Ren: A Discourse on the Method (2006 edition), part four.
18 17


Berkeleyan conundrum on the first page hidden in one of the protagonists mental flash backs, thus planting the first of many uncertainties as to whether the story is a projection of the protagonists mind and how mentally stable she really is. In Postmodernist Fiction there is a chapter called a world next door, where McHale contemplates the literalising of a characteristic modernist metaphor. This is the metaphorical use of world in a sense of way of life, lifeexperience, or Weltanschauung a familiar metaphorical extension of the literal ontological sense of world to embrace an epistemological, psychological, or sociological meaning. (McHale: 2001, 79) This use of world is perhaps more closely connected to political and ideological modes of existence and the perception of different spheres of life. It symbolises the aesthetic ordering of life, the tabulation of existence. However, one of the characteristics of postmodernism is fragmentation. It can be likened to a broken mirror whose fragments still hold all its prior reflections even modernist metaphors I am sure; and tabulation is not an option. An important theme in Pynchons novel and the fairy-tale is the element of the two worlds, the binary opposition or mirror imaging of the magic world and the so-called real world, mutually interdependent, and as I see it, sharing the same dominant; the dominant of desire. Another representation of world is cinema or TV. Like Jameson McHale considers their role in postmodernist writing at an ontological level, a world-within-the-world often in competition with the primary diegetic world of the text. (McHale; 2001, 128) However, Pynchons text uses an alternative approach: interplay of worlds, in effect an alliance between the world of TV and the world outside TV. We already know this alliance from TV quiz shows, but the way it is used in The Crying of Lot 49 is interesting. It takes something which has already taken place twenty-odd years ago, the Baby Igor film, and jumbles it, exposes it to epistemological uncertainty by letting its outcome depend on the viewers ability to predict the outcome and her willingness to be seduced by the films protagonist in his current form.19 This current form is already quite unstable: is he a lawyer who used to be an actor, or is he an actor playing a lawyer. Had it not been for the introduction of the Bishop Berkeley conundrum at the beginning, and two more references to solipsism, all within the first chapter of the novel, this interplay of worlds in the Baby Igor scene at the motel would easily have spiralled the story into the genre of the Fantastic. But, as it is, the scene holds, because one cannot loose grip of a
He plays the child protagonist in the film shown on TV during his seduction of the novels protagonist. cf. Analysis, Rapunzel.


reality that purportedly does not exist, not even if it is viewed as an extension of the protagonists mind. Working with the concept of multiple worlds and binaries the question of excluded middles does not immediately spring to mind. Normally, it is always the polarity of either or. However, eighty percent of The Crying of Lot 49 is about walking the excluded middle. After her sensitising the protagonist Oedipa Maas enters into a liminal state. She considers excluded middles bad shit, something that has to be avoided. She equates it to walking among matrices of a great digital computer, the zeroes and the one twinned above, hanging like balanced mobiles right and left, ahead, thick, maybe endless. (Pynchon: 2006, 150) In his essay Petillon opts for an epistemological interpretation relying on the old symbolism of zero and one: Among the symbolic potentials of the I/O configuration is that of the erect I standing for phallic closure and O for openness, crossroads; and diversity of chances. (Petillon in ODonnell: 1991, 164) An excluded middle comprises the both and. McHale calls it the third alternative to the polarity of true and false, any mode of being between existence and nonexistence. (McHale: 2001, 106) It is interesting that he should call it a mode of being, because there is no such intermediate state between binaries which could be termed a mode of being, except perhaps the first Bardo state, the Chikhai Bardo20 of Tibetan Buddhism, essentially the state of dying, or the liminal state known from various rites of passage. Oedipas sensitising and walking the excluded middle is quite similar to the transitory process of the liminal as described by Victor Turner in his essay Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites of Passage: [..] I prefer to regard transition as a process, a becoming, and, in the case of rites de passage, even a transformation here an apt analogy would be water in process of being heated to boiling point, or a pupa changing from grub to moth.21 (Turner in Mahdi et all: 1994, 4) Turner is more inclined to seeing it as a becoming rather than a mode of being, a transition. We could perhaps call it an inchoative22state. This liminal state between binary divergences in the rites of passage of initiation processes is however subject to its own set of rules and it would be quite interesting to see whether a comparison to our protagonists
Oddly enough my first impulse after reading The Crying of Lot 49 was to interpret it in accordance the Bardo Thdol as a souls 49 days journey through the three Bardos from death to rebirth. But, for various reasons that proved impossible. 21 Ref. Oedipas changing from a fat chrysalis clad in all her clothes after Metzger has undressed her. 22 Inchoative means beginning not so much of an action as of a mode. An inchoative verb = an inceptive verb designates a process about to begin, a becoming or a beginning. In Latin amo - I love, amasco I am falling in love.


sensitising would reveal any similarities. Turner writes that: The initiate must relinquish former structural ties, undergoing nakedness, poverty, and complete submission to the terms of the liminal passage in order to attain the next life stage, so the individual in our own culture must leave old ways behind, divesting oneself of egos claims to rank and social function, in order to attain a more highly individuated stage of growth. (Turner in Mahdi et all: 1994, 3) Rapunzel and Oedipa have both been sensitised (by submission) and have left the safety of the magic world; that is, the protection symbolised by the tower, the hair and the pupa23 before they are venturing out into the wilderness. As readers we are susceptible to a happy ending, but if that is not possible then at least to closure. In his chapter on endings in postmodernism: The sense of a (non-)ending McHale contemplates texts that are poised between open and closed endings, the multiple and circular endings. The circular ending the ouroboros-structure refers to the snake that bites it tail; that is, when the unfinished sentence on the last page of the text is resuming on page one. I see such a text as a circulus vitiosus, ein Teufelskreiss. It would symbolise the pointlessness of existence and its perpetual boring repetition. Jameson refers to it as a kind of bad reflexivity that eats its own tail without ever squaring the circle. (Jameson: 1991, 64) In my view, the open multipleending structure, the one we find in Pynchons novel, presents a paradox of multiple choice non-endings. If a text presents four different scenarios, like Pynchons text does, of how it could possibly end, these scenarios are only interesting insofar at least one of them corresponds to the readers own idea of how the text should end. Thus, to me a non-ending is an open ending where there is scope for imagination. Presenting possible non-endings is, on the other hand, a way for the author to resume control of his text where he should have let go. There are four different scenarios presented in the last chapter of The Crying of Lot 49:
1. It is true 2. She is hallucinating 3. It is a plot 4. Shes fantasying a plot; she is mad.


Oedipa cocooned herself in her clothes linking her to Oedipus, which means the swollen one


The protagonist calls them those symmetrical four and presents them as alternatives. They point directly to the open ending ten pages ahead in the text, where they should have been presented one by one over the chapters as an unfolding of possibilities instead of robbing the reader of his chance to participate in the novels plot. 7. Meaning: Intention, text, context and reader Does the meaning of a text refer back to the intention of the author? Does it lie in the experience of the reader? Does it rely upon the orthodoxy of history and its narratives? Or is meaning more complex? Derrida 24 attacked what he called the quasi-scientific pretension of the strict forms of structuralism presupposing a fixed center that serves to organize and regulate the structure yet itself escapes structurality. (Adams: 2005, 247) In his essay The Death of the Author (1967) Roland Barthes disputes the literary tradition of incorporating the intention of the author when interpreting a text. Instead he advocates a close text-reader relationship which would, in his view, expand the scope or horizon of interpretation. In processes of communication we have some straight forward constellations with regard to the emphasis of its three main components: the author of the text (sender), the text itself (text, context) and the reader (addressee). We have the authoritative author, the very audible author, the almost invisible author, the author who transmogrifies into an overt or a covert narrative voice or into a person in the plot, which is a characteristic of metafiction. In 1949 Wimsatt and Beardsleys article Intentional Fallacy argued that meaning is not created by the authors intention, but rather by his representation, his work; that is, the text. The literary text will be a reflection of his consciousness and thus it will remain closely related to his personal life. Thomas Pynchon has chosen a very private existence. Very few people know were he lives and how he looks and he rarely comments on his works, which means that the only connection to this author is via his works. In his introduction to Slow Learner (2000) he writes that at some point in his life he had become very impatient with fiction he felt then to be too autobiographical. Somewhere I had come up with the notion that ones personal life had nothing to do with fiction, when the truth, as everyone knows, is nearly the direct opposite. (Pynchon: 2000, 1) I quoted this passage in order to highlight the close link between fiction and the personal life of its author. It was not meant as an attempt to reintroduce the authors intention into the interpretation of a literary work, just, perhaps, to make a detour around the

Derrida, Jaques, Writing and Difference (1978)


reifications of current theoretical discourse as Jameson likes to call it. (Jameson: 1991, 182) In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Capitalism Jameson elaborates what Walter Benn Michaels sees as the pathologies of current critical theory when he quotes from Michaels theoretical text Against Theory (1982): [What] that essay meant by theory, [is] something that can now be recapitulated with all the concision of its authors, namely, the tendency to generate theoretical problems by splitting apart terms that are in fact inseparable (AT 12). (Jameson: 1991, 182) By this Jameson arrests the idea that separating authorial intention and meaning of texts amounts to separating subject and ideology generating the belief that we can somehow stand outside our beliefs (AT 27), such that Theory now becomes the name for all the ways people have tried to stand outside practice in order to govern practice from without (AT 30). (Jameson: 1991, 182) This tendency is then identified and localized in two kinds of privileged error: the separation of authorial intention and the meaning of texts. (AT 12) Basically, what Michaels (and his co-author Steven Knapp) were opposing in their essay Against Theory was Paul de Mans deconstructive approach and Stephen Greenblatts New Historicism. Their point of departure was that the enterprise of critical theory is misguided and should be abandoned altogether and replaced by a new and more pragmatic conception of literary study.25 During the past fifty years the role of the reader has been emphasized at the expense of authorial intention. Critics have proposed that meaning is produced by the interplay between text and an entity called the Model Reader. (Eco: 1984, 10) But, what is it in the text that invokes an experience in a reader? Is it the property of the text; that is text and context? Jonathan Culler includes the whole package of author, text, context and reader when he proposes that meaning is determined by context, since context includes rules of language, the situation of the author and the reader, and anything that might conceivably be relevant (Culler: 2000, 67). This view is more pragmatic and in line with Michaels and Knapps neopragmatism. Alternatively, a text could be viewed as a possibility, which would mean that any literary text may be seen as lying suspended in some kind of inchoative state waiting to be broken by its reader or exploded26 by its reader/interpreter.

Excerpts by unnamed author taken from The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism which includes Michaels and Knapps essay Against Theory (see Bibliography) 26 This is a contemplation of Roland Barthes use of the word explode about the breaking up of a text for interpretation and the fact that technical drawing showing all the bits and components of e.g. an



Eco differentiates between good and bad reading when he talks of the Model Reader of a text referring to the interplay between text and reader: The reader is strictly defined by the lexical and the syntactical organization of the text: the text is nothing else but the semantic-pragmatic production of its own Model Reader. (Eco: 1984, 10) When Eco in The Role of the Reader contemplates Charles Saunders Peirces assumption that a sememe is in itself an inchoative text, whereas a text is an expanded sememe 27 (Eco: 1984, 177) and co-advocates what he would later refer to as the Peircean idea of unlimited semiosis28 (Eco: 1994, 6) did he then subscribe to the view that the smallest unit of meaning is in itself a text in a state of transition (inchoative text), because it is always already perceived as such, has had meaning read into it, and that, as suggested above, it is suspended in a dichotomy of being/becoming wherefore interpretation is already immanent? This is an interesting thought because it points to the preSocratic concept of aletheia reinvented by Heidegger meaning disclosure as in unconcealedness (not truth!). Text and speech are expressed in language and in On Heidegger and Language Heinrich Ott interprets Heideggers idea of what language constitutes: Man lives in language. Language is not just one of many abilities at his disposal. He dwells in language. Everything that he is and does comes to pass in the realm of language. (Ott in Kockelmans: 1986, 170) One could argue that Otts interpretation of Heideggers view on language would tally with Peirces assumption that a sememe is in itself an inchoative text, whereas a text is an expanded sememe; that is, the smallest unit of semantic meaning (inchoative text) is always already being processed, exposing itself to interpretation and valuation. And, that meaning is readily available underneath; the signified is hidden under the signifier; it is palimpsestic. Eco also adds that Peirce believed that a regularity of behaviour in the interpreter or user of the sign establishes a habit. A habit being a tendency to behave in a similar way under similar circumstances in the future (5.487), and he adds that the final interpretant of a sign is, as a result, this habit (5.491). All things have a tendency to take habits it is cosmological to take a habit is to establish or assume an ordered and regulated way of being (Eco: 1984, 192). Eco stresses that Peirces view on final semiosis is dialectical: He
electrical/electronic gadget like a cell-phone or a TV or an electrical sign is called an exploded drawing plus Pierces assumption of a sememe being a an inchoative text in itself, and Heideggers view on language. 27 Peirce was a logician who believed that logic was to be equated with semeiotic (not semiotics) Signs were to be perceived as icons, indices (also called semes), or symbols (sometimes called tokens), accordingly as they derived their significance from resemblance to their objects, a real relation (for example, of causation) with their objects, or are connected only by convention to their objects, respectively. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/peirce 28 To say that interpretation (as the basic feature of semiosis) is potentially unlimited does not mean that interpretation has no object and that it riverruns for the mere sake of itself (Eco: 1990: p. 6)


believed that haecceitas ends the game of semiosis, but that the final interpretant [was] not final in a chronological sense. Semiosis dies at every moment. But, as soon as it dies, it arises again like the Phoenix (Eco: 1984, 95). As far as I can see this means that the agreed thisness of the sign is linked to what Peirce calls the habit (linked to the effect of the sign on the interpreter). If the habit equals the interpretant and the haecceitas ends the game of semiosis does that not propose a relativist interpretation of haecceitas devaluating it as a concept? Ecos conclusion does not clarify that, but instead draws a interpretational circle or spiral: Thus the repeated action [feeling response leads to action response to a sign] responding to a given sign becomes in its turn a new sign, the representamen of a law interpreting the former sign and giving rise to new processes of interpretation (Eco: 1984, 195). Heidegger would, however, term this a hermeneutic, ein Teufelskreiss, a circulus vitiosus because and this is also in keeping with Lyotards meta narratives - he thought that when tradition becomes master, it conceals the origin and blocks our access to primordial sources of knowing the meaning of Being. The historicality is so thoroughly uprooted by tradition that an objective interpretation is no longer possible.29 In an interview with Raymond Bellour on S/Z his interpretation of Sarrasine by Honor de Balzac Barthes and Bellour discuss whether a sentence could lack significance; be purely denotative or whether everything signifies. Barthes explains;
To say everything signifies is to indicate that if a sentence seems to lack meaning on the interpretative level, it signifies on the level of language itself. Everything signifies thus returns to that simple but essential idea that the text is entirely penetrated and enveloped by meaning, that it is completely immersed in a kind of infinite intermeaning [intersens] that stretches between language and the world. (Barthes: 1991, 74)

In Barthes view meaning ontologically has become attached to Dasein, Being-in-the-world and attached to text/context in a self referential way; that is meaning is always already present in the text as a kind of infinite intermeaning. This view correlates with Heideggers Meaning is an existentiale of Dasein, not a property attaching to entities, lying behind them, or floating somewhere as an intermediate domain. (Heidegger: 1962, 193) As far as the meaning of a literary text is concerned we may surmise that it is/is not the intention of the author, it is/is not


From Being and Time (1962 English edition) Int. II 21, p. 43 slightly altered.


a property of the text, it is/is not the experience of the reader, but it is context-bound. Peirce affirms a principle of contextuality: something can be truly asserted within a given universe of discourse and under a given description, but this assertion does not exhaust all the other, and potentially infinite, determinations of that object. (Eco: 1994, 37) 8. Method As it is the objective of this paper to disclose and expose another underlying plot, an obscure plot in a text and thus to transpose it, causing it to transmogrify it has to be structured into narrative units, little islands of logic that, if all goes well, shall eventually reflect a greater logic within the text. The Crying of Lot 49 has often been described as a piece of metafiction a term used on novels that depart radically from the world of ordinary experience. (Abrams: 2005, 288) The Crying of Lot 49 is peculiar in most aspects and it is also very deliberately enigmatic, every aspect of it, from the enigma of its title to its consequent use of names that relate to Freudian psychology; its excessive intertextuality (ODonnell: 1991, 145); its representations of reality (ies), bits of historical faux and its presentation of signs and clues that have their roots in religion and mysticism. It is essentially presented as a detective story, and according to Barthes the narrative of such a story operates primarily on what he calls the Hermeneutic Code which covers the setting into place of an enigma and the discovery of the truth it conceals. In a general fashion, this code governs all intrigues modelled on the detective novel. (Barthes: 1991, 74-75) The novel is also abundant in symbolism and intertext. In my analysis I shall be using thematics, an element of postmodernist poetics to help unveil the underlying themes of the novel. I have chosen the hermeneutic approach of the Model Reader where the reader replaces the author as the chief subject of inquiry. (Eco: 1984) In The Limits of Interpretation Eco speaks of the hermetic drift that links to Renaissance interpretation via similes. [Hermeneutics] is based on the principles of universal analogy and sympathy, according to which every item of the furniture of the world is linked to every other element (or to man) of this sublunar world and to every element (or to many) of the superior world by means of similitude or resemblances (Eco: 1994, 24) Postmodernism has a very flexible notion of resemblance. Postmodernist texts stretch and bend the items of the world making any two things resemble one another just as strongly as any two others, if recondite resemblances are admitted. (Peirce: 1934 in Eco: 1994, 24) That is just one of the trademarks of postmodernist writing: recondite resemblances. There are some variations with regard to the


use of narrative tools in different texts such as fairy-tales and novels. In folklore and fairy-tales Motif is an element that stands out such as a type of event, device, reference, or formula. (Abrams: 2005: p. 177) But, basically the most important narrative tools of Rapunzel and The Crying of Lot 49 are: Characters and characterization30, thematics and setting (multiple worlds). 9. The Crying of Lot 49 A Brief Summary

The Crying of Lot 49 is a short and dense novel, sometimes referred to as a novella or a novelette. In his introduction to Slow Learner, a collection of his early short stories Pynchon ironically refers to it in the following way: The next story I wrote was The Crying of Lot 49, which was marketed as a novel, (Pynchon: 2000, 22) The novel consists of six chapters with a more or less linear structure modelled on the classic detective story. It has multiple characters, one protagonist and a third person omnipresent and at the beginning of the novel (very) intrusive narrator. There are two other major characters besides the protagonist, Pierce Inverarity, who is deceased, and his lawyer Metzger plus a multitude of minor characters. Mostly narration is limited to the mind of the protagonist Oedipa Maas housewife of Kinneret-among-the-Pines in California in the early 1960s. She lives the easy life, goes to Tupper-ware parties and tends to her herb garden and her husband and pays regular visits to her psychiatrist. One day she learns she has been named executor of her former lovers will. She leaves her husband to meet her new obligation and her co-executor of the will. The new assignment sends this California housewife into a deep existential crisis and on a transcendental journey of self discovery, manipulation and detective work bringing her in touch not only with the sunny side and the dark side of America, but, eventually also with her own being-in-the-world. 10. Analysis The Crying of Lot 49 is full of references to the fairy-tale Rapunzel. At the beginning they are noticeable, but as the plot progresses they become more obscure, but not completely. It is my thesis that the Rapunzel plot is hidden within in The Crying of Lot 49 and that the Rapunzel plot together with Pynchons story present a strange postmodern adaptation of the old fairy tale
Motif in a fairy-tale may refer to distinguishing and regularly replicated features that form a recognizable pattern: characters, events, objects, actions.


by the Grimm brothers. I shall attempt to uncover and highlight this plot piecing together its thematics. These thematics may be present in their original form like the name Rapunzel, or the concept The Maiden in the Tower or her prince of deliverance, or they may only be found as fragments in a simpler form like symbols or metaphors. They are as follows:
The Maiden in the Tower The Tower The Herb Garden The Injured Prince The Suicide/Blinding The Magic (as opposed to real31) The Wilderness The Lovers Tryst/The Secret The Twins/The Syzygy The Princes Kingdom The Desired Object

The novels many layers allow of multiple interpretations, and with this analysis I shall create a frame that allows different interpretations of the same object. This is possible, because the frame represented by the Rapunzel fairy-tale leaves a wide scope for interpretation owing to the simple structure of the fairy-tale. The first chapter of the analysis will focus on of the fairytale Rapunzel. It will be followed by an analysis of The Crying of Lot 49 where the thematics from the fairy-tale will be highlighted as points of departure in each chapter of the analysis. I shall focus on the novels three different overlays: Communication, names and magic before I finish with an analysis of characters and characterizations. I have chosen to divide the analysis of the characters into one protagonist and two major characters. The analysis of the novels minor characters will be based on their relevance to my thesis, but most of them are relevant and will be dealt with in the analysis of the novels three different overlays. The protagonist is Oedipa Maas and the two major characters of the novel are Oedipas former lover (now diseased) Pierce Inverarity and her co-executor of his will, the lawyer Metzger. They refer back to the protagonist on the personal level (to the subject, the one who seeks), whereas the novels

I use the word real for lack of a better one. The fairy-tale operates with magic versus real, which is in fact fictional. But using words like factual or non-magic does not make sense as a pair of binaries. The novel operates with this world, but in a fictional (constructed) form, but also with other constructed worlds


entire cast of minor characters only refers to the quest of the protagonist (the object of her seeking). The novels thematics and thematic focal points will be analysed and interpreted. They constitute keys to unlocking the deeper structures of the novel, and will eventually and hopefully prove that the novel may be interpreted as an adaptation of the well-known fairy-tale Rapunzel. As for the analysis and interpretation of the novels setting and the setting in Rapunzel, emphasis will be placed on the concept of the two worlds, in its simplest form comprising what we know to be the magic world and the real world from the fairy-tale, however, not only to be seen as a contrasting of opposites as in a dichotomy, but also as parity, mirror imaging. 10.1.0. Rapunzel 32 Plot If a plot is in fact constituted by its events and actions, as these are rendered and ordered toward achieving particular artistic and emotional effects, (Abrams: 2005, 233) the plot in Rapunzel is to be considered a fairly simple plot. Events and actions are limited to a minimum, and the artistic and emotional effects are few. A child is claimed by a sorceress in retaliation for her fathers trespassing into a magic world stealing a magic object, a flower/herb to satisfy the cravings of his pregnant wife. The sorceress removes the child from the world and locks the child in a tower. The child grows up and becomes beautiful with immensely long hair. She endures her encapsulation; is content, protected and loyal. A prince comes along, finds a way to enter the tower and seduces the girl. The sorceress finds out, cuts off the girls hair and sends her out into the wilderness where she suffers greatly. The sorceress tells the prince that his beloved is no more and in his grief he throws himself from the tower. He survives but thorns have poked out his eyes. He wanders the woods for years blinded, weeping and wailing over his loss. Eventually they find each other when he walks into the wilderness. In the meantime she has given birth to twins. Her tears clear up his eye sight and he leads her into his kingdom. Interpretation There is a big difference between the fairy-tale Rapunzel created by the brothers Grimm and how the fairy-tale and fairy-tales in general are told today and also how they are perceived by modern people. The original version is from 1812, but revised in 1819 and again in 1857 by

Please see Appendix I


Wilhelm Grimm. In contemporary versions the parents are often left out of the story. The sorceress is either overly emphasized or replaced by a non-entity, an anonymous, malignant magic as in The Crying of Lot 49, and Rapunzel giving birth to twins has been erased from the story. Whatever darkness, shadows and ambiguities were present in the original story have disappeared mostly in favour of a more up to date gung-ho version injected with wit, boyish action and lots of tongue-in-cheek integrity. Todays Rapunzel has become a simulacrum. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimms Rapunzel is a magic fairy-tale being who possesses no autonomy and shows very little integrity, let alone wisdom or perspicacity, only some cunning when she suggests that the prince brings her strands of silk for a ladder. The whole idea of fairy tales was to suggest something for the reader to interpret. Todays representations depending on and varying according to Weltanschauung of course are mostly pre-digested and pre-interpreted. There is no shadow, no hidden evil, no murky waters left; even the wilderness is somewhat benign in a modern western interpretation. In the following interpretation of the original fairytale I shall break down the two important elements that characterise the story, setting and motif (relates to characters; events; objects; actions) and extract their main components. The Princes nearly fatal enchantment by Rapunzel constitutes the motif of the fairy-tale. Rapunzel is the main character: A flower/herb, a beautiful girl, an object of desire, a maiden in a tower. She is the enchanted object of the fairy-tale. All the action is about her (or about her namesake, the flower/herb) and most of the events include her in some way. The setting of this fairy-tale refers to the well known concept of binaries the element of the two worlds; one a representation of the real33 world the other representing the enchanted: the world of the couple and the world of the sorceress Frau Gothel. It is a juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane. The worlds are isolated from each other; the enchanted world is encapsulated within high walls. The beings of the enchanted world uphold the isolation. It is only visible through a small rear window of the couples house, symbolising the naughty peephole. The element of the two worlds is also observed in the enchanted world of the tower, again with only a tiny little window at the very top versus the forest, representing the real world. Encapsulation is a theme. Additionally, the element of the two worlds is repeated in the world

I use the word real for lack of a better one. The fairy-tale operates with magic versus real, which is in fact fictional. But using words like factual or non-magic does not make sense as a pair of binaries. The novel operates with this world, but in a fictional form, but also with other worlds that might be constructed as/or the result of too much LSD and other mind altering substances.



of the wilderness versus the blind world surrounding it (the world of the blinded prince). You cannot enter the enchanted world unless you are invited. Trespassers must pay with their lives, either directly or by proxy like Rapunzels mother did. The sorceress claimed Rapunzels life for her fathers trespass and the princes (nearly) for his. The themes are trespassing/ transgression and death. The enchanted world is described as splendid and beautiful (the sorceress garden), it is a desirable world. Desire is a main theme because it brings about the transgression. The real world of the couple is a world where desires are created, the magic or enchanted world where they are met. It is very much like the conception of Eden versus outside of Eden, which makes desire the dominant of both worlds. (Cf. McHales Dominant) The sorceress task is to interpret the laws of the enchanted world, uphold the division between the two worlds and to punish trespassers. She symbolises the gatekeeper and she epitomises that which is magic. She does not seem to have other functions. She is similar to Maxwells demon of the Nefastis machine34. She upholds law and order within a closed system. Within an equally closed system the demon is in charge of the even distribution of hot and cold molecules. He is the gatekeeper of the trapdoor knowing exactly what molecules go where to uphold maximum entropy within the entire system, while he amasses the data released within the system. The sorceress function in the enchanted world is very similar.35 The sorceress did not claim Rapunzel because she desired her, she claimed her as payment for her fathers transgression caused by her mothers desire. The first enchanted object was the Rapunzel flower/lettuce, the irresistible enchanted herb that her mother desired. The girl Rapunzel becomes the new irresistible enchanted object; the desired one. She is named after the object of her mothers desire. Enchanted objects are another theme. So, Rapunzel was originally the object of her mothers desire (herb/flower/lettuce), she is also the fruit (child) of her parents sexual desire, and finally she is her mothers desire (she wanted a child). A connection to Oedipa; her namesake Oedipus became the object of his mothers desire, but he was also the fruit of her sexual desire. There is a strong biblical symbolism in the themes of the fairy-tale: the expulsion from paradise; the two worlds: inside/outside of Eden; the encapsulation in Eden; the temptation of Eve; Adams transgression; desire and lust; picking the forbidden fruit (the

The Nefastis machine is a contraption build on an idea by James Clark Maxwell. Cf. The Crying of Lot 49: The Magic 35 Maximum entropy is maximum disorder, but the comparison is not about order/disorder but about function within a closed system



seducing and defiling of Rapunzel); mortality; blindness; the veil comes down and hides the enchanted world (Eden) forever. Another theme is religion. The constant trespassing and moving between the two worlds, first the fathers then the princes trespassing, the casting out, the venturing into the wilderness are of course events that serve to bring the story forward, but they also serve to draw attention to the concept of being liminal, to the moments of evanescent duration spend in transit between worlds. Liminality is another theme. The prince has become blind and does not perceive the world through his eyes, thus the world loses its distinction and he loses his ability to distinguish the different worlds he passes through. Had not the magic world been encapsulated by high walls he could actually be trespassing without knowing it. Another theme is blindness, literal as well as symbolic. Rapunzels lack of reflexivity, her placid demeanour, missing rebellion and great navet when she asks the sorceress why the prince is so much lighter than her to haul up into the tower is a blindness to her own situation. Another theme is the divine couple, the syzygy. In the real world the prince is believed to be the most desired object. Thus, the most desired objects of the two worlds, the prince and Rapunzel constitute the divine couple, the syzygy. The significance of giving birth to twins in the wilderness can also be interpreted as a syzygy an amalgamation of two worlds, the magic and the real; the miracle that the aptly named Jess Arrabal speaks of in Pynchon novel, the intrusion into this world from another, the kiss of cosmic pool balls. (Pynchon: 2006, 101) 10.2.0. The Crying of Lot 49 Searching for The Maiden To be able to discern what I believe to be an obscure plot within The Crying of Lot 49 I have lifted the most important thematics from the fairy-tale Rapunzel and applied them to Pynchons novel for comparison. The following is a rather loose descriptive chronological interpretation of some of the main points of the novel. The idea is to connect the fairy-tale thematics with the novels text and focus on retrieving the same or similar thematics from the novel. These must in some form or other be present in Pynchons novel, but to make sense as a plot they must also appear consecutively and be meaningful when pieced together in a coherency in order to represent a plot that may be interpreted as a postmodern adaptation of the old fairy-tale. The


next chapter presenting the different overlays of Pynchons novel will present a less descriptive more comprehensive analysis.
The Herb Garden The Maiden in the Tower The Tower The Injured Prince and his Kingdom The Desired Object The Magic (as opposed to real) The Wilderness The Twins/The Syzygy The Lovers Tryst/The Secret

The Herb Garden The story begins in medias res when Oedipa learns that she has been named executor of the estate of her former lover Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had died earlier that year. He had loved Oedipa and his stamp collection and had excelled in impersonating characters from radio and television, especially the voice known as the Shadow a popular character of a 1930s radio play. Oedipa is presently married to Wendell Mucho Maas, a disc jockey at a local radio station. Oedipa had conned herself into the curious, Rapunzel-like role(Pynchon: 2006, 10) with Pierce as her prince of deliverance. This Rapunzel, still in her tower, now resides in Kinnaretamong-the Pines its little green turrets symbolising the little doses provided by Dr. Hilarius just to keep her going that she may tend to her husband and her little herb garden. How are the pills, not working? (Pynchon: 2006, 7) Her placid demeanour and lack of reflexivity resembles Rapunzels. She currently shares her castle with a fugitive from the real world her husband Mucho, who had not liked but understood and believed in the real world; a world of human misery and depression. He dreads it but also covets it and longs for it. It had been like a salad of despair, in a gray dressing of ash, condensed exhaust, dust, body wastes it made him sick to look, but he had to look. (Pynchon: 2006, 5) The couple now live outside of reality protected by green turrets and an eternally blue sky. However, Mucho is not part of the Rapunzel plot. He belongs in the real world. He becomes reified in Pynchons novel, is


dismissed as a lecherous pursuer of young girls, a pastiche; a Mucho Macho man, who ends up becoming addicted to LSD. He played his role as Oedipas escape from the formless magic, one of the choices she made when she realised that she could not escape the magic that held her captive. When she leaves him [He] was sad to see her go, but not desperate, so after telling him to hang up if Dr. Hilarius called and look after the oregano in the garden, which had contracted a strange mold, she went. (Pynchon: 2006, 13) At the beginning of the first chapter she tosses the salad and oregano leaves for supper. There are no signs of mould. This sudden onset of fungus is an indication that her magic garden has already started to deteriorate before she leaves. There is a very strong link to the sudden onset of deterioration that she experiences in her own body a week before the crying of lot 49 at the auction room in San Narciso. The Maiden in the Tower This formless magic that holds Oedipa captive in her tower refers to a significant experience she had when she and Pierce Inverarity visited an exhibition by the Spanish exile painter Remedios Varo in Mexico. Oedipa had an epiphany when she saw the central part of Varos triptych titled Bordando el Manto Terrestre depicting
[.] a number of frail girls with heart-shaped faces, huge eyes, spun-gold hair, prisoners in the top room of a circular tower, embroidering a kind of tapestry which spilled out the slit windows and into a void, seeking hopelessly to fill the void: for all the other buildings and creatures, all the waves, ships and forests of the earth were contained in this tapestry and the tapestry was the world. (Pynchon: 2006, 11)

Oedipa had had a very emotional reaction to the painting having realised that she could not escape fate (Oedipus reference); that is, escape the encapsulation of her tower. The likeness of the tapestry to the Rapunzel image is apparent. The avalanche of blond hair is similar to the tapestry spilling out of the louvers of the circular tower. Oedipa realizes
that what really keeps her where she is is magic, anonymous and malignant, visited on her from outside and for no reason at all. Having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this formless magic, to understand how it works, how to measure its field strength, count its lines of force, she may fall back on superstition, or take up a


useful hobby like embroidery, or go mad, or marry a disk jockey. If the tower is everywhere and the knight of deliverance no proof against its magic, what else? (Pynchon: 2006, 12)

Rapunzels sorceress has in Oedipas world transformed into a non-entity, an anonymous, malignant and formless magic that she senses, but whose spell she cannot break. Within the frame of Buddhist mythology Oedipas encounter with the triptych symbolises the story of a woman, who has tried to penetrate the veil that clouds the world, the Maya, a magic web of cosmic proportions (Eliade: 1991, 117) but has failed and thus accepted its presence. The Tower Oedipa realises her own solipsism, that she has created her own world, and that it is contained within her and surrounds her at the same time. She cannot escape it, her tower. It is an ontological paradox that mirrors the ontological paradox in the triptych: The embroiderers in the tower make the embroidery of the world in which the tower stands; hence the tower is both outside and inside the world at the same time. Another interpretation refers to specific normative values in terms of gender roles in America in the 1960s; that is, how to cope with life as a woman in a mans world. The suggestion to fall back on superstition (religion) means to conform to the general opinion that some god ordained it so. Woman would never have other means than fear and cunning to help her understand the formless magic a male gods malignant creation of the world holding her in place in her tower. So, she might as well marry a disk jockey and find her place within the grand narratives of the world. The above quote also relates to the ontological dominant of postmodernism. The part of the passage that begins with: what really keeps her where she is down to the end of the quote epitomises McHales thesis of the ontological dominant. Oedipa has realised that she is trapped in an ontological void of her own creation. She has reached the limits of the epistemological process, it has broken down. The limits of the knowable have been reached, she must necessarily fictionalize, improvise possible worlds like fall back on superstition, take up a useful hobby, or go mad, or marry a disk jockey whereby her situation shifts a shift from problems of knowing to problems of modes of being from an epistemological dominant to an ontological dominant. (McHale: 1987, 10)


The Injured Prince and his Kingdom The next day Oedipa leaves for San Narciso, Pierces Inveraritys home turf, the kingdom of the wounded prince and the place from which he ran his business. On her way to the valley she experiences religious instants and has revelations of the meaning of circuits and road systems. Again this annoying duality; either they really are forebodings promising mystic encounters or she cannot cope, so she has popped some of Dr. Hilarius little helpers designed for maidens in distress. In San Narciso she meets Metzger Inveraritys lawyer and her appointed co-executor who ends up seducing and sensitizing her and they start an affair. Their first sexual climax is rather dramatic involving a total blackout at the motel, a group called The Paranoids, an out of control can of hair spray and her resembling a chrysalis wearing all her clothes. It not only brings her out of her Rapunzel-like state, out of her tower, but also sensitizes her and kicks off her seeking for an underground postal system, which she shall later refer to as the Trystero system. Oedipa, the maiden thus remained in her tower till she got summoned by the testament of her injured prince, Pierce Inverarity. Why? This could be Inveraritys second attempt at rescuing the maiden. Before he died he named her executor and Metzger co-executor. Grant suggests that we are dealing with a deliberate scheme: Seeds reference to the repeatedly tentative nature of [the novels] narrative comments (ias if, etc.) [] is certainly in line with the Jamesian scheme. (Grant: 1987, 53) Oedipas strange intercourse with Metzger could be read as an initiation; she is a neophyte in an odd rite of passage performed in the modern environs of a Californian motel room. It is marked by symbolic death for both of them: When she climaxed all the lights went out sexual climax = the small death and when the TV comes on again Baby Igor dies in the submarine. The childs death in the womb of a submarine named for his mother and piloted by his father represents the televised abreaction of oedipal material. (Grant: 1987, 52) Oedipas sensitising can be compared to Rapunzels sensitising by the prince. They have sexual intercourse in the tower, which transgresses the laws of magic and essentially breaks the spell, infuses Rapunzel with something human and Oedipa with heightened state of awareness. They seize to be pure magic beings; they become polluted in a way. Rapunzel is scalped, removed from her magic tower and cast off into the wilderness. Oedipas sensitising and initiation is done by proxy. She is Pierced by her lovers substitute, a pure (koshered), handsome, and bloodless man-child, who protects her from being


injured by the ritual sacra. In rites of passage the communication of the sacra is vital: [In] the Greek Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries [the] communication of the sacra has three main components. [This] threefold classification holds good for initiation rites all over the world: Sacra may be communicated as: (1) exhibitions, what is shown; (2) actions, what is done; and (3) instructions, what is said. (Turner in Mahdi et all: 1994, 11-12) Exhibitions are primarily musical instruments, evocatory instruments, and relics of deities, but could include bones, tops, mirrors, apples, woolly fleece and masks. In the seduction/sensitising scene the band The Paranoids play their evocatory instruments during the whole seduction until the climax when all the lights go out. The mirror in the bathroom is smashed by the can of hairspray, symbolising a perfect relic of a female deity. In the sixties the bulbous bouffant was in vogue and required a lot of hairspray to stay put. The seduction by proxy would count as action, so would the unwrapping of Oedipa, who had put on all her clothes until she resembled a chrysalis. Instructions come from Pierce via his testament symbolised by one short dialogue between Metzger and Oedipa: What did Inverarity tell you about me, she asked finally. That you wouldnt be easy he replies, informing the reader that Pierce had known that they would end up in bed, however, the line that you wouldnt be easy also suggests that she was set up and Pierce was the actual instructor as well as the instigator of Oedipas sensitising. Sensitised and in a liminal state she stands on the bridge that spans two worlds, the real world and the world of appearance. In a Berkeleyan universe the real world comprises only ideas or minds. The world of appearance is the illusionary world, the world of matter, what Descartes called the res extensa. This view mirrors the Buddhist interpretation of the world which likens is to a mirror covered by a thick layer of dust, clouded by ignorance created by false knowledge. Thus it cannot reflect the light of truth which is hidden. What remains is the illusion, the Maya (Tibetan Book of the Dead: 1960). Another interpretation relates to the assumption that she sold herself to Piece; that he had to use his credit card as a shim to unlock the tower door, but what went on between them remained confined within the tower. She never committed, only took his money and now he demands his pound of flesh symbolising Oedipa.36 For that purpose he hired (the) Metzger, koshered and ready to cut. This interpretation adds to the foregrounding of Freudianism and psychic crisis in the overlay of names37. Whatever the reason, her sensitising brought her out of the tower.

36 37

Cf. Characters and Characterisation: Oedipa Maas The Maiden in the Tower Cf. Overlay of Names


Thus, suspended in her liminal state, Oedipa is now drawn deeper into Pierce Inveraritys world; a world of thousands of little coloured widows into the deep vistas of space and time. (Pynchon: 2006, 31) It is the kingdom of the injured prince: San Narciso valley, Pierces estate and his home turf. In the fairy-tale the prince is temporarily blinded (wounded) by grief when he throws himself from the tower. If we compare him to Oedipas two princes, Metzger and Pierce Inverarity the first is a koshered substitute the latter is not just wounded, he is dead. But this being a fairy-tale, nothing is impossible! She is amazed by the extent of Inveraritys business. It comprises a large part of the valley and extends to several other states. When she visits the Scope Bar with Metzger in her sensitized state her encounter with the slender, pastiche of a character, the sliding drip dry Mike Fallopian with his society of Pinguids, the reader is confronted with the novels foregrounded Freudian theme taken to the extreme, thus bordering on the absurd38. The reader also has his first encounter with the intertextual helix of thematic focal points: faux history, memoirs, signs, stamps, documents, theories of thermodynamics and communication, which our protagonist will eventually have to piece together into a coherent story. Oedipas discovery of the message through WASTE only and the muted horn on the latrine wall of the Scope Bar is prompted by Fallopians story and her so-called sensitising. Without them she would never have noticed the message, which, oddly, turns things upside down and makes Fallopian the key. The message on the wall and Fallopians story are only markers pointing to him. This discovery confirms our suspicion of scheme and that he is in on it. The Desired Object The only way to view her trip to Fangoso Lagoons and Lake Inverarity the next day is as a link and an introduction to the-story-within-the-story, which forms the center of the novels intertextual helix: the Jacobean Revenge Play The Couriers Tragedy by Wharfinger (connotation war monger) playing at the Tank theatre the next day (a pun bordering on the absurd); with the only performance that employs the name Trystero. The Fangoso Lagoons visit establishes a link between the testament of Pierce Inverarity and the play. The harvesting of the bones of the GIs39 from Lago di Piet could be seen as a reference to the sacred and the profane: bones from noble warriors dumped in a sacred lake harvested to be used in the most profane of ways - pulverised in cigarette filters or as entertainment for scuba divers, care of
38 39

Cf. Overlay of Names Cf. Analysis: Overlay of Magic


Pierce Inverarity. This is all mirrored in the play The Couriers Tragedy that leaves Oedipa spell-bound. One wonders if the young girl at the beach, who listens in on Manny Di Pressos story about the bones, connects it to the play and sells Oedipa the story, is the same girl who elopes with Metzger. If so, it adds to the sense of scheme. It is like a circuit or a helix where all the minor characters push the protagonist further and further into the middle like where the secret sits like in Robert Frosts little poem. In the middle sits Trystero, the secret that she has to find. It symbolises her point of departure but also her end goal. The Trystero is the desired object. It is like Remedios Varos triptych: Oedipas fixation on the central painting is similar to her fixation on the Trystero; she removes the focus from the play to the word. The whole story is funnelled out into one word, one epileptic word Trystero. There is a strong similarity to Christianity with its focus on the Logos and to the hermeneutic interpretation of text. When she goes backstage to ask the plays director Randolph Driblette about the bones in the lake, she ends up asking him about the Trystero, where he heard about it. You guys, your like Puritans are about the Bible. So hung up with words, words. (Pynchon: 2006, 62) The words come from his own head, he says. They are there to give the spirit flesh. They are his own interpretation: Im the projector at the planetarium, all the closed little universe visible in the circle of that state is coming out of my mouth, eyes, sometimes other orifices also. (Pynchon: 2006, 62) The Trystero is the adversary of The Thurn and Taxis postal monopoly of seventeenth century Europe, but it is also a metaphor that has to do with the disinherited and with anarchism, and a metaphor for something else, that we are still to find out. Although one was obscure both courier services were very powerful in their own way. Oedipa has become hooked, or, if we believe in the theory of scheme, she has taken the bait. She is adamant on solving the mystery of the Trystero/WASTE enigma. And suddenly she enthusiastically believes it part of her duty to bring the legacy of Pierce Inverarity, his estate into pulsing stelliferous Meaning, all in a soaring dome around her. (Pynchon: 2006, 64) Essentially, she is bent on creating another tower, a dome shaped mausoleum for his bones in gratitude for bringing her out of her encapsulation and assigning her a seemingly purposeful task.


The Magic The next day Oedipa decides to join a stockholders meeting in San Narciso at Yoyodyne Inc. where Inverarity had held some shares. Here she stumbles upon Stanley Koteks who is doodling the sign of the secret muted post horn on an envelope. She pretends to be a stockholder to learn more and he tells her about a former employee, John Nefastis who had invented a perpetual motion machine, that only works, however, when operated by people with the gift; that is, with magic. Oedipa manages to get Nefastis address and asks about WASTE, which he reluctantly explains is an acronym W.A.S.T.E. Before she drives on to visit Mr. Thoth at Vesperhaven40, the philatelist Genghis Cohen41 and John Nefastis she stops to buy a copy of The Couriers Tragedy at Zapfs Used Book Store expecting to find out more about Trystero. Officially Cohen assists with the appreciation of Inveraritys stamp collection and he is also the one who identifies the mute on the WASTE symbol, the horn. In my view, however, Cohen is a key figure. Although he belongs in the category of minor characters he is the keeper of Lot 49, the Trystero stamp collection. He is also the link to the final figure the Passerine (the passerin). Petillon links the name to passerino, Italian for sparrow from passer domesticus, house sparrow. The sparrow is perceived as psychopomp and is often depicted in funerary art. When Oedipa visits Cohens apartment she refers to its old fashioned French layout of rooms en colonnade 42a couple of times and comments: She glanced down the corridor of Cohens rooms in the rain and saw, for the very first time, how far it might be possible to get lost in this. (Pynchon: 2006, 76) It does not say Cohens apartment, but the corridor of Cohens rooms. It is like a mirror effect fooling the eye of the viewer. When she asks him whether they should tell the government about their suspicions of WASTE he becomes nervous, retreats. He tells her that he picks the dandelions for his wine in churchyards, not very kosher, but perhaps endowing the wine with something else: Its clearer now, he said, rather formal. A few months ago it got quite cloudy. You see, in spring, when the dandelions begin to bloom again, the wine goes through a fermentation. As if they remembered. (Pynchon: 2006, 79) It makes Oedipa wonder whether the dead really do persist, even in a bottle of wine. Death or the dead

cf. Communication Overlay cf. Names Overlay and Magic Overlay 42 It is a corridor or a suite of rooms where you can see one room after the other like a trompe loeil effect with mirrors because the doors are placed across from each other with no hallway in-between



are strong thematics of the novel and paired with bones, flesh, hallucinations, the hieroglyphic Word, the epileptic Word it suggests a resurrection theme. The reason why Oedipa decides to visit John Nefastis is to find out whether or not she is a sensitive. Nefastis tries to make her acquainted with the principles of entropy, James Clerk Maxwell and the second law of thermodynamics, but ends up placing her in front of a device with a picture of Maxwell and two pistons that Oedipa is supposed to move using telekinesis. She tries and fails. For John Nefastis [.] two kinds of entropy, thermodynamic and informational, happened, say by coincidence, to look alike, when you wrote them down as equations. Yet he had made his mere coincidence respectable, with the help of Maxwells Demon. (Pynchon: 2006, 87) Brownlie points to the problem of information overload, noise: The coincidence becomes apparent when we consider that the term entropy in information theory represents an increase of information which leads eventually to a condition known as noise: a surfeit of information from which no meaning can be derived. (Brownlie: 2000, 58) The Nefastis machine is similar to a simple device explained in Symbols, Signals and Noise The Origins of Information Theory. (Pierce, John R: 1961, 21)43 Nefastis machine links back to Pynchons short story Entropy (1960). It is linked to Oedipas sensitivity and to communication and is supposed to feed Oedipa data that will somehow trigger her memory of Pierce and herself. We may we consider Nefastis machine in terms of physics; that is, within a closed system the demon is in charge of the even distribution of hot and cold molecules. He keeps an eye on the trapdoor knowing exactly what molecules go where to uphold maximum entropy within the entire system. All the while he amasses the data released within the system. This system is not designed to deal with meaning. It only deals with kinematics; that is the motion of objects without the consideration of the masses or forces that bring about the motion. That is why it needs a sensitive like Oedipa. She could be the one, who could transfer the dynamics which are concerned with the forces and interactions that produce or affect the motion and set the perpetuum in motion once and for all. Alas, she fails. Nefastis preference for teenage girls is also quite interesting. There is something about a little chick that age. (Pynchon: 2006, 84) He is the third in a row; first Mucho Oedipas husband, then Metzger her lover and Serge the boyfriend scorned who would search the playgrounds to find himself an eight year old replacement for his girlfriend who absconded with Metzger. This fascination

The book is available online on: http://archive.org/stream/symbolssignalsan002575mbp#page/n7/mode/2up


with the woman-child, also apparent in Pynchons short story Low-Lands (1960), probably has its origins in Nabokovs novel Lolita (1955).44 The magic and the beauty of the pure woman-, or boy-child is a well-known, age-old theme. The Wilderness After the failed attempt to communicate with Maxwells Demon Oedipa heads for San Narciso, but she gets caught in the rush hour traffic, misses an exit and ends up in San Franciscos North Beach area where she encounters several secret WASTE symbols. Later, on a sidewalk, she saw two of them in chalk [.] Places on a map, dates from a secret history? She copied the diagram in her memo book. When she looked up, a man, perhaps a man, in a black suit, was standing in a doorway half a block away, watching her. She thought she saw a turned-around collar but took no chances [..]. (Pynchon: 2006, 95) Was that a pastor or a Catholic priest? She meets a member of an organisation that uses WASTE system for communication in a gay bar. His organisation is called Inamorati Anonymous IA (former love addicts). An inamorato is somebody in love. Thats the worst addiction of all. (Pynchon: 2006, 91) Oedipa herself is an inamorato, forever hoping for love, but her men die or leave her. Trapped inside a strange underground world she becomes increasingly paranoid and the post horns she encounter fill her with fragments of dreams remembered. She seems desperate to remember, but whatever it is keeps eluding her:
She was meant to remember. She faced that possibility as she might the toy street from a high balcony [.] any death-wish that can be consummated by some minimum gesture. [Knowing] it would be lovely beyond dreams simply to submit to it; that not gravitys pull, laws of ballistics, feral ravening, promised more delight. She tested it, shivering: I am meant to remember. Each clue that comes is supposed to have its own clarity, its fine chances for permanence. But then she wondered if the gemlike clues were only some kind of compensation. To make up for her having lost the direct epileptic Word, the cry that might abolish the night.

The night here must refer to Oedipas mental state, her clouded mind, the reason why she is not able to remember, but also to the night of man; the unconscious state. The epileptic Word refers to her experience at Cohens apartment where she wondered why that which was

It was first published in Paris in 1955, in New York 1958.


revealed during an epileptic attack (the Truth!) would never be remembered afterwards, only the echoes of the initiating warning signals prior to the attack were left in the memory. The ontological key is lost. Mans great tragedy is that he was born without an immanent knowledge of who he is, where he is from or where he is going. Thus, he must compensate for his loss with some good epistemological fun, like following clues of reason to keep him occupied and happy. Desperation clouds her mind. She enters into the twilight zone a dreamlike state between worlds and walks and travels the undergrounds of San Francisco forever searching for Trystero and WASTE symbols, hallucinating:
In Golden Gate Park she came on a circle of children in their nightclothes, who told her they were dreaming the gathering. But that dream was really no different from being awake [.] When their mothers thought they were out playing they were really curled in cupboards of neighbors houses, in platforms up in trees, in secret-hollowed nests inside hedges, sleeping [..]. (Pynchon: 2006, 96)

The children sing: Tristoe, Tristoe, one, two, three, turning taxi from across the sea. (Pynchon: 2006, 96) Her stay in the wilderness of San Francisco is marked by the surreal. She feels that nothing can touch her, perhaps a sign of having smoked or injected something. She loses her sense of time as she walks the undergrounds. She is defeated, has lost control. This nights profusion of post horns, this malignant, deliberate replication, was their way of beating up. They knew her pressure points, and the ganglia of her optimism, and one by one, pinch by precision pinch, they were immobilizing her. (Pynchon; 2006, 101) They are the people of Trystero and WASTE, and she is in the wilderness suffering full-blown paranoia. The Twins/The Syzygy In an all-night Mexican greasy spoon she meets an old acquaintance from Mazatln, the anarchist Jess Arrabal. He is in exile in the US. They drink coffee. She remembers that he once told her he sees miracles as intrusions into this world from another a kiss of cosmic pool-balls: You know what a miracle is. Not what Bakunin [Russian anarchist 1814-76] said. But another worlds intrusion into this one. Most of the time we coexist peacefully, but when we do touch there is cataclysm. (Pynchon: 2006, 97) This is an example of the element of the two worlds from the fairy tale. Two worlds that are completely separated united in one cataclysm [climax] governed by desire. She suspects she is pregnant, but the outcome


metaphorical; an amalgamation of the syzygy, the divine couple or the divine twins; the yin and yang, the sacred and the profane, the kiss of cosmic pool balls. 10.3.0. Overlays in The Crying Of Lot 49 and their Significance As described in the thesis chapter Pynchons novel has a much layered thematic structure where each layer is only slightly transparent, somewhat like a palimpsest making it very difficult to separate the layers in order to discern how to employ them and fit them into a meaningful coherency. I have separated the layers of the thematic structure and called each layer an overlay. An overlay is a superstructure; it is what you see; unlike the foundation; the hidden that holds the building erect. And although an overlay is not a prerequisite to understanding the novel, it functions as a tool assisting the reader in a more pellucid reading sharpening his perspicacity. An overlay provides a frame for a common denominator thematic and serves to add to the general mood of the novel as well. 10.3.1. Communication Overlay Pierces testament (1), Nefastis entropy machine (2), the Trystero (3) and WASTE (4) are all four linked and have the same objective: Communication through time and space: The protagonist is named executor of Pierce Inveraritys will, his testament. The Trystero is a word or name mentioned in a Jacobean revenge play called The Couriers Tragedy. WASTE is an acronym for an underground mailing service system. John Nefastis entropy machine is a perpetuum modem that is supposed to work using psychokinetic energy. Pierce Inveraritys testament serves to re-establish his presence, to enable him to communicate through time and space with his former mistress and eventually to reunite the two. It leads Oedipa to the motel Echo Courts. We know its denotation, the pining nymph Echo (Oedipa) in love with Narcissus (Pierce). But its connotation could also pertain to the echo of time. Later, when Oedipa is seduced by Metzger and becomes sensitised in her room at Echo Courts, the film shown on TV belongs to Metzger so to speak, but every intermission (the commercials) belongs to Pierce. He is present by proxy: the commercials and Metzger constitute this proxy and through them Pierce Inverarity constantly demands attention. His echo is communicated through time and space via his testament. As executor of his will Oedipa is guided around his huge estate San Narciso that includes the Scope bar, The Fangoso Lagoons with Lake


Inverarity and the San Narciso Tank theatre, where she sees the play The Couriers Tragedy that sparks off her strange search for the Trystero. The testament thus becomes Oedipas compass which she must use to navigate her way through Pierces world. Nefastis Machine is an odd device. Nefastis is as hung up on entropy as Oedipa is on Trystero. His machine has to do with communication theory: Communication is the key, cried Nefastis. The Demon passes his data on to the sensitive, and the sensitive must reply in kind. (Pynchon: 2006, 84) But what could Oedipa reply that would match the Demons data? Nefastis rave about entropy seems out of context except for one thing: Entropy is a figure of speech, then, sighed Nefastis, a metaphor. It connects the world of thermodynamics to the world of information flow. The Machine uses both. The Demon makes the metaphor not only verbally graceful, but also objectively true. (Pynchon: 2006, 85) We could choose to interpret the machine metaphorically as a dyophysitic device, a merger of nature and man with the added twist of a sorting mechanism called a demon; a miniscule demiurgos; because what Maxwells demon does is sort the molecules and distribute them evenly to achieve maximum entropy in both chambers. This would also explain why Oedipa had to reply in kind. Considering the extensive use of religious symbolism in the novel, the phrase reply in kind could be connected to the medieval practice of Communion in both kinds which ties in nicely with the idea of the machine as a dyophysite. It is like two worlds trying to communicate aided by a demon. The machine merges the world of science with the world of literature. It is verbally graceful and objectively true a chemical wedding.45 The Trystero is linked to communication, to secret communication and communication between lovers. The word Trystero is composed by the English word tryst like in lovers tryst, a secret rendezvous and the Spanish suffix ero e.g. reloj = watch, clock, relojero = clockmaker or tienda = shop, tendero = shopkeeper, translating Trystero to maker or keeper of the tryst the keeper of the secret rendezvous. The reason why this makes sense is that Pynchon is supposed to have lived in Mexico while he wrote the novel or just prior to. The keeper of the tryst is there to ensure the reunion of the injured prince and Rapunzel. However, in the story it is supposed to represent a secret alternative European courier service that fought


Cf. Analysis: Magic overlay and Discussion


and tried to overtake the established Thurn and Taxis postal system of Europe (1615-1867)46. But its story is altogether more sinister. In the novels intertext Wharfingers play The Couriers Tragedy the Trystero couriers are portrayed as an unnameable entity; he whose name shall not be mentioned, not even by the evil duke Angelo of the play. He is not willing to call it by name, but only refers to it by secret communication. Thurn and Taxis and Trystero are adversaries. And they represent the established system and the competitor, but they also symbolize the dichotomy of the inherited and the disinherited, of establishment and anarchist and of the sunny side of America and the Other America.
It is at about this point in the play, in fact, that things really get peculiar, and a gentle chill, an ambiguity, begins to creep in among the words. Heretofore the naming of names has gone on either literally or as metaphor. But now, as the Duke gives his fatal command, a new mode of expression takes over. It can only be called a kind of ritual reluctance. Certain things, it is made clear, will not be spoken aloud. (Pynchon: 2006, 55)

It pertains to the old idea of not speaking the name of the devil. The common belief was that an invocation of the name would bring forth the man like the dark lord Sauron from Tolkiens epic tale The Lord of the Rings or lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. On Oedipas visit at Vesperhaven, a retirement home put up by Inverarity Oedipa meets with Mr. Thoth. His grandfather had been a courier for the Pony Express in America and had killed one of the masked marauders, the postal couriers dark adversaries who were masquerading as Indians. The grandfather had cut off one of the marauders fingers wearing a gold ring with the WASTE symbol. The gold ring symbol could refer to the powerful ring of Gyges from book 2 of Platos Republic or the Ring from Tolkiens books. These rings were endowed with a magic that made their wearers invisible and thus gave them power over the visible world. The muted horn which was originally linked to WASTE is also linked to the Trystero as a symbol of the secret and the subversive side of the golden horn of the Thurn and Taxis. The story about the ring with the WASTE symbol worn by one of the masked marauders trying to overtake the government couriers finally establishes a connection between the


Bibelots, trinkets: The Thurn and Taxis coat of arms displays a badger in the centre. Badger in Italian is Tasso translated to Dachs in German =Taxis. It also displays two lions (valour, courage), common symbols of nobility (the injured prince) and two towers (safety) Rapunzel.


Trystero and WASTE and thus between their symbols, the golden horn of the Thurn and Taxis and the muted horn of WASTE again a dichotomy of good and evil. Trystero is the word Oedipa returns to whenever the amount of clues and coincidences tend to overwhelm her: With coincidences blossoming these days wherever she looked, she had nothing but a sound, a word, Trystero, to hold them together. (Pynchon: 2006, 87) The WASTE system is an alternative mailing and communication system sharing its symbol the muted horn and its purpose as an obscure private competitor to the US mailing system with the Trystero. But it is a very selective system. Mainly undergrounds use it (Pynchon; 2006, 101) and the secrecy surrounding it is significant. Another link to undergrounds and WASTE both in its literal and its symbolic form is found in Pynchons short story Low Lands (1960). Its protagonist Dennis Flange decides one day to trade his comfortable life for a subterranean existence with a tiny gypsy girl beneath the tons of waste from a giant dump. This short story expresses the same sympathy towards the undergrounds, the less fortunate and the innocent womanchild as we have seen in The Crying of Lot 49. When Oedipa is in San Francisco she moves within a parallel world, a wilderness which she calls the underground. It is a world full of underground people, people at the bottom of society; the Other America. Rapunzel Links WASTE itself is associated with communication, but the thematics associated with WASTE actually stay within the thematic frame of the Rapunzel fairy-tale: Secrets; secret lovers meetings; secret communication; magic; love; failed suicides; parallel worlds; wilderness. Secret meetings: The message on the latrine wall at the Scope said Interested in sophisticated fun? You, hubby, girl friends. The more the merrier. (Pynchon: 2006, 38) Secret communication: Nefastis machine controlled by Maxwells demon. Communication is the key, cried Nefastis. The demon passes his data on to the sensitive, and the sensitive must reply in kind. (Pynchon: 2006, 84) Magic: Nefastis machine also qualifies as a magic item, but also the dolphin boy Oedipa encounters during her journey into the San Francisco wilderness. Catching a TWA flight to


Miami was an uncoordinated boy who planned to slip at night into aquariums and open negotiations with dolphins, who would succeed man. (Pynchon: 2006, 99) Love: The IA, an organisation for people formerly addicted to love. The pin Im wearing (muted horn symbol) means Im a member of the IA. Thats the Inamorati Anonymous. An inamorato is somebody in love. Thats the worst addiction of all. (Pynchon: 2006, 91) Failed suicides: The inamorata started with a man contemplating to commit suicide and ask people who failed at the attempt to write to him. Most of the letters were from suicides who had failed, either through clumsiness or last-minute cowardice. (Pynchon: 2006, 92) Parallel worlds: Already when Oedipa ventures into the San Francisco underworlds to look for WASTE symbols and signs, she extricates herself from her Kinnaret kind of life and enters a parallel, very different world. If miracles were, as Jess Arrabal had postulated years ago on the beach at Mazatln, intrusions into this world from another, a kiss of cosmic pool balls, then so must be each of the nights post horns. (Pynchon: 2006, 101) Wilderness: In San Francisco Oedipa is in unchartered territory. Her aimlessness is profound. She walks for miles and rides on busses whose destination she does not know. Her mind oscillates between hallucinations and sanity. She is seeking, but all she finds are the signs she already knew she would find, as if projected from her own mind. 10.3.2. Names Overlay Right from the beginning there is a strong, almost paranoid overlay of references to Freudian psychology in the novels insistent use of odd names. What is the idea behind a funny, obscene or ridiculous name? In cultures outside of Europe names are often endowed with meaning, even more than they used to be in Europe or America, where children long have been named after relatives, saints or their number in the crowd like Septimus for number seven. In East Africa it is not unusual to be named after your fathers occupation or his most precious possession: If he is a fishmonger your name will be Fish47 or, if his most priced possession is a


The Swahili name for fish is samaki


bicycle, your name will simply be Bicycle48 regardless of your sex. To a foreigner this may seem offensive, but what about the American propensity for using diminutive forms of names like Mike, Nick, Dick, Rick, Jack and Pete? A name is supposed to be a signifier; we expect it to be caused by something, like the ticking that is caused by a clock or a bomb. But this novel does not follow the conventional lines of interpretation; things are picked from one context and applied contemptuously to a new disregarding all formality. Pynchon had a penchant for using odd names and name etymology in his previous works49, but never to such an extent. It is highly constructed and at times bordering on the absurd. In his short story Under the Rose (1961) that takes place in fin-de-sicle Egypt Pynchon used some very funny and entertaining names like Moldwoerp, Porpentine and Bongo-Shaftsbury, they are easy on the ear and mind and as readers we celebrate them, because they tend to interact with the meaning of the text and thus to persevere. Their purpose was to ridicule a closed, self-assertive, snobbish yet very dangerous network of spies. But, do the names of this novel serve a similar purpose? In my view only a few names from The Crying of Lot 49 persevere, among them are the names Oedipa and Mike Fallopian and Genghis Cohen, because the meaning of each name is supported by a strong characterisation within the text, a merging of character and name. When that is not the case the character becomes flat; he is more prop than character. Apart from Oedipa Maas, Pierce Inverarity and Metzger, the main characters of the novel, whose names will be analysed in the chapter Characters and Characterisations, all other names from the list will be discussed in this chapter.
1. Mucho Maas 2. Dr. Hilarius 3. The Paranoids 4. Mike Fallopian 5. Manny Di Presso 6. Randolph Driblette 7. Wharfinger 8. Stanley Koteks 9. Genghis Cohen 10. John Nefastis 11. Mr. Thoth 12. San Narciso 13. Echo Courts

Names point to paranoia/psychic crisis and repressed/overt sexuality

The Swahili name for bicycle is bisikeli In his novel V (1961) and in his short stories (1959-64) names as well as nick-names seem to be carefully chosen (c. Delimitations)



It is my thesis that these names including the names of the main characters mainly serve to call attention to their two common denominators relating to Freudian psychology: a) psychic crisis/paranoia and b) overt or repressed/unfulfilled sexuality as many of them indeed have little or no correlation between their name and their persona. Oedipas husband Muchos name literally means much. But, there is no doubt that it connotes macho: [that] Muchos extramarital flings with his pubescent listeners call up the association of his name with macho. (Grant: 2008, 14-15) This association coupled with Muchos inclination towards school girls, his worries about the penal code and his poor sexual performance as husband (Pynchon: 2006, 32) add to the overlay of the story of an overall psychic crisis. Dr. Hilarius the mad-as-a-hatter psychiatrist is actually a well known figure that Pynchon used in one of his short stories Low-Lands from 1960. Here Hilarius alter ego is called Geronimo Diaz, [The] analyst, a crazed and boozy wetback named Geronimo Diaz. (Pynchon: 1960, 57) However, Hilarius personal history as a former Buchenwald clone of Doctor Mengele trying to atone for his sins by embracing not only the ideas of Freud but also his persona, Freud the Jew, changes his person-name correlation to its antonym outrageous. Names like The Paranoids, Mike Fallopian, Manny Di Presso and Randolph Driblette are ridiculous in their overt symbolism of the mentally ill and sexually potent. But, if we look at Mike Fallopian as a person, there seems to be no immediate correlation between his person as an enthusiastic historian and his name Fallopian, denoting the female reproductive organs the fallopian tubes. And yet, the following description of him leaves a very lasting impression of the overtly sexual on the readers mind A frail young man in a drip-dry suit slid into the seat across from them and began proselytizing for an organization known as the Peter Pinguid Society. (Pynchon: 2006, 34-35) He is frail, drip dry and sliding and he speaks passionately about a Peter slang for penis and Pinguid fatty, oily, greasy. As for the name of Stanley Koteks Koteks was and still is a well known American brand of tampons, pads and panty-liners. When Oedipa saw him at Yoyodyne he was very suspicious of her and he looked like a teenage nerd. She had to gently coax him into telling her more about WASTE. Sharing your name with a well-known tampon brand is not the best point of departure for a young man who wants to work his way up in the world. The name connects to sexuality and to psychic crises. The Paranoids also only serve to add to the overlay of psychic crisis and paranoia. Manny Di Presso does not fit his name. He is paranoid. Driblette driblet droplet venereal disease, there is no immediate link between person and name. As for the name Wharfinger manager of a wharf, I can only take his play


The Couriers Tragedy into consideration and come up with the following two phonetic connotations: harbinger and war monger. That is of course harbinger of bad news, death, of what to come etc. War monger is self explanatory. In Latin nefastus means profane, wicked or impious, which are traits that all epitomize John Nefastis. As for the name Mr. Thoth at Vesperhaven it is the name of the Egyptian god who is associated with the development of the hieroglyphs that Oedipa is so fond of. Tot in German means deceased. Mr. Thoth is very old and death might be imminent, thus if pending death may be considered psychic crisis he adds to the overlay. The two place names San Narciso and Echo Courts belong to the same Greek myth. The turning Echo figure with her huge vermillion tipped breasts outside Echo Courts is a far cry from the little voiceless nymph of the myth. She is hilarious though, an American style simulacrum and now only recognisable by her name and her association to San Narciso Narcissus. None of the characters in the novel develops very much over the course of time. Their developmental shortcomings aside the characters seem, however, to be recompensed by the extensive use of the above meta names, which, besides adding to the overlay, endows each character with an additional quality or means of identification. The most interesting name of the minor characters is Genghis Cohen. The closest connotation is to the 12th century ruthless and powerful conqueror, the emperor of the Mongol empire, Genghis Khan, but that does not go well with frailty and homemade dandelion wine. Another connotation begins with Cohen (Kahn/Khan), a Jewish name, belonging to descendants of the priest Aaron, brother of Moses. The name Genghis stems from Chinggis meaning universal lord. Abbreviation: GC ~ CG: Connotation: The Cohen Gadol, the high priest of the Jewish temple carrying his hoshen with twelve engraved gems that from a distance might look like twelve big beautiful framed stamps. It ties in with the references to the mentions and revelations of hierophany. And, it would explain his sudden eagerness to keep Oedipa in the game when her interest begins to wane after Driblettes suicide: Genghis Cohen, once so shy, now seemed to come up with new goodies every other day. (Pynchon: 2006, 142) And, his attendance (a conflict of interests) at the auction is quite a surprise. Seemingly, he needs Oedipa to be present at the auction for reasons we shall never know. His name and character adds to the overlay of paranoia. As for the name of Winthrop Tremaine please refer to 10.13 Magic Overlay.


10.3.3. Magic50 Overlay The novel has a copious amount of religious intertexts, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and old Egyptian. However, the references to religion and myth are often picked out randomly and indiscriminately, mixed up and juxtaposed resulting in a strange eclectic emporium of semi religious and mythical bibelots. Most of the religious foreboding is presented by the intrusive narrator in his role as oracle. As things developed, she was to have all manner of revelations. Hardly about Pierce Inverarity, or herself; but about what remained yet had somehow, before this, stayed away. (Pynchon: 2006, 10) This is a case of multiple diegesis. The narrator intrudes and prophesises about revelations to come, but somehow manages to remain within the realm of 3rd person omniscient narration. Sometimes the narrator transgresses the boundary of narration and enters the scene as oracle, interferes to explain the plot and clear up certain ambiguities of the text and how they should be interpreted. After Oedipas seduction a new chapter is introduced the following way:
Things then did not delay in turning curious. If one object behind her discovery of what she was to label the Tristero51 System or often only The Tristero (as if it might be somethings secret title) were to bring to an end her encapsulation in her tower, then that nights infidelity with Metzger would logically be the starting point for it; logically. (Pynchon: 2006, 31)

The narrator steps in as the controlling agent, the determiner of meaning (Abrams: 2005, 249). This is odd because the reader is well aware of the importance of the seduction and sensitising scene as a literal and symbolic climax; however, the narrator alleviates his transgression using a pleonasm quite cunningly. If we read the passage with a full stop instead of the semicolon and without the repetition of logically, narration is oracular; but adding the pause of a semicolon serves to include the thoughts of the pensive girl (encapsulated in her tower) into the sentence alleviating the intrusion of the narrator. An oracular narrators voice at the beginning of a chapter, prophesising things to come not only adds to the magic overlay but also emphasises the sense of scheme in a text.

Religions are belief systems or some kind of systematised belief whereas the religious intertexts are fragmented and distorted trinkets that are now scattered randomly. The result of this scattering is a detachment from their original context which has caused them to transform into new meanings. They have become simulacra. They have all been included under the generic term magic, because they all serve to add to the magic or unreal foreboding mood of the novel. 51 Throughout the novel spelling alternates between Trystero and Tristero


The religious trinkets throughout the novel e.g. the reference to Buddhist thought in the creation of the tapestry and the tapestry was the world, as well as [she] soon realizes that her tower, its height and architecture, are like her ego only incidental, (Pynchon: 2006, 11) connoting the Maya, the veil that hides the world taken from Buddhist philosophy. Also, the numerous references to Egyptian mythology function as allusions to the sacred, death and burial practices: the hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning and the pun stories about Forest Lawn and the American cult of the dead. (Pynchon: 2006, 14 and 47) Forest Lawn is the name of a huge Californian cemetery chain where death and burial are systematised to include Art Museums and a giant Memorial Park not leaving much to choose between them and the old Egyptians. And, at Lake Inverarity another Egyptian reference: the usual hieratic geometry.52 (Pynchon: 2006, 41) The religious reference to the Lago de Piet from where Tony Jaguar harvested the bones of the GIs from WWII mirrored in The Couriers Tragedy. (Pynchon: 2006, 47) holds a deeper meaning. Jaguar did not fish up the bones, he harvested them. He is a reaper. When doctors take organs from the dying for transplants, the use the same term, they harvest their organs. Pieta means pity in Italian and refers to the Lamentation of Christ. La Pieta was famously depicted by Michelangelo at the St. Peters Basilica in Rome and shows the Virgin holding the dead body of her son after his crucifixion; the body that was to be harvested by the Church of St. Peter and whose flesh and blood was to be eaten and drunk ad eternam by Christians in commemoration of his life and for the absolution from their sins. All these references connote death, burial practices, sacrifice, atonement and sacred writing. Many critics emphasize the novels predilection to information theory, but some, especially Petillon draws attention to the novels references to scripture and religious myth. I agree, but in my view all these references have been used as trinkets only. They add to the mystical mood of the novel and many function as forebodings. They are random fragmentations pieced together to form new meaning confirming one of Peirces principles of contextuality: [Something] can be truly asserted within a given universe of discourse and


The ancient Egyptians believed that writing was invented by the god Thoth and called their hieroglyphic script "mdwt ntr" (god's words). The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek hieros (sacred) plus glypho (inscriptions) and was first used by Clement of Alexandria. The hieroglyphic script was used mainly for formal inscriptions on the walls of temples and tombs. In some inscriptions the glyphs are very detailed and in full colour, in others they are simple outlines. For everyday writing the hieratic script was used. Source: www.omniglot.com/writing/egyptian.htm


under a given description, but this assertion does not exhaust all the other, and potentially infinite, determinations of that object. (Eco: 1994, 37) One of the most intriguing persons in the novel is a minor character called Winthrop Tremaine, manager of a government surplus outlet in Inveraritys San Narciso. He sells swastikas Got this little factory down outside of San Diego [.] got a dozen of your niggers, say, they can sure turn them old armbands out. (Pynchon: 2006, 123) Grant and other critics link him to the New England Mayflower families:
It is, of course, no accident that Winthrop Tremaine, the Swastika salesman, should have as his first name the last name of one of the oldest New England Mayflower families, the Winthrops. Pynchon seems to want to create a link between Nazism and the fanatic early American Puritan persecution of Quakers, witches, Indians and other heretics and consequently the very foundation of America, which seems to be an important background element in the novels tapestry. (Coleville 27) (Grant: 2008, 143)

John Winthrop (1587-1649) an English Puritan was one of the founding fathers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The town Winthrop in Maine (Tremaine) is named after him. He symbolises Ivy League America, the men of letters, the opposite pole to Tremaines factory workers, and, he is of course a link to the two kinds of Schurvamites, the purest of Puritans whose central hangup had to do with predestination: To them creation was a vast intricate machine that ran off the will of God, its prime mover. (Pynchon: 2006, 128) This machine can only refer to the Nefastis Machine, which has two chambers controlled by a demon. The belief in fate is not uncommon as most Puritans believed in fate. They also believed in God and in demonic forces. The other kind of Puritans in Pynchons novel were run by a machine that ran off some opposite Principle, something blind, soulless; a brute automatism that led to eternal death. Of course this links up to Oedipas experience of the formless magic that surrounds her. Ironically, all the Schurvamites perish coaxed over to the impure side of Puritanism by the glamorous prospect of annihilation. (Pynchon: 2006, 128) Pynchons Schurvamite tale bears resemblance to the enthusiastic journal written by Puritan William Bradford: Of Plimouth Plantation from (1630). Its enthusiasm diminished concurrently with the increasing difficulties of Puritan life in the New World and ended up taking the shape of a jeremiad. (Ruland and Bradbury: 1992, 10-11)


There is another Winthrop link that adds to the Magic overlay. It is more complex than Puritan53 superstition. It links to Renaissance culture and its love affair with magic. John Dee (1527-1609), astrologer, alchemist and consultant to Queen Elisabeth I of England, wrote a treatise on symbolic language where he invented an esoteric symbol called Monas Hieroglyphica54, the hieroglyphic monad. This monad appears on the wedding invitations in the odd Rosicrucian manifesto Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz, Anno 1459 published at Strasburg in 1616; an allegoric romance divided into seven days like the Genesis. It is about a splendid marriage in a castle, but [it] is at the same time an allegory of alchemical processes interpreted symbolically as an experience of the mystic marriage of the soul [.]. (Yates: 1972, 60) It is believed that Dees influence later spread to America though John Winthrop, who allegedly was a follower of Dee, and that Winthrop used his monad as his personal mark. (Yates: 1972, 227) The hieroglyphic Word is a strong link to the hieroglyphic monad. In the manifesto Christian Rosencreutz must choose between four different paths like Oedipa must when she is faced with the possibility that she could be mad and her quest a hallucination: Those, now that she was looking at them, she saw to be the alternatives. Those symmetrical four. She did not like any of them, but hoped she was mentally ill; that thats all it was. (Pynchon: 2006, 141) We know she chose to walk the excluded middle. So did Rosencreutz: The second [path] is longer, and takes you circuitously; it is plain and easy, if by the help of the Magnet you turn neither to left nor right.55 And as far as I can interpret it Rosencreutz first choice is the stony and rocky way, the way of the Rock (the Church of Peter) which counts as the way of the Truth in Christian terms. Oedipas first alternative is that it is true that she has indeed stumbled onto a secret network. Her second alternative is that it is all a hallucination. Her magnet (compass) is Inveraritys testament. That has also taken her circuitously, but nevertheless led her straight to the auction hall, except the one time when she chose to deviate from her path and went to San Francisco (her wilderness) instead of contacting Driblette again.

This is actually an oxymoron because the Puritans refuted much of the liturgy of the Anglican Church on account of it being superstitious. All religious myth is referred under the umbrella of Magic (cf. footnote at beginning of chapter) 54 Pls. see www.esotericarchives.com/dee/monad.htm for further information 55 Wikipedia.org and crcsite.org (The Rosicrucian Library site) Basically, [Alchemical Wedding] is an alchemical fantasia, using the image of elemental fusion, the marriage, the uniting of the sponsus and the sponsa, touching also on the theme of death, the nigredo through which the elements must pass in the process of transmutation. (Yates: 1972, 64-65)



During her venture into the wilderness where Oedipa comes across several symbols of WASTE, the Trystero and the muted horn, she wonders if all the gemlike clues were only some kind of compensation. To make up for her having lost the direct, epileptic Word, the cry that might abolish the night. (Pynchon: 2006, 95) We can also tie that to her visit at Cohens where she has an epiphany that the central truth itself can never be held in the memory for more that the split second it takes it to self destruct. She equates it to the epileptic who will always only remember what announced the seizure an odour, a colour but never what was revealed during the seizure. This would again equal the epileptic Word to the Truth. The Greeks called epilepsy the holy sickness. Equating the epileptic Word with the Capitalized Word, The Logos would indicate that Oedipa has lost her direct epileptic Word, her faith. The epileptic Word could also refer to the Puritan conversion experience, the internalisation of the Word. Even though Puritan women were considered impure because of the sin of Eve they were also expected to have a conversion experience. Epilepsy, the shaking sickness has connotations to Quakers. Did she belong to the society of Friends, the ones who quaked before God? Were they the ones referred to as those dear daft numina whod mothered over Oedipas so temperate youth? (Pynchon: 2006, 83) The Quakers and Puritans of New England were at odds with each other. Her current lack of faith is reflected in the following early passage where she examines the anonymous and malignant magic that surrounds her (such a captive maiden) and from which there is no escape: Having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this formless magic, to understand how it works, she may fall back on superstition, or take up a useful hobby like embroidery, or go mad, or marry a disc jockey. (Pynchon: 2006, 12) She married a disc jockey, she took up embroidering (a world) and another hobby, following clues and pursuing strange words in Jacobean texts she is mad (see chapter 5), but she is yet to fall back on superstition (becoming religious). The hieroglyphic Word might also refer to the logos of an obscure hieroglyph from the maps pinned to the breast of mummies to guide them on their journey through the underworld. Or, it could be a whisper from a Buddhist lama to guide the newly deceased through to rebirth. Petillon states that The whole story of the novel takes place in an interim period of 49 days [.] (Petillon in ODonnell: 1991, 137) This period is significant in Tibetan Buddhism as related in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, because it signifies the interim period of dying, being dead and being reborn, [not the eternal rest claimed by Petillon] the so called Bardo states. During his initial period the dying person is aided by a kind of death whisperer usually a lama


who helps him cross over, warning him of what lies ahead, what he shall experience on his journey through the Bardos. The death whisperer must be a person who knows about dying. (Evans-Wentz: 1988) As executor of her former lovers will Oedipa is being symbolically guided by somebody who knows dying, guided through the allusions of the Bardos by all the gemlike clues. The overlays of the novel are essentially consciousness constructions. The novels play with modes of communication, etymology of names and its use of religious myth is so very fragmented and points in so many directions that it has been imperative to gather all three categories under three umbrellas. Each umbrella holds a theme that permeates the entire novel. The theme of Communication arose from five distinct thematics: Testament; Nefastis Machine; Trystero; WASTE. The theme of Magic arose from these 9 thematics: Hieroglyphic Word; Epileptic Word; Puritans; Schurvamites; Lago de Piet; Sensitising; American Cult of the Dead; Nefastis Machine; Hieratic Geometry; and the theme of Psychic and Sexual Crises arose from thematics related to the name of almost every person in the novel. 10.4.0. Character and Characterization Characterisation is often rather flat in Pynchons novel. A flat character (also called a type, or two-dimensional), Forster says, is built around a single idea or quality and is presented without much individualizing detail, and therefore can be described adequately in a single phrase or sentence. (Abrams: 2005, 33) I am convinced that this single idea or quality insofar as Oedipa is concerned is the name. Her name defines the story, a story about fate and searching for clues, but also about Freudian ideas of paranoia and the subconscious. The lack of detail in the characterisation makes the reader suspect that the characters are merely a means to an end and that they all participate in an obscure plot. 10.4.1. Oedipa Maas The Maiden in the Tower To find out more about the dual identity of Oedipa Maas/Rapunzel The Maiden in the Tower, we first need to analyse thematics related to her name, her persona and her representation in the novel. What is in a name? Is the name of the protagonist Oedipa Maas redolent of meaning or is it a joke? Is she in a Freudian sense Oedipal? Oedipa Maas, initials OM, the mystical sacred syllable, the humming sound initiating prayer or meditation imported in the 60s by the cultural


elite of the West from eastern religious practices. Character and identity are not stable in [Pynchons] fiction, and the wild names he gives his characters, which seem either to signify too much or too little (like comic-strip figures), are a gesture against the tyranny of naming itself. (Tanner in Grant: 2008, 1) Even if Pynchons choice of names is wild, I imagine such a gesture would be meaningless outside of vaudeville. On the other hand Grant points out that [t]he association of Oedipa with the Sophoclean Oedipus is almost a leitmotif of critical writing on the novel, with Freud coming in a close second (Grant: 2008, 2). Like Oedipa Oedipus was a solver of riddles, but Oedipas riddles are quite different from his: Tanner points out that Oedipuss riddle has to do with parents, parricide and incest and this in no way applies to Oedipa. (Tanner in Grant: 2008, 3) As for the association of Oedipas name with Freud, Grant points out that: [her] name echoes Freud and Sophocles but [he] dismisses Freud on Oedipus as a red herring (994), noting that Oedipa withdraws from the role of detective who uncovers what has been hidden. Unlike Oedipus, who sees the riddle of his own identity hidden under his answer to the Sphinxs riddle, Oedipa remains unenlightened (995). (Palmieri in Grant: 2008, 3) The long and the short of it is that Oedipa is also a solver of riddles even if the solution to these riddles differs from her namesakes. As for the Freudian association, Plater wonders if the feminization of Oedipus is intended to suggest the hermaphroditic unity of opposites, which Freud saw as the goal of the human body, as it struggles to overcome the dualities of life and death. (Plater in Grant: 2008, 3) The duality theme and the unity of opposites permeate the novel and is a major theme of both The Crying of Lot 49 and Rapunzel. The association to Freud is spot on. The first chapter of Pynchons novel, the chapter where Oedipa is first introduced holds some important keys to understanding the rest of the novel. First of all, the three am call from her psychiatrist Dr Hilarius the night before she is going see her lawyer Roseman seems out of context and decidedly odd, not least because it mimics the just recently recalled rather ominous telephone call from Inverarity of the previous year, and we are told of Hilarius that he sounded like Pierce doing a Gestapo officer. (Pynchon: 2006, 7) Hilarius calls to inquire whether Oedipa is taking the mind expanding experimental drugs, called the bridge inward (LSD-25; mescaline, psilocybin etc.) he prescribed her. She explains that she is not taking them, yet his call (sounding like Pierce) triggers a series of hallucinations in her, first of Flaggs well-known recruitment poster of Uncle Sam, who Wants You for U.S. Army that used to hang outside


all American post-offices. This figure obviously makes her uneasy, maybe an omen of things to come? As the reader will know dangers lurk in the mail, and in stamps. Her first hallucination eventually dissolves only to be replaced by a more worrying one of Dr Hilarius doing his Fu-Manchu face56 [Rorschach blot No. 37] which [puts] her in hardly any shape to see Roseman (Pynchon: 2006, 9) Her psychiatrists theory was that a face is symmetrical like a Rorschach blot, tells a story like a TAT picture,57 [and] excites a response like as suggested word (Pynchon: 2006, 8-9) Duality, hallucinations and the hieroglyphic Word, the three most prominent thematics besides death of the novel. This passage points to Dr Hilarius as the puppet master of Oedipas mind. He used to work on experimentally-induces insanity in Buchenwald concentration camp during WWII. ((Pynchon: 2006, 112) Hilarius night call informs the reader that he should be careful and not always trust the protagonist; she either is or has recently been under the influence of mind expanding substances. Hilarius claims to have once cured hysterical blindness with Rorschach blot No. 37, the one that triggers Oedipa to hallucinate. From the fairy-tale Rapunzel we remember the temporarily blinded weeping and wailing prince; a case of hysterical blindness if ever there was one. The blots mirror image symmetry also reflects the element of the two worlds from the fairy-tale. Dr. Hilarius call seems to make Oedipa more than just uneasy; it terrifies her; but why? Like Rapunzel we learn that she had had a temperate youth, (Pynchon: 2006, 83) but when she ventures into the wilderness epitomised by the city of San Francisco later on in the novel, she either hallucinates again or she has taken LSD or some other mind altering drug.
The city was hers [..] she had safe passage tonight to its far bloods branchings, be they capillaries too small for more than peering into, or vessels mashed together in shameless municipal hickeys, out on the skin for all but tourists to see. [..] The repetition of symbols was to be enough, without trauma as well perhaps to attenuate it or even jar it altogether loose from her memory. She was meant to remember. (Pynchon: 2006, 95)

Oedipa only remembers fleetingly, especially her memory of her life with Pierce seems reduced to its final days in Mazatln, which appears rather odd given the fact that Pierce named
The Fu Manchu was an early twentieth century comic book character created by Sax Rohmer and became the archetype of the evil criminal genius and Uncle Sam is a stern looking elderly man with piercing eyes and a pointing finger. 57 Thematic Apperception Test is a psychological test used to evaluate emotionally disturbed patients. The method asks the respondents to formulate a story based on ambiguous scenes in drawings on cards. Source: www.psychologicalscience.org/pdp/pspi/sa1_2.pdf


her executor of his vast estate. On distinctive issues of the modern US novel Hanne Bewernick explains that novels by American authors express very specific views on the conception of memory; e.g. in Pynchons novel Vineland memories are perceived as truths. They are proof of past events, even if they are easily forgotten, subject to outside influence or adjusted to suit the circumstances. This is reflected in the backgrounds in so far that they carry the truth within them, but are overlaid with false meaning only an active effort will reveal their true meaning by discarding those aspects which distort their original value. (Bewernick: 2008, 165) In The Crying of Lot 49 memory is communicated via metaphors, testaments, theatre plays, faux history or film. Memory only exists outside of the mind. When Oedipa traces the clues laid out by Inveraritys testament she actually moves forward into his memory; that is, his legacy, hence we come to know him, not via his memory, but by her experience of it. David Seed believes that It is appropriate that the protagonist of The Crying of Lot 49 should be a figure with a minimal past and social context since the narrative takes her through an extended present where she is constantly trying to decipher the cultural signs which bombard her. (Seed in Copestake: 2003, 19) That view disregards memory as a central theme in the novel and supports the popular analysis that all the emphasis should be placed on the signs and signals she has to decipher in her epistemological quest. Oedipas propensity to equate circuits and road systems with hypodermic needles and circulatory blood systems as mentioned in the excerpt above is rather revealing. When she drove into the streets of San Narciso valley, she stops the impala and experiences one of her religious instants: Circuits with patterns of hieroglyphic meaning and intent to communicate: [So] in her first minute of San Narciso, a revelation also trembled just past the threshold of her understanding. (Pynchon: 2006, 14) After the sun or the smog breaks her religious instant she drives on into San Narciso and decides to pull in at the next motel, because stillness and four walls has become preferable to the illusion of speed, freedom and wind in your hair. To Rapunzel the stillness of the tower is preferred to the freedom of the road which is only an illusion. This tells us that she still carries her tower with her when she enters San Narciso. The road changes into a hypodermic needle: What the road really was, she fancied, was this hypodermic needle, inserted somewhere ahead into the vein of a freeway, a vein nourishing the mainliner L.A., keeping it happy, coherent, protected from pain, or whatever passes, with a city, for pain (Pynchon: 2006, 15). Her pain is reflected outwards into the city. It needs its fix.


Could she be the citys fix, a melted crystal? But were Oedipa some single melted crystal of urban horse, L.A., really, would be no less turned on for her absence. (Pynchon: 2006, 15) When Oedipa ventures out into the world away from her happy turreted safety she obviously needs something that alleviates her pain and leaves her high and happy for a while. What if her account of the first time she had come across a printed circuit card opening a transistor radio is actually a metaphor for her first fix and the printed circuit card of the city is a metaphor for her first fix in San Narciso? [She] thought of the time shed 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. (Pynchon: 2006, 14) I am convinced the name Oedipa refers to Freudian psychology as well as to Oedipus. Pynchon does not merely have a fondness for using odd names; he also likes to include music and lyrics in his novels. One of the best known singer-songwriters and musical satirists of the 50s and 60s was Tom Lehrer, whose song Oedipus Rex has references to Freud as well as psychiatric patients. The lyrics of the last verse go as follows:
Or you may find yourself with a quite complex complex, And you may end up like Oedipus. I'd rather marry a duck-billed platypus, Than end up like old Oedipus Rex. The out-patients are out in force tonight, I see. Oedipus Rex Song lyrics, Tom Lehrer (1959)

Oedipa could be one of the out-patients referred to in the song. The people she meets on her quest easily fit into that same category, they all seem to find themselves in a quite complex complex. Right from the beginning of chapter one there is a strong sense of sense of duality about Oedipa and her universe: We know very little about her past, but for now she has conned herself into the role of Rapunzel of Kinnaret, an old-fashioned bored house-wife who goes to Tupperware parties and becomes intoxicated in the afternoons, waits for her husband to come home and cooks him delightful meals, tosses the salad and pours him a drink, perceptive,


reading the book reviews in Scientific American.58 And, she is Oedipa, the out-patient who hallucinates, has revelations and is born to follow clues like a postmodern Nancy Drew, and who needs the occasional fix when this world of pain threatens her other world in the tower. But she is, obviously, a navigator of worlds. In Freudian psychology there was this belief that the outcome of a negative Oedipus complex allowed for two different types of woman: the submissive woman or the seductive woman. Oedipa complicates things by gently conning herself into the one side and overtly displaying the other side in her quest for the Trystero. Her sexual pleasures are experienced in the world of pain, whereas her shielded world in the tower offers her no sexual pleasure, except, perhaps, from her years with Pierce. A complex complex explained by constant reference to simple dichotomies. Is Oedipa mad or is she magic or both? Is the Berkeleyan conundrum to be understood literally - is she just a brain in a vat? Or, are we, like in the fairy-tale of Rapunzel, just talking about the element of the two worlds? Having exhausted the Oedipa/Oedipus connection we must again turn our attention to the Rapunzel connection. Using the Berkley conundrum as a swift little shortcut will allow us to establish the Oedipa/Rapunzel connection in a less orthodox way than usual. If we consider the novels use of the esse-est-percipi to be is to be perceived reference at the beginning of the novel: She thought of..a sunrise over the library slope at Cornell University that nobody out on it had seen because the slope faces west, (Pynchon: 2006, 1) McHale recognizes it as a variant of Bishop Berkeleys classic epistemological conundrum of the tree that falls in the forest with no one to hear it. (McHale: 2001, 22) Furthermore, he compares it to parts of the epilogue of V., a text [he says that] threatens to break through into a postmodernist version of the fantastic. (McHale: 2001, 22) The fact that the Berkeley card is played at the very beginning of the novel suggests in my view that solipsism is to be considered as a possibility in the novel, but most of all, it suggests a sense of scheme, enhanced by Oedipas link to Oedipus, which is a story of fate and about how futile it is to try to alter nature. The Berkeley reference encourages the reader to pose the question: Does that which is perceived really exist? In my view the reference is there to caution and to inform us as readers that what comes next (the rest of the novel) must be questioned in terms of its validity. It must be reflected upon constantly.

A curious note: One of the regular columnists of Scientific American in the sixties was Martin Gardner whose book The Ambidextrous Universe Symmetry and Asymmetry from Mirror Reflections was quite the thing when it was first published in 1964



At the beginning of the novel we are told that Oedipas mind has gently conned itself into a Rapunzel-like role. It is as such both magic and real; it belongs in two worlds simultaneously. In the one world she lives in turreted safety, but her mind is distorted by hallucinations induced by the drugs she gets from Dr. Hilarius; it cannot be trusted. In the other her name is connected to fate: Whatever will be, will be, and she is a detective, still with a bad drug habit, who mistakes hallucinations for revelations. In the end, whether we can prove that Oedipa is Rapunzel or not is irrelevant. The long and the short of it is: She has gently conned herself into the Rapunzel-like role, she talks of herself as Rapunzel, uses Rapunzel terminology and perceives herself as Rapunzel esse-est-percipi to be is to be perceived, ergo she is Rapunzel. That is her point of departure: Being Rapunzel. It is relevant, though, that Oedipa represents the centre of the novel. Everybody else function as her foil and they are all male. They all desire her, but not because they want to fuck her. They want to fuck with her mind. They all have something to offer her, either knowledge or deception or deception wrapped as knowledge. There is only a very slight differentiating border between Oedipas worlds it seems: Before her sensitising There had hung the sense of buffering, insulation, she had noticed the absence of an intensity, as if watching a movie, just perceptibly out of focus, that the projectionist refused to fix. (Pynchon: 2006, 11) She appears do be in a stupor, not quite conscious; some kind of state in-between being asleep and being awake; a liminality. After her sensitizing later on by Metzger she is more susceptible to revelations, but appears to have entered into another and more permanent state of liminality, a sort of hyper-sensitised state, constantly trying to get in touch with her shadow, her unconscious, trying to remember something. With a view to the novels constant emphasis on dichotomies and the split personality of our protagonist it is only natural to speculate whether the object of her desire the Trystero and its twin the Thurn und Taxis are actually her; outward projections of her. That her mind is a house divided against itself. In the last chapter of the novel professor Bortz refers to the relationship between Thurn and Taxis and the Trystero. This might give us a clue as to how the relationship between the two worlds of Oedipas mind is reflected in the relationship between the two couriers. It has to do with parity: He [Emory Bortz] held, for instance to a mirror-image theory, by which any period of instability for Thurn and Taxis must have its reflection in the


Tristeros shadow-state. (Pynchon: 2006, 134) The instability of one side of Oedipas mind must have its reflection in the other part which is its shadow state. In Freudian psychology the shadow is the subconscious. We have already established that the Trystero (Tryst+ero) means the keeper of the secret, the keeper of the tryst. Thus, Oedipa must keep the tryst in her subconscious. She is the keeper of the tryst, but Oedipa is also the seeker. She is trying to remember something, something important: The hieroglyphic Word; the epileptic Word. She is confused by all the different gemlike clues laid out in front of her, so she holds up the word Trystero as a beacon to guide her, because that is all she has. She has found what she searched for herself but she does not recognise it. 10.4.2. Pierce Inverarity The Shadow The Injured Prince Name: Denotation: Pierce/Pier-ce from pertundere: to thrust or bore through or see through/discern (a mystery)/bridge or pillar (holding a bridge) Connotation: Pierce/Pier-ce: piercing/stabbing/killing/penetrating/fornicating or bridging a gap (between dichotomies) pillar of society/water/in or beneath the surface. Pillar of the community where there is more under the surface than over the surface Detonation: Inver/rarity from inver/aber: confluence of waters, river mouth (Inverness) and rarity. Connotation: Inverse/inverted/in verse/verity/inverse verity/inverted rarity/inverse rarity. Pierce Inverarity had been very rich and very powerful: Oedipa, had been named executor.of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. (Pynchon: 2006, 1) As such he epitomizes the prince of any fairy-tale; he was immensely wealthy in much the same thoroughbred way as the aristocracy of the old world, the princes of yesterday. This was why the anarchist Jess Arrabal found him so terrifying. He was flawless in his thoroughbred sublimity. To Oedipa he was her knight in shining armour with a credit card to match
[She had] gently conned herself into the curious, Rapunzel-like role of a pensive girl somehow, magically, prisoner among the pines and salt fogs of Kinneret, looking for somebody to say hey, let down your hair. When it turned out to be Pierce shed happily pulled out the pins and curlers and down it tumbled in its whispering dainty avalanche


. But all that had then gone on between them had really never escaped the confinement of that tower. (Pynchon: 2006, 10-11)

Inverarity failed his first attempt, but dauntless, perhaps using one of his many credit cards for a shim, hed slipped the lock on her tower door [.] (Pynchon: 2006, 11) It seems that Pierce had used money to persuade her. In San Francisco Arrabal had asked Oedipa if she was still with that gringo who had spent too much money on her. (Pynchon: 206, 97) If Pierce did buy her love it would explain the first title of the book, where Oedipa symbolises the flesh, a commodity to be cut, sold and eventually devoured. However, to find out if Pierce is the injured prince from Rapunzel, it is important that we include his alter ego The Shadow. The injured prince from the fairy-tale was blinded when he threw himself from the window of the tower in despair. We do not know how Pierce died, because Oedipa does not remember much about their time together, only scraps. She thought of a hotel room in Mazatln a sunrise over the library slope at Cornell University that nobody out on it had seen because the slope faces west (Pynchon: 2006, 1). Later, she speculates as to whether he had managed to survive death in some other form. Inserting the Bishop Berkeley conundrum regarding epistemological uncertainty into her recollection of her lover not only destabilises the construction of the novels plot from the start, it also destabilises him; turns him into a shadow, a projection of her unconscious mind, an extended thing. It is difficult to tell whether he is merely an extension of her mind or if he is/was real. As readers, we have to accept the uncertainty of two important aspects of the novel right from the beginning: The first is the uncertainty that concerns Oedipas mental stability. The other aspect has to do with the hinted uncertainty concerning Pierces existence. We need to establish him as real, dead or alive. Death usually marks the limit of representation, says McHale. Pierce is represented by his testament more so than by the image projected by Oedipas tentative memory of him. The testament presents him as a concept, the idea of a real estate mogul. Images of the past are often remembered in a symbolic form. In his foreword to Images and Symbols Mircea Eliade says that: Images by their very structure are multivalent; if the mind makes use of images to grasp the ultimate reality of things, it is just because reality manifests itself in contradictory ways and therefore cannot be expressed in concepts (Eliade, Mircea: 1991, 15). Hence, it is important that Oedipa remembers, not just for her own sake, but


because everything that we as readers know about Pierce Inverarity depends on Oedipas memory of him. The testament not only refers to his will, but it also refers to the way in which Oedipa executes it. It is his legacy. Pierces existence depends on Oedipas memory. But, again, there is something not quite right with Oedipas memory of Pierce: Was that how hed died, she wondered [.]? (Pynchon: 2006, 1) She does not know that he has died let alone when and how, which is very odd given that fact that she had been named executor of his estate. The death of a wealthy relatively young (he was an avid surfer down in Mazatln) California real estate mogul would have stirred up the press and have been in the newspapers and the broadcast news. When Dr. Hilarius starts shooting at people in sleepy Kinnaret the press is there in a tick. Also Pierces sudden telephone call that, as we know had come as a shock the year before, seems somehow to have been erased from her memory. It took her till the middle of to remember that last year at three or so one morning there had come this long-distance call, from where she would never know [.] (Pynchon: 2006, 2) Oedipa and Mucho had seemed terrified, reacting with dumb silence when he had called, not because of all his chatty impersonating nonsense, but because he mockingly threatened Mucho that The Shadow would come visit him: I think its time Wendell Maas had a little visit from The Shadow. Silence, positive and thorough, fell. So it was the last of his voices she ever heard. Lamont Cranston. (Pynchon: 2006, 3) Already here lies an enigma. Why did he frighten them so and why does she not remember him? What had happened? If Pierce has died, she simply must have known, everybody in California who watched TV listened to the radio, read papers or magazines would have known. But Oedipa claims she did not. As always the novel plays with dichotomies. This time with Pierce Inveraritys two aliases: The Shadow (the Lamont Cranston figure) and the shadow [Pierce] waited a year before visiting. (Pynchon: 2006, 3) As we have already established the shadow is a well known concept from Freudian (Jungian) psychology representing the subconscious. In Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales Marie-Louise von Franz describes it thus: So in the first stage of approach to the unconscious, the shadow is simply a mythological name for all that within me about which I cannot directly know. (Franz: 1995, 3) More importantly, the shadow aspect is a personification of the subconscious reached only in dreams, in a dream state. Sometimes sleep is called the small death. What the novel suggests here is that the reverse could be equally true. Death is only some kind of sleep state. Pierces shadow could still be around keeping the ball


bouncing, his philosophy in life. (Pynchon: 2006, 148) Later in the novel when Oedipa has ventured into the wilderness of San Francisco she meets Jess Arrabal whom they had both known in Mazatln. He believes, as he had believed years ago in Mazatln that miracles were caused by another worlds intrusion into this one. Most of the time we coexist peacefully, but when we do touch theres cataclysm, a kiss of cosmic pool balls. (Pynchon: 2006, 97 + 101) Has Pierce managed the ultimate transgression? Arrabal had believed that Pierce represented the perfect example of a white oligarchist, not just any privilegiado, but the epitome of one, so much so that he saw him as belonging to a different world altogether, frighteningly pure, like old royalty, Herrenvolk. [Your] friend, unless hes joking, is as terrifying to me as a Virgin appearing to an Indian. (Pynchon: 2006, 97) This also refers to the purest of Puritans the Schurvamites and to Winthrop Tremaine. Professor Bortz refers back to Arrabals idea of a miracle in the following conversation with Oedipa about why the Driblette inserted the word Trystero in the play when it was not in the script: Then, Oedipa concluded, something must have happened in his personal life, something must have changed for him drastically that night, and thats what made him put the lines in. Maybe, said Bortz, maybe not. You think a mans mind is a pool table? (Pynchon: 2006, 127) According to Arrabals theory, Bortzs sarcasm refers to a place where miracles happen. The novels constant circling about the conception of death and the links to purebred powerful men with access to alchemy and magic suggests the possibility that Inverarity somehow survived death. Oedipa needs a normal cause and effect scenario, she fails to see that Pierces world represented by his testament and his shadow has touched hers since day she received the message that she had been named executor of his estate. It is as if everybody is trying to tell her something that she simply cannot grasp. When Oedipa contemplates his death at the end of her journey, she tries to understand what motives Pierce had when he made the testament. He might have written the testament only to harass a one-time mistress, so cynically sure of being wiped out he could throw away all hope of anything more. (Pynchon: 2006, 148) Or, even worse: Or he might even have tried to survive death, as a paranoia; as a pure conspiracy against someone he loved. (Pynchon: 2006, 148) Her resentment towards him is news to the reader so is her confession that he had loved her.


10.4.3. Metzger The Koshered Child The Substitute Name: Denotation: Metzger means butcher in German, one who cuts and sells meat Connotation: Given that the novels original title was The world. (This one), the Flesh (Mrs. Oedipa Maas), and the Testament of Pierce Inverarity, Metzger is the one who cuts off the flesh of Oedipa Maas and sells it. The Koshered Child: Refers to being cleaned, stabbed, pierced by his Jewish mother, leaving him effeminate. Also refers to Baby Igor his role as a child actor in the film Cashiered to be demoted or dishonourably discharged, stripped of status and rank (from the military). Metzger, Pierces lawyer and appointed co-executor of his estate is Pierces substitute, which is quite odd since they did not really know each other. When Oedipa asks him if they were close, he answers: No, I drew up his will. (Pynchon: 2006, 18) Again, the reader suspects a set up supported by Metzgers conversation with Oedipa after the seduction scene where he tells her that Pierce had said she would not be easy predicting the outcome of their meeting. Metzger is quite handsome. He turned out to be so good-looking that Oedipa thought at first They, somebody up there, were putting her on. It had to be an actor. (Pynchon: 2006, 17) He has big bright, long lashed eyes and smiles wickedly. He is the wounded prince by proxy, as he is also wounded himself he is cashiered or koshered. His mother removed his blood like a piece of beef on the sink, she wanted [him] drained and white. (Pynchon: 2006, 18) The koshered metaphor counts as childhood memory. So does his very vaguely expressed uncertainty of his sexuality. He is never sure whether his mother succeeded. The possibility haunts [him]. (Pynchon. 2006, 18) Jewish issues concerning male identity, the fear of being considered effeminate or gay reach far back in time, but were especially highlighted in the literature of fin the sicle Vienna and London, approximately at the time when Freudian psychoanalysis took off. But especially Carl Jung expressed the view that Jewish men were feminized.59 Being soft, white and effeminate connotes youth, immaturity and could explain why he later chooses to leave Oedipa and run away with Serges girlfriend, who is only fifteen. Metzger had been a child movie star working under the name baby Igor. In the course of tracing Buddhist themes in the novel [Book of the Dead, Crying of Lot 49, dual worlds, world of appearances i.e.], Kohn notes that Igor resembles Igau, another name for Osiriss son

Johnson, Willis, 1998: The Myths of Jewish Male Menses


Anubis, who guided the dead on their journey to the underworld. Appropriately, [he says], Igors voyage to the shades below is in a submarine (75). (Grant: 2008, 42) If Metzger is seen as a psychopomp what is he reaping - Oedipas soul? To return to the Baby Igor film that plays on the TV during Oedipas seduction the film comes to act as a persuader, entices her, and the commercials in between, which all relate to her deceased lover and his estate act as diversions dragging the seduction out, because her seducer Metzger feels compelled to comment on each one. Nothing in the film represents reality anymore, or is supposed to. It comes to function as a co-creator of the seduction. The magic world of television trespasses into the real world. It does not even have to be Unheimlich to feel eerie. (Jameson: 1991, 248) In the seduction scene the Baby Igor film is incorporated as a source of origin, a cause of the seducer Metzger and of the success of the seduction. In the end, what do we know about Metzger? He is handsome with a wicked smile. He was koshered and cashiered, a lawyer and an actor; however, if he is still an actor, we are left with a sense of scheme. 10.5.0. The Obscure Plot: The Lovers Tryst/The Secret The following represents a postmodernist adaptation of the fairy-tale Rapunzel. It is interpreted as an amalgam of Pynchons novel and the fairy-tale. The thematics and themes found in Rapunzel were all present in the novel. Some were foregrounded, some were hidden, but their coherency in the novel convinced me that it held the fairy-tale as its obscure plot. Flashback Once upon a time a pensive maiden sat in her tower waiting for her prince to come rescue her. She let down her hair, but when he came he did not follow fairy-tale rules, but used his credit card as a shim to unlock the tower door. And, what was worse, he did not take her to his kingdom. That was a mistake. He took her to Mexico, where the girl saw her own image in a magic mirror at an exhibition. She cried when she realised that the prince had cheated her. He had not wanted a wife, he wanted a mistress, and thus he had not broken the spell. She was still in her magic tower. Her knight of deliverance had been no proof against its magic. He leaves her tower and dies. Having no apparatus against the anonymous magic that surrounded her except female cunning and gut fear she decided to marry a harmless human creature in stead; a disk jockey. As the years passed she forgot her prince and what was supposed to be.


Beginnings: Oedipa, the woman of fate and the solver of riddles lives in a tower among the salty fogs of Kinneret-among-the Pines with her immature disk-jockey husband who likes his maidens fair and young. To endure a malignant anonymous sorcery that numbs her senses and makes her as placid and sweet as a Stepford housewife, she has sought the assistance of Dr. Hilarius, specialist in the pain and paranoia of housewives. On day she learns of the demise of her former prince. He has left a testament. And she has been named executor of his estate. She travels to his kingdom where she meets his envoy, a long-lashed doe eyed former child actor. But, he operates sub rosa. His secret mission is to perform a rite of passage; that is, to sensitise the maiden by proxy in a giant climax, make her pregnant to break the magic spell and prepare her to meet her prince, who now lives in the land of shadows, the excluded middle between providence and doom because he committed the unpardonable sin; he died. Middle The people of the princes kingdom have been instructed to lead the maiden to her fate using cunning persuasion. They have made a trail of gemlike clues that she must follow. Being a solver of riddles by nature, she must now do what she does best: solve the riddles guided by lovers who love children. She must navigate her quest using the princes testament for a compass. Sensitised, she is now trapped in the land of shadows, the excluded middle; walking between zeros and ones. She knows it is bad shit but cannot escape. Although she is out of the safety of her magic tower, she cannot penetrate the veil to the world (this one) because she cannot remember. She has lost the epileptic Word that abolishes the night. Instead she is presented with gemlike clues, the beacon of which is the word Trystero connected to anarchy and masked men dressed in black. There are hardly any women in the land of shadows. Men lead her way. Crisis At one point she acts on own impulse, leaves the kingdom of the prince and drives into the wilderness, the city of San Francisco. She suffers greatly in this strange twilight zone. Past and present melt together. Cause and effect have swapped places. She meets Jess who tells her about miracles. They play pool in a Mexican greasy spoon. She meets another trapped soul, the sailor who suffers DT delirium tremens, a trembling unfurrowing of the minds plowshare


matching her own. He is, like herself, unfurrowed, not in the groove with no buffers of protection trapped inside the twilight zone, the excluded middle. End The maiden returns to the kingdom of the prince but spends her time solving more riddles. Her lover leaves her for a child, another potential lover dies. Suspects it is all a hoax; that somebody is putting her on; wonders if her hair is still in place. Walking the excluded middle wears her out. She begins to deteriorate, loses the fillings of her teeth; has nightmares, spells of nausea, headaches and menstrual pains. She expects she is pregnant; dreams of disembodied voices and the soft dusk of mirrors out of which something is about to walk; empty rooms waiting for her. But, finally, the Trystero arrives. Seven weeks and six chapters have passed. Number seven waits. The crying of lot 49 can commence; the elemental fusion of the two worlds, the marriage. 11. Discussion Rapunzel is really such a simple fairy-tale. All you need is a lovers tryst, an avalanche of hair, a tower, two worlds one magic, the other not magic desire and tenacity. It presents a perfect scope for the imagination and thus a perfect skeleton plot. Fairy-tale figures like Rapunzel and Snow White have been used in postmodernist fiction before. Barthelme foregrounded the familiar fairy-tale Snow White in his novel from 1967 by the same name. But Pynchons novel is different. The Rapunzel plot is not foregrounded except at the beginning. The rest of the time it is drowned in noise. It corresponds to what happens in information theory: high entropy leads not only to excessive information but to a kind of informational overload, noise. The multiple diegesis of the narrators voice and the voices of the intertexts The Couriers Tragedy and the pieces of faux history mixed with real historical elements compete with the protagonists thoughts; they all have something to offer. Each little trinket is loaded with possible meaning and significance, yet so carefully chosen that one can never determine whether it is true or false. It is always based on assumption. The novel is like a Victorian parlour filled with bibelots from only God knows where; presenting us with an analogy of somebodys personal life. This is why the plot could be seen to belong in somebodys mind rather than the real world; because the conscious mind and its shadow the subconscious work together and against each other constantly. Information is acquired and stored indiscriminately,


relentlessly connecting and disconnecting. The rational gives way to the irrational, dream and reality interchange constantly. It even allows for excluded middles; nothing else does that except in rites of passage. So much seems to be linked to problems of communication; from the communication between molecules to communication between this world and some other world, between the living and between the living and the dead, between God and some demiurge and between lovers. How does Oedipa manage to listen? She is constantly sidetracked by too much information. McHale proposed earlier that Pynchon deplores a world that seems without ontological grounding (McHale: 2001, 26). Oedipa knew that when she realized that the malignant anonymous magic that visited on her from outside was unrecognisable and unbeatable. All she could do about it was to expose it to an epistemological inquiry or give up on it and become religious or embroider her own world. She seemed to know that so-called ontological grounding presupposes an inherent knowledge of being. This problem is highlighted in the novels use of the uncertainty of existence. If the material world does not exist, if God is out of the equation, then, everything is bound to consist of thought forms only. This is solipsism and solipsism is a very difficult idea to work with. In the novel the concept of solipsism is foregrounded three times in its first chapter: In the Berkeley conundrum at the beginning of the novel, in the solipsistic allegory of the embroiderers in the tower, and in the protagonists realisation that she in her Rapunzel state of being is guilty of solipsism. Once is interesting, twice calls for further investigation, but three times is mindboggling. The problem with Pynchons novel is not the open ending or the lack of denouement; it is its lack of even the smallest speck of truth. McHale propounds the idea that walking the excluded middle would somehow cause the truth to show itself, but it does not. Our protagonist walks it faithfully for approximately 120 pages and never senses it. Perhaps she senses it during her revelations, but not for more than the split second it takes for it to selfdestruct as she realises in Cohens apartment. Perhaps, in the world of The Crying of Lot 49, truth is simply not available, and the only way to survive is to posit extended metaphors inside which to live. (De Zwaan: 2002, 96) She juggles the ineffable constantly: The hieroglyphic Word, the epileptic Word, but it remains ineffable. The horrible truth is perhaps that even when we move in liminality all we see are the same old binary choices. Oedipa desperately needs to remember. Like Rapunzel she lived her life in a magic tower, numb. After her seduction and sensitising she was scalped, not literally, but she was taken out of her protective tower and left in a state of nervous paranoia where everything signified; it [was] completely immersed in


a kind of infinite intermeaning [intersens] that stretches between language and the world. (Barthes: 1991, 74) It is much easier to come to terms with her stay in the wilderness in spite of her many hallucinations than her finally loosing grip of reality in the days before the auction. The last scene in the auction room with the men in black preparing and the door being locked is decidedly eerie, like a dream inspired by Poe or Hawthorne. There is some indication that the novel was inspired by Rosicrucian symbolism found in the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz. Pierce and Oedipa could symbolise the Sponsa and Sponsus. He passed thought the nigredo for his transformation, so, she would have to do the same; amalgamation and transformation. The story is an analogy. It is the personal story of a woman, who cannot escape, who is trapped inside a twilight zone; an excluded middle between zeros and ones. She is like the embroiderers in the tower, inside and outside the world at the same time; an ontological paradox. But the embroiderers knock off at five. At the same time it is a story of America built on the bones of disillusioned Puritans, men of letters, whiter than snow with a Renaissance fascination with the occult. A fascination that many years later would grip another Herrenvolk the Nazis. They were equally fascinated by purity and the occult, which has been highlighted by the novels Winthrop connection. The thematic of the two worlds that is reflected in the dichotomy of the two couriers The Turn und Taxis and their adversaries The Trystero also symbolises the heirs of the Puritans and the descendants of the disinherited and can be seen as a metaphor for America. 12. Conclusion My argument is that Pynchons novel has used the fairy-tale Rapunzel as a skeleton plot. It forms the structure of the novel and can be interpreted as a postmodern adaptation of the fairytale. It is fragmented, but contains all the thematics found in the fairy-tale, thus as I see it, it transmogrifies. This also shifts some of the focus from the quest to the protagonist. In the novels original tripartite title in Esquire Magazine: The World (This One), the Flesh (Mrs. Oedipa Maas), and the Testament of Pierce Inverarity with its built-in connotation of the Trinity Oedipa has obviously been assigned the role of man caught in the middle between the world and religion, the sacred and the profane. The Rapunzel plot serves to add a fourth dimension introducing the most important element: The element of the two worlds representing


the magic and the real in the novels first chapter. As Rapunzel Oedipa is allowed to move between worlds without the story ever really loosing its balance and falling into the fantastic, and with the added twist of the Berkeley conundrum and the ontological paradoxes of the Varo triptych, suggesting that it is all in her head you know, the story allows to the exploration of many different types of existence while still maintaining its credibility. The two courier services the Thurn and Taxis and The Trystero represent the divine couple, the syzygy of the world, the dialogue from which everything is measured. The Rapunzel plot and the added ontological instability allows Oedipa the Flesh to journey into liminality, but unable to operate within this (magic) realm let alone solve its enigma she focuses on solving it epistemologically like a detective. It is only when she stops believing in an epistemological solution to this enigma that her flesh begins to deteriorate, indicating that the ontological instability of the excluded middle causes not only mental but also physical instability. The novels overwhelming jumble of interconnected stories serves to illustrate how odd the world looks when you view it from an excluded middle perspective. And her wilderness experience illustrates what happens when you in you liminal state relinquish you grip on reality altogether. In my view the ontological instability created by the novels Rapunzel plot and the Berkeley conundrum paired with the epistemological quest and the constant references to dichotomies and religious intertexts have prepared an excluded zone, a setting for a postmodern performance of the old fairy-tale Rapunzel. 13. Resum Dette speciales forml har vret at foresl en gentnkning af Thomas Pynchons lille roman The Crying of Lot 49 fra sin nuvrende status som postmodernistisk roman til en postmodernistisk fortolkning af et gammelt og velkendt eventyr, eventyret om Rapunzel. Jeg har indledt specialet med nogle overvejelser vedrrende postmodernismens udgangspunkt i Amerika. Med dette udgangspunkt mener jeg blandt andet efterkrigstidesn store dikotomier. Disse blev skabt i forbindelse med det konomiske opsving med al dets mlrettede satsning p teknologi, produktion og forbrugerisme p den ene side og den diplomatiske remis, kaldet Den kolde Krig mellem de to supermagter USA og dets alliancer og Sovietunionen og dets lydstater p den anden side. Denne dikotomi skabte et spndingsfelt mellem eufori og angst, og det synes at vre i dette spndingsfelt, at postmodernismen opstod. Derfra er jeg get videre med en diskussion om, hvad postmodernisme er, og hvordan den forholder sig til sin forgnger,


modernismen. Jeg har valgt at se p fire forskellige teoretikere: Frederic Jameson, JeanFrancois Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard og ikke mindst Brian McHale, som jeg har valgt at bruge som hovedteoretiker, idet hans fortolkning af postmodernismen gr glimrende i spnd med Pynchons litteratur. McHale udrber selv 1966 som postmodernismens r 0, fordi det blandt andet var ret, hvor Pynchons roman The Crying of Lot 49 blev udgivet. Specialets teoretiske afsnit uddyber McHales teori om det ontologisk ustabile som kendetegnende for postmodernismen, og som han derfor har valgt som dens dominant. Skiftet fra modernisme til postmodernisme er iflge McHale ogs et skifte fra det epistemologiske til det ontologiske. Nr vi har net grnsen for hvad vi kan vide, nr svarene slipper op og vi ikke lngere formr at stille de rigtige sprgsml, m vi i stedet ty til nye undersgelser af grnserne for vren. Det er det, McHale anser som vrende det dominerende i postmodernismen. Efter det teoretiske afsnit har jeg valgt at indstte nogle filosofiske og litteraturteoretiske overvejelser vedrrende textanalyse og fortolkning. Halvfjerdsernes poststrukturalistisme gjorde med sit angreb p den rigide strukturerede fortolkning et forsg p at underminere den gldende fortolkningsfundamentalisme og introducere blandt andet den duelige lsere som den idelle fortolker. Den duelige lser betegner lseren, som har en refleksiv tilgang til analyse og fortolkning af sin text. P grund af menneskets indfldethed i historien vil det imidlertid vre umuligt fuldstndigt at adskille forfatteren fra teksten, idet teksten udtrykker en ideologi, som udgr fra forfatteren, og som, ligesom alt andet, er indfldet i tiden. Med en tt og semiotisk overlsset text som The Crying of Lot 49 har det vret bydende at finde en mde, hvorp man kunne udtrykke ubegrnset semiose. Derfor har jeg medtaget Pierces id om, hvorledes selv den allermindste meningssyntese er at betragte som en inkoativ text, hvorimod en tekst er at betragte som en udvidet meningssyntese. Metodeafsnittet skal egentligt ses, som en forlngelse af teoriafsnittet og en tilslutning til iden om den duelige eller kompetente lser; et udgangspunkt for den hermeneutiske tilgang til analysen. Efter et kort resum samt en introduktion kommer vi til selve analysen og fortolkningen af teksten. Denne fylder omkring to trediedele af specialet og er delt op p flgende mde. Jeg har inddelt analysen i tre hovedafsnit begyndende med en kort redegrelse for handlingen samt en analyse af brdrene Grimms eventyr om Rapunzel. Her har jeg brugt analysen til at identificere eventyrets vigtigste tematikker, som herefter er blevet overfrt til den efterflgende analyse af


Pynchons roman, hvor de fungerer som overskrifter for analysen. Det nste hovedafsnit vedrrer identifikationen af de tre vigtigste markrer i romanen: Kommunikation, navne og magi. Disse markrer indeholder romanens vigtigste temaer og har en dobbelt funktion. De fungerer som en overlgning i romanen, hvor de har til forml at anskueliggre de ideer og teorier romanen bygger p. Ydermere er de medvirkende til at give romanen en speciel atmosfre, som ses reflekteret i dens handling. Analysens tredje hovedafsnit er en analyse af romanens tre hovedaktrer. Analysen af romanens bipersoner er henlagt til andet hovedafsnit under navne. Analysedelen af specialet udmunder i en postmodernistisk nyfortolkning af eventyret om Rapunzel, som nu er sammensmeltet med romanen. Derefter flger en diskussion samt en konklusion.


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Grimm, Wilhelm, 1812 and 1857: Rapunzel http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm012.html

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Rapunzel by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm

Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long, but to no avail, wished for a child. Finally the woman came to believe that the good Lord would fulfil her wish. Through the small rear window of these people's house they could see into a splendid garden that was filled with the most beautiful flowers and herbs. The garden was surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared enter, because it belonged to a sorceress who possessed great power and was feared by everyone. One day the woman was standing at this window, and she saw a bed planted with the most beautiful rapunzel. It looked so fresh and green that she longed for some. It was her greatest desire to eat some of the rapunzel. This desire increased with every day, and not knowing how to get any, she became miserably ill. Her husband was frightened, and asked her, "What ails you, dear wife?" "Oh," she answered, "if I do not get some rapunzel from the garden behind our house, I shall die." The man, who loved her dearly, thought, "Before you let your wife die, you must get her some of the rapunzel, whatever the cost." So just as it was getting dark he climbed over the high wall into the sorceress's garden, hastily dug up a handful of rapunzel, and took it to his wife. She immediately made a salad from it, which she devoured eagerly. It tasted so very good to her that by the next day her desire for more had grown threefold. If she were to have any peace, the man would have to climb into the garden once again. Thus he set forth once again just as it was getting dark. But no sooner than he had climbed over the wall than, to his horror, he saw the sorceress standing there before him. "How can you dare," she asked with an angry look, "to climb into my garden and like a thief to steal my rapunzel? You will pay for this." "Oh," he answered, "Let mercy overrule justice. I came to do this out of necessity. My wife saw your rapunzel from our window, and such a longing came over her, that she would die, if she did not get some to eat." The sorceress's anger abated somewhat, and she said, "If things are as you say, I will allow you to take as much rapunzel as you want. But under one condition: You must give me the child that your wife will bring to the world. It will do well, and I will take care of it like a mother." In his fear the man agreed to everything. When the woman gave birth, the sorceress appeared, named the little girl Rapunzel, and took her away. Rapunzel became the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the fairy locked her in a tower that stood in a forest and that had neither a door nor a stairway, but only a tiny little window at the very top.


When the sorceress wanted to enter, she stood below and called out: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair to me. Rapunzel had splendid long hair, as fine as spun gold. When she heard the sorceress's voice, she untied her braids, wound them around a window hook, let her hair fall twenty yards to the ground, and the sorceress climbed up it. A few years later it happened that a king's son was riding through the forest. As he approached the tower he heard a song so beautiful that he stopped to listen. It was Rapunzel, who was passing the time by singing with her sweet voice. The prince wanted to climb up to her, and looked for a door in the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the song had so touched his heart that he returned to the forest every day and listened to it. One time, as he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw the sorceress approach, and heard her say: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair. Then Rapunzel let down her strands of hair, and the sorceress climbed up them to her. "If that is the ladder into the tower, then sometime I will try my luck." And the next day, just as it was beginning to get dark, he went to the tower and called out: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair. The hair fell down, and the prince climbed up. At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man such as she had never seen before came in to her. However, the prince began talking to her in a very friendly manner, telling her that his heart had been so touched by her singing that he could have no peace until he had seen her in person. Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would take him as her husband, she thought, "He would rather have me than would old Frau Gothel." She said yes and placed her hand into his. She said, "I would go with you gladly, but I do not know how to get down. Every time that you come, bring a strand of silk, from which I will weave a ladder. When it is finished I will climb down, and you can take me away on your horse." They arranged that he would come to her every evening, for the old woman came by day.


The sorceress did not notice what was happening until one day Rapunzel said to her, "Frau Gothel, tell me why it is that you are more difficult to pull up than is the young prince, who will be arriving any moment now?" "You godless child," cried the sorceress. "What am I hearing from you? I thought I had removed you from the whole world, but you have deceived me nonetheless." In her anger she grabbed Rapunzel's beautiful hair, wrapped it a few times around her left hand, grasped a pair of scissors with her right hand, and snip snap, cut it off. And she was so unmerciful that she took Rapunzel into a wilderness where she suffered greatly. On the evening of the same day that she sent Rapunzel away, the fairy tied the cut-off hair to the hook at the top of the tower, and when the prince called out: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair. she let down the hair. The prince climbed up, but above, instead of his beloved Rapunzel, he found the sorceress, who peered at him with poisonous and evil looks. "Aha!" she cried scornfully. "You have come for your Mistress Darling, but that beautiful bird is no longer sitting in her nest, nor is she singing any more. The cat got her, and will scratch your eyes out as well. You have lost Rapunzel. You will never see her again." The prince was overcome with grief, and in his despair he threw himself from the tower. He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell poked out his eyes. Blind, he wandered about in the forest, eating nothing but grass and roots, and doing nothing but weeping and wailing over the loss of his beloved wife. Thus he wandered about miserably for some years, finally happening into the wilderness where Rapunzel lived miserably with the twins that she had given birth to. He heard a voice and thought it was familiar. He advanced toward it, and as he approached, Rapunzel recognized him, and crying, threw her arms around his neck. Two of her tears fell into his eyes, and they became clear once again, and he could see as well as before. He led her into his kingdom, where he was received with joy, and for a long time they lived happily and satisfied.

This version is the 1857 version. It was written in 1812; was first revised in 1819 and then finally in 1857 by Wilhelm Grimm.