it's suggested that capital and technology are conspiring across sides and borders, using the war to reshape the world
There's a thread running through Pynchon's stuff concerning science and technology, how it builds and destroys potential worlds, bends history to its will and almost exerts a force of its own. It makes more sense if you've read some of his other stuff, he has this whole thing in Mason & Dixon of the two surveyors blundering across America, scarring the Earth with the Mason-Dixon line and ignoring the much older orders that people like the Native Americans are aware of and trying to preserve.
In GR, it's suggested that capital and technology are conspiring across sides and borders, using the war to reshape the world, and that there's potentially some mystical component to it. You get giant angels appearing, witches, seances and various other things and the rocket itself exerts some sort of influence on people.
It's hard to simplify it, but I think that essentially what he's getting at is that religion and mysticism are too readily dismissed and aren't as separate from science and technology as we're led to believe.
Thanks, good answers. I like the idea of the dead crossing through the internet too (and I see why you liken it to Vineland as the thanates are one of the few things I remember from that). I guess there were other things in there that were interesting too... but they amounted to nothing. Less than nothing. I'm not someone who demands that everything be followed right to the end and spelled out but BE seemed just like a guy limply prodding at a few almost interesting ideas and, ultimately, lacking anything to say about them or do with them. At the end it felt like I'd learned nothing, that the ideas were reheated and, worst of all, I didn't enjoy it all. Each page was harder to turn than the last. Wonder what I'd think if I read Vineland now though...I thought it was basically a better version of Vineland and enjoyed seeing him tackle a period I was actually around for. It wasn't perfect and it didn't quite read like Pynchon, more like David Foster Wallace perhaps, but I liked the sparing way he dealt with 9/11 after it being built up as "Pynchon's 9/11 book" and the stuff inside DeepArcher intrigued me, particularly the idea of the dead crossing over somehow.
I was also into the way he dealt with family and had Maxine reshuffle her priorities at the end. A lot of his characters tend to just push on into oblivion, whereas she seems to clock that she's out of her depth and her kids are more important to her. The conversation with her father toward the end was cool too.
I like this too but there is a kind of spectrum of this which at one end is just the lightest of mentions and at the other end is explicitly spelled out. For me I don't demand right at the latter end by any means but BE was too near the former.plus I'm a big fan of things being suggested but never followed up,
I quite liked this too - https://www.berfrois.com/2014/09/bleeding-edgers/
" … without shame or concern for etymology: 11 September in Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge"
In “…without shame of concern for etymology,” Hanjo Berressem discusses Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge in the context post-9/11 fiction. In contrast to narratives of posttraumatic melancholy, Berressem argues that Bleeding Edge is a “Jeremiad about the fall and the sins of America.” The result is an essay that makes a powerful case for Pynchon as a prophetic, if brutal, witness to American society turning towards security and control in the shadow of tragedy.
I wonder if DeLillo and Pynchon, like DFW with Infinite Jest had the odd moment of genius (White Noise, Gravity's Rainbow) and a few lesser but still good moments (say Americana or V) and the rest was a load of dross.I quite like DeLillo, but I can't disagree with this particular criticism. There's definitely something kind of clumsy and boneheaded about him.
Good point. I don't think of Pynchon as an NY writer but when I read BE I think there was some unconscious recall of V happening for me cos that was the only other one of his I read that was to any extent set there.Now that I think about it, something else I liked was the way that it corresponded with V. and the two felt like bookends. He started in NYC with a cast of characters running away from any sort of commitment and ended in NYC with a cast of characters leaning into it.
I think that IJ is a truly great book. One of the few that I can think of off the top of my head* that combines that kind of cleverness and invention - even experimentation - with truly effective and affecting writing that has heart. Of course in almost thousand pages I can't say there isn't a line or two that isn't perfect but compared to everything else I've read by him it's way ahead. Cos everything else of his I've read has been total bollocks.I'm not entirely convinced by Wallace though. I think he has moments of brilliance scattered across his catalogue, but everything I've read of his has been kind of patchy, even Infinite Jest.
Agree. It's an inversion of cause and effect! But it's also a metaphor for control systems and social programming! But it's also a massive willy!re: GR - The whole thing of cause and effect being thrown into question is fascinating to me, and using a supersonic rocket to demonstrate as much was a stroke of genius. It's such a versatile symbol too, he's able to do all sorts with it.