Twenty-Six: Pynchon Jail

03.09: The Crying of Lot 49

A final capstone discussion of The Crying of Lot 49.

In which we say everything there’s left to say…or at least we say a lot. Some of it may even bring some meaning to the text as a whole. Some of it might just wander around San Narciso all night pointing continually to itself. You’ll just have to listen to find out.

And if you stick around to the end, there’s the first-ever Pynchon in Public Podcast Trivia Segment!

7 thoughts on “Twenty-Six: Pynchon Jail

  1. Are you guys going to do one of the bigger novels next time, or haven’t you decided on which novel to tackle yet?

    Love the podcast.

    1. Thank you!

      Great name, haha.

      In case you’re not a Facebook user, we have in fact announced that we’re doing Gravity’s Rainbow next. We start next month. If you’d like to be on the show, FB message or email us.

  2. I just came to these podcasts a few weeks ago, after having read 49 for the first time and i’d like to point out a few things that were raised in the discussions. thanks for the show, by the way. first, this thing with driblette.

    he first says that if he were to dissolve in the shower and vanish, not only the play, but a part of oedipa would dissolve as well “You, that part of you so concerned, God knows how, with that little world, would also vanish.”

    later, after his funeral, there’s this image of oedipa, who seems to have taken what driblette said as a literal proposition. if we value someone’s thoughts as (intellectual) property, then when they die, we lose a kind of concrete value. and if you take that a step further, the perceptions and judgments of others that they hold in their heads, as ‘images’, die as well.

    “Oedipa sat on the earth, ass getting cold, wondering whether, as Driblette had suggested that night from the shower, some version of herself hadn’t vanished with him.”

    even though driblette was disdainful of the academic ‘researcher’ looking for clues as to the choices that an artist makes (to include the lines about The Trystero, for example), and so technically his view of her is not the same as her view of herself, there is still a sense in which the act, the work, the artist, the spectator, all form a constellation that might contain some deeper logic: the clues animated, wittingly or unwittingly, by those who ‘bestow life on what persists.’

    this, btw, might also be the reason oedipa is so affected when driblette dies.

    so, then, the question of Inverarity at the end of the novel, which reads as though “Paranoia” could become a personalised gesture, being passed down through generations as a mental heirloom, and in this way one might survive death. because essentially paranoia revolves around the questioning of whether the ‘reality’ (a hidden meaning, a deeper agency at work) that the subject stumbles upon is situated inside or outside, i.e. is it truly manifested outside in the world or is it solely in oedipa’s head?

    The paranoiac ideally wants both : that hidden in the world is the reality, and contained within his/her head is the code that unveils this reality. And once you have infected someone with the right interpretative system to unveil a hidden reality (which by definition is ultimately ‘theoretical’, because necessitating webs formed on the basis of superficially non-meaningful indices), they will constantly be questioning whether the reality ultimately exists. think of the x-files (is it a government conspiracy to cover up alien existence, or is it a government conspiracy faking alien existence to cover up military technology).

    back to inverariaty.

    “He might himself have discovered The Tristero, and encrypted that in the will, buying into just enough to be sure she’d find it. Or he might even have tried to survive death, as a paranoia; as a pure conspiracy against someone he loved. Would that breed of perversity prove at last too keen to be stunned even by death, had a plot finally been devised too elaborate for the dark Angel to hold at once, in his humorless vice-president’s head, all the possibilities of? Had something slipped through and Inverarity by that much beaten death?”

    which again goes back to this driblette-oedipa notion that mental structures have a reality (and so possibly an agency) that either dies with the person or survives them. it’s the perverse version of someone living on inside of you after they die, not as memory but as a hermeneutic system, a “nervous expression” of the generally accepted idea that economic and philosophical systems influence and possibly even control our lives.

    so then, the simple question of interpretation:

    “If San Narciso and the estate were really no different from any other town, any other estate, then by that continuity she might have found The Tristero anywhere in her Republic, through any of a hundred lightly-concealed entranceways, a hundred alienations, if only she’d looked.”

    This then, is Inverarity’s legacy – that he’d created a ‘cul-de-sac’ from which to escape – that he made her look, and by looking, she questioned the surface reality (including the finally superficial plumbing of depths that she’d been doing with her shrink) which she had assumed to be the only reality.

    p.s. the idea that the bidder is Genghis Cohen would make sense with this funny little pun right at the end.

    ““Your fly is open,” whispered Oedipa. She was not sure what she’d do when the bidder revealed himself. ”

    1. Wow! Great stuff! I’m a little too wrapped up in Gravity’s Rainbow right now to give this the attention it deserves, but I’ll come back to it some time. Thanks for listening!

  3. Hi all,

    I had some of thoughts on the book.

    1. Regarding character names, in one of the episodes the Maxwell’s Demon machine that Oepida tracks down is described as “nefarious”. The character who built it is John Nefastis which seems like Pynchon was going for the same play on words.

    2. The books first sighting of the muted post horn is in a bar called the Scope which seems like not a coincidence.

    3. A thought on how all the men in Oedipa’s life disappear in one way or another – Pierce, Dribblette, Metzger, Mucho, Hilarious – and how Inamorati Anonymous is described. In IA once a sponsor comes to help you then you never see them again so as to prevent you falling love with you sponsor. Even the IA member that Oedipa meets in the SF gay bar, when she calls the bar later to track him down she knows she will never hear from him again once the call ends. It’s interesting to me that there is possibly a second underground society exerting influence on Oedipa’s love life by removing the possibility of future contact.

    4. The Trystero/WASTE is a not quite secret society. There are signs of it everywhere if you look but Oedipa cannot seem to get in or learn the truth of it. Does the collective consciousness of the society operate as a Maxwell’s Demon – deciding which person/particle is granted access? Does it somehow know the Oedipal is not a “sensitive” and exclude her on this basis – is she too much of a square, her attempt to observe and investigate the thing changes the nature of the thing itself to becoming hostile and suspicious of her.

    5. Lastly, Trystero/Tristereo is spelled multiple ways in the book and is not consistently capitalized. When Oedipa reads Dr Blobbs Perigrinations – “full of words ending in e’s, s’s that looked like f’s, capitalized nouns, y’s where i’s should have been” – she declares it unreadable.

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