Pynchon’s Vision of America in The Crying of Lot 49

argumentative Essay
724 words
724 words

First published in 1965, The Crying of Lot 49 is the second novel by American author Thomas Pynchon. The novel follows Oedipa Mass, a young Californian housewife, after she unexpectedly finds herself named the executrix of the estate of Californian real estate mogul, and ex-boyfriend, Pierce Inverarity. In reflecting on their history together, Oedipa recalls how her travels with Pierce helped her acknowledge, but not overcome, the poignant feeling that she was being held paralyzed and isolated from the world (and others) within a staid, middle-class existence by some invisible and nefarious external force. Moreover Oedipa struggles to understand why Pierce would name her the executor of his will considering her deep ignorance of finance, law, real estate, and who he was as a person (by virtue of her isolation). Despite these reservations, Oedipa accepts the dubious honor, traveling down into San Narciso, the Southern Californian city at the heart of Pierce’s extensive holdings. A series of improbable coincidences lead her to begin investigating a potential conspiracy centred on an underground communication network called The Tristero. As Oedipa delves deeper into the investigation she begins to question her own sanity. The mounting evidence affirming the Tristero’s existence, like the prevalent sightings of its emblem, a muted version of a post horn, is inextricably tied to Pierce’s estate holdings. Thus, Oedipa has to confront her growing sense paranoia that suggests the whole investigation is either a figment of her imagination, or (far worse) a manipulative ruse being imposed upon her by some unknown external entity (Pierce? The Tristero itself?). Pynchon uses Oedipa’s quest across San Narciso in search of the Tristero to artic... ... middle of paper ... ...easure of entropy is zero because the expected result can be predicted with absolute certainty. The coin always shows heads. Meanwhile, the measure of entropy for the toss of a coin manipulated to make heads more likely than tails, or vice versa, exceeds the entropy for a double-sided coin toss, since the new coin has two possible outcomes. However, the measure of entropy for a fair coin toss exceeds that of the manipulated coin toss, even though they share the same number of possible outcomes (heads, tails), because the equal likelihood that the results will turn up heads or tails for the fair coin adds an extra degree of uncertainty. Thus, in information theory, the measure of entropy increases as the number of possible outcomes increase, but decreases if the probabilities skew expectations in favor one possible outcome occurring over the others.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how pynchon uses oedipa's quest across san narciso to articulate a dystopian vision of the american landscape in the 1960s.
  • Explains that entropy refers to the level of disorder and uncertainty in a system.
  • Compares the measure of entropy for a doubled-sided coin toss with that for the manipulated coin, since the new coin has two possible outcomes.
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