Archive for the ‘analysis’ Category

Did Thomas Pynchon write Against the Day by playing Solitaire?

Thursday, January 18th, 2007


I’ve been posting details at our Pynchon blog on a weird reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day as a card game, or set of card games, in which the book’s characters are unaware that they’re playing cards. At 700 pages in I’m beginning to think the book might be a single card game, and not several, and I’m suspecting that it’s Solitaire, though I don’t play the game myself, so I’m out on a limb.

The possibility being that Thomas Pynchon might have written out his characters, given them plot lines, and then played a game of cards, inventing the connections as required by his need to create four of a kind, arrangements by suit, numerical order, etc. As if he had taken the challenge of post-modernism to heart, to unwrite the writing of the book, and to realize the “thrown-ness” of being by bringing his characters to life as he turns cards over and places them with others. If this were the case, the book’s writing was “in the cards,” arbitrary but fated, a world of possible books, but in which the one we are given is the one that was necessary. If we just tender this proposition, that Thomas Pynchon wished to write a book that could be written by chance, that might be about Life and Ideas in the abstract and general but that would take specific form not through authorial authority alone, he might have written it by playing cards with his own book It’s entirely possible. To write as God and the universe, but to include an element of blind luck or fate in the writing itself, but throwing down card upon card and thus allowing narrative construction to fall out of the game play. There’s still a third of the book to go, but for now I’m thrilled to bits with this possibility.

If you’re reading the book, page and thematic references are over that our Emanating Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon blog.

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I wager a key to Thomas Pynchon’s "Against the Day"

Monday, January 15th, 2007

I’m willing to bet that Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon, is a multi-faceted card game, in which a deck of cards is taken out for play, by people in different places and times, playing different games (each with its own rules). And that our main characters only come into the light when they are played. Two layers of agency are involved, the characters, who try to get find each other, and who think they have the freedom of will to do so. And the players, who try to play winning hands by getting rid of their cards, and who have various strategies of cheating at the game. Consequently we have a proliferation of fourth dimensional patterns or logics (four of a kind, suits, face cards); we have a deuce who is high or low; we have those trying to separate colors; those trying to get a run (numerical sequence), and so on. Our little characters are thrown in to Being, but as beings, are always becoming other by virtue of the different rules among games in which they are played (and which include Tarot and magic, hence invisibility). It is possible that the cards experience their lives as an eternal return. It is possible Pynchon offers this hope to us. Aces high folks, but correct me if I’m wrong!

The Pynchon blog is picking up speed, as we all discover tha this is no ordinary book at all. I’ve created a number of thematic series pages, and a section for page by page references, as well as a section of secrets. Join us at:

Emanating Against the Day blog

Planes and Lines in Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Against the Day is organized like A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. It is constructed of planes and surfaces, each a continuum of either space or time. These planes intersect, as do the novel’s subplots and concepts, through a series of dots or plot points connected by narrative arcs, each a line of flight, each borne on the wing and whimsy of Pynchon’s mad characters and historical doubles, and drawn by the invisible hand of an agency whose intrinsic logic is algorithmic, artistic, atomist, ballistic, bled, blown, buried, chemical, conjured, counter-transferred, detonated, differential, disappearing, dug, energized, explosive, forensic, forlorn, found, hallucinated, harmonized, illuminating, impregnated, internalized, literary, lived, logarithmic, lost, loved, melodic, modal, orphaned, passional, painted, played, plotted, political, projected, probabilistic, pursued, pursuing, quantum, recollecting, reflecting, refracting, scientific, screened, screwed, shuffled, spun, strummed, strung, subjective, telegraphed, transferred, vector-based, wired, wirelessly transmitted, or blown by trade wind or un-ticketed time-travel (the two primary modes, and two shadows produced on the book’s jacket cover). Each of Thomas Pynchon’s works has featured both structures favoring death and the lines of flight that escape them, for he recognizes that a structure is defined by that which escapes it. This book is nothing less than the production and reproduction of subjectivity itself–which is an organization of perceptions, affects, and actions. For Pynchon, I believe, subjectivity emerges within the given, not outside it. The deeply Spinozist and Bergsonian ground on which this narrative unfolds provides opportunity for the synthesis of space and time, in the subjective mind, on the basis of images and transformations. Light, here, is connected with matter, and Einstein’s theory of relativity is set against the atomist’s and empiricist’s conviction that the real is concrete. Either space and matter, or time, provide the rule of transformation for any particular line of flight and plane or surface of narrative and event. Points are connected either by the travels of balloonists in space, or time travelers. They meet in a strangely doubled (bi-located) and refracted four dimensional world. The key to live, or death, is in the hands of competing forces seeking to unlock time, light, or matter, each of which are distributed according to a co-ordinal logic of number-location or a logic of movement-time. Whether those who travel by location/position or those who travel by history/time will win remains to be seen, as I’m only half way through. Happy trails fellow readers!

These series will be developed further at our Pynchon blog

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