Just finished this. I'm blown away by how complex the novel is and yet how fun it is to read.
General V. discussion, I guess. What was everyone's favorite chapter?
I read V. as sort of symbolic of a mechanized degradation in the west. She was losing her humanity throughout the novel (being a cyborg in the end) and the situations she was in became more and more barbaric, arguably. Basically saying technological advancements are making us lose our humanity. Pretty obvious stuff, right?
Its on my shelf right now, and I haven't read it.
V was good but it was almost 10 years ago that I read it. I should read it again.
Recently finished Mason and Dixon and I would have say I consider my favorite novel. Really think it's Pynchon's magnum opus.
I plan on tackling Gravity's Rainbow then moving onto Mason & Dixon. I've heard from all real Pynchon readers that Mason & Dixon is his best, but GR is more well-known. Not to say Pynchon is obscure, but I'd compare it to this: you say William Faulkner, people think The Sound and the Fury and/or As I Lay Dying. But as a Faulkner fan, I'd argue Absalom, Absalom is Faulkner's best work.
Nah, the whole M&D is best thing is a /lit/ meme so people can feel like they have original or unique or elitist opinions
GR is objectively the best thing he ever wrote. I guess you might prefer M&D but most of the people who post about it here are undergrad dicksuckers who haven't read nearly enough literature to properly grapple with Pynchon and base their opinion off the fact that GR is very ironic and M&D is less so and that big daddy DFW thinks irony is evil
V. is so good, and it contains some of my favorite writing of all time. The passage about how the desert always eventually gets through is so beautiful and affecting, and everything in Italy is great.
The only problem is the Stencil chapters are so much better than the Profane chapters, the disparity in enjoyability was really huge for me. I just hated Benny Profane completely and was completely tired of him by the end.
Gravity's Rainbow and M&D is a tough comparison. GR is denser, crazier, less affecting, and more experimental than M&D. However, around Vineland, Pynchon seems to have decided to anchor his future books more around character and less around plot/prose, so with M&D you get all the sprawl of Gravity's Rainbow focused in on the relatable emotional journey of two profoundly likable characters.
Also I think GR doesn't get enough credit for its emotional content. I think it takes a second read to really understand who the characters are, but I almost tear up at some of the passages on love, longing, and loss. And I don't think I've ever loved a character more than poor Slothrop. Even though Katja was a manipulator and a fraud who probably didn't give a shit for Slothrop, I felt his longing for her the long nights in the Zone, I felt his paranoia, his loneliness, everything. Those final funny pages of Slothrop's mind deteriorating were also some of the saddest in the book, like when he sees the ghost of Tantivy.
>GR is objectively the best thing he ever wrote
You're embarrassing yourself, man.
I personally found M&D more affecting--(with characters you actually care about), more heart, more magic--and just more readable and entertaining.
Just say why you think GR is better, without saying it's hurrr OBJECTIVE and then not giving reasons.
We may value different things when it comes to literature, and that's fine, but I would take M&D over GR any god damned day of the week.
I appreciate GR for its irony, black humor, its exhausting complexity, etc. But when it comes to literature I have to care about the characters, which is where GR really falls flat.
Interesting. When I first started the book for the first time I enjoyed the Profane sections more. The Stencil chapters were totally jarring to me. Really good, but so totally weird. She Hangs on the Western Wall changed that though, and I found I enjoyed the Stencil chapters more during and after that. I liked Profane's few page issue with Rachel as well. That totally tiny and inconsequential romantic subplot was good.
I love the alligator/sewer passages, they're far in the first half though.
I mean the later shit, like when everyone is just sleeping wtih eachother and the nosejob chick needs to raise money for an abortion etc. etc. Except when they get the dog drunk, that's one of the funniest things in the book
also I forgot to mention when Slothrop forgets Bianca died and wishes on a star for her well-being
Alligator chapter, Mondaugen's story, and Fausto's story were my favorite parts of the book.
Oh, did anyone really understand the V in Love section? It seemed sort of like an unnecessary digression about V.
Benny Profane sucks. The alligator stuff was great, but I thought the stuff in Italy was the best part of the book. The sick crew chapters > the Profane chapters. all Profane does is get drunk and do something stupid that results in him getting fucked by the universe. Slothrop is basically the same character better executed.
She Hangs on the Western Wall is probably the best individual thing Pynchon's ever written. the herero genocide chapter was also really really good and very hard to read.
>tfw all i ever want to do read is Pynchon
I feel like I'm wasting my youth by not exploring more types of literature whenever I pick one of his books back up again but they're seriously exactly what I want to read at this point in my life. Equal parts comic and profound, spiritual, political, farcical, smugly referential, "Literary" and written with a freewheeling beat spirit that makes it so easy to read.
How do I overcome this?
Two of the sick crew fill a dog up with booze and it starts puking all over the apartment.
The part in V. that's been popping into my head lately is the scene where the log falls on the woman and kids play and dance around her. I think the beginning might be the best part, not to say the rest isn't good but the sailor lore and beginnings of the Whole Sick Crew were really just wonderful. WSC kind of hits NYC perfectly to this day. As a narrative it's wonderfully complex as a debut, I'm very impressed but no characters in this resonated with me like his others (Slothrop, Mason or Dixon, Oedipa or even Doc).
I'm so torn on the GR and M&D debate, I do really think that GR is a much denser work with such versatile chapters that it will have to be his magnum opus, it really is much dense, not to say the research and magnitude of M&D isn't comparable. Functionally M&D is much better in a lot of ways, I never knew a mechanical duck could break my heart, but there really is something about GR that has affected me and most people whose opinions I respect who have read it, hell I had some sort of paranoia induced lucid dream every night reading GR and I've never touched a drug of any kind. GR will always be what I think Pynchon most emulates, his magnum opus, but M&D is also a pure masterpiece.
From the V. wiki ( http://v.pynchonwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=V.&oldid=67 )
Confessions of Fausto Maijstral
Fausto Maijstral, Maltese civilian suffering under the German bombardment and working to clear the rubble during World War II writes a long letter to his daughter Paola, who figures in the Benny Profane story; the letter comes into Stencil's hands. The letter includes copious quotations from Fausto's diary. Besides the place name Valletta, V. figures in the story as an old — or possibly not-so-old — woman crushed by a beam of a fallen building while children play around her."
How about how V's tiara is said to be ivory and has crucified British soldiers on it? The ivory tiara (it might be a brush, not a tiara, come to think of it, but the important thing here is that it's one or the other, a tiara or brush, not a tiara in one case and a brush in the other) is given to Pappy Hod by Paola, described as Ivory with Kilroy's on it. In another passage Pynchon describes Kilroy's as crucified Brits.
Nah dude, the characterization and framing in Mason & Dixon is far more effective than in Gravity's Rainbow while also being funnier, more emotionally engaging, and arguably more ambitious in scope. If you've read up on the counterculture and psychedelic movements, GR can feel like a meme-mashup.
>except GR is a blatant indictment of counterculture
You've got some explaining to do.
the counterforce? is it a big jump to say roger's counterforce = the anti war movements? failed idealists, with good intentions that accomplish nothing but pissing on whoever they can reach
in the book they want to 'oppose' the rocket cartel and free slothrop from the system that's playing him. what do they achieve? they vilify pointsman, even though he's driven himself mad and far past any peak of control an never really the top dog to begin with, and then roger goes and pisses on his board members. a true surgical strike at the rocket cartel .. or ... maybe not
i think it's pretty clear this was how pynchon felt about the american counterculture and anti war protests. naive kids who can accomplish nothing. the systems they are up against are far too far away and grand to be dinged by their idealism
the counterforce doens't stop the 00000 or free slothrop anymore thna the dope smoking free lover rioters stopped kids from being shipped off into the jungle to be slaughtered
but what would you know? you're a memeposter who hasn't read the book
Nice post. The way my professor explained it was to think of the hippies roadtripping to san francisco in their VW van and "it's the journey not the destination" bumper sticker, not noticing that every component of their vehicle is the product of the same rational design program that won ICBMs and poison gas from "loveable but scatterbrained mother nature".
You're correct that Mexico's assault on the military-industrial complex is basically an empty gesture, but I think we're confusing terms and historical movements.
In short, Slothrop is the (far from flattering, but also loveable) father of the counterculture, while Mexico is the intelligent but closed-minded (perhaps by the standards of a counterculture type) father of 60s political activism.
I have read the book, and take a great interest in that period of counterculture and protest. I didn't read it the way you did, because I think that the psychedelic/new age/hippies are a separate entity from the very strident and hard-nosed antiwar protesters, to the point that antiwar and social justice activists loudly denounced the hippies as lazy pieces of shit too wound up in their own heads. This is oversimplifying it, but basically the antiwar movement isn't the same as the counterculture/psychedelic/esoteric movement. Antiwar people played the system by its own rules, with force, political posturing and logic, while the counterculture sought to tune in to a higher way of thinking and living, compared to which the war was a footnote.
The "meme mashup" I was referring to are all the references to ancient esoteric systems and archetypes that would have been tiresomely prevalent in the counterculture.
I just use Pepe because posts with images attached are more likely to get replies.
ok, but even if the hippy movement is seperated from the antiwar movement, i think the analogy still stands
the anti war movement was naive and was effectively useless
thanks for the discussion though, and sorry for assuming you were a shitposter due to your image choice
Yeah, nobody wins in Gravity's Rainbow except the military-industrial complex and Blicero. America never stopped going to war for the reasons we went to Vietnam, and the counterculture died painfully because it became flooded with random kids and basically put all its eggs in the basket of assuming that psychedelic drugs were a 100% positive thing.
>the scene where the log falls on the woman
This was my favourite part of the book, shouldn't be as startling as the dancer's last performance but still. Remember every detail.
Yes, it's not the only "item" of V's that pops up throughout the stories. I thought its being recalled in that description later on, after all the arbitrary idea associations in the book, was just that, an echo further singling up the lines.
A while since I read it, but it's my favourite Pynchon. GR and MD both have sections (the freakout leading into Byron, the Central USA weird bits) where he gives himself license to just go off on an imagery bombardment. Not for me.
I figured V isn't denatured by technology per se, but by civilisation - the machine stuff just represents that. I mean, in Stencil chapters tech doesn't play a huge part. What's happening is that her knowledge and experience is becoming greater than her personality. It's a human being trapped under the weight of history, unable to achieve whatever it is they wanted because they're caught in the greater flow of the civislisation.
>Yeah, nobody wins in Gravity's Rainbow except [the various people who win].
>I read V. as sort of symbolic of a mechanized degradation in the west. She was losing her humanity throughout the novel (being a cyborg in the end) and the situations she was in became more and more barbaric, arguably. Basically saying technological advancements are making us lose our humanity. Pretty obvious stuff, right?
yes this is pretty obvious i think
what i dont get is the profane /sick crew chapters and how they relate to this
and when SHOCK/SHROUD tells benny he'll be inanimate one day too
is it that benny's world is ALREADY inanimate, or is it that Benny's world is the best off yet the Sick Crew do nothing but moan about how bad off and inanimate everything supposedly is (like the beats)
i dont know
I think the Sick Crew chapters were definitely shitting on the beats. Benny calls himself a schlemiel (maybe wrong spelling) but everything that goes wrong for him is his own fault. Same with the rest of the crew (except maybe Pig's dentistry experience). I also think that the stencil chapters show the degradation of the west through the government, Profane chapters show it in basic society.
One thing that confused me as well was when Stencil believed Profane was under V's influence somehow and had to be exorcised.
I'm not sure about Profane .. at times it really does seem like the world's out to get him. I'm not sure Pynchon is so critical of Profane as he is of the Sick Crew, many of which do literally nothing like the guy who sits in bed all day
Profane, accursed schlemiel, really tries to make it in the world. He does road work, he hunts gators, he tries to connect with people, he looks for answers. If Profane is the degradation of society Pynchon must be some kind of straight laced conservative whose whole career has been some kind of misinterpreted practical joke
That's a fair point, actually. I suppose Profane is more stuck than the Sick Crew. I just think of the end, alone in Malta with some woman he barely knows doing very little. But at the same time both Stencil and Paola leave him, so it isn't really his fault... I'm not so sure about Profane, then. He's sort of a casualty of society.
Really one of the worst attributes about the Crew, and one that someone brings up at some point (the husband of Mafia, his name escapes me right now) is that a lot of them have abilities but squander them. For instance, Slab and his cheese Danishes.
yeah, I mean I still liked V and Pynchon is a great writer even when not at his best but as you said V did seem kinda incoherent and rough-around-the-edges and there were a number of portions where it was just boring and even his quirky humor and references didn't alleviate the dullness.
I love V but it really suffers from Profane being a boring version of Slothrop.
(yes, the alligator passage everybody has mentioned here was funny, but it's one short part that barely even required that character)
Not much. One of my friends who read GR couldn't even finish V. because he found the Stencil chapters too much of a confusing trudge.
One a page by page basis I don't thinks it's any harder, just a much grander story with more plots and themes and connections to mentally deal with. Of course you can also just read the book without understanding the plot or decoding all the symbols and get the jist of it. So in a way the extra difficulty is optional.
tl;dr not much
Thought's on against the day? Seemed like he tried to retain Mason & Dixons empathic approach to character without characterizing his characters. The Chums of Dance, Kit, Dahlia, and Cyprian were the only ones that weren't ironic cartoons.
his only book i had absolutely no grasp of
took me over a year to read it and I only vaguely knew who anyone was or what was going on the majority of the time
was way to confusing for me and not nearly entertaining enough to inspire me to read more closely and figure it out
lingers in my mind more as a fever dream than any sort of narrative
>She Hangs on the Western Wall is probably the best individual thing Pynchon's ever written
That would be the section of GR that begins with the supposed fragment of the Gospel of Thomas i.e "Dear Mom, I put a couple people in hell today."
God, Inherent Vice was so fucking good at being exactly what it was meant to be. A cool little mystery unaware of the little the significance it holds while the reader knows its insignificance compared to everything surrounding it.
>I just use Pepe because posts with images attached are more likely to get replies.
Do I smell a research project in the works?
V. was a Machiavellian gone too far deep into pursuit of virtu. And Stencil's story is a construction of paranoia in fear of entropy. To escape the chaos of communications/people/energy being dispersed too thin, Stencil starts seeing everything his dad and Fausto wrote about as being related to V.
Am I autistic? I literally could not tell you anything more about Mason or Dixon than Slothrop or Oedipa as far as character goes
I guess Mason is new age but gullible and Dixon is traditional but skeptical
For the record, I think AtD is awesome. There are a few different plotlines happening simultaneously, one about a group of dime novel adventurers called the Chums of Chance, another in the style of a western revenge novel, another like a detective novel, and a literary thing about a group of mathematicians. Some parts are better than others (in fact, it's probably his baggiest and most inconsistent novel) but it also contains some of his best work. It's a really exciting account of the period that seems to want to capture the totality of it and does a pretty good job IMO.
The main things i remember from ATD:
1. The cruise ship cofunded by powers on either side of WW1 and when war breaks out the ship splits into two gun boats mid-voyage
(might be misrecalling this but i think thats roughly what happens)
2. "When Franz Ferdinand drinks, everyone drinks!"
"And when Franz Ferdinand pays, everyone pays!"
3. that shaggy dog unsatisfying ending to the main revenge plot
It's him hating on the Beats and how he they kept saying the same shit over and over again in very slightly different ways I thought. If you read the Profane bits as an indictment of the Beats they get a lot better,
I really like this interpretation. I think it ties into the feeling throughout the book that there has been some dynamic change. In V the past feels very different to the present. The Whole Sick Crew are fully embracing the present and ignoring the past and as a result simply produce meaningless crap. I feel like Pynchon is advocating a balance. Do not become over-obsessed with the past to the point of stasis (Stencil), but also do not totally reject it like the Whole Sick Crew.
Here's a thought. A cheese Danish is just a type of food. It's something created for consumption, similar to a lot of lowbrow art forms like cartoons and comic books. Slab is taking this object that is only for consumption and merging it with highbrow culture, making it modern and surreal and all that shit. He's merging low and highbrow culture, just like Pynchon is with V.