Sixty-Nine: You’re Gonna Get It in the Metaphor

05.01: Bleeding Edge

We kick off Season Five with an introduction to Thomas Pynchon’s most recent novel, Bleeding Edge. We then have a look at the first two chapters. Enjoy!

For the next episode, we’ll look at chapters three through five.

NB: This season’s outro music was composed by Bo and Aug.

Paola mentions a style of women’s fashion called Boho or Boho-chic. You can learn more about it here.

Pynchon mentions Crazy Eddie, famed NYC stereo salesman from the 80s. You can see one of his commercials here.

Bo excerpts a bit from Pynchon’s essay “Is It O.K. To Be a Luddite?” You can read the essay at the New York Times Archives.

8 thoughts on “Sixty-Nine: You’re Gonna Get It in the Metaphor

  1. Hello, glad you’re back.
    Something I noticed:
    V letters are used to signal that something is a Bad Priest. Look for any V’s at all.. even in the word “even”..

    – look for the shape of the letter, even. Ever visualize yourself pronouncing the V sound? Kind of have to bite your lip. It hurts.

    Winterslow is introduced right before Vyrva. His last name begins with the double V. He is wearing a WHITE suit and panama hat. Vyrva has a degree from Pomona (word is spelled kinda like panama)

  2. one more thing: First letter of Maxine’s name is M. Like, two upside-down V shapes in a row. Maybe that’s a signal that she’s one of the preterite?

    That encyclopedia of Pynchonian names does not cover Bleeding Edge. Perhaps more attention should be paid to them in this Podcast for that reason.

    This is my 3rd time reading Bleeding Edge.. and it has been a while. I cannot recall whether Bruce Winterslow becomes a recurring character. He definitely deserves to have been mentioned on your (phenomenal) first episode, though.

    I am fairly confident that Pynchon is familiar with William Gibson’s Neuromancer. It features a Villainous entity named Wintermute (Winterslow reminds me of it)

    Not to ramble but I hope your eventual Vineland podcast gives a long hard look at the name Frenesi Gates. It’s practically (but not quite..) a perfect anagram for Sin Free After Genesis.

  3. Another V thing is that it structurally resembles a valley, which relates to Vyrva’s upspeak, conjuring up the image of the mid-90s Valley Girl stereotype.

  4. Hey Dan I think that’s a stretch lol

    You’re stretching that line all out, hey?

    Letter V has such a deep arch. A real deep archer, that V! Total departure for a line that was once straight, in any case.

    Pynchon should write a sequel to V and call it V2 lol, right?

    “It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.”

    Bleeding Edge is the bleakest of Thomas Pynchon’s books.

  5. Reading Maxine’s reflections on the novel’s UWS bustle reminded me of early three-dimensional video games, like GoldenEye, the FPS based on the 1995 James Bond film. Despite the near verisimilitude of a complex image from nature, such as sunbeams refracting off the cloudy Siberian skyline, the character (the camera) could easily expose the limited fidelity to experience of the image by moving laterally in space. Instead of the parallax effect making it appear as if the sun had moved from the left to the right side of a particular cloud, that lateral movement makes the image look like a two-dimensional painting hung crooked on the wall, which of course it is, thus breaking the careful trompe l’œil illusion.

    More sophisticated games often avoid this problem by taking advantage of greater storage capacity and more powerful processors to deploy or create the necessary images and angles faster than the player can move around the environment. (Like those old cartoons where someone has to build the railroad track faster than the train gets to it.) Regardless, these games are still two-dimensional environments masquerading as 3D.

    The rest of Maxine and the boys’ commute makes for a lovely tableau but, again, the appearance of UWS texture and vitality is not the same thing as its presence.

    “Sunlight reflected from east-facing apartment windows has begun to show up in blurry patterns on the fronts of buildings across the street. Two-part buses, new on the routes, creep the crosstown blocks like giant insects. Steel shutters are being rolled up, early trucks are double-parking, guys are out with hoses cleaning off their piece of sidewalk. Unsheltered people sleep in doorways, scavengers with huge plastic sacks full of empty beer and soda cans head for the markets to cash them in, work crews wait in front of buildings for the super to show up. Runners are bouncing up and down at the curb waiting for lights to change. Cops are in coffee shops dealing with bagel deficiencies. Kids, parents, and nannies wheeled and afoot are heading in all different directions for schools in the neighborhood. Half the kids seem to be on new Razor scooters, so to the list of things to keep alert for add ambush by rolling aluminum.”

    This passage smacks of prose narrative’s version of two-dimensionality— or as close as Pynchon will get to it. Neither Maxine nor the narrator interact with the setting or its population at all. For all its fidelity, this neighborhood may as well be an animated Potemkin village or Hollywood studio lot.

    I wonder if part of what Pynchon is doing with “Bleeding Edge” is getting at the paradoxical notion that increased digitization and networking of information, be it visual or linguistic, makes it even easier to convince the preterite that increased pixel density— to extend the analogy— is the same thing as access to experience, knowledge, and power.

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