Today is the birthday of Thomas Pynchon. I shall celebrate it in many ways, but mostly in returning to passages from V, The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity’s Rainbow, all magnificent contributions to the literary luster of the meta-mazing blood flows. There is a great article by Andrew Gordon called “Smoking Dope with Thomas Pynchon.” I suggest that everyone having not startled themselves with a Pynchon perusal shall attempt to do so as the summer nears. Truly colossal and marveling works. Having neverhimself appeared in public adds much intrigue to the work itself, allowing you sit with text and text only. Pynchon even once sent a comedian to deliver his acceptance speech for the National Book Award in 1974. One is reminded of how pieces of writing need to be looked at just as they are and not as having come from something else, a note William Gaddis was also keen to make and whose work is arguably just as much if not more influential and rather same-veined as that of Pynchon.
“Yes but Technology only responds (how often this argument has been iterated, dogged and humorless as a Gaussian reduction, among the younger Schwarzkommando especially), “All very well to talk about having a monster by the tail, but do you think we’d’ve had the Rocket if someone, some specific somebody with a name and a penis hadn’t wanted to chuck a ton of Amatol 300 miles and blow up a block full of civilians? Go ahead, capitalize the T on technology, deify it if it’ll make you feel less responsible–but it puts you in with the neutered, brother, in with the eunuchs keeping the harem of our stolen Earth for the numb and joyless hardons of human sultans, human elite with no right at all to be where they are—”
We have to look for power sources here, and distribution networks we were never taught, routes of power our teachers never imagined, or were encouraged to avoid… we have to find meters whose scales are unknown in the world, draw our own schematics, getting feedback, making connections, reducing the error, trying to learn the real function… zeroing in on what incalculable plot?” —Gravity’s Rainbow
It is also the birthday of Gary Snyder, who after having been delightfully fictionalized in Kerouac’s Dharma Bums as Japhy Ryder, was finally further discovered as a true writer himself. Here’s one of my favorite Snyder poems, one of the first I memorized:
“An Autumn Morning in Shokoku-ji”