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1 COLLECTIVITY AND FORM: POLITICS AND AESTHETICS OF COLLECTIVITY IN MICHAEL HARDT AND ANTONIO NEGRI, AMIRI BARAKA AND THOMAS PYNCHON By JAMES LINER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORI DA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 James Liner
3 To Ada, whose dad has been working on this dissertation all her life
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First of all, I would like to thank my doctoral committee for their support, encouragement, and generous criticism throughout this project: my director, Phil Wegner; Susan Hegeman; Eric Kligerman; Barbara Mennel; and my off campus reader, ce that I began my serious study of the work of Fredric Jameson, while I have Tim to thank for introducing me to the thought of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri as well as the literature of Amiri Baraka, not to mention introducing me to Hardt himself. In addition to thoughtful critiques offered by my committee, this dissertation has also benefited from comments, suggestions, questions, and conversations among several of my colleagues and close friends. Thanks go to Wes Beal, Aaron Cerny, Jordan Dominy, An drew Gordon, Vince Leitch, Regina Martin, Mike Mayne, Emily McCann, Patrick McHenry, Matt Mingus, and Christina van Houten. I owe special thanks to Aaron and Andrew, who labored with me through a first reading of Thomas Against the Day and comme nted on a very early version of what was to become the interpretation of that novel I offer in this dissertation. If there are others whom I fail to mention, it is because my memory has faltered, not because their contributions were insignificant. I wou ld be remiss, at the outset of a dissertation on collectivity, not to thank two collectivities at the University of Florida that immeasurably enriched the time I spent there: Graduate Assistants United and the Marxist Reading Group. Finally, for their lo ve, patience, and unwavering support, I would like to thank the family and friends who have made my work on this project possible: Denesha Alexander, Cindy and David Dykes, Josh and Rosie Green, Jenni and Jason Holman,
5 Dawnita Liner, Jolie Liner, Nolan Lin er, Dan Radford, and Steve Sexton. My parents, Peggy and Jerry Liner, have been inexhaustible sources of encouragement. Most of all, I owe an immense debt of gratitude to my partner, Laura Grace Dykes, who has unflaggingly supported me through every step of this dissertation, up to and perhaps beyond the limits of human patience
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 9 1 INTRODUCTION: A MINOR CURRENT IN P OSTMODERNISM ........................... 11 2 FIGURING COLLECTIVITY: POLITICAL INTERPRETATION AND THE DIALECTIC OF FORM AND CONTENT ................................ ................................ 21 2.1 The Dialectic of Form and Content ................................ ............................... 23 2.2 Ideology, Contradiction, History ................................ ................................ ... 28 2.3 Political Interpretation ................................ ................................ ................... 37 2.4 Figuring Collectivity Proletariat and Multitude ................................ ............ 45 3 THE DIFFERENT PERSONS OF AMIRI BARAKA: COLLECTIVITY, SINGULARIT Y, AND BECOMING MINOR ................................ ............................ 65 3.1 Minor Poetics ................................ ................................ ............................... 77 3.2 Identity and Singularity ................................ ................................ ................. 93 3.3 Different Persons At Least Six of Them ................................ ................... 105 3.4 Molar and Molecular ................................ ................................ .................. 125 4 POSTMODERNISM AND THE PERSISTENCE OF UTOPIA: PERIODIZING THOMAS PYNCHON ................................ ................................ .......................... 130 4.1 Entropy, 1959 63 Early Stories, V. ................................ .......................... 143 4.2 Paranoia, 1966/1973 The Crying o f Lot 49 ................ 163 4.3 Nostalgia, 1990/1997 Vineland Mason & Dixon ................................ ...... 185 4.4 High and Late Postmodernism ................................ ................................ ... 226 4.5 Day, 2006/2009 Against the Day Inherent Vice ................................ ...... 250 4.6 Pynchon and the Futures of Postmodernity ................................ ................ 334 5 CONCLUSION: ON SINGULARITY, IDENTITY, AND ACTUALLY EXISTING POLITICS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 348 WORKS CITED ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 355 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ......................... 376
7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4 1 Narrative time and historical time in Inherent Vice ................................ ........... 343
8 LI ST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Semiotic rectangle. ................................ ................................ ............................ 62 2 2 Semiotic rectangle with external syntheses. ................................ ...................... 62 2 3 Semiotic diagram Lord Jim ................................ ................ 62 2 4 Semiotic rectangle mapped o nto the three Lacanian orders. ............................. 63 2 5 Semiotic diagram of the form/content opposition. ................................ .............. 63 2 6 three levels of interpretation fro m The Political Unconscious ............................ 64 4 1 Delaware wedge map showing lines surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. ................................ ................................ ............................. 340 4 2 Semiotic mapping of paranoia in The Crying of Lot 49 and 341 4 3 Semiotic mapping of nostalgia in Vineland and Mason & Dixon. ..................... 341 4 4 Semiotic mapping of the metaphorics of day in Against the Day and Inherent Vice. ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 342
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy COLLECTIVITY AND FORM: POLITICS AND AESTHETICS OF COLLECTIVITY IN MICHAEL HARDT AND ANTONIO NEGRI, AMIRI BARAKA AND THOMAS PYNCHON By James Liner May 2013 Chair: Phillip Wegner Major: English Collectivity and Form: Politics and Aesthetics of Collectivity in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Amiri Baraka and Thomas Pynchon examines texts written during the period 1959 2009, a span roughly congruent with what is now called postmodernity. This dissertation reads the relation between form and content in theoretical and literary texts in an attempt to articulate conditions of possibility for collective praxis in our era. rder to provide a foundation for the political interpretations that follow. Next, Chapter 2 applies a unique version of formal analysis collective opposition to contemporary global capitalism. Chapter 2 ide ntifies both formal and political historical functions of singularity (a poststructuralist conception of subjectivity), love (in a materialist, political guise), and democracy (both historical and utopian ) as constituent elements of the multitude. Subseq uently, the dissertation reads a literature of the multitude through the lenses developed in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 6 Persons represents a novelistic experiment in collectivity, in terms of both its aesthetic form and
10 the ways in which it problematizes the relation between individual and collectivity. Significantly, subjectivity in Baraka is best conceived in terms of not individuality but Finally, Chapter 4 adopts a bro ad historical perspective in order to periodize Pynchon embodies several characteristics of the postmodern, often on a grand scale. Therefore, Chapter 4 reads his corpus as a case study in postmodern contradiction. More specifically, C hapter 4 reads two strains of his work the historical novels as representing not postmodernism but two postmodernisms: an optimistic, utopian postmodernism and a cynical, ideological postmodernism. C ombin ing conventional histor ical chronology with conceptual and theoretical analysis, Chapter 4 proposes a dialectical evaluation of the possibilities for a global democracy of the multitude. Taken together, the chapters of Collectivity and Form attempt to contribute to our understa nding of the conditions of possibility of groups today and what kinds of cultural, social, and political action are open to them.
11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION : A MINOR CURRENT IN P OSTMODERNISM A postmodern artist or writer is in the position of a philosopher : the text he writes, the work he produces are not in principle governed by preestablished rules, and they cannot be judged according to a determining judgment, by applying familiar categories to the text or to the work. Those rules and categories are wha t the work of art itself is looking for. The artist and the writer, then, are working without rules in order to formulate the rules of what will have been done Jean Franois Lyotar d, The Postmodern Condition Or, is postmodernity the pastime of an ol d man who scrounges in the garbage heap of finality looking for leftovers, who brandishes unconsciousness, lapses, limits, confines, goulags, parataxes, non senses, or paradoxes, and who turns this into the glory of his novelty, into his promise of change? Jean Franois Lyotard The Differend of life that strives toward an alternative existence. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri Commonwealth 1 Paradox abounds in postmod ernism. Its entire history as a concept is marked by the antagonistic coexistence of contradictory theses: postmodernism marks a radical break with modernism postmodernism is little but a derivative, second rate modernism. Postmodernism consists in and i nsists on the death of grand narratives postmodernism itself is a grand narrative of the death of grand narratives. Postmodernism liberates artists from the confining strictures of modernism, opening up hitherto unexplored regions of thought and expressio n postmodernism is the art and 1 Lyotard, Postmodern 81; Lyotard, Differend 136; Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth 57.
12 literature of exhaustion, a dilapidated storehouse of used up, reified relics, depleted of originality. Postmodernism constitutes a radical challenge to the political traditions of modernity postmodernism subsumes subjectivi ty under the all encompassing sovereignty of the global capitalist market. Postmodernism is a site for antisystemic struggle postmodernism is the cultural logic of late capitalism. The passages above taken from Jean Franois Lyotard highlight contradict ion at the heart of the postmodern. In The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1979; trans. 1984) Lyotard presents postmodernism as a death of grand narratives that opens up a space for experimentation, play, chance, and difference. Under this c onception, postmodernism suspends inherited rules, dislodges signifiers from their signifieds, and violates canons of aesthetics, resulting in a radical creativity that can only be annulled by the reinstitution of grand narratives of sovereignty. In The D ifferend: Phrases in Dispute (1983; trans. 1988), however, Lyotard entertains an whose m 36). The originary Big Bang of radical flux and contingency found in the earlier description of postmodernism gives way to stasis, entropy, and a cu ltural heat death of the universe. There is nothing new under this postmodern sun. Rather than deciding between these contradictory theses on the postmodern, I want instead to grasp them dialectically, as mutually contradictory positions that nonetheless presuppose each other, even in their antagonism. This understanding of
13 postmodern contradiction also requires a shift in lexicon from culture and aesthetics to history, which from a Marxist perspective is the ultimate theater of contradiction. The histor y of postmodernity, viewed in this light, is nothing other than the history of that dialectic illustrated by the passages from Lyotard. Or, zed Valences 51). The periodization I offer in these pages hinges not on allegedly homogeneous traits that obtain throughout a given period, and not even or not only on the radical breaks and historical differentiations on which any periodizing narrative nonetheless relies, but rather on contradiction itself. My approach to postmodernism is similar to other periodizing accounts that establish bifurcations, dualisms, or countercurr ents within a given historical moment. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, for example, identify in Enlightenment philosophy a major Kant provides the tools for stabilizing the transcendental ordering of the republic of property, whereas the minor Kant blasts apart its foundations, opening the way for Commonwealth 17). This minor Kant, along with the whole minor current of Enlightenment thought that he constituent power, the revolutionary, democratic, creative force of the multitude, as opposed to the reactionary, transcendent, pa rasitical constituted power of the state. Against the enclosures of a modern sovereignty predicated on the constituted power of
14 its major current, the textbook version produces the categories, concepts, and tools by which the modern state maintains its authority and controls its subjects, but it also, in its minor current, furnishes the means of challen ging and subverting that very modern sovereignty. Something similar can be found in a wide range of modernism studies. The notion of alternative modernisms or alternative modernities entails a critical reevaluation of canonical theories of modernism an d modernity, typically delimited by a series of exclusions: the modernist is nearly always white, male, bourgeois, Western; modernization happens in the global West and North. Arguments for alternative modernisms or alternative modernities by contrast, h old that minori tarian fields which violate modernist canons popular literature, literature by women, literature by ethnic minorities, postcolonial modernization, and so on are not merely exceptions to a putatively homogeneous norm but rather direct challen ges, from within, to the logics of exclusion and exploitation upon which canonical modernism depends. 2 A third arena characterized by this dynamic of subversive countercurrents against mainstream or doctrinaire narratives is contemporary globalization. Like the Enlightenment and modernity, neoliberal globalization determines an unequal distribution of power and privilege among its subjects. However, also like the Enlightenment and modernity, globalization may well be sowing the seeds of its own undoing. One crucial recurrent question for globalization studies, especially during that 2 For alternative modernism in literary studies, see, e.g., several of the essays in A Companion to the Modern American Novel, 1900 1950 (ed. Matthews), especially those by Hsu, Stephens, Keresztesi, and Konzett. For interdisciplinary perspectives, see, e.g., Appadurai; Dirlik.
15 what extent the mechanisms by which global capitalism exercises control over power and weal th might be reappropriated for the masses against capitalism. The best known affirmative answer to that question comes from Hardt and Negri, who see the global mantle. On their take, the same networks of communication and affective labor that sense, the coming revolution of the multitude stands as a minor current in globalization itself, a counter globalization alter globalization, or globalization from below. I want to argue that something similar is at work in postmodernism. Rather than viewing the discrepant evaluations of postmodernism as simply another double bind, or stil l less a set of options from among which postmodern consumers of culture are free to choose, I propose that the putative antinomies of postmodernism that I enumerated above, along with scores of others, are best understood as symptoms of the antagonism bet ween official or dominant post modernism and its minor current, an Valences 120). One crucial hypothesis of this dissertation is tha t there is no such thing as postmodernism; instead, there are postmodernisms at least two of them, but almost certainly many more. There is, of course, the canonical major current of postmodernism, characterized by pastiche, play, and difference, by float ing signifiers and autoreferentiality, by hypertexts and hyper reality, simulacra and simulation. This postmodernism is above all a consumerist postmodernism exemplified in shopping, advertising, and spectacle. I submit, however, that there is also a min or current in postmodernism, one which insists on collective
16 agency despite the atomization and isolation of subjects accomplished by late capitalism and which, against all odds, remembers how to think historically or better, invents new ways of thinking h istorically. The radical or utopian sense of this minor postmodernism is shared by Amiri Baraka and Thomas Pynchon, the primary subjects of this dissertation. Their minor literature, as Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari would call it, exhibits the cultu ral logic of capitalism of which canonical postmodernism is the cultural expression. inor postmodernism, the texts of Baraka and Pynchon demonstrate commitment to radical praxis and utopian imagination in the context of postmodernity. Crucially, both authors write out of an experience of postmodernity and exploit postmodern literary techn iques to pose alternatives to the reigning postmodernist, late capitalist order. In doing so, moreover, they offer critical insight into the aporias and contradictions of postmodernism, and above all into the lived experience of political praxis in postmo dernity. Any theory of postmodern political praxis must account for the ways in which social collectivities are inaugurated, organized, sustained, but also foreclosed, o can fruitfully be read as a vast series of collective political commitments, while networ ks, avenues for flight, cabals, cartels, and conspiracies presents a kaleidoscope
17 view of the prospects for collectivity under global capitalism. This dissertation, therefore, reads the literature of Baraka and Pynchon as both symptomatic expressions of p ostmodern contradiction and symbolic figurations of utopian political and social organization. Their texts have much to teach about not only the subjugation of collectivities under late capitalism but also projects dedicated to the imagination and constru In terms of method, such an approach to postmodernity and postmodernism requires a combination of Marxist and poststructuralist analy sis. Marxism provides the framework for the theory of history that operates in this dissertation; in particular, I draw known tripartite hermeneutic from The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (1981) as a way to articulate history, politics, contradiction and historical metasynchrony, also provides theoretical grounds for identifying and analyzing the minor current represented he re by Baraka and Pynchon. Poststructuralism, meanwhile especially the theories of Deleuze and Guattari, as well as the contemporary interpretations of those theories by Hardt and Negri provides a means for cognitively mapping the anatomies and processes o f the oppositional subjectivities engaged in metasynchronous struggle against capitalism and its isolation and atomization of subjects. of the multitude explode the integrity and alleged self sufficiency of the individual bourgeois subject; instead, subjectivity is here recast as contingent, historically dynamic, multivalent, and above all
18 collecti and Guattari claim ( Anti Oedipus 362). In concert, the Marxist and poststructuralist strains of my methodology allow me to critically examine the history of collectivity in postmodernity in order to evaluate the prospects for collective praxis in our own postmodern moment today. The analysis that follows unfolds over three chapters. Chapter 2 demonstrates an The Political Unconscious with the Introduction to his more recent The Modernist Papers (2007). In Chapter 2 I advocate a Marxian reappropriation of the notion of form itself as a tool for properly political, as opposed to formalist, analysis. My analysis of the multitude an analysis simultaneously formal and political il lustrates the dialectic of content and form that I develop out of Jameson while it also provides a theoretical foundation for my later readings of collectivity in Baraka and Pynchon. Chapter 3 examines the texts of Baraka through the lens of Deleuze and Guattari. Using of minor literature to illustrate the radical seldom read novel 6 Persons (composed 1973 74; published 2000) as a synchronic snapshot of revolutionary schizophrenic subjectivity. Six Persons allegorizes the temporary formation and praxis of collectivities even while it performs an imaginary resolution of the contradiction in Baraka between revolutionary and reactionary tendenci es in his transition from Black Nationalism to Thi rd World Marxism I argue that the most important contribution of 6 Persons to Marxist theory and radical praxis is found in its novelization of singularity, a model of subjectivity in Deleuze and Guattari that stands opposed to liberal individualism and which later becomes a precursor to
19 processes by which revolutionary subjectivities flee capitalist control in order t o create and occupy spaces for collective praxis. Chapter 4 broadens the scope of analysis, both textually and historically. There I which reads form itself as the manifest content of histori cally specific, mutually antagonistic modes of production diachronic ratively short California novels as allegorical manifestations of minor and major postmodernism, respectively; I argue that those currents in postmodernism, moreover, correspond to experiences of revolutionary subjectivity against capital the multitude in the historical novels and of capitalist control under real subsumption in the California novels. This allegorical reading mandates a thoroughgoing reevaluation both of and revolution, and of the categories and concepts with which we periodize history, history of the present at the same time as they gesture toward what might be emerging on the horizon of futurity. For notwithstandin g the literary focus of this dissertation, its ultimate frame of reference is political praxis in the present. Not only for Marxist critics but also for radical thinkers and activists generally, collectivity is the sine qua non for praxis. At the end of the first chapter of The Political Unconscious al as well as collective praxis
20 together, the chapters of Collectivity and Form attempt to contribute to o ur understanding of the conditions of possibility of collectivities today, how we can form and sustain them, and what kinds of cultural, social, and political action are open to them. Such understanding is not merely salutary but indispensible for us, tod ay, subjected to the permeating social controls of global capitalism, trapped in a lifeworld that is too often little but a torture chamber for the history that hurts. Note on the text: Baraka and Pynchon use ellipses extensively in their texts, includi ng several passages quoted in this dissertation. In order to distinguish the from Baraka or Pynchon. All ellipses in quotations from other sources are my own.
21 CHAPT ER 2 FIGURING COLLECTIVIT Y: POLITICAL INTERPRETA TION AND THE DIALECT IC OF FORM AND CONTE NT Amiri Baraka 1 Recent years have seen a resurgence of formalist criticism in literary studies. In to the institutional hegemony privileges a political frame of reference (558, 559). According to Levinson, new inst the content nearly exclusively privileged, the new formalists claim, in the new historicist paradigm (561). For Levinson, however, the new versus new historicist interpretation, rather than on historicism (or cultural studies, or theory, or Marxism) (561). Instead, the new formalism amounts in the main to a retreat from the political and a restoration of the traditional/conservative aesthetic vocation of the literary disciplines. The Modernist Papers (2007) makes an important, however tacit, intervention in the new formalism debate. Gi ven the atheoretical refusal among new formalists to rethink form as well as the explicitly antitheoretical agendas and posturings of certain new formalist partisans, the dialectical 1 Baraka and ya Salaam 6.
22 reworking of the relation between form and content that Jameson enacts in that introduction is salutary. Jameson returns to the four permutations of the form/content tween the is an attempt to rethink form itself but also, significantly, content as well an attempt whose conspicuous absence marks new formalisms. In addition to this much needed dialecti cal reconceptualization of form and form/content nexus, once it has been refracted through the tripartite dialectical Marxist hermeneutic from his earlier The Politi cal Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (1981), opens a way of thinking about the socially symbolic resonances of form and content. It restores to these erstwhile reified terms their dynamic political functions. Such a view of form and cont ent is useful, I contend, not only for literary and cultural analysis but also for a dialectical account of collective praxis, collectivity also being grasped as a problem of form and content. Here I argue for a dialectical political reading of form and content. Section 2.1 The Modernist Papers Section 2.2 then revisits the three tiered hermeneutic program of The Political Unconscious Next, section 2.3 maps the syste m of four terms drawn from Hjelmslev onto the system of three levels from the earlier book. Finally, section 2.4 collectivity: the classic case of the proletariat and its co ntemporary reworking under the
23 banner of the multitude. The broad contentions of Chapter 2 are that form and content are understandable only by means of the dialectical relation between them and that this relation demonstrates the thoroughly political val ences of formal interpretation as well as the inextricably formal contours of political thinking itself. 2.1 The Dialectic of Form and Content dialectical reworking of the form/co ntent opposition in The Modernist Papers are its transcendence of restrictive definitions of form, which would reduce the latter to theorizing cancelled in advance by ne Prolegomena to a Theory of Language form and content moves beyond the initial binary opposition between the two that tting out of binary oppositions may often mean, not so much doing away with them, as multiplying them and using the initial ideological starting point as the beginning of a more complicated construction which is Jameson, Modernist xi; see Hjelmslev 47 60). Following Hjelmslev, Jameson casts form and content not simply as two opposed terms form versus content but as four combinatory perspectives: the content of content, the form of form, the form of content, and t he content of form. The first two of these perspectives, the content of content and the form of form, stand for a kind of purity, aspiring to rid themselves of their opposite number. Taking
24 content that is entirely independent of forma content are somehow neutralized and bracketed by an abstraction that seeks only to immediately recognizable as the project of late modernist formalisms such as the New Criticism and contemporary new formali sms alike. The inverse mirror image of the content of content, the form of form consists, ideally, of form that is altogether without content. Jameson takes pains to point out, however, that this emptying out of content from form is not exclusively react therefore, relate to each other in the mode of antinomy: the form of form is able to project u its u topia is a compensatory one; while the content of content, in its refusal of representation tout court reserves no space for u topian thinking, which necessarily is always already representational and figural. Let me take a moment to sketch what I mean by u topian Suffice it to say for now that the u topian for our times is the bonus of pleasure that exceeds the strictures imposed, in our historical context, by the instrumentalization and reification engendered by late capit alism. Utopian thinking thinks a form of collective life that transcends the disrupts the closure of any historical present, thereby opening it up to the possibilities of his Imaginary
25 such a form is to be found nowhere but it also serves to sustain the impulse and desire for an achieved collectivity in an historical moment when that collective life is objectively and structurally impossible. If, under late capitalism, the ideological is the locus of at omization and reification, the u topian would then be the no place of the transcendence of the ideological, the reunification of the social, and the im manence of collective praxis. utopian character of the form of form is to gestures toward a possible future when culture can be properly Utopian or collective impulse [which is] no longer basely functional or Political 293). There is a profound utopian impulse at work in the formalizing operation of the form of form, notwithstandin g its ahistorical, depoliticized dimension. This dialectical perspective on u topia also accounts for the the edifying and the moralistic, if it is not informed by a sense of the class dynamics of isolation of ideology from utopian impulses, amounts to little more than the stereotypical vulgar materialism often attributed to Mar xism by its critics. Both the content of content and the form of form, moreover, are ultimately untenable their alleged purity (pure content, pure form) is pure fiction. The referential through narrative or Modernist xiii); rather, historical referents
26 like class can only ever be intelligible by means of s ome narrative, linguistic, or ur being in the world, even by way of therefore limited by the impossibility of ever realizing the purity to which they aspire: the impossibility of grasping referential history without recourse to formal categories and of constructing, even imagining, a pure form that has no relation to historical or ideological content. in the most compr content can ever be grasped in isolation (xiv). If historical content is only ever class), the form of con tent denotes the preexisting ideological formation which allows for in itself; but it can only be evoked for all practical purposes by way of some preexisting representation of the aristocracy as a social cl ass [as in, for example, Dickens], and that representation is bound to be ideological and to have its own history as an ideology both narrative and ideology (form and content), both trope and argument. For Jameson the for m of content in this case is the form in which the historical content of class antagonism becomes accessible and intelligible. Interestingly, though, at the same time that it is ideological indeed, because it is ideological the form of content also has a utopian valence. Insofar as ideology is
27 and is therefore necessarily utopian figures for the ultimate concrete co llective life of an achieved Utopian or classless Political 291). The ideological representation of the aristocracy in Dickens stands as a utopian figure as well. In presenting these permutations in the order that I have followed, I h ave attempted to trace out a certain unfolding of utopian openings. The fourth position in complete and the most directly focused on utopian possibilities. The content of f orm is the perspective the only productive coordination of the opposition between form and content that does not se ek to reduce one term to the other, or to posit illicit thus a way in which the notion of the content of the form stands as a philosophical and dialectical solution to the initi such, to prevent contradiction from falling into either the ideal synthesis attributed to (x), on the one hand, or the antinomian logic of the double bind, on the other. 2 Indeed, which means recognizing 2 The content of form is thus analogous to what J ameson discusses elsewhere as utopian Archaeologies 170 12 13
28 their utopian outcroppings as well as their objective limitations the content of form comes to coincide with the perspective of dialectical thinking. The content of form, moreover, insofar as it serves as the place from which the usefulness and limits of the other three perspectives can be judged, enables dialectical analysis of the other three perspectives: it reveals both the terrain in which they operate and the limits that define and circumscr which both ideology and utopian thinking depend (xvii). The content of form articulates the conditions of possi bility for both ideological discourse and utopian figuration alike. of Hjelmslev clearly signals that the relation between form and content must be thought differently than the new formalists would have it. Not only does the Introdu ction to The Modernist Papers provide a welcome corrective to new the intrinsically political and ideological character of both form and content that the new for malists strive to bracket. This political resonance of form and content proves crucial to my reading of representations of collectivity below, but it also serves as an initial and provisional bridge between The Modernist Papers and The Political Unconscio us 2.2 Ideology, Contradiction, History The long first chapter of The Political Unconscious outlines an original program for which progressively widens the hist orical horizon in which a literary or cultural artifact is examined (75). This historical horizon, moreover, provides the ground for social contradiction, with the nature of contradiction undergoing modification in each perspective. Meanwhile, the specif ic form that contradiction takes in each perspective
29 determines in turn the contours of ideology; each framework interprets the artifact in outline the three phases o contradiction, and ideology. This structure will come into play when I lay out my theory of collectivity in section 2.4 symbolic act first level, history is conceived as the chronological succession of punctual events, the history of timelines and chronicles (75). The historical ground of a text is tied to contemporary events, from which springs real but ultimately irresolvable social antinomy pro perly narrative apparatus the text itself 83). This narrative apparatus, the symbolic act, is an ideological act as well. But ideology has a special sense here. The text in a formulation modeled on Claude Lvi charac terization of myth (see 256), which itself significantly finds another echo in Louis real conditions of experience contrad act symbolic
30 level interpretation (or symptomology) of the symbolic act views the text from both these poles without ever privileging one to the exclusion of the other. Let me i Lord Jim (1900), which Jameson analyzes at length in the penultimate chapter of The Political Unconscious The historical moment of this novel, what Jameson would call its subtext, is production (253 54). This contradiction finds symptomatic expression in the competing figures of the buccaneer Gentleman Brown and the Malaysian religious pilgrims aboard the junket Patna Gentleman Brown represents both the untrammeled pursuit of capitalist profit on a new worldwide stage and the anomie and nihilism that ultimately result from the structural processes of reification under monopoly capitalism. The pilgrims, m community, bound together by the integrity of a shared religion. activity and value. Activity and value according to the instrumental logic of means and ends that serves as the conceptual basis of reification. Gentleman Brown represents the synthesis of activity, or sheer means of accumulation, and not value, since his efforts to acquire wealth are organized strictly according to instrumental calculation. The Malaysian pilgrims, on the other in
31 itself of the organic religious community, w ith not activity, since their being in the world consists in piety and religious contemplation. For Jameson the real social contradiction the conceptual antinomy and un decidable double bind between value and activity. resolution of this real but irresolvable social contradiction. Once installed as Tuan or energies of Western capitalism and the organic immanence of the religion of but it also requires a prior awakening reawakening underscores the utopian character of formalizing operations; the ing first from a collective fantasy for a life beyond capitalist reification, a fantasy at the heart not merely of Lord Jim but of so called mass literature generally. Thus, first level interpretation reads the symbolic act of Lord Jim as ideological and utopian simultaneously. ideologeme discourses of competing social classes that provide historical framing. T hese discourses, moreover, are fundamentally dialogical, in the Bakhtinian sense: they are eological
32 individual parole langue two interpretation, contradiction is the very subs tance of the dialogical text, the system of relations constituting the antagonistic langue of which the text is an individual polemical parole The ideologeme then, modeled after the series of emes (morphemes, phonemes, and so forth) that are the minima l intelligible units of various kinds of linguistic analysis, stands as the unit that organizes the langue of class arrative apparatus and a an instance of the ideological content of class discourse (87). Second level interpretation amounts to a lexicological project of identifying and cataloguing the ideologemes that comprise the langue of class discourse Examples help clarify what Jameson is getting at in chapter four of The Political Unconscious is exemplary not only of the identification and articulation of ideologemes involved in phase two lexicography but also of the ways in which that project itself builds off of a phase one reading of symbolic acts. To begin, Jameson identifies a t think of the static sociological conception of class against which Jameson distinguishes the dynamic, antagonistic Marxian one (83) in which case characters co case the totality putatively represented by the concept actually overflows and exceeds
33 that concept (190 91). This contradiction, in turn, is symptomatically expressed in the alienated intellectual dclassement or It is out of this symb olic reading of Gissing, however, and specifically out of the figure of the alienated intellectual, that Jameson launches his ideologemic analysis. ultimately and seve rely punished for their class treason. This recurrent narrative pattern becomes one face, the protonarrative, of the ideologeme of ressentiment a pseudoidea which proposes that both the poor and those who incite the poor to revolt act fundamentally out o f a sense of envy and resentment (200 02). Moreover, the discourse of ressentiment is fundamentally a dialogical one. Not only does it rely on eighteenth utopian fantasy which speaks ressentiment in Gissing stages the ideologemic analysis of the second phase of The Political Unconscious interpretive schema. ideology of form re lative to the longue dure of History Jameson occasionally uses the capital H to
34 distinguish History from the histories of the first two levels tr ibal hordes, Neolithic kinship communities, and the so called Oriental despotism to ancient slaveholding societies, feudalism, capitalism, and communism. Mediating between conceptions of individual modes of production as synchronic systems, on the one han d, and views of history that emphasize the diachronic transition from one mode structures of modes of production and their associated ideological discourses (97). The key to this puzzling metasynchronicity lies in the fact that historical periods are consisted in the overlay and structural coexistence of several modes of production at seen from the second perspective, metasynchronous modes of production are both coeval with and antagonistic toward one another. Somewhat dramatically, Jameson (97). The task of third level interpretation, therefore, becomes the reconstruction of perpetual cultural revolution, of clashing modes of production, from the materials available in a given text (97). The analyst accomplishes this reconstruction by reading the ideology of form
35 wor ds, takes formal structures themselves say, Jamesian realism or modernist impressionism as ideological projections of the modes of production to which they correspond in this case, as I discuss shortly, industrial or monopoly capitalism. These ideological messages of form are precisely the materials from which the critic reconstructs permanent cultural revolution. Thus, the work of the level three critic consists no longer in symptomology or lexicography but in the allegorical reconstruction of History it self. Formal analysis and ideology critique are here both conjoined and transformed, constituting a single project that reads form as history and history as form. level reading of the imaginary resolution of Lord Jim narrative is one element alongside others in his broader reading of the ideology of form 3 Like many critics, Jameson remarks the formal heterogeneity and Lord Jim scan dal aboard the Patna 07). As splitting off of high and mass culture comes about only by means of capitalist instrumentaliz the dialectical fission of older aesthetic expression 3 Lord Jim is emblematic of the interrelated nature of his three hermeneutic frameworks. In addition to the first level reading of Lord Jim as a symbolic act, which I have discussed above, and the third level reading of the ideolo gy of form in the novel, which I examine presently, Jameson also articulates the functioning of the ideologeme of ressentiment in the figure of Gentleman Brown. This coimplication of each of the three frameworks in the others recalls a similar relation am ong psychoanalysis will be come clear below, in section 2.3
36 industrial to mon opoly capitalism, so that both of these cultural milieus, distinct though they be, coexist side by side in Lord Jim Thus, the high literary and mass literary elements of the novel signal, respectively, the utopian impulse undergirding aesthetic experience Conrad the literary modernist and the manipulation of that impulse toward ideological and compensatory ends, its use as a release valve for the popular imagination Conrad the popular novelist. Furthermore, both the modernist, impressionist narrative of t Political 207, 266). Taken together, these two segments signal the metasyn chronous co presence of different modes of production. The but preserved realism the Malaysians t both the typological and the transitional readings against which Jameson defines the tempora lity (or really, temporalities) of the ideology of form. Neither the labeling of emergence of his modernist moment, but only the analysis of the ideology of form ca n
37 adequately assess Lord Jim in the broadest historical context of the gigantomachia that hierarchy of three levels. 2.3 Political Interpretation It remains to be seen, how ever, how the tripartite hermeneutic of The Political Unconscious can connect up with that more recent quadripartite schema that Jameson develops in The Modernist Papers and how both schemas suggest new representations of collectivity. In this regard, Weg first approach miotic rectangle onto the three Lacanian orders of the Real, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary, Wegner establishes a precedent for the mediation between systems of four and three that I undertake here Let me begin by sketching out the semiotic rectangle, abstractly first and then early usage, it functions to model ideological closure by ( S' and S'). One begins with the binary opposition and identifies the simple contradictions of those terms (see fig. 2 1 ). The four corners of the rectangle generate a corresponding set of four syntheses: the synthesis of the primary opposition (S, S) synthesis of the contradiction. The synthesis of the simple negations ( S', S') gives rise terms, can be taken to represent t he possibility of flight or escape from the binary
38 dilemma. Finally, the left hand and right hand syntheses (S, S'; S, S') represent the ultimate antinomy or double bind to which the conceptual opposition gives rise. 4 Figure 2 2 offers a full schematic rendering of the s emiotic rectangle. diagram of the ideological closure of Lord Jim is a helpful illustration of the semiotic rectangle, since it has already appeared (minus the discussion of the narrator, Marlow chair sa 2 3 ). Jim represents the ideal but impossible imaginary resolution of the antinomy of incommensurable poles of that antinomy. (Marlow, meanwhile, represents a withdrawal from the social contradiction, as well as from the plot of the narrative proper.) All of these positions are generated by the logical permutations of the fundamental terms of the opposition and their respective negations. 5 4 I should point out that not all discussions of the semiotic rectangle use the same terminology as I do nor do they all necessarily proceed from the original binary opposition all the way to the external syntheses. A. J. Greimas and Franois Rastier, for example, in their essay that debuts the semiotic rectangle, do not discuss the external syntheses at all. Likewise, Ronald Schleifer focuses exclusively on ers of the my terminology, S' and deployments of it, which themselves have evol ved over the course of his career. For the canonical description of the rectangle, see Greimas and Rastier. Useful introductions to the rectangle can be found in Schleifer, A. J. Greimas 25 33 and Introduction xxv xxxix. For an elaboration of the recta ngle that emphasizes its capability to diagram ideology, see Jameson, Foreword xiii The Seeds of Time (1994) is an excellent example of the kind of dialectical use of the rectangle that I attempt here (129 205). On the histo ry and development of the 5 Note that in the semiotic rectangle for Lord Jim Greimassian term) Jim, Brown, etc. and ideological concepts activity and value ap pear side by figuration of ideology: one does foreword to the English t On Meaning
39 I can now turn to W 6 rectangle not in terms of fours four internal positions, four external syntheses but in terms of three horizontal pl anes defined by the external syntheses, with the top plane occupied by the complex term, the middle plane by the terms of the antinomy, and the bottom plane by the neutral term. This division of the rectangle begins to reveal the affinities between it and 227). Thus the c omplex term coincides with the Symbolic Order in Lacan, the site of the institution of language, grammar, and law. The antinomian terms, in turn, fall in with the whose app (227). The neutral term, finally, coincides with the Lacanian Real, the unsymbolizable, unrepresentable, and unassimilable, which escapes signification and is the locus of trauma (see Lacan, Seminar XI 53 is worth recalling Political 102). 7 6 Although Lacan discusses the Real (along with the Imaginary and the Symbolic) in h is early works, the Seminar also the emergence of the three orders); see esp. books II and XI. See also Evans 84 85, 134 35, 162 64, 203 04; Fink 24 31; and Wilden 161 62, 174 75, 249 70, 293 98, et passim. 7 the latter, in The Parallax View gap which prevents our that, for Jameson, we have no access to the mode of prod uction itself, even though we do occasionally
40 The neutral term is the place of the trauma of History and the experience, such as it is, of the Real. The rectangle thus maps onto the three Lacanian orders (see fig. 2 4 ). recasting of the semiotic rectangle in terms of the Symbolic, Imaginary, and Real is not only suggestive in its own right but also an excellent model of dialectical mediation between two such seemingly disparate systems. I want to begin my own work here by focusing first, as Wegner does, on the system of four, the H jelmslevian permutations of the form/content opposition. That it can be called that that it makes sense to speak of a form/content opposition form and content shows is that the initial opposition between form and content is binary in appearance only, and that form and content are best understood not as antinomian but as dialectically interrelated; hence han reduce the number of possibilities. What I can now add to my earlier account is a Greimassian diagram of this dialectical relation (see fig. 2 5 ). My construction of the semiotic rectangle is confirmed by being refracted through mediation between Greimas and Lacan. Indeed, the basic characterization of the three orders in Lacan takes on a new tenor when juxtaposed with the tripartite hermeneutic of The Political Unconscious The first level of interpretation, the reading of symb olic acts, renders the text as an imaginary resolution of a real witness the rise to the surface of the social antagonism that drives the movement of History. Therefore, it is not ins Parallax 281).
41 solution. Whereas the reading of symbolic acts is predicated on identifying such imaginary resolutions, phase two interpretation reconfigures the text as a parole of class langue The linguistic logic governing second level interpretation and the critical project of ideologemic lexicography indicate that the central task here is the articulation of a grammar of ideologemes, a syntax of ideology. Therefore, ideologemic analysis corresponds with t he Symbolic Order, the moment of the institution of language. Finally, the ideology of form takes the perspective of the ultimate Marxian conception of the History of modes of production. The latter, of course, like the Real in Lacan Seminar I 66) are never Seminar II 96). In reading form as the residual or anticipatory trace of a once or future mode of production, the ideology of form is the allegorical reconstruction of the unrepresentable Real of History. But if the three levels of interpretation in The Political Unconscious match up with the three Lacanian orders, then it seems permissible f or me to substitute the language yet another semiotic rectangle (see fig. 2 6 ). This twice modified semiotic rectangle now proposes a whole program for linking up the hermeneutic agenda of The Political Unconscious The Modernist Papers
42 To begin anew, the level one reading of symbolic acts coincides with the form of form and the content of content. To th e extent that such a reading views the text as an imaginary resolution of a real social contradiction, the critic is obliged to navigate between but also not to adopt outright the perspectives of the form of form and the content of content. Both of these options the purely formal or purely aesthetic, devoid of content; the purely historical and social, unmediated by formalizing operations are unacceptable for a first either the imaginary or t he active status of the symbolic act identifies empty formalism and reductive materialism as the twin temptations to be avoided here. The critic must keep both of these positions in play in doing the work of first level symptomology. This symptomology co socially symbolic act. The Political Un conscious of Lvi Strauss locates the fundamental formal antinomy of this art in its use of two opposed axes of symmetry: the figures of Caduveo facial art are themselves symmetrical, but their axis of symmet ry lies askance Strauss, qtd. in Jameson, Political 78). For Lvi Strauss, the hierarchies and inequalities in Caduveo society remain totally unresolved on the social level, so the juxtaposition of antinomia n axes of symmetry very real social contradiction (78 conjoins the positions of the form of form the purely formal at
43 the critic subjects to immanent formal analysis and the content of content the real contradictions that remain irresolvable on the social level and therefore can only be resolved by the imaginary operations of the symbolic act. Whereas form and content remain heuristically distinct in first level symptomology the symptom never fully coinciding with the conditions it indicates they are inextricably bound together in the miscegenated second level concept of the ideologeme. Expre ssible as both pseudoidea and protonarrative, the ideologeme does away completely with such hypothetical separability of form and content. In this, the ideologeme shares an immediate affinity with the form of content, which unlike the first two permutatio ns just discussed appears as a hybrid construction rather than a pure essence of form or content. More importantly, both ideologemic analysis and the form form of co the smallest significant unit of class discourse, then to seek the ideologeme is to read from the perspective of the form of content. Finally, the ideology of form represents the most dialectically complete version of The Political Unconscious reconstructing the struggle among rival, metasynchronous modes of production as these announce themselves in the competing form al and ideological codes at play in a text. To take this view on a text, I argue, is to apprehend it from the position of the content of form. Reading from this position entails two broad maneuvers: first, identifying the disparate formal registers and i deological signifying systems
44 which manifest the antagonisms among competing modes of production; second, articulating the relation among these registers and sy stems, on the one hand, and the concomitant lines of struggle among the modes of production which they signal, on the level critic. To study the ideology of form is to study the content of fo rm. The Modernist Papers then, stands in my estimation as more than just a reexamination of Hjelmslevian analysis. It is that too, of course, but it also needs to be understood in its immediate historical and critical context and in this sense, it is no accident that The Modernist Papers cter of an intervention on behalf of a political reading of form itself, a corrective to the depoliticizing drives of the new formalists. The Modernist Papers can also be read as a continuation of that much earlier project articulated in The Political Unc onscious a Political 17). Not merely does the tripartite hermeneutic of 1981 remain relevant in the face of the advances of the new formalism, but more impor tantly, it compels both a rigorous interrogation and an ultimately political interpretation of the very terms form and content that are naively and antitheoretically assumed by the new formalists to be unproblematical and transparent. The analysis carried out in the section to follow aims interpretive schema articulated in these pages to the newly relevant concept of collectivity in the context of globalization and resistanc e to it.
45 2.4 Figuring Collectivity Proletariat and Multitude A first approach to the form and content of collectivity might provisionally characterize them along the lines of organizational structure and constituent membership. This characterization is only a starting point, for it not only resembles the traditional, reified meanings that a new formalist would attribute to these terms but also reveals precious little that is not already implicit in this or that figuration of collectivity. For example, t industrial working class itself. But this is already given implicitly in the very notion of the pro letariat, to say nothing of the history of this formation. permutations of the form/co ntent relation, mapped onto the three levels of interpretation in The Political Unconscious to sketch out some characteristics of both the industrial proletariat, which I take as a classic case of oppositional collectivity, and the multitude, an influenti al contemporary version of proletarian collectivity under global capitalism. I begin, then, with the proletariat. As I have already suggested, an initial characterization of the form and content of the proletariat would fall along the respective lines o f the organizational structures that represent the proletariat the party, the vanguard and the industrial working class. That those organizational structures all represent the working class, however, already points to a first dialectica l reading of the relation between form and content here. One of the fundamental contradictions that the concept of the proletariat must attempt to resolve lies in the fact that the working class is the constituent force of history and the motor of revolut ionary
46 change and yet is unable to assume a position of constituted authority. Entrapped as it is by the mechanisms of capitalist exploitation, the working class is ideologically subjugated by capital it suffers from what Marx calls false consciousness. As such, the working class cannot represent or speak for itself; it must be represented and spoken for by som e other entity canonically, of course, by the party. Significantly, Antonio Negri reads the entire history of the soviets under Lenin as a confron tation between the constituted structures of representation and the constituent forces that they represent ( Insurgencies 268). 8 For Negri, the crux of the contradiction be tween party and constituent power is highest moment of the proletarian must subordinate the permanent and real aims o f the class movement to the Insurgencies 268, 271). Revolution must therefore become permanent in order to exceed attempts at end: only 8 Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State (1992; trans. 1999), from which comes his analysis of the party that I d iscuss in this section is a sustained political and philosophical investigation of the interplay between constituent and constituted power in the history of Western revolutions. For a theoretical discussion of constituent and constituted power, see Insurgencies 1 35. For a discus the multitude in Empire and subsequent works see Hardt and Negri, Labor 263 313.
47 the radical demands of communism for example, the abolition of the private property system and the dictatorship of the proletariat and the concessionary measures of reformism the eight hour day, a living wage, and so forth. Viewed from the dialectical p erspective of The Political Unconscious and The Modernist Papers under the auspices of the party appears as the kind of imaginary resolution characteristic of socially symbolic acts. Co nsider the working class not simply as the The contradictions that function on this immediate historical level between organization and spontaneity, between revol ution and reform, between praxis and false consciousness are then worked over in the figure of the Leninist party. The party attempts to activate and channel the constituent power of the working class without itself succumbing to the reification inherent in bourgeois formations of state power. ideological baggage in this sense, then, it stands as the form of form of the proletariat (Jameson, Modernist xv). To put i t differently, this ideological function of the party as if as if the Party expresses the objective interest of the wor Sublime Object 36). Of course, the consequences of this as if
48 experience of the movements and ab sorbed by the logic of capitalist alienation, turning bureaucratic and tyrannical. What should give force to multiplicity is transformed into Commonwealth 198 99). What is crucial to note here is that this bure aucratic turn of the party is no historical accident but a direct result of the forms available to the party for thinking praxis. On this reading, the role of the party in the admittedly tragic history of Soviet socialism, rather than motivating a sort of penitence and moral handwringing, now takes on the character of an attempt to resolve the real but irresolvable contradictions of the historical moment of the proletariat in the twentieth century. This contradiction, however, cannot remain limited to th e level of an internal contradiction in the concept of the proletariat itself. As Jameson reminds his reader, the proletariat is graspable as a social class only when viewed in its contradictory relation of social antagonism. In shifting gears now to thi s next perspective on the proletariat, I want also to shift my attention from the Russian to the American working class. Absent the kind of lasting social or political revolutions accomplished by successful socialist and communist movements of the twenti eth century, the proletariat in the U.S. finds its most lasting influence in the Popular Front of the 1930s and 40s. Michael The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century (1997) stands as a landmark study of the class struggle. Denning discusses the Popu populism and nationalism as weapons in its ideological arsenal against fascism and
49 populism and nationalism effects a transformation in their meanings: instead of rethink who and what counts as the pe ople. (One could restate this in of the Greimassian diagram system and provides the conceptual grammar and regulatory laws that govern the it either worked as a merely classificatory category or it became a relational class concept and thereby relinquished its claims to represent the social totality where concept truly would coincide with the totality. Far from si mply parroting the slogans of populism and nationalism, the Popular Front was engaged in a conscious attempt at reclaiming those slogans for its own properly dialectical ends. The ideologemic perspective on the form of content, however, stipulates that t hese readings of the authors and artists of the cultural front illustrate this double imperative. and
50 the ghetto pastoral, for example attempt to redefine the pseudoidea of the people in order to mobilize it as a radical democratic principle. Those same aesthetic forms, moreover, also manife stly it appears in the ghetto or the factory. Such ideologemes, therefore, can be seen as the form of content of the American proletariat, the ideological concepts which a re simultaneously narrative tropes Such ideological struggles, however, are always a means to an end for revolutionary movements and the end, of course, is always revolution itself. Denn ing Jews without Money revolutionary Marxism: A man on an East Side soap despair, melancholy and helpless rage of millions, a world movement had been born to abolish poverty. I listened to him. You are the true Messiah. You will destroy the East Side w hen you come, and build there a garden for the human spirit. O Revolution, that forced me to think, to struggle and to live. O great Beginning! (309) which appears Revolution, however, remains constitutively unrepresentable: not because of some quasi Derridean refusal to anticipate the concrete forms of the coming revolutionary other, but because, more concretely, the revolutionary moment anticipates an as yet
51 nonexistent mode of production, namely communism. Thus the impossibility of ure is best read through the Jamesonian project of the ideology of form. that stands as the content of form. That the proletariat is always assumed by Marxist discourse to be both an ontological substance there is such a thing as the proletariat, and we can identify it at work in the movement of the history of capitalism and an ongoing political project we must work to construct the proletariat as a self consci ous revolutionary subjectivity of form: revolution is what the proletariat, having no access to the Real of History itself, tries ceaselessly to (re)present. And that the moment of revolution remains in the future indicates not an interminable deferral o f meaning but the metasynchronous temporality of permanent cultural revolution. Unless and until communism becomes the hegemonic mode of production, its possibilities for figuration will remai n just such utopian projects and anticipatory traces. Developing out of the Marxian tradition of the proletariat which also means apparatus adequate to our own present s Multitude 140 41) to the twin revolutionary aims of both expressing the demands of oppositional praxis and founding the very subjectivities capable of mounting that opposition. A first understanding of the multitude, therefore, would view it as a postmodern version, a contemporary updating, of the Marxist category of the proletariat. What immediately
52 needs to be added is that the proletariat of the twenty first century is quite different from that observed by Marx during the mid collaborati ons Empire (2000), Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004), Commonwealth (2009) and Declaration (2012) ar ise from an experience of the later years of the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty first century. Hardt and Empire Persian Gulf War and the onset of the Kosovo war, tha t is, circa 1995/96 ( Empire xvii). Multitude meanwhile, develops out of the experience of collective oppositional praxis that crystallized around the protests at the 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Seattle. Commonwealth revisits and revises the arguments of the first two books from the vantage point of the end of the George W. Bush administration. Finally, Declaration Occupy Wall Street movement. One of the most important differences between the multitude and the proletariat, then, is to be found in the hegemonic form of labor. Whereas the classic notion of the proletariat is dominated by and often coincides perfectly with the industrial working class, in t he postmodern proletariat the multitude the leading role falls to what Hardt and Negri call immaterial labor (or sometimes, and more increasingly in their recent books ans of production are (not only material but also) immaterial: immaterial labor produces communication, knowledge, affect, feelings, states of mind, even sociality itself. Immaterial labor stands as the referent, the content of content, of the multitude But the multitude is also, however, a complication of traditional conceptions of social
53 class, which tend to alternate between unitarian (e.g., Marxian or, as above, Leninist) and pluralistic (e.g., liberal democratic) configurations. Unlike its concep tual predecessors and here is an important point of departure from doctrinaire Marxist conceptions of the proletariat the multitude embraces both of these perspectives ( Multitude 103). For Hardt and Negri, unity and plurality get recast as commonality and singularity: the multitude consists of innumerable singularities, each of which persists in its singularity and autonomy, but which all together participate in, communicate through, and ultimately produce the common (see Commonwealth 183 84, 189 99; Multi tude 198). Moreover, the production of the common is itself an intrinsically immaterial affair: what the multitude produces here is the web of social connections and lines of communication that provide the field of interaction between singularity and comm onality. But this interplay between singularity and commonality is also a conceptual tension, and as such it calls for an imaginary resolution. The multitude emerges from (but also contributes to, as in a feedback loop) the production of the common, ye t it also, Hardt and Negri insist, leaves intact the autonomy of its constituent singularities. This contradiction which bears a striking resemblance to the antinomy of self and other that springs from the Imaginary of the Lacanian mirror stage becomes a crucial paradox in the concept of the multitude, which, like the proletariat before it, must the multitude itself (Negri, Subversive 40). How can such a conjoin ing of singularity and The Political Unconscious in a fundamentally dichotomous, antagonistic relation with global capital?
54 How can it be at once both open and plural, with respect to singu larities, but also unified as oppositional subjectivity under and against capitalism? For Hardt and Negri, the imaginary resolution to this contradiction takes the form of the network. In terms of both production and resistance, the network stands as th e structural model of the multitude: for production, the network has displaced the assembly line as the dominant metonym for labor in general ( Empire 295); while for resistance, the network supersedes the party as the organizing model of oppositional praxi s, with the result that individual actors communicate with each other and coordinate their efforts in a horizontal relation of immanence and equality instead of the vertical hierarchy typical of the party structure (see Multitude 285 88). The multitude ha s no need for the transcendent authority of the party, the vanguard, or the state itself because its authority is taken to be immanent in the very network structure that articulates its dynamic web of singularities acting in common. (This is not to say, o f course, that the multitude will not use apparatuses of the party or the state to its amounts to a reappropriation of the means of immaterial production. The network is th e singularity and the common. It is, in short, the form of form of the multitude. However, the multitude is more than just a common structure of autonomous singularities; Ha rdt and Negri conceive of the multitude as an oppositional subjectivity. As such, the multitude must mobilize its formal structures and constituent singularities in the realm of political struggle against global capitalism. What is perhaps surprising,
55 th ough, is that Hardt and Negri turn at this point not to conventional revolutionary strategies but to a politics of love. confusion, not only because love has been so thorou ghly reified as bourgeois romantic In Empire Hardt and Negri primarily discuss love in oblique, allusive terms. The closing olution that no power will control because biopower and communism, cooperation and revolution remain together, in love, simplicity, and also innocence. This is the irrepressible lightness and joy of being E mpire Spinozian dimension of joy. 9 For Spinoza, joy is that which expands and enhances, not contracts and diminishes, the power of the body. This constituent power is what ove from its bourgeois romantic and familial counterpart s They write near the end of Multitude expansive encounters and continuous collaboration mean you cannot love your spouse, your mother, and your child. It only means that your love does not end there, that love serves as the basis for our political projects in common and the construction of a new society. With (351 52). This is crucial: Spinozian love does not stop with the family. It results in neither a closed set from which non members are excluded nor the patriarchal, heteronormative reproduction and discipline of subjectivit ies. In Multitude then, one 9 the role of sad
56 begins to glimpse the rethinking of love that Empire promises What Hardt and Negri are attempting to do with love as they do with several of their key conceptual categories and terminology is to reclaim it from the realm of power and mobilize it in the service of the constituent power of the multitude. This politics of love receives its most extensive theoretical elaboration in Commonwealth where Hardt and Negri link it directly and explicitly to th e common by means of emotion in the conventional sense; more than that, it is an active social and ontological process. To love is to create the common. an attempt at reclaiming and redefining a key ideological concept. But in order for my ideologemic analysis of the multitude to be complete, love must be articulable as both a pseudoidea and a protonarrative. As a pseudoidea, love denotes an ontological process of constituent power whereby the multitude produces subjectivities and of the m ultitude: protests at WTO conventions starting in Seattle in 1999; struggles over water and gas rights in Cochabamba in 2000 and 2003; the picketing of the city of
57 Buenos Aires by unemployed workers starting in 2001; and protests over the exclusion and exp banlieusards ultimately coordinates and orders the possible relations among the other terms of the multitude. 10 ) From an ideologemic perspective, all of these social movements are so common praxis. They are stories of the formation of oppositional subjectivities from within, so to speak, a process that is rooted squarely in expansive encounters with other singularities. Ideologemes are always weapons in an ideological arsenal, tactical and strategic means to a political end, and the ideologeme of love is no exception. For Hard t and Negri, the praxis of the multitude aims directly at democracy itself. Let me examine two important passages to illustrate this. At the beginning of the chapter of Multitude cahier de dolances a list of grievances, against global capitalism. The grievances include the illegitimacy of representation, both elected and unelected, under globalization; global violations of civil and human rights; the exponentially increasing economic ine quality that both results from and sustains neoliberal globalization; and the commodification of the whole of social life and even the natural environment (268 10 along with the institution of the Law that Lacan locates in the Symbolic Order, it is not insi gnificant that in Commonwealth embodiments particularly the family, the corporation, and the nation as institutions that produce serves as the ideologeme of the multitude, it therefore determines even possible perversions or degradations of the multitude. See Commonwealth 153 64, 189 99.
58 wide range of injustices brought about by global capitalism and indicates the vast scope rejection of the capita list world order in toto The multitude, though, is not just negative and polemical; guided by Spinozian love, it is also constitutive of new forms of social life. Hardt and Negri take pains, early on in Empire to characterize these dual stances of the critical and deconstructive constructive and ethico political cahier de dolance s of Multitude must be viewed side by Subversive 45). Empire concludes by briefly sketching out this project under the guise of three demands made on behalf of 407; Commonwealth [380 83]). These three rights characterize the future society that the multitude seeks, the coming communism of the multitude. And the communism of the multitude is really nothing less Multitude 351 et passim), democracy without limit and without condition. This is the utopian figuration of the multitude, its content of form. 11 11 The Para llax View Multitude ). at this point, tensions will be resolved, freedom will explode into eternal self Para llax 264, 265). What
59 The politics of the multitude the ideologeme of love, its deferral of the question of the moment of revolution has the multitude and of globalization itself for being overly optimistic, if not outright nave, when i political prospects. Ellen Meiksins Wood goes so far as to call Empire Communist Manifesto jacket endorsement of Empire alle ged celebration of the revolutionary possibilities opened up by global capitalism, from previous forms of capitalist organization ( Empire 43 44). Furthermore, Malcolm Bull 12 y of affect in immaterial labor, and the radicalism of migration and what Deleuze and Guattari call nomadology, these critics claim, Hardt and Negri espouse an optimism unwarranted by our present situation. Notwithstanding the particular shortcomings and local problems with many of these objections, they collectively suggest a certain tension between the utopian and for Hardt and Negri in th e praxis of Spinozian political love, the antisystemic movements of the multitude they are already constructing it 12 Empire 212 14 362 64, and 396 conceptualization of space that these require, s ; Callinicos, esp. 136 40; and Dunn. Hardt and N A Thousand Plateaus ; see 351 423, 474 500.
60 trauma and suffering of the History that hurts. This tension, however, is analogous to the paradoxical situation of utopian thinking generally, as Jameson sees it: utopian come into their own at the end of what Marx calls preh problem of the opposition of the ideological to the Utopian, or the functional instrumental or, I might add, History that hurts to lightness and joy Political 293). Like the revolution figured in the content of form of allegorical figuration of the ultimate collective life of communism. Only at the moment when that arrives will the multitude kn ow its truth. Throughout Chapter 2 I have been arguing on multiple fronts. I have argued against an alarming retrenchment against the political in recent literary scholarship. I have argued as well for a mediation between two versions or visions of dialectical five years, a mediation that emphasizes the political and ideological registers of what tries to pass as meaning of my argument, the outward directed polemic against new formalisms and argument as well: indeed, what I hope to have shown in the dialectical readin g of collectivities that itself, both theory and praxis, to rigorous formal analysis. If there is ultimately no such thing as a pure content, if history and the Real ca n only ever be grasped by means of
61 formalizing or narrativizing operations, then it is imperative that Marxists deal with such operations head on. In the embattle d state in which Marxist theory and indeed, theory in general finds itself today, the failure to do so can only, like the relinquishing of in American political discourse leave the task of defining polemical terms to the conservatives.
62 Figure 2 1. Semiotic rectangl e. Figure 2 2. Semiotic rectangle with external syntheses. Figure 2 3 Semiotic diagram Lord Jim (Source: Jameson, Political 256.) ACTIVITY NOT VALUE VALUE NOT ACTIVITY The Buccaneers (Gentleman Brown) The Deck chair Sailors (Marlow) The Pilgrims S S' S S' Complex term Neutral term Antinomy (1) Antinomy (2) S S' S S'
63 Figure 2 4 Semiotic rectangle mapped onto the three Lacanian orders. (Source: Figure 2 5. Semiotic diagram of the form/content opposition. FORM NOT CONTENT CONTENT NOT FORM form of form form of content content of form content of content S S' S S' Complex Neutral Antinomy (1) Antinomy (2) Real Imaginary Symbolic
64 Figure 2 6. Semiotic rectan three levels of interpretation from The Political Unconscious FORM NOT CONTEN T CONTEN T NOT FOR M form of form form of content content of form content of content Ideologeme Symbolic Act Ideology of Form
65 CHAPTER 3 THE DIFFERENT PERSON S OF AMIRI BARAKA: COLLECTIVITY, SINGUL ARITY, AND BECOMING MINOR Now something that you formerly lov ed as a truth or probability strikes you as an error; you shed it and fancy that this represents a victory for your reason. But perhaps this error was as necessary for you then, when you were a different person you are always a different person as are all Friedrich Nietzche The Gay Science Amiri Baraka Daggers and Javelins Gilles Deleuze and F lix Guattari Anti Oedipus 1 In his texts as in his life, Amiri Baraka refuses closure and takes flight. His career is punctuated by sharp breaks and extreme, often dramatic transitions in form, politics, places and manners of living, even personal identi ty (successively LeRoy Jones, LeRoi Jones, Imamu Ameer Barakat, Imamu Amiri Baraka, Amiri Baraka). More than just an idiosyncratic predisposition, Baraka makes of this protean flux an aesthetic principle. In process oriented aesthetic that would emphasize the active creating expressed in the process in the noun art ( Home 173 78). Art and literature, he proposes, must be viewed as an active unfolding. Contrary to the late 1 Nietzsche 245 46, section 307; Baraka, Daggers 334; Deleuze and Guattari, Anti Oedipus 362.
66 modernist into and channel the flows of history, not merely spilling off the page but exploding: his controversial post L ike an 50). Unlike one of his erstwhile modernist inspirations, T. S. Eliot, Baraka will never be pinned and wriggling on a wall. Nonetheless, when viewed from a macroscopic perspective, the fluxes that genres, and political projects at given moments in his career. Conventionally, his output is divided into four distinct periods. 2 From 1959 to 1962 Baraka lived in Greenwich Village among white bohemians and associated, corresponded, and collaborated wi th noted figures of the Beat movement such as Robert Creeley, Diane di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, 3 He also worked as an editor, publishing little magazines Yugen (co edited with Hettie Cohen, his first white wife, 1958 63) and Floating Bear (with di Prima, 1961 63). During this time, Baraka wrote primarily poetry in a free verse style heavily influenced by the Beat aesthetic and exemplified in his debut collection of 2 I follow the pattern found in critical monographs on Baraka of beginning my discussion with a chapter on Baraka (as opposed to a book length study), such an exposition i s virtually obligatory for any analysis of Baraka that seeks to make sense of what are, superficially at least, apparently contradictory and perhaps irreconcilable stances. Furthermore, my own discussion is also motivated by the way that I attempt to theo 3 Given the differences among Beat, Black Mountain, and New York School poets, it might be scen New American Poetry being the title of an anthology edited by Donald M. Allen (1960) that includes a broad spectrum of poets, including Baraka (Epstein 168). However, for consistency with other Baraka scholars, I use the term Beat to refer to this per during that time.
67 poetry, (1961), and his brief earl y essay on 4 later adoption of Black cultural nationalism. This transitional period saw the publication ticism, Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963); his second book of poetry, The Dead Lecturer (1964); and his first novel (and until 2000, his only one p ublished) (1965). This was also the time that Baraka staged his first professional plays, most notably Dutchman (1964), for which he won an Obie. Although Baraka still lived in the Village until 1965 and continued to move and work in Beat and bohemian circles in 1963 he edited The Moderns: An Anthology of New Writing in America which included fiction, poetry, and poetics by the lik es of Creeley, di Prima, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac his transitional works are characterized by what many critics have noted as a progressive m, or the development of what Baraka scholar Poetry 13 33). 5 Introducing a collection of appears, I will be even black Home 10). 4 The Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones Reader provides useful xxxiii). Komozi W A Nation within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics (1999), although not a n autobiography, biographical sketches can also be found in Brown 17 26; Effiong 73 86; Harris, Poetry 1 12; Hudson 3 40; Lacey, To Raise 1 3, 43 46, 94 98; Sollors 1 9; and Watts 21 43. 5 evinced, for example, in his contin ued editorial work with Beat writers the African 77) in an anecdote from a short piece by poet Loren zo Thomas. Thomas relates the eventual emergence and flourishing of the Black Arts Revolution (Thom as 189 90).
68 Following the assassination of Malcolm X, Baraka left Greenwich Village for Harlem in 1965, the same year that his marriage to Hettie Cohen ended. His departure from white associations marked his entry into a Black nationalist period that lasted until 1974 and i t was during this time (in 1968) that he adopted his current moniker His publications included a volume of short fiction, Tales (1967); his second book of music criticism, Black Music (1968); an anthology of contemporary Black li terature, Black Fire (co edited with Larry Neal, 1968); the drama collected in Four Black Revolutionary Plays (1969); the books of poetry Black Magic (1969) and (1970); the collaboration In Our Terribleness poetry with photography by Fundi (a.k.a. Willy Abernathy); and a volume of essays, Raise, Race, Rays, Raze (1971). He also co edited the short lived music magazine The Cricket with Larry Neal and A. B. Spellman, in 1968 69. A key text for this period is Home: Social Essays g of the Black in what would come to be known as the Black Arts Movement. The Black Arts Movement and Black cultural Repertory Theater/School in Harlem and Spirit House (another theater associated with the Black Arts Movement) in Newark, worked with influential Black cul tural nationalist
69 of African Peoples (Atlanta, 1970) and the National Black Political Con vention (Gary, Indiana, 1972). The writings of this period, both literary and critical, advocate full blown revolution, often cast as cultural revolution but violent nonetheless. 6 After Baraka was arrested following the Newark riots of 1967, his sentenci ng judge read lines from the if need be Black Magic 225). Baraka was convict ed on misdemeanor charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and resisting arrest; though he won his appeal and had centrality to public images of him of revolution ary fervor and anti whit e violence 7 Although the tropes of anti to influence popular perceptions of Baraka, his third and most recent radical break with himself occurred when he repudiated Black cult ural nationalism in his 1974 essay Baraka has continued, of course, to struggle for the liberation of African Americans, but this time in a wider international context that n o longer targets merely white, Western Daggers to say Black nationalism was not necessary it was and is to the extent that we are still 6 See, e.g., Baraka, Raise 39 47. See also Funkhauser; Gosse 111. 7 In an early study of Baraka, critic Theodore R. Hudson provides a detailed account of the 31). More recently, Woodard devote s a chapter of his study Autobiography 367 74, 378 84; Conversations 201 oddly premonitory of scenes fr om the Newark riot ( Tales 127 32; Conversations 101).
70 tion to Hard Facts unpaginated). In the years since, alternately called Third Leninism Mao Tse and to attempt to revolutioni ze his literary work. His first Marxist poetry, Hard Facts appeared in 1975, followed by Poetry for the Advanced (1979) and the long poem Wise, (1995), which he considers his magnum opus (Baraka and ya Salaam 226). Baraka has also penned seve ral Marxist plays, among them The Motion of History (1975 76) and What Was the Relationship of the Lone Ranger to the Means of Production? (1979). Important nonfiction of the Marxist period includes the essays collected in Daggers and Javelins (1984) as w ell as The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones the latter published with unauthorized excisions in 1984 and in full in 1997. The Autobiography provided Baraka with an opportunity for self critique and a chance to distance himself from previous positions charact erized by misogyny, homophobia, anti Autobiography 348). 8 Although Baraka initially 8 after his re jection of nationalism, combining what today would seem moderate liberal with reactionary elements. On the one hand, although Baraka claims that whenever he had said faggot it was in reference not to sexuality but to weakness, he henceforth foregoes usin g that word in a 1981 interview: faggot Conversations 199, 6 Persons [the chief literary text that I discuss in this chapter] mentions faggot or its derivations twenty times or so, if not mor conflicted attitude regarding homosexuality infuses his literature as well; Jos Esteban Muoz offers a The Toilet (1964 ) that combines queer studies, u topian studies, and ph ilosophical discussions of temporality to read the play, which depicts a gang beating of a gay 4 55; Baraka, 34 62; cf. Epstein 199 224).
71 viewed nationalism as complementary with socialism, the turn to Marxism eventually nce as a literary figure had leveled off somewhat during the Marxist period largely on account of the perceived dogmatism and propaga ndizing of his Marxist work, especially his plays 9 he has recently garnered unsurprisingly) negative portrayals of Baraka by the mainstream media following a public performance of the poem in 2002, while he was Poet Laureate of New Jersey, an ence of scholarly interest in Baraka, both the relatively neglected Marxist texts of the last thirty five years and his oeuvre as a whole. 10 First is the formal experimentat must be completely free to do just what [he] want[s], in fit the poem into. Everything must be made to fit into the poem. There must not be any preconceived notion or design for what the poem ought 25). This means that form is not a cause but an effect of the text, and that to hold otherwise is to straitjacket literature. Similarly, 9 ive 10 the almost risibly inept misinterpretations of the poem disseminated in the mainstream news media. See also Dawes, esp. x xii, xxi Somebody 5 1 55; and Schwartz 53 54.
72 when articulatin to preconceived forms, is almost devoid of this verb value [of art Home 174). This an verse form, from the early Beat lyrics onward, but also the more experimental and generically hybrid poetry of the later periods: for instance, the blurred distinction between poetry and music in wha t Nation 22); the innovative combination of the West African griot tradition, blues and jazz music, and extratextual improvisation and visual art in ; 11 and the improvisatory delivery that Barak a uses in public readings and performances of his work. 12 Moreover, this freedom from formal 11 Baraka introduces with this comment: Each of these sections is accompanied by a piece of music [listed with each section heading]. The work is meant to be visualized by painters Vincent Smith and Tom Feelings. Before [the first section] there is a long improvisation, not yet completely transcribed. (5) In an interview, Baraka endorses the position that Wise 226). Note also that several of the poems in are 18) has been recorded as a song, hop group The Roots on their album Phrenology (2002). 12 www.amiribaraka.com. The performance reading style exemplifies the kind of genre blurring I have in mind here: Baraka performs the poem addition.) On aurality and performance in Baraka, se e Benston, Performing 212 27; M. Jones; Sherwood 123 27.
73 preconceptions characterizes not just the poetry but the drama and much of the prose, as well. 13 s also share a concern for collectivity, community, and popular praxis. Some critics see a fraught Baraka is guilty of avant gardist elitism despite his attempts to forge a revolutionary mass culture. 14 However, not all readers of Baraka share this negative appraisal of his relation to collectivity. 15 More recent criticism, in particular, approaches the collective of the collective and poetics. Others comment on communal, ritual aspects of his work, especially his 13 Baraka also puts his antiformalism to explicitly political use during his Marxist phase. In his ifact slaveholding U.S. ( Daggers 139 40). His objections to formalism are therefore not only aesthetic but also political: viewing the self contained artifact as the highest embodiment of culture leads to the ethnocentric marginalization of non artifactual cultures. 14 seate Jerry Gafio Watts a political scientist whose book Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual (2001) has taken fire from Baraka scholars over the last decade, and who strikes Baraka as a 82. 15 Kimberly W. Benston, whose Baraka: The Renegade and the Ma sk (1976) is contemporary of his people are i Performing Blackness: Enactments of African American Modernism occasion for exp
74 drama. 16 Two recent essays, both from a special Baraka issue of A frican American Review In the Tradition : Amiri Baraka, Black Liberation, and Avant Won Dead 61 avant garde tradition that the poem invokes and puts into play (Kim 347 48). For Kim, the charge of elitism might hold for other avant garde artists, but n ot for Baraka, who on tensions at the heart of avant gardism: the tension between and within aesthetic ng out on the level of form itself. Joseph Lease also addresses formal configurations of collectivity in 17 nationalist and Marxist poetry but even for B interrogation of the relation between the individual and the collective. 16 On the collective dimension of jazz in Baraka, see, e.g., Baraka and ya Salaam 232; M. Jone s; Kim 357 61; N. 70; Muyumba 125 50. On ritual, see, e.g., Benston, Baraka 21 122; Greenfield and Pinchoff; Nesteruk; Olaniyan 82 84; Sollors 217; and esp. Elam, who takes up the question of r itual specifically as a tactic of social protest theater (1 17, 129 articulates a theory of dramatic ritual encompassing dance, lighting, set design, speech/dialogue, and mo st notably music; Daggers 30 52, esp. 32 34; and Home 211. 17 d ya Salaam 232).
75 lism and his relation with collectivity, an important text that continues this Barakan combination has gone virtually unnoticed in the scholarship: his second novel, 6 Persons Composed in 1973 74, on the cusp of his shift from nationalism to Marxism, 6 P ersons was rejected by the publishing house Putnam, which had commissioned a follow up to The System of to publish the novel elsewhere, finally shelving it until the 200 0 publication of The Fiction of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Save for one reading of the novel, a brief scholarly introduction, and a couple of passing references, the belated publication of 6 Persons has gone almost entirely unremarked by literary critics. 18 Chapter 3 seeks to illuminate that blind spot in Baraka scholarship. I argue that 6 Persons reasons. First, 6 Persons represents a full fledged attempt at a novelistic experiment in collectivity, in terms of both its aesthetic form and the ways in which it problematizes the relation between individual and collectivity that scholars have remarked in so many of 6 Persons on the level of plot as well as form an subjectivity and depicts the functioning of difference and collectivity at the heart of his notion of individual identity itself. Second, the novel also complicates the tidy periodizing schema that I have sketched out above by providing an alternative set of 18 For an account of the publication history of 6 Persons provides the reading alluded to. Baraka occasionally discusses 6 Persons in interviews; see Conversations 101 02; Baraka and ya Salaam 217. Matthew Calihman makes passing reference to 6 Persons American left (70).
76 criteria for periodizing his career beyond the biographical/ideological nexus that marks thematic, and stylistic variations is nothing other than a search for a language and style of collective praxis. I also want to read Baraka in conjunction with two thinker s with whom he shares a sympathetic resonance but whose name s ha ve been largely abs ent from conversation until now. The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari provides an invaluable the collective dimension of his conception of subjectivity. Indeed, as I argue below, Deleuze and Guattari provide a useful means for examining and describing how Baraka consciousness of his Marxist phase. More specifically, a Deleuze/Guattari style and singularity as the base unit of collectivity. Baraka ultimately deserves attention not only as an avant garde poet, playwright, essayist, a nd novelist and certainly not merely as some ossified relic of the Black Arts Movement but as an innovative, experimental thinker of collectivity. When it comes to the absence of Deleuze in Baraka scholarship, Jeffrey T. Nealon is one notable exception. Black: Repetition and Blues People 19 forerunner in establishing som e basic points of connection between Baraka and 19 In addition, Patrick Ro ney, whom I discuss in section 3 .2, below, briefly uses Deleuze to contextu essentialist conception of the self (424 25).
77 Deleuze /Guattari my project differs from his in both scope and purpose. First, he focuses exclusively on Blues People literary texts, especially 6 Persons Second, he uses primarily the comparatively metaphysical Deleuze the Deleuze of Difference and Repetition (1968) while I am more interested in the political concepts of minor literature and singularity developed during the 1970s in collaboration with Guatt ari. The pages that follow articulate and apply a poststructuralist framework developed out of Deleuze and Guattari 3.1 begins by fleshing out and Guattari literature. Next, section 3.2 his poetics and his conception of subjectivity and identity by means of the link between minor literature and singularity. Six Persons is the focus of section 3.3 wh ere I provide an extended analysis of the novel in order to demonstrate the flux and multiplicity of Barakan collective subjectivity. Finally, section 3.4 harkens back to the conventional periodization of Baraka in order to show how 6 Persons enacts an im aginary resolution 3.1 Minor Poetics transitions, there is a persistent, pernicious antiformalism that appears in all phases of For Baraka, form especially whenever it is conceived prescriptively, as an inherited, canonical standard against which new literary works are judged is nothing but a reified ing.
78 own voice with. (You have to start and fini sh 25). Formulated during the time of freedom reflects the radical individualism and the flight from social mores and c ultural norms that are common tropes of Beat literature and culture. 20 There is thus some early unique identity. Hudson devotes the entire first half of From LeRoi Jones to Amiri Baraka: The Literary Works and style in short, his individualism as the key to interpreting his literature: e of phenomenological psychological ulist (1978). Both Sollors and Hudson consistently emphasize or rather, overemphasize leading to a reversal of the well known feminist slogan: they make the political 20 theory and the poetry itself: although Baraka conceives of his poetry in individualistic terms in his Beat poetics, in practice that individual perspective carries a collective value and represents collective interests. See Lease.
79 person al. 21 What Hudson nearly completely misses and Sollors misreads as a failure to collectivization of this individualist aesthetic. begin rooting his aesthetic in a Baraka begins his argument for art ifact worship for the lightning awareness of the awareness of the art proces ing in the noun art doing, the coming into being, the at the time thing; if art Home 174). Art is done. Art ing is doing. Art in g is also excessive. One reason for the inadequacy of artifactual conceptions of art is that in cutting off the artifact from the processes that generate it, they sever the connections between art (or art ing) and history, the multiple flows between the c reative act and the historical contingencies that form its context. Thus the 21 o bviously his mother and father, projected as decorous, middle class oriented, and rather alienated from exorcize his own association with devil ct Black nationalist Semitism was also an
80 Barakan art ing creator contrasts with the art what had happened had to sound like that. But if a man tries to understand why Parker Und erstanding art ing requires one to understand the conditions that shape it, the contingencies that bear upon it in its historical moment. Thus art ing, unlike the art f meaning and content, but to make that wild grab for more! To make words surprise ing is not content merely to reproduce what is, to regurgitate inherited forms, meanings, and contents. It pushes beyond those bounds, seeking the new and the surprising. Art ing transforms. All of this, however, is still framed in somewhat individualist terms similar to those artifactual formalism also efface Home 173). In contrast to this anonymity, art water from the falls. W hich is what the artist does. Fools want to dictate what kind of ing, marking them with an individual aesthetic si gnature. Nonetheless, this individualism already begins to undergo modification between
81 in the latter text, he now subordinates the artist not to the artifact but to the art ing more valuable than his artifact is significant here individual but rather the perspective that she or he brings to bear on art and world, the shift from the Beat rejection of mainstream, middle class norms to radical politics and individualist Beat aesthet ic toward one embedded in the processes and flows of history. This politicization of aesthetics erupts once Baraka arrives at a fully fledged Black nationalist stance. The essays in Home that most directly articulate the relation between Black nationali sm and Black aesthetics a new emphasis on the political uses period (in which the work of art shares a fundamental relation with the artist and serves as a means of self expre
82 (in which the primary relation is now between work and audience, with the intent to move that audience to action) (8; see 264n8). This reading remains a standard one. 22 To be sure, there is ( Home 210). The revolutionary charge of Black nationalism the destruction of America as he knows it. His role is to report and reflect so precisely the natu n, tremble, curse, and go mad overflowi ng creative processes of art ing, Baraka here posits an instrumental usage of ing. Not only does Baraka But any account of the different persons of Amiri Baraka risks incoherence if it overstates the kinds and degrees of 22 chapter on the Black aesthetic in his history of twentieth century U.S. literary criticism: articulated a Black Aesthetic. Because black art had to have social and politi cal dimensions, the privatized expressionism of phenomenological poetics needed to be affective poetics rooted in mimesis: the precise reportage of the artist would instruct a nd move the black audience to correct political understanding and action. (288 89) See also Baraka, Home 251 52.
83 the exclusion of elements of continuity from one period to the next, one Baraka to the interdependence of historical change and continu known, frequently anthologized chapter from Black Music remained the exact replication of The Black Man In of difference the rich diversity of African American musical and artistic styles inspired by the blues and constancy the enduring authenticity of the blues as the expression l experiences of African Americans is the process, to account for what at first appear merely as ideological inconsistencies and contradictory tendencies among the different positions that he adopts. essentialist in Home 210, 251). It would be easy to make the argument that the later essentialism unseats and replace s the earlier poetic freedom, that Baraka has simply changed his mind. (Indeed, in the Autobiography bohemian self he one identified by Nietzsche in the passage from The Gay Science that serves as an
84 rather than examining the historical processes that lead first toward, then away f rom that position. conception of art ing is always rooted in material reality, even if only tenuously; or, as cal to the technical useful & can be saved out of all the garbage of our lives. What I see, am touched by all my interminable artifacts The later essentialism, notwithstanding its seeming o pposition to the antiformalist possibilities opened up by free verse, likewise arises out of material conditions: all jazz Black Music 181). As Punday points out, experience historical argument regarding jazz and blues is t hat the entire evolution of Black music in the U.S. is a series of historically specific responses to white Western strategies of dehumanization and exploitation. 23 23 Blues People : as I began to get into the history of the music, I found that this was impossible without getting deeper into the history of the people. That it was the history of the Afro American people as text, as tale, as story, as exposition, narrative, or what have you, that the music was the score, the actually expressed creative orchestration, reflec tion, of Afro That the music was explaining the history as the history was explaining the music. And that both were expressions of and reflections of the people! ( ix x)
85 American in its totality, just how the African impulses were redistributed in its Black Music essentialism. Blues stands as the authentic Black musical voice not because it embodies a timeless essence of Blackness, some eternal, unchanging, and monolithic soul of Black folks, but because it is the aesthetic form generated in response to the historical experiences of really existing African American people. In Tejumola it obvious, and unchan g as an intricate and open process 31). Essences can change. Black Music 197). Contrary to appearances, then, th e essentialism of the Black nationalist period still participates in that (changing) same tapping into and rechanneling of the flows of history that define the process of art ing. ss misinterpretation of his stance. For example, Lee B. Brown, a philosopher and both [Baraka and contemporary jazz trumpeter Wynton Nathaniel Mackey astutely suggests that Blues People conviction that artistic or cultural expression is determined by and thus reflective of the social, political and economic realities of the context i
86 (241). Brown fails to recogniz e the historical and political aspects of essentialism in Baraka, leading him to Baraka is not simply that commodified, white jazz is mediocre but also that Black music has been co opted for racist and capitalist ends formally misses this very crucial consideration of content Just as the history of jazz and the ed essential Black identity in jazz is an affirmation of the need for an African American conception of identity that would stay at least a step ahead of commercialization for white, middle class consumers (see Yost). The more salient change between th e transitional and nationalist poetics, I individual poet. Culture conceived in this way is what the poet must surmount in order to find the unique voice (as if Beat culture were not, in fact, a culture). Subsequently, though, culture takes on an enabling aspect and is no longer antagonistic to free artistic production. In Blues People Baraka widens his definition of culture to include not only art but also politics and religion as well ( Home 245). A rt still arises from concrete experience, but now
87 experience is conceived as collective, historical, political, and economic. 24 Beat fetishization of outsider status precludes recognition of shared experience and collective affinities in short, of culture. of African Americans and their cultural expression in Black art are what enable and energize the cultural politics of his nationalist period. Significantly, Bara ka still holds to Home 212). Ethics and aesthetics coincide for Baraka precisely because both are ways of acting in and on the world. They are forces with directions pic memory of practical Art, Religion, and Politics are impressive vectors of a culture. Art describes a culture. Black artists must have an image of what the Black se nsibility is in this land. Religion elevates a culture. The Black Man must aspire to Blackness. God is man idealized. The Black Man must idealize himself as must seek a Black po litics, an ordering of the world that is beneficial to his culture, to his interiorization and judgment of the world. This is strength. And we are hordes. (248) This cultural platform illustrates the gulf separating the individualist Beat poetics and t he 24 definition of culture likewise marks his difference from today disciplinarity and return to the aesthetic that Susan Hegeman critiques in The Cultural Return (2012).
88 Nonetheless, in accordance with the model articulated in the notion of the changing same, t he collective aims of Black cultural nationalism share the same creative artistic objections to formalism, Baraka now adds political and economic grievances: the formalist middle mainstream critics abandoning the earlier poeti antiformalism and raises the stakes of art ing. 1960s and early 70s, I submit, is not so much an abandonment or rep udiation of antiformalist art ing as a reordering and resituating of it in the context of political praxis the sense that Deleuze and Flix Guattari give to the term minor literature, a literature Kafka 16) the literature of a Kafka, or a Joyce, or a Baraka. In K afka: Toward a Minor Literature (1975; trans. 1986), Deleuze and Guattari establish three criteria for defining minor literature. First, minor literature
89 translating it i nto another language altogether. When Kafka writes in Prague German, Kafka 16, 17). Deleuze elabor question of speaking a language as if one was a foreigner, it is a question of b eing a 59). 25 The African American practice of signifyin(g) ary strategies, including puns, violations of (white) aesthetic norms, irreverence for authority, jazz inspired improvisation, and others, perform the work of signifyin(g). 26 l space occupied by minoritarian subjects, individual narratives are always already ng Kafka 17). Following from this is the third criterion of a positively charged with the role and function of collective, and even revolutionary, 25 first criterion of a Kafka 17). Furthermore, although they never address Blues People tw ice in A Thousand Plateaus to use blues idioms as illustrations of minor literature (527n39, 530n34). It is noteworthy, then, that Deleuze and praisin [Oscar] Wilde, [George Bernard] Shaw, [J. M.] Synge, [James] Joyce, Home 175, 164, 165). 26 On signif yin(g), see Gates 44 88. On signifyin(g) in Baraka, see, e.g., Gwiazda 474 76; Harris, Poetry 15 16, 19 24; Luter; D. Smith 203 05.
90 criteria, at least in terms of its aims and goals. Deterritorializing, political, and collective: these characteristics describe not only minor literatur es generally, but also the texts of Baraka. Let me briefly fill in this sketch of minor literature a bit more in order to reinforce my link of minor literature eschews preco which conceptualizes well expresses itself. But a minor, or revolutionary, literature Guattari, Kafka 28). A Nietzschean will to rejection of inherited literary forms and his celebration of the excess of art ing. Moreover, both Deleuzian minor literature and Barakan art ing herald the new and experimental in the w ake of now defunct traditional forms. In each case, reified being (or Being, the noun) gives way to dynamic becoming (be ing, the verb, the unfolding and ongoing process of existence) (see Baraka, Home 175). In his various group affiliations, Baraka exhi Anomalous is always at the frontier, on the border of a band or a multiplicity; it is part of the latter, but is already making it pass into another multiplicity, it makes it become, it traces a line goi
91 Kafka 84); 27 c onsider Calling black people Call all black people, man woman child Wherever you are, calling you, urgent, come in Black People, come in, wherever you are, urgent, calling you, calling all black people calling all black people, c ome in, black people, come on in. ( Black Magic 115) which signifies upon representations of the police and state is also a political transformation of the collectivity called Black people: the also solicits their active participation, thereby mobilizing a new revolutionary political experiment, the results of which cannot be predicted in advance. All of this, however, bears not only on literary production but also on subjectivity the extent that one deviates from the (Deleuze and Guattari, Thousand literature enacts a transformation, a becoming minor, on the level of subjectivity itself. 27 In another light, minor literature could therefore be called metasynchronous: its calling forth of a collectivity to come is also an anticipatory, metasynchronous gesture betokening a future beyond capitalism and racism and signaling, ultimately, perpetual cu ltural revolution
92 his literature. Before proceeding to discuss minor subjectivity, though, I want to say a word When Baraka makes his transition to Third World Marxism in 1974, his views on literary production come to depend on an increasingly mechanical and rather simplistic conception of dialectical change. In Daggers and Javelins: Essays, 1974 1979 he espouses a dialectical perspective on the history of separated into its positive and negative aspects it can be understood and learned from. So we can pick up the good in dialectical thinking obscures the functioning of contradiction, reducing it to a simple operation of parsing out and selecting. It also introduces an unwarranted voluntarism, as if dialectical analy sis permitted one to choose what to negate and what to sublate, independently of material, historical conditions. Furthermore, it also results in a superstructure (30, 138). This version of the base/superstructure model is monocausal there is but one base, late or monopol y capitalism and its causality is unidirectional the superstructure is merely a reflection of the base, incapable of transforming or acting on it. Art, which had formerly been the centerpiece of cultural revolution, now seems in comparison derivative and impotent. 28 28 most especially Black music gives the lie to t he mechanical reduction of culture to mere superstructural reflection of the economic base. If the
93 deterritorialization and closes down lines of flight opened up by the minor poetics of art ing (even as the reactionary aspects of nationalism give way to full blown revolutio nary praxis in his later politics). All that this means, though, is that one must look elsewhere minor: namely, in the literature itself, which often retains a minor character, despite the poetics. It is therefo that I now turn my focus. 3.2 Identity and Singularity Preface to a Twenty have forgot ten the head / of wh ere I am. Here at the bridge ( Preface bridge : the word denotes both a built structure for crossing a passage and, in music, a contrasting chord progression course, also being a metonym of the self) (see Epstein 191). The poem goes on to exploit this metaphorical identification of place, musical expression, and identity. The person diffic ult, when / you hear them, & know they are all in you, the chords // of your disorder impotent to seek or create lines of flight from capitalist the motor force driving the whole history of Black music, from jazz and blues to R&B and hip hop.
94 upon, transposes, or otherwise transforms the melody of the head: the chord chang es suddenly and temporarily play or sing over new chords, in a new key, before returning once again to the head. This presents both a challenge and a unique opportuni ty for jazz improvisation: a virtuoso can soar across a bridge, but a novice or a hack can be hanged from it. It is thus unsurprising that the poem ends on an ambivalent note: The bridge will be behind you, that music you know, that place, you feel when you look up to say, it is me, & I have forgotten, all the things, you told me to love, to try to understand, the bridge will stand, high up in the clouds & the light, & you, (when you have let the song run out) will be sliding through unmentionable bla ck. (26) A conventional interpretation might read this conclusion as a metaphor for death and dead before the who is the you addressed in these lines? person perspective, but the bulk of the poem uses the second person. I n The Shadow and the Act: Black Intellectual Practice, Jazz Improvisation, and Philosophical Pragmatism improvisation serv[ing] as self f than Baraka himself, a Baraka who predicts, and perhaps fears, that he will one d ay
95 This lyrical self questioning cum self throughout all four periods (Beat, transitional, nationalist, Marxist). In many instances, this impulse takes the form of an introspective but fragmented or divided self, as in the An Agony. As Now Dead 15). Similarly, the chapter of titled y ] oung, smooth faced youth by his older bohemian persona ( System 79 91; Sollors 97). 29 In other texts, such as the nationali no Black Magic identity and self definition; for example, one of the best known passages in all his Dutchman begins with such an a 34 36). 30 of 29 Sol lors does there seems to be broad consensus that the seduction (or rape) of 46 by 64 counts as an instanc e of a divided or fractured self and/or that System generally dramatizes this self System 134). See Benston, Baraka 10 11; Die ke, 19; Hudson 111 18, esp. 114. 30 J E L L O blown premise. J E L L O parodies The Jack Benny Show the title alludes to an corporate sponsor h
96 art ing, along with the historically variable nature of so called essential identity in his nationalist poetics, these meditations on selfhood suggest that the Barakan self is always in transition and taking flight. A good deal of the scholarship on B araka focuses on this transitional, transitory self. The four major studies of Baraka to emerge from the 1970s Kimberly W. Baraka: The Renegade and the Mask (1976), Amiri Baraka From LeRoi Jones to Amiri Baraka Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones whom the transitional poetry, in particular, is one long improvisation of selfhood, other scholars active over the last decade who an alyze processes of constructing or questioning identity in Baraka include Ikema Dieke Andrew Epstein, Peter Nesteruk, Patrick Roney, Sandra G. Shannon, and Ted Yost. 31 As this breadth of coverage shows to say nothi ng of the germinal role played history and development of identity politics in the U.S. the concept of identity in Baraka clearly merits critical attention. Moreover, the is more directly connected to his poetics of art ing than it might seem at first. In ing (as opposed to nominal art) to the realm o which is the only valid method Home 13). Instead of delivering a climactic monologue la Clay, Rochester performs an active reclaiming of his right to define his identity. 31 See also Murray, who extracts a theory of performative identity in the nationalist Baraka in The Cotillion, or, A Good Bull Is Worth Half a Herd
97 i n the world or facticity. Since art ing is a process, not a product, it calls attention to the conditions under which, and the manner in which, the art ing process occurs. Baraka How is a description of Who So a way of feeling (or a description of the process of) is what an aesthetic wd be Raise 117). 32 Any aesthetic analysis of art ing will therefore sketch out, or at least gesture toward, the position of a subject whose perspective and experiences in s hort, whose facticity determines which flows are redirected in art ing, what directions those flows take, what In broad terms, however, the critics enumerated above largely do not connect the theme of identity or s racial essentialism lev eled at Baraka, Roney argues persuasively that race is always Roney Dionysian force of creative iterations of the concept of Black selfhood in Baraka, which he identity and becoming or really, as I argue shortly, of the self as becoming, not as 32 Here B araka uses the stylized abbreviation wd for would as he does frequently throughout 6 Persons (for example, abt for about cd for could etc.).
98 identity situates Baraka as anti ess references are to Derrida and Lyotard, but he also cites Deleuze on the will to power. In all, his interpretation is that of a latter day Nietzschean: If Baraka envisions black art as the highest possibility for a culture of continual transformation, then it must affirm the suspension of the two traditions between which it is situated [i.e., the Western and African traditions] and, by suspending them, open the possibility for them not to be themselves, to disclose a possibility for difference that can only arrive when an uprootedness without ground and without limits is affirmed as a fundamental experience. (425) no mad. However, Roney ends with this homelessness, whereas I want to push the literature on identity with the minor poetics outlined in the previous section. The poeti cs minor, it concomitantly requires an analysis of minor subjectivity itself. I have already discussed one version of minor subjectivity in this chapter: the art ing artist. In the previous section I emphasized the freedom from formal constraint that ing. What I want to add now is that this antiformal ist freedom is also the freedom of minor subjectivity, the freedom not merely to be but to become. 33 strategy for self invention in Baraka provides a useful initial reference. He reads 33 Cf. Nathaniel is also an emphasis on self
99 improvisation does not go far enough, though, in that it remains fixed in a language of metap hor: for Muyumba, improvisation and change describe identity. A perspective improvisation and change constitute minor subjectivity. This distinction between metaphorical descr iption and constitution; between identity and minor subjectivity is at base a distinction between being and becoming, the same one that marks the difference between artifactual art and dynamic art ANYTHING [HE] ing artist to become minor. Becoming minor is, first of all, a process of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. Minor literature deterritorializes a major language that is, it decouples utterances from their usual contexts and reterritorializes it to subversive ends it new a nd unexpected situations. This interplay between de and reterritorialization (not a dialectical one for Deleuze, since it never leads to anything like synthesis or sublation) 34 also takes place on the level of subjectivity itself. Insofar as becoming min Thousand 105), becoming minor deterritorializes subjects from the positions allotted 34 Valences 190; see 181 200).
100 them by majoritarian hegemony and reterritorializes them as subversive, partisan, even revolut ionary. Put differently, becoming minor deterritorializes the desires corralled by paranoia and reterritorializes them in assemblages of schizophrenia. For Deleuze and Guattari, paranoia marks the neurosis of the Oedipal subject interpellated by capital ism and lines of escape ng the neat closure of the Oedipal family triangle (mommy/daddy/me) and the fascist control of desire exercised by capitalism and the state (Deleuze and Guattari, Anti Oedipus 277). In place of the desire to be led, the secret desire for fascism, schizoph renia unleashes desire across the whole social space. This is why the schizoid subject is also, at least potentially, the revolutionary subject. Schizoanalysis psychoanalysis for a pragmatics, a functional accoun t, of any assemblage of desires articulates the existing land, but a world created in the process of its tendency where the person who escapes causes other escapes, and marks out the land while deterritorialization is the mass revolt of subjects, in the philosophical and political senses at once, against sovereignty. If becoming
101 becoming happen, says Deleuze, by means of the deterritorialized and deterritorializing schizophrenic subject. Both schizophrenia and paranoia, moreover, invest collectivities, but with opposite subject group investme subjugated group olar power of the state (Deleuze and Guattari, Anti Oedipus 280). The first kind frees subjects as agents frees them to act, to pursue lines of flight, to deterritorialize and reterritorialize while the second subjugates agents to power and authority, ret erritorializing them as (political) subjects of the state. Schizophrenia is antifascist; paranoia, microfascist. Crucially, however, schizophrenic subjectivity is no automatic guarantee of revolutionary deterritorialization. Deleuze cautions that schiz on these lines and make them their property, and this is prudence of the experimenter, but it is a disaster when they slip into a black hole from which they no longer utter anything but the micro fascist speech of their dependency Parnett 139). Schizoid experiments become microfascist when they degenerate into schizophrenic subjectivity becomes reactionary when it is content to remain at the level
102 of identity, even reclaimed and reterritorialized identity. The schizophrenic syntax of desire we want, we demand, we create gives way in the paranoiac Thermidor to identitarian syntax: we are I am This Deleuzian pers pective allows for an alternate assessment of the perceived Daggers and Javelins reactionary aspects, his schizophrenic and paranoid tendencies, his innovation and his the second epigraph to this chapter sums up the flux that permeates hi s career and his corpus, and it signals the immense revolutionary I am a Marxist (334; my emphas is). Baraka reverts here to what Deleuze calls microfascist speech, the identitarian speech of being: I am Dead 79). It i s when Baraka does not know the answer to that question that he is at his most radical. It is unfair and inaccurate, however, to characterize all of the Marxist material as stilted and dogmatic, as several critics have from the 1970s on. With the poetry immediately after the Marxist turn, in particular the literature of the recent convert one does occasionally get the impression that Baraka (thinks he) has all the answers, but this certitude retreats over the three decades plus that have intervened since his repudiation of nationalism. In his more recent work, especially and
103 one finds an increasing return of the who they Wise 21). The best example of this is say of questions beginning with who : Who live on Wall Street The first plantation Who cut your nuts off Who rape your ma Who lynched your pa Who killed the mos t Irish Who killed the most Africans Who killed the most Japanese Who killed the most Latinos Who/ Who/ Who/ Who put the Jews in ovens, And who helped them do it in Gwiazda 480]). Indeed, both poems use questioning to launch critique, targeting the identita rian and fascist logic of the Cold War U.S. and its failed afterlife under Bush 43. 35 35 The chief similarit repetition of who and second, in the use of repetitive structure as a vehicle for accusation dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks! / Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of
104 and that Baraka knows a reactionary, identitarian fascist, a micro Moloch, when he sees one. This, finally, is why Deleuzian schizophrenia is not only a philosophical concept but also a tool for praxis. Patton argues that the freedom at issue in schizophren ia, liberal political philosophy: longer the same person. It is the freedom to transgress the limits of what one is presently capable of being or doing, rather than just the freedom to be or do those things. In the course of a life, individuals make choices which may significantly affect the range, nature or course of their future e extent that these events may have the effect of opening up certain paths and closing off others, and to the extent that the Crit ical or schizophrenic freedom consists in, precisely, the freedom to be a different person. It is thus a Barakan freedom, too. This conception of freedom, furthermore, also marks the ultimate inadequacy of the liberal discourse of identity that grounds m ainstream scholarly investigations of subjectivity in Baraka. For what is at stake in Hardt and Antonio Negri usefully articulate this difference as the difference be tween emancipation and liberation: whereas emancipation strives for the freedom of identity, the freedom to be who you really are liberation aims at the freedom of self determination and self transformation, the freedom to determine what you can become [i .e., 9, 21). With respect to who is an terms, are clearly using poetry as a means of social protest.
105 identity immobilizes the production of subjectivity; liberation instead requires engaging and taking control of the production of subjectivity, keeping it moving forward. ( C ommonwealth 331 32) The critical freedom of singularity which, for Hardt and Negri, is the fundamental freedom of the multitude itself is the Deleuzian freedom to activate and pursue lines of flight, the freedom to become different. 36 Becoming minor and b ecoming (even) Blacker mean playing over the bridge and becoming a different person. 3.3 Different Persons At Least Six of Them this process quite like 6 Persons does. To be sure, se assemblage of processes of becoming minor, as evinced by his poetics and his literature alike. However, 6 Persons is unique or better, singular insofar as it stands as both the most sustained and fragmentation and s elf othering and a rare glimpse into his prose fiction. 37 Moreover, there is really nothing else like 6 Persons among his only other published novel, and although the first chapte r had been published as a short story in Selected Plays and Prose of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1979), the chapters of 6 Persons are too unified, too closely linked with each other to be comparable to the 36 of freedom not for transformation but as Performing 192) for becoming minor. 37 In an interview, Baraka reports that he has actually written substantial amounts of fiction, poetry and plays (Baraka and ya Salaam 227). In my view, this further reinforces the importance of 6 Persons insofar as it, along with System is a very rare exampl e of a much larger body of work minor 217, 226
106 short story collection Tales or his more recent Tale s of the Out and the Gone (2007). The closest cousin to 6 Persons is the Autobiography but the latter serves what he calls (qtd. in H. uni queness of 6 Persons I argue, consists in this: the novel singularly dramatizes the multiplicity of the subject in process of becoming minor, becoming Blacker, even becoming Baraka. Six Persons development his becoming minor through 1973 composition. It is therefore something like a bildungsroman childhood through his time at Howard University, his service in the U.S. Air Force, his boh emian life in the Village, and his cultural nationalist fervor, to his transition to Marxism. If 6 Persons is a bildungsroman however, it is an unconventional one: more 6 Persons 273) a phrase from the novel that Henr y C. Lacey uses as the title to his introduction in The Fiction of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka it is really about several dudes at once. multiple narrators. The first two chapters are nar rated from a more or less autobiographical perspective; in subject, while in the second, it takes on the character of self critique focused on wise, urban Force, his bohemian y ears, and his transition to nationalism, the narrator grows
107 increasingly critical of, and at times almost openly hostile to, the protagonists. Finally, the narrators of the sixth and seventh chapters approach progressively closer to what one would take to 74) perspective, chronicling the gradual breakdown of various nationalist alliances and the beginnings of his Marxist phase. Six Persons is an autobiographical novel, but one that is told from a fragmented perspective which insc ribes difference within the act of narration itself. also a play on the grammatical concept of persons. In addition to varying the narrative perspective, each chapter also privileges a differ ent syntactical construction of person; together, they catalogue all six persons of the English language (first, second, and third, each in course, does not denote a seventh grammatical person but instead gestures toward the Leninism Maoism.) As the consciousness of the narrato r changes from chapter to chapter, it also shifts its relation critiquing them, sometimes accusing them directly. Thus, the novel confounds any attempt at a straightforw ard identification of either protagonists or narrative voices with Finally, the six persons of 6 Persons are also six different protagonists First is the unnamed first d chapter. Subsequently, the novel describes the deeds and thoughts of Bro, Burt Corliss, Mickey, and Barney. Just as there is no unified or unifying narrative voice that
108 e referential fashion. All of this gestures toward the central issue of collectivity that I have been raising throughout this discussion One way to read 6 Persons is to f ollow the successive r. Even the first chapter, Secret Seven, [which] met and ate kits and drank kool We cd beat a fine track down, a lingo we had, man, t used to stand in line and jive about this bullsh Utopia populated by changing casts of numerous B eats, fellow travelers, and other partiers and thrill seekers. The nationalist chapters (the fourth and fifth) narrate the rise and decline of cultural nationalism nationalism, of course, being at its core nothing other than a theory and figure of collect ivity. Finally, the transition to Marxism takes the form of
109 more practice comin g out of new revolutionary theory. (Waves of light settle on our collective hands. We are 6 Persons narrates a life, that life is in turn articulated according to a series of collectivities. In this section, I want to read 6 Persons as minor literature as a novel of flows and lines of flight, of singularities and collectivities, and ultimately of the process of becoming minor. This approach to 6 Persons accomplishes two crucial tasks. First, it provides a means for s has escaped critical notice for too long. Second, in so doing, my approach also establishes and demonstrates, through an immanent Deleuzian analysis of the text, a logic that undergirds Bar reductive psychological biographical reading or doing away altogether with the element of continuity inherent in the notion of the changing same. Significantly, my Deleuzian reading of 6 Persons also avoids subsuming those flights and transitions under a teleological narrative in which all revolutionary paths lead necessarily to Marxism a teleology that Baraka himself occasionally attributes to his many changes. What emerges instead is a view of Baraka as a sometimes conflicted and contradictory but nevertheless insightful and provocative theorist of revolutionary subjectivity. A signal trait of that revolutionary subjectivity in 6 Persons is its mobility This is evident on a superficial level in the geographical movements and migrations that structure the novel: from Newark (chapter 1) to Colored School (chapter 2); Air Force
110 a (chapter 4); Harlem (chapter 5); and finally, back to compelling than this macroscopic, geographical mobility, however, is the mobility that inheres as a quality of subjectivity itself in the novel. Actants trace lines and leave them speed lines drawn around us give us no peace or reflection. Press forward! Raise the process launches ( a) movement. The speed lines suggest not only the intense velocity of comic books. (I am thinking here of speed lines as the visual representation of movement in comics, a medium in which Baraka had dabbled as a child [ Conversations 9, 182 83].) There is also thus a mobility or flux among media in this passage: a prose fictional image taken from comic books whose heroes also featured in the radio shows that Baraka followed as a child and memorializes in several early poems. 38 Speed lines preclude the idle talk that characterizes the Beat and bohemian coteries at the castle: 6 Persons 401). There is no soliloquy here, no long goodbye, no reflection: just movement. 38 in Preface 13, 15 18); in The Dead Lecturer : 70). See also Autobiography 26 27; Conversations 182 83; Punday.
111 In addition to the fast movement of speed lines, there is a slower movement that also runs throughout 6 Persons : the slow motion of flowing blood. Baraka exploits the polyvalence of the word blood : in addition to the fluid that runs through our veins, it is also a slang term for an African American person. Blood marks racial difference. ; sic ). The opposition of highlights the gap in politi cization and activism between the white and Black segments praxis, and material reality, as distinct from bohemian aestheticism and its correlative at the narrators frequently attribute to the Beats. The association between blood and action also bespeaks the vitality of blood: without flowing blood, s ] the blood count, t he pounding rithm inside they ideas, the jagged momentum of they daily a beat are what generate syncopation, a characteristic rhythm of jazz music and especially bebop itself not merely an inspiration for the Beats but the very paragon of hip. Bloods therefore, are also lifeblood, the cultural energy that sustains improvisation, innovation, and creativity. But where there is blood, there are sure to be vampires and Ayler to the culture
112 of the castle is also a sort of tokenism, according to the logic of which listening to jazz imparts coolness on the listener and facilitates white cultural tourism. This parasitical consumption of blood(s) takes much more violent forms in 6 Persons as well. As such, the flow of blood serves at times as an index to exploitation. For the Black artist in the limbs fly into the fresh meat bin. Bloody & hacked up for the brief television Bloody in this passage must be understood in at least two ways: as violently severed, thus injured and (literally) bloodied, and as that is, Black subject, one that is inassimilable and insane. In one sense, this can be read as an autobiographical comment on U.S. (or, for that matter, today). Indeed, Bara to prostitute himself for popular consumption and profit to silence the strident politics and activism of his art and has therefore suffered the consequence of being marginalized as extreme or in sane by the media, as even a brief perusal of another sense, though, this dilemma encapsulates the fundamental problem of flowing blood in 6 Persons : blood is not only precious but also fungible, like, say, wheat or oil, disillusionment with middle blood [is] to be just an anonymous nigger the code world [sic] of bloods being led down the stained corridor toward the furnace of
113 Under the logic of assimilation, Black blood, the lifeblood of cultural vitality and artistic innovation, will be bled dry. This is white cannibalism, U.S. style. Every output is also an input: blood bleeds from one source to feed into another. Cann ibalistic, parasitical assimilation names one machine for the processing of African deterritorialization and reterritorialization. For Deleuze, machines are always relational, conn system of interruptions the Anti Oedipus 36). A machine, in other words, deterritorializes the flow that it interrupts and reterritorializes it as a new product, a different flow, another output assimilatio n deterritorializes blood as Black subjectivity and reterritorializes it as the safe, assimilated, middle 39 flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is al so a This results in a potentially endless series of machines, each feeding on the flows emitted by others while itself producing new flows that in turn will feed into still other machines, and so on. 39 Baraka often opposes Negr o and its variations (but not nigger ) usually connoting capitulation to white America and Uncle Tomism to Black or blood which preserves the Deleuzian minority of Black jacketed lazy clowns, whose only Home 6 Persons 306). See poetic use of nigga ( Performing 190, 206).
114 The collections of machines produced by such serial junctions what Deleuze calls assemblages operate on two levels simultaneously: as machinic assemblages collectiv e assemblages of enunciation Thousand 88). The former are physical and corporeal; the latter, immaterial and discursive (see Bogue 117 20). Both of these types of assemblage are inextricably and axiomatically linked for Deleuze, each, as that is not a social assemblage of desire, no social assemblage of desir e that is not a Kafka 82). This duality can be seen in the case of the assimilation machine that I have been describing. As a machinic assemblage, assimilation reinscribes the Black body as ass imilated Negro, as fashion, consumption, hairstyle, and other signifiers of middle class status. As a collective assemblage of enunciation, meanwhile, assimilation pronounces, and in so doing confers, as in a performative speech act, the status of assimilated Negro, the material oth as functions of power. 40 40 This is one point at which the affinity between Deleuze and Michel Foucault is especially and dispositifs (119 22); see also Patton 49 67. On the relation among machinic assemblages, collective assemblages of enunciation, and power, see Bogue 119 22; Deleuze and Guattari, Thou sand 43 45.
115 But whereas the power governing the assimilation machine is the power of the state, 6 Persons also engages in creative, active dismantling of such state machinery and in revolutionary, minor reassembly of those assemblages as what Deleuze calls, in which in no way has war as its object but rather the emission of quanta of deterritorialization, the Thousand 229 discussion of war machines helpfully clarifies this concept. He suggests that one can for creating, deterritorializating, and becoming (109 15). War machines, or metamorphosis is any assemblage that is revolutionary, marginal, or minor in character. Fur thermore, the opposition between war machines and state machines is a function of the kind of space privileged by each: state machines propagate striated space, the space of control and regimentation, while war machines generate smooth space, the space of nomadic migration and lines of flight. 41 This distinction operates in 6 Persons as well. Against the striated middle class up limbs of inassimilable bloods, there is a lso a smooth space in and across which blood in the two directions already stated created two motions and one overmotion, of which 41 On war machines, see, in addition to Patton, Deleuze and Guattari, Thousand 351 423. On smooth and striated space, see Deleuze and Guattari, Thousand 474 500; Hardt and Negri, Empire 186 90, 325 39.
116 does not follow any clear discussion of directions or motion. The pages leading up to this line, however, suggest referen ts. Shortly beforehand, the narrator describes the his interplay of attraction and repulsion describes the one hand, the bohemian collective presents a utopian alternative to middle class e possibility of commonality! Yeh, and of the utopian revolutionary forces ow in two denotes the compo sition and decomposition of collectivities in other words, the assembly, dismantling, and reassembly of assemblages. Furthermore, the bloods] made themselves, as process of struggl e and resistance, the movement of collective praxis that emerges from the confluence of the flows. The two directions define an axis of metamorphosis, a smooth space of becoming, in which revolutionary praxis can emerge. It is crucial to note that Barak narrator links this smooth space directly with
117 shadows, wd flow across t he room into each other, soft, ecstatic for being alive & in First, it describes a habitual action, as the auxiliary verb wd indicates. It is not so much a question of a sing le act as of a typical and lasting mode of behavior, reiterated in several instances over time. Second, it is a minor sentence. The narrator compares appropriating and in verting the metaphorical darkness associated with and attributed to of blood(s) exceeds the limits of individual subjects, not merely in the sense that a collectiv ity is always larger than an individual, but in the much stronger sense that each into which can always mean something like a collision or a coincidental meeting that leaves each subject int act stasis). werful 2.4 ). In flowing into each other, the bloods form a new, joyous collectivity. However, just as blood itself is at least bivalent susceptible as much to exploitation and assimilation as to joyous, revolutionar y collectivization, it can give rise to new collective assemblages through not only joyous encounters but also tragedy and
118 disaster. 42 The assassination of Malcolm X which I have already discussed as a motivation for flight occupies a central place in 6 Pe rsons serving as the catalyst for the formation of the Black Arts Movement. 43 The announcement of his death, in the second person This event reverberates throughout the chapter, sending Corliss on his way to Harlem and 6 Persons which transforms that event into a call to action. The message repeats several times throughout the chapter: Malcolm is dead! message! Find out what is the message! (379) The message came on a knife delivered w/o warning dir ectly into the center hemorrhage that poured out the ears. A sudden blow! Blinded by blood. In The message came in the middle of the after sob turned sharper into a high pitched radio whine. It stayed, for years. (380) After the message cam e, we knew we had to leave America. Go home we felt. Uptown. Go home. (381) 42 Hardt and Negri emphasizes a similar ambivalence in the joyful and the sad 43 unt of the aftermath and ripple effects of the assassination Autobiography (295 328; see also 293 94). Notable texts Selected Poetry 230 43), The Death of Malcolm X Reader 302 Home 238 Reader 506 Black Magic 112).
119 The death of Malcolm X a preeminently corporeal event politicizes a movement, a fact to which the whole history of the Black Arts Movement attests; but it does so in 6 Persons by being transformed into speech: by being enunciated. Benston poses a question concerning the demise of John Coltrane that could equally well be applied to collective Performing 145). The aftermath of 6 Persons what is the unexpectedly. It unleashes blood in the heads of those who hear it. But this brain and his senses, fo rcing an acknowledgment of the bloodiness that he shares with n the aisle of the store & wept 6 Persons hen articulate speech, and finally the alarming and anxious communicative act. repressive mac hine turned to subversive, revolutionary ends by Corliss and his fellow Black nationalists, who reterritorialize it in rallying around it. It creates a space for the redistribution of subjects into newly politicized positions of resistance s it is a physical
120 death that leaves behind a body; it is a call that summons into being a new collectivity organized around the project of Black nationalism it is articulable as both a machinic assemblage that works upon bodies and as a collective assemblage of enunciation. The summons issued by the Malcolm war machine launches Corliss on his fl ight to he splits split seems to function here as another Barakan pun. Corliss departs, but he also splits off, splits into new and different su Black nationalist days, also introduces Mickey and Barney, the final two protagonists of the novel. When Deleuze and Guattari define their concept of machines in Anti Oedipus (1972; trans. 1977), they describe three different kinds of breaks that machines can in of similar leuze and Guattari, Anti Oedipus 39 and Guattari, Anti Oedipus 40). All three kinds of breaks appear in 6 Persons Detachment occurs figured in quite gruesome imagery, at that when the Black packaged
121 seme, a brick or building block, for media distribution.) An example of the second break, the slicing of the assimilation machine, where the assimilated subject stands as a residual effect of bourgeois interpellation. and, for that matter, the multiplicity of Baraka protagonists throughout 6 P ersons as precisely this last kind of Deleuzian break, produced by the war machine of the death of Malcolm X. All the s plot. Ultimately, they are important but as figurations of collectivity itself. A conventional reading of 6 Persons as a bildungsroman might trace an evolutiona ry lineage extending from the childhood depicted in the first chapter through nationa list fervor, and their conversion to Marxism. Such a clear line of descent would biography, and wrap the novel in neat closure. But things are much more complicated than that, of course. The novel frustrates any attempt at such linearity by insisting on a principle of radical multiplicity. I opened this section with a discussion of multiplicity in 6 Persons in terms of narrative consciousness, grammar and syntax, and th e proliferation of protagonists. What I can
122 now add is that this multiplicity, despite appearances, is not diachronic but synchronic. Six Persons narrates a process of becoming other or becoming multiple, but this process does not unfold progressively ov er the course of a chronology: it is always already unfolding at each moment. Although the narrative voice changes over the that the series of narrators might imply is vexed by a temporal folding that interpolates a later Marxist perspective into the previous phases. 44 the preadolescent chapter commit class suicide, and move at on e with the masses of our people 45 Even the narrator is always more than one narrator. They in the Beat chapter, refer (305). Th e pronouns confound any possible distinction between LJ and the Beats 44 Intere stingly, such Marxist interpolations often (but not always) differ stylistically from the narratives in which they are embedded, using a noticeably more formal, almost academic tone and colloquialisms. For example, note in Europe, dudes! / All the different paths that brought the total crew together need to be studied to perhaps create a 45 There are several other instances in 6 Persons of this retroactive insertion of a Marxist perspective or Marxist analysis into pre anachroni stic temporality is perhaps related to the more general temporal doubling that Nielsen sees at work in 6 Persons 6 Persons [e Baraka] as a black artist in the position simultaneously of precedent to the white avant garde and as a significant post er examples of anachronistic Marxist interpellation in 6 Persons see 233, 239 40, 241, 249, 267, 269, 283 85 passim, 296, 313, 442, 452, 453, 456 57.
123 generally. At other times, it is not the referent of a pronoun but the pronoun itself that slides, again complicating any aspirations of distinguishing or compartmentalizing LJ, the boh we talked about themselves 38; my italics). More importantly, to the extent that these sentences do refer to LJ, they ca st him as undergoing a process of becoming multiple and becoming other: everything become these others Autobiography writte n more or less contemporaneously with 6 Persons Baraka characterizes each 65). Six Persons suggests that the object of such education is to become other. The linear, chro nological progression assumed by a conventional reading of the the autobiographical narrator o LJ, who dominates the next hundred pages but the pace accelerates rapidly toward the end of the Beat chapter: first Bro appears, followed by Corliss not ten pages later; fifty pages after that, Mickey and Barney appear within ten pages of each other. 46 Moreover, Mickey and Barney do not supplant Corliss; rather, they all exist side by side. 6 Persons 46 6 Persons 3 is after his appearance and, more importantly, his politicization and radicalization that the pace of becoming other begins to rapidly increase. The coreless Co from Beat to nationalist, seems to personify best the principle of change and becoming minor that 6 Persons dramatizes.
124 411). During the riot in Finland Station appearance pre persons of Amiri Bar 47 words even has any sense still for 6 Persons is different from himself. Barney and his partner Mae change their names to Malik and Lateefa, but in so doing they become new and diffe these persons or personas come together in a vast new Marxist Leninist collectivity: ni ggas to do. What Is To Be Done 22). commitments here take Leninist form, but it is a multitude of narrators, protagonists, and actants not a unified party whose praxis constitutes oppositional collectivity. From manner, pronounced facets of the real inaccurate, but I want to take this point further 6 Persons with a cubist aest hetic succeeds in capturing the fragmentary multiplicity of the protagonists. The problem, though, is that fragmentation in this sense presupposes, either as precondition or as ideal, a wholeness or an organic unity that subsequently undergoes cubist 47 on; they married in 1966). In addition, Baraka also alludes here to the American R&B duo of the 1950s, Mickey and Sylvia.
125 frag mentation. The strong form of this argument the claim, which I am arguing, that 6 Persons dramatizes a subjectivity that is always already splintering and becoming other firs t person of [ 6 Persons 48 Indeed: like Anti Oedipus 362). 3.4 Molar and Molecular There is no Marxist conversion experien ce in 6 Persons Instead, there are flashes of Marxist critique scattered throughout the novel, a fomenting class consciousness that accompanies the gradual dissolution of nationalist collectivities in the closing chapters, and a conclusion teeming with j revolutionary nationalists, struggling to see Afrika liberated. PanAfrikanists fighting for 49 guage situates this passage precariously between the poles of singularity and identity. On the one hand, it describes a revolutionary subjectivity engaged in radical praxis; as such, each of the first three sentences begins with a noun followed by a parti ciple, indicating the centrality of action 48 they thought we was crazy & flun 6 Persons 445). 49 The closing paragraph of 6 Persons provides an interesting contrast with the conclusion to Jews without Money revolutionary moment by focusing o n the beginning, as it were the moment of conversion (see section 1.4, above). In 6 Persons however, there is no moment instead is the notion of process both the process of becoming revolutionary and, in the conclusion, the 6 Persons 462).
126 and praxis to the definitions of nationalists PanAfrikanists and socialists 50 On the we are speaks with a certainty that is abs ent from those passages in his work that most directly engage with the problem of singularity and the processes of becoming minor. This repeats the dilemma that I touched upon toward the close of section 3.2 : in both the poetics and the literature, there are instances where the (reactionary) nationalist mode essentialist is, paradoxically, more revolutionary than the (leftist, revolutionary) Marxist mode when it bjectivity. The Deleuzian notion of assemblage provides one way to think through this able to articulate the slide into oblivion of one mode of thought together with the rise to dominance of another without having to explain it in terms of either succession or convertibility of smooth into striated space, revolutionary into fascist p olitics, war into state machines, singularity into identity, and vice versa: the one never negates the other minor of his literature and poetics but rather each interfaces with t he other, forming new assemblages that cut into and redirect the same flows while producing others. Six Persons is a powerful novel, from a revolutionary perspective, precisely because it stages so vividly, in a way that political philosophy alone perhaps cannot, the process of 50 Although Baraka repudiated Black nationalism in 1974, it would be some time still before his rejection of nationalism tout court ; hence the inclusion of nationalism alongside PanAfrikanism and
127 becoming other and becoming revolutionary. So what happens when Baraka turns from nationalism to Marxism in 1974? How is it that at the moment when he is the most revolutionary in his politics, he is also at his most reactionary o r microfascist in his conception of subjectivity? Deleuze and Guattari provide one answer in a discussion of molar versus molecular singularities (little groups like th e six persons of 6 Persons ) ( Anti Oedipus 343). These two orders of politics, Deleuze and Guattari emphasize, are under no obligation to coincide with each other; fascist or reactionary political tendencies can exist alongside revolutionary or nomadic lib idinal investments of a singularity, and leftist politics and revolutionary praxis on the molar level can coincide with an identitarian molecular logic of subjectivity that closes down lines of flight and deactivates processes of becoming minor (347). In my reading, this last combination of the molar and the molecular is precisely 51 The Marxist phase forms a new assemblage with the earlier nationalism, such that the flow of revolutionary subjectivity the a nti 51 The other combination that I have just discussed reactionary molar politics plus revolutionary molecular micr opolitics can also account for many of the most reactionary tendencies found in Black Semitism, the misogyny, and the homophobia, for example, count in this reading as residues of a rightist class interest that continue Baraka frequently critiques the bourgeois investments, not to mention the vestigial feudalism, of Black nationalism.
128 minor inaugurated by the death of Malcolm X is rechanneled in two directions: to the molar left, it becomes reterritorialized as revolutionary Marxism or Marxism Leninism Mao Tse tung Th ought; but to the molecular right, it becomes reterritorialized not as a search for identity (as in the Beat and transitional poetry discussed above) or for openings onto a becoming other (as in the minor poetics and 6 Persons ), but instead as identificati emancipatory becoming other of different persons, Baraka is now content to fight for the liberation of an identifiable group of persons. He knows the answer to who? 52 In concluding wit h the paean to revolutionary nationalism, PanAfrikanism, and socialism, 6 Persons performs an imaginary resolution of the contradiction between the conclusion, the interspersed comme ntaries and critiques establishes the Marxist treatment, this reorders the nomadic flights and becomings protagonists under a retrospective teleology: (449). The smooth space of becoming minor is reterritorialized here as the striated space of resolution and necessity. The revolut ionary molar politics of the Marxist 52 the question who? and illustrates the closing down of molecular flight during the Marxist period. When Reilly asks Baraka whether he still (in 1978) feels defined by a dynamic of change, he replies: periods] I was mired in the classic condition of the bourgeois artist, a special kind of o call art. As confused as Sartre is, he once my writing is much m Conversations 99 100)
129 Baraka reterritorializes the lines of flight opened up for multiplicity and singularity by the politicized death of Malcolm X. This in no way diminishes the importance of either 6 Persons as a minor novel or Baraka as a theorist and thinker of singularity celebration of Anglo interrupted line, to join a segment to the broken line, to make it pass between two rocks in a narrow gorge, or over the top of the void, where it had stopped. It is never the (Deleuze and Parnett 39). This is certainly true of 6 Persons While the imaginary resolut temporarily close down lines of flight, its strength as a novel of singularity or even a novel of the multitude is in its capacity to dramatize the minor subject in flight. This is not the retrospective owl of Minerva, takin g flight at dusk, the end of the day. It is the owl of Baraka, exploding at midnight.
130 CHAPTER 4 POSTMODERNISM AND TH E PERSISTENCE OF UTO PIA: PERIODIZING THOMAS P YNCHON at if we pattern anywhere. By virtue, however, of existing in one gather it is assumed there are others, compartmented off into sinuous cycles each of which come togethe r to assume greater importance than the weave itself and destroy any Perhaps if we lived on a crest, things would be different. We could at least see. Thomas Pynchon, V. F acts are but the Play things of lawyers, Tops and Hoops, forever a Alas, the Historian may indulge no such idle Rotating. History is not Chronology, for that is left to lawyers, nor is it Remembrance, for Remembrance belongs to the People. Hist ory can as little pretend to the Veracity of the one, as claim the Power of the other, her Practitioners, to survive, must soon learn the arts of the quidnunc, spy, and Taproom Wit, that there may ever continue more than one life line back into a Past we risk, each day, losing our forebears in forever, not a Chain of single Links, for one broken Link could lose us All, rather, a great disorderly Tangle of Lines, long and short, weak and strong, vanishing into the Mnemonick Deep, with only their Destinat ion in common. Thomas Pynchon Mason & Dixon What is sometimes characterized as a nostalgia for class politics of some older tout court about as adequate as to characterize the Fredric Jameson Postmodernism 1 Based on critical literature about his work and about postmodernism, not to mention his cameo appearances on The Simpsons Thomas Pynchon appears to be the quintessential postmodern American writer. His novels V. (1963), The Crying of Lot 1 Pynchon, V. 161 62; Pynchon, Mason 349; Jameson, Postmodernism 331.
131 49 (1966), (1973), Vineland (1990), Mason & Dixon (1997), Against the Day (2006), and Inherent Vice (2009) are taken to e pitomize, among other stylistic trends, characteristic themes, and historical markers, postmodern allegory; the canonization of postmodern literature; postmodern difference; the postmodern epic paranoia; postmodern pastiche and/or parody; the postmodern picaresque; schizophrenia; the postmodern spatialization of history; the intersection of postmodern literary an 2 As this admittedly small sample drawn from the vast body of critical work on Pynchon nonetheless illustrates, the very idea of a postmodern American cano n without Pynchon is virtually unthinkable. 3 However, the currency of these particular approaches to Pynchon will of course rise or fall with the fortunes of the larger discourse of which they are a part: postmodernism itself. And although postmodernism has never been uncontested, as 2 See, e.g., on allegory: Dugdale 142; Madsen. On canonization: Brub, esp. 267 315. On difference: Hutcheon, Poetics 6; Witzling 7. On epic: Adair 113 60; Safer 79 110. On historiographic metafiction: Hutcheon, Poetics 120, 133; McHale, Constructing Phlmann, 239; cf. Smith 8 9. On fantasti c historiography: Jameson, Postmodernism 368. On (mis)reading: McHale, Constructing 59 141. On paranoia: Apter; Brownlie 1; Coale 135 77; Cowart, 13; Hardack 104, 109 10; Hite, Ideas 10; Madsen 23, 88; McHale, Constructing 178 an d Postmodernist 96; Melley 12 13, 81 Siegel; Slade 7. On pastiche: Callinicos 2; Smith 113 Hite, Ideas 5; Hutcheon, Poetics 130 31; Witzling 31. On picaresque: McHale, Postmodernist 173. On schizophrenia: Jameson, Postmodernism 375; Johnston. On space: Kolbuszewska, esp. 117 47, 183 Pynchon 19 McHoul and Wills. O n the transition from modernism to postmodernism: McHale, Postmodernist 21 25 3 In his introduction to Marginal Forces/Cultural Centers: Tolson, Pynchon, and the Politics of the Canon Michael Brub comments on the incredible proli
132 either a periodizing term or an aesthetic category, it has come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of escalating economic globalization and widespread opposition to dominant neoliberal forms of globalization (to say nothing of the sweeping world historical changes widely perceived in the post 9/11 era). 4 One recent example is the critique of postmodernism made by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in Empire (2000). sway under modernity rather than the strategies by which contemporary global capitalism manages and contains plural, hybrid identities (137). 5 Thus, what Hardt and Negri present as a postmodern celebration of the politics of difference by both postmodernist theory (epitomized by Jean Franois Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and therefore not merely dated but in fact susceptible to recuperation and manipulation at the hands of capital. 6 Hardt and Negri however, do not jettison t he postmodern wholesale 4 For a repudiation of postmo dernism predating the emergence of globalization as a contemporary problematic, see, e.g., Gardner. 5 postmodernism not the least of which is their rather reductive c haracterizations of the theorists they discuss their critique nonetheless has the merit of being historicist as opposed to stylistic. Cf. Hoberek, 6 along with the Three Worlds model and that it should therefore be supplanted as a critical paradigm by globalization studies.
133 balization. Hardt and Negri retain the periodizing category of postmodernity as a synonym for the age of globalization, and they refer repeatedly and more or less interchangeably to the apitalism. In this, they are interestingly similar to such onetime proponents of postmodernism as Ihab Hassan and Linda Hutcheon. For Hassan, whose books The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature (1971; 2 nd ed. 1982) and The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture (1987) helped disseminate the postmodernist paradigm in literary studies, postmodernism as an aesthetic category [which] refe rs to an interactive, planetary phenomenon wherein tribalism and end games or sheer media Hutcheon, whose study A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (1988) remains the canonical account of historiographic metafiction, makes an analogous distinction between postmodernism and postmodernity. In her follow up book, The Politics of Postmodernism (1989), Hutcheon distinguishes between ity as the designation of a social
134 7 By the time Hutcheon writes the retrospective epilogue to the second edition (2002), postmodernism has died and is succeeded soci ally and politically, in postmodernity, by elsewhere (166). 8 Although my own take on postmodernism, in both periodizing and aesthetic guises, is rather different, the fact that figures with such stakes in the concept are pronouncing its death is itself an interesting symptom of passage, a sign that things are somehow changing. It is thus unsurprising that the increasingly questioned status of postmodernism also impacts the Brian McHale another former stakeholder in postmodernism who now remarks its passing explicitly links discussions of the demise of postmodernism with Against the Day be published after 9/11. McHale briefly charts the development of an apocalyptic or eschatological aesthetic in postmodernism, running from angel imagery in postmodern visual art, television, and cinema to the widespread popularity and commercial success of disaster films. 9 Against the Day views disaster both World War I, diegetically, and 9/11, contextually from the 7 The Postmodern Condition (1979; trans. 1984). In addition, fo groundbreaking study The Condition of Postmodernity (1990). 8 done in by i 233): it pe rmeates what Hassan clearly sees as a degraded mass culture, Politics 166). The same holds for Minsoo Kang, who locates the death of postmodernism in the commercial success of The Last Action Hero 9 For a discussion of postmodern disaster films that is closer to the periodization that I develop in this cha Independence Day ( Life 137 65).
135 postmodernism. 10 McHale is not the fi rst critic to propose s uch a reading of Pynchon Dating back at least to the 1990s, some Pynchon scholars have questioned whether postmodernism 11 David Cowart, for example, Vineland Vineland in its 4). 12 Vineland he 10 In the passages that Bewes refers to, Jameson uses not the past tense but the past perfect and until very recently, there had seemed the modern that were no longer Singular 1, 6; my italics). The simple past tense would denote in fairly unproblematic fashion that postmodernism is over and done with: there seemed to be consensus, in the past, but not anymore; we used to think that postmodernism had superseded modernism, but now we something that happened before some other event, itself also in the past. I want to suggest here that both the apparent consensus and the nave assumptions that Jameson refers to occurred before a shift in perfect. See below, section 3.4. 11 dates even earlier than that For example, Mendelson classes as the latest in a long li Faust Ulysses Nonetheless, the recent trend in Pynchon studies that I discuss here represents a new development in comparison with Me supplanted by the critical dominance of postmodernism in literary studies generally and in Pynchon studies particularly. The critics I discuss here, in contrast, seem to represent a growing and emergent development in Pynchon criticism much less than an isolated or fleeting development. Second, whereas harkened back to an earlier, mostly modern European tradition, the current questioning of new (even if hypothetical or imagined), global social and historical reality. 12 postmodernist poetics,
136 knows what post est for Longitude in Thomas Mason & Dixon The Island of the Day Before Dennis M. Lensing reads Mason & Dixon comings and 27). Those limitations are well known: in Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), Jameson of pastiche in postmodern culture: Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. But it is erior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter and of any conviction that alongside the abnormal tongue you have momentarily borrowed, some healthy linguistic normality still exists. Pastiche is thus blank parody, a statue with blind Mason & Dixon to perform precisely the historical and this, in a form supposedly most resistant to udes the essay by arguing that Mason & Dixon ot her words, Pynchon uses pastiche to move beyond pastiche, just as he overcomes
137 13 or political and historical intervention than conventional characterizations of the postmodern would allow. In Pynchon and History: Metahistorical Resonance and Postmodern Narrative Form in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon (2005), Smith argues rhetorical and poetic expressions of a philosophy of history, a coherent vision of the gap be 9). 14 From his vantage, P reputedly excludes from his canonical definition of postmodernism. Postmodern? Foucault, Pynchon, H V to Vineland and Mason & Dixon 13 dernism to arrive at ] 14 Political 82 83. See also section 2 .2, above.
138 representation of extreme paranoia, toward a vision of local ethico political possibilities and a greater acceptance of hybrids that combine human and machine or human and has dominated American popular politics than either high postmodernism or other than postmodernism; his case study is the television series The X Files .) Similarly, Sascha Phlmann has done much to undermine the conventional characterization of Pynchon as a postmodernist. In (2010), Phlmann makes a compelling case for reading and Mason & Dixon in political and hi storical terms as new maps spaces like the Zone in or the strange realms abutting onto more familiar ones. According to P hlmann, playfulness often ascribed to postmodern texts, [but] it also results in a political its claims in an emergent postnationalist order of globalization (147). 15 This political payoff of postmodern texts which, of course, is supposed to have been impossible in postmodern culture according to Jameson, or at least the dominant interpretations of his stance 15 Similarly, Murphy suggests that Pynchon can be read as a cultural parallel to the politics of
139 if not a sea chang e in Pynchon criticism and postmodernism studies, then at least a widening fissure or a crucial set of problems worth investigating. current notions of the postmodern (or whateve r else we might want to call our present moment), and the relation between the two. In Chapter 4 I propose to periodize inherent in the periodizing concepts that we use to make sense of contemporary history. However, my project entails the overlay or juxtaposition of two different levels of periodization. periodization, I chart a more or less conventional chro The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance (1999), Miller uses micro periodization as a s stands as the larger period, while the micro periods of 1970 71, 1972 74, 1975 77, and 1978 that the larger period within which periods is postmodernity instead of one of its constituent decades. Nonetheless, I follow his lead in attending to variations or mutations in the conceptual apparatuses
140 term that warrant historically specific, ideologically inflected understandings of history, social reality, and political possibilities. Crucially, epistemic variations allow for just the kind of transcoding that underwrites both the historicized political reading that I attempt in Cha pter 4 and, more broadly still, the larger allegorical reading of collectivities that is within one part of an episteme can be found within any other part of that episte (Miller 28). Micro periodization thus begins with close attention to concrete manifestations of a larger, historically determinant logic. In applying this method of epistemic micro peri odization, I focus each of the paired readings that follow throu gh a central concept or metaphor: entropy, paranoia, nostalgia, or day. The first three of these are, of course, part of a storehouse of themes and motifs to which Pynchon returns throughout his career and which are therefore staples of Pynchon criticism. However, notwithstanding their persistence throughout his oeuvre, I hope to show in my periodization how each of those concepts plays a thereafter. Entropy, for exampl his first micro period, but it no longer drives the plot, motivates characters, or accounts fiction a nd V. The same goes for paranoia and nostalgia: they both predate and outlast temporarily. Day, finally, functions less as a concept on the same order as entropy and the rest t han as a multifaceted metaphor that enables transcoding among several
141 most recent post 9/11 period interrogates anew. The sections that follow use those four privileged concepts as the basis for reading periods, beginning with entropy in his early stories and V. moving next to paranoia in The Crying of Lot 49 and then to nostalgia in Vineland and Mason & Dixon and concluding with day in Against the Day and Inherent Vice As each of these pairings suggests, my analysis, in addition to demarcating micro periodic divisions, also follows two distinct threads through the literature: with the exception of the stories and V. (for reasons th at will become clear below), each micro period combines a California narrative The Crying of Lot 49 Vineland or Inherent Vice and an historical novel Mason & Dixon or Against the Day onicity of form in order to develop the second level o f periodization I employ here I argue that what Phillip E. Wegner periodizes as high and late postmodernism. Mo reover, I also demonstrate how those threads in Pynchon relate to the critical operations that Jameson calls symptomology alleged denigrations of the postmodern and cognitive mapping which also finds ex pression in the desire to identify or name the present in recent Pynchon scholarship and in postmodernism studies surveyed above. I see two benefits to this perspective on Pynchon and postmodernism. First, by periodizing these two postmodern modes or mo ods in parallel, my approach allows a critical appraisal of the political possibilities for collective praxis opened up or foreclosed
142 in each version of postmodernism. Second, reading Pynchon along these lines also reveals that what seem to be competing p aradigms postmodernism versus globalization in fact represent different moments of the same historical period, different valences of the cultural logic of late capitalism, without either one supplanting or ate postmodernist novels dramatize the dialectical relation between ideology and utopia that plays out metasynchronously in postmodernity. Before I proceed further, a word is necessary on the way that I develop and supp ort that argument Given both my f ocus on concepts or epistemes as periodizing their plots, the readings that follow often bear less resemblance to literary explications than to theoretical discussions or e ven dramatizations of ideological tensions, antinomies, and other logical relations among concepts. Thus, although I take pains to provide contextual details whenever necessary most notably, for example, when I read pivotal scenes or climactic moments in the literature my interpretations tend on the instead of faithfully reproducing sequences of events and ideas as those appear in the are notoriously taxing in their bulk and complexity; my readings, I admit here, do little to alleviate the considerable difficulty of simply reading Pynchon. Presenting instead a dramatization and political allegory of concepts central to I begin by analyzing the period driven by entropy in section 4.1 which also concludes with a brief sketch of the historical novels and the California
143 novels. Next, in sections 4. 2 and 4. 3, I proceed by micro from The Crying o f Lot 49 to Mason & Dixon Those sections also prepare the ground I demonstrate that co rrespondence in section 4. hermeneutic of the ideology of form and concludes with a theoretical intervention in the fields of globalization studies and postmodernism studies. Finally, in section 4. 5, I conclude both my micr o oeuvre by examining the shifting configurations of symptomology and utopian thinking in registers symptoms of t he political closures, ideological dominance, and historical disorientation accomplished by postmodern late capitalism, at the same time that it attests also to an unflagging persistence of utopian thinking in postmodernity. 4.1 Entropy, 1959 63 Early St ories, V. 16 Slow Learner (1984) collects five short stories published between 1959 and 1964, the best known of V. One key 16 school writings from serious consideration here, not least because it seems unfai indeed, few scholars, I imagine, would want their undergraduate term papers to come up for discussion at job interviews or tenure reviews. Nevertheless, certain themes and tropes that would later develop into major topoi of interpretation in 53: Epoch is even more recogniz ably Pynchonian to readers of his later fictions in its attention to the preterite, its predilection for allusion, and its recurrent pig motif, among other things.
144 for periodizing these early stories is their relation to literary and cultural history, specifically to the contested place of high modernism at midcentury. On the one hand, the stories reflect the dominance of the New Criticism and related late modernist conceptions of the modernist canon in English departments, evident, for example, in Form and Value in Modern Poetry Slow 36, 51). On the other hand, the stories also each react against that dominance, seeking to escape, or at least bristling against, the confines of a now institutional ized modernist Around them frogs intoned a savage chorus, gradually it seemed to them cries; he puffing occasio nally at the cigar throughout the performance, the ball cap tilted carelessly, she evoking a casually protective feeling, a never totally violated Pasiphae; until at last, having subsided, assailed still by Life In the midst of Life canon the allusion to the Greek myth of Pasipha, who mates with a bull and gives birth to the Minotaur and whom Dante locates in the circle of lust in the Purgatorio (see Ovid 185 86 [book 8]; Dante 26.40 42) with a midcentury ethos of ennui, a sense of cultural ba lovers ( Slow
145 Nausea 17 an Blackmur, also reads Being and Nothingness ( Slow 26). In his introduction to Slow Learner Pynchon reflects on the oblique language used me kind of sexual encounter appears age subculture. A tendency to self Howl Lolita Tropic of Cancer 6). T he stylistic and symptom or consequence of both McCarthy era cultura l conservatism and a concomitant retreat from the political into the aesthetic la the New Criticism. Subsequently, characters in Slow Learner attempt escape from that windless enclosure ugs and music. The most famous examples in Slow Learner lease drink until they pass out in a bathroom sink, and perform music that lacks not thinks 17 ark, wherein he realizes that he is the very nausea of existence that plagues him: The chestnut tree pressed itself against my eyes. Green rust covered it half way up; the th a exist all the way as far as mouldiness, In the way: it was the only relationship I could In the way death would have been In the way In the way decomposed flesh would have been In the way in the earth which would receive my Nausea 127 29) See also 126 35.
146 class, modernist ss. In parodying a modernist aesthetic of minimalism, the musician character Duke simultaneously reveals and enacts the social process of entropy which has remained a staple of Pynchon slow decay, of course, is nothing new; as early as 1925, in Eli both a drink and the note that functions dissolution and death with, fittingly enough for a p arty, music and drink. This local party scene reaches vaster proportion in V. where it is recast as a fully fledged mid 1950s subcultural group, the Whole Sick Crew. Like the partygoers in s, writers, and musicians, as well as associated hangers narrator in V. is explicit regarding the derivative or second aesthetic practices: The rest of the Crew partook of the s ame lethargy. Raoul wrote for television, keeping carefully in mind, and complaining bitterly about, all the sponsor fetishes of that industry. Slab painted in sporadic bursts, referring te in non pattern would have been familiar bohemian, creative, arty except that it
147 was even further removed from reality, Romanticism in its furthest decadence; being only an exhau sted impersonation of poverty, rebellion a living and obtained the substance of their conversation from the pages of Time magazine and like publications. (52) 18 Whatever drama o in the short story ( Slow 97 98) is annulled in V. in a culture industry. The vice of lethargy here entails none of the subversive qualities that Pync hon would later attribute to its cousin sloth, which in the media age consists of duress. products into his scripts and cashes their checks, marks both the limit of his brand of resistance and the necessity of his submission ; as Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno put it in Expressionism, meanwhile, substitutes a nearly dead subject for that which would otherwise express its it is explicable through and as an aesthetic, but it communicates (or tries to communicate) nothing. 19 music, finally, p redates the height of the folk music revival in the U.S., from the vantage 56 narrative and its 1963 publication date, and can thus 18 Later, the character Roony Winsome criticizes Raoul, Slab, Melvin, and other members of the Whole Sick Crew on essentially the same grounds as the narrator does in the passage just cited; cf. V 387 88. 19 of the form of Modernist xv). See section 1.1, above.
148 appear only as imitation of an earlier tradition and a putatively more authentic Greenwich Village scene. 20 Time magazine and other outlets of the culture industry. Ultimately, they are consumers of culture, not producers but poseurs. It is not insignificant that the Whole Sick Crew resemble s the bohemian castle in 6 Persons (see above, section 3.3 themselves. More significantly, Pynchon and Baraka also defi ne themselves in relation to the Beat tradition represented by their respective bohemians. However, whereas Baraka dramatically (if ambiguously and problematically) repudiates the Beat ethos, Pynchon seems rather to view the Beats as important forerunners to be acknowledged instead of disavowed. 21 Pynchon refers repeatedly to the Beats and their work in the introduction to Slow Learner point, a strange post Beat passage of cultural time, with [his Beat literature and high modernism (9). He and his contemporaries therefore see Other details in V. corroborate the link between Pynchon and the Beats. One of torylines follows Benny Profane, a member of the Crew and a 20 Slow 6) and that he comp osed V. before the eruption of the anti Vietnam War movement in V. than it might in a later novel. 21 Indeed, it is by reference to the Be ats that Pynchon elsewhere argues for the importance of science fiction:
149 and later is caught comple precisely because yo yoing, as a rule, is primarily passive, undirected except by external factors such as the layout of a subway line. Yo yoing is cruising for kicks, not questing for a grail. Thus, Profane and the Crew are frequently read as some sort of Beat or post Beat community, if not the real thing then at least partaking in the Beat aura. 22 It is therefo V. the Beats revolt against Eisenhower era conservatism and institutionalized high modernism alike. Take Ginsberg. Hi event in American literary history, and the collection in which that poem appears vision of entropy, Gin century U.S. culture follows the Ginsberg scandalizes mid century bourgeois conservatism with his countercultural 22 On th e Road Samuel Thomas, for example, calls the itinerant Profane narrative in V. the beat V. inherits directly from the Beats; parti cularly, he analyzes influences of On the Road and William S. Naked Lunch African American jazz musician in V. with On the Road 71). See also Chambers 7; Moore 18; and Newman 50.
150 moment is dominated by the inst rumentalization and commodification of art and In parallel with the asper sions cast by the narrator of V impotent art (see sec. 3 .3, above) V react to much the same historical and social context as Ginsberg and the Beats do. I want to argue, then, that the period of Pyn V. counts as what Jameson, in A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present (2002), calls late modernist. In contrast to the tremendous energy and radical experimentation of Ulysses Woo The Waste Land Sonnets to Orpheus Spring and All debut with Drums in the Night etc.), late modernism is for Jameson marked by a reification and ossification of creative energies and a closing down of the possibilities ( Singular 152). The earlier high modernist drive to innovate
151 project tends to replace the open futurity of incompletion with the closed, accomplished fact a process that Pynchon describes in Ma son & Dixon as a change in grammatical mood from the subju nctive to the indicative of a depoliticized modernist aesthetic ideol Life 5). Parodying the exhaustion of modernist aesthetic possibilities and rebelling against the resultant conformity are the first mark of the early fiction and V. a first way to view the early fiction and V. as late modernist, a second can be found in the political and historical details of the Sidney Stencil narrative in V Stencil, the son of a British espionage agent, spends the novel searching for V., the woma n, place, or other entity that had eluded his father before him. Stencil travels the globe to piece together European colonies like Egypt and the former German Southwest Afr ica (now Namibia) and other comparably liminal spaces like the island of Malta, but also of the larger geopolitical systems and processes that made colonial ism possible V. is unclearly but inextricably bound up with the outbreak of World War I and, by ex tension, with the of Nations and later the United Nations. Both of these international governance bodies make their mark on the Stencil/V. narrative: for example, the narrator compares a siege
152 speculate on possible military conflict between the U.S. and Britain arising from the and against England and modern international order that emerged from the Pea ce of Westphalia and the postmodern global order that they argue holds sway today. The UN is simultaneously international order and points beyond it toward a new notion of global Empire affinities with the Beats help identify V and the early fiction as late modernist, occupying both the twilight of modernism and the thres hold of postmodernism, likewise the political and historical context of the Stencil/V. narrative locates this first micro period in the milieu of midcentury Cold War politics playing out across a three worlds ed by one or another model of contemporary globalization. In both cases formally and historically late modernism marks a pivot between modern and postmodern configurations. mo dernist is the way it prefigures the rest of his oeuvre. In a compelling periodization of Against the Day to which I return later, Heinz Ickstadt V. can be said to contain the thematic and formal repertoire of all o f Oedipa Maas in The Crying of Lot 49 Prairie Wheeler in Vineland and Doc Sportello in
153 I nherent Vice V. also introduces Clayton Chiclitz and his employer, Yoyodyne, Inc. (see, e.g., Pynchon, V. 240 41). Chiclitz reappears in The Crying of Lot 49 and while Yoyodyne becomes a critical U.S. defense contractor in those novel s. Kurt Mondaugen, introduced here in a flashback providing historical context to 97), also appears in which details his involvement in the German occupation of German Southwest Africa and the genocide of the H perhaps a fitting description as well of the paradoxical spaces saturating later novels, most notably Mason & Dixon Finally, V. p work. If all those subsequent texts count, as I argue below that they do, as postmodernist fiction, V. and the late modernist moment it occupies begin to look something like preceded them, on the one hand, and postmodernism proper, on the other (Wegner, Life definition: it stands as which, viewed from a vast enough historical perspective, takes on the appearance of a radical break between modernism and postmodernism ( Singular 24). Thus, the early stories and V. constitute a of transition between his late modernist precursors and his own canonically postmodern novels. 23 23 In additio n, McHale repeatedly refers to V. Constructing 47, 194; Postmodernist 91). My own V. is (late) modernist, not Postmodernist 21).
154 Beginning with The Crying of Lot 49 those postmodern novels, as I mentioned above, fall into tw o categories. The Crying of Lot 49 Vineland and Inherent Vice are set predominately in California. In The Crying of Lot 49 Oedipa Maas follows a trail of dubious clues, possible conspiracies, and secret communication networks from Kinneret Among The P ines through San Narcisco and other L.A. suburbs. Prairie Vineland takes her on a quest from the fictional town of Vineland in northern California as far south as Orange and San Diego counties. Ot her threads of the narrative cross the Pacific to Honolulu or moreover, they could also be conceived of as part of a Pacific Rim regionalism or a trans Pacific axis, with Calif ornia being a privileged center or terminus. Finally, private girlfriend Shasta Fay Hepworth in Inherent Vice estate mogul Mickey Wo lfmann, in the Golden Fang (and/or the Golden Fang ), a mysterious syndicate (and/or supernatural evil being, and/or schooner). In all three novels, the geographical scope is more or less closely bound to California. dominant of modernist fict ion is epistemological ontological texts to f world are there, how are they V. is preeminently concerned with problems of knowing those problems, of course, are the central focus of the Sidney Stencil episodes. I take issue, though, with the notion that this distinction in itself is a determining factor in periodizing him to class The Crying of Lot 49 alongside V. Constructing 194). (Cf., however, Crying Crying stands in fact as a high postmodernist novel.
155 Chronologically, the California novel s occupy a similarly limited timeline, and all three are anchored in an experience of the 1960s. 24 The Crying of Lot 49 whose narrative occupies the earliest timeline among the three novels, takes place in the early to mid 1960s, registered here as a time of student radicalism: for Oedipa, the Berkeley cataclysmic of dissents voiced, suicidal of commitments chosen the sort that bring 25 The present of Vineland meanwhile, is 1984, a year both Reaganite and Orwellian. 26 Frenesi, a 1960s radical filmmaker turned government informer wh o gets sexually aroused from seeing men in era budget cuts, information technologies, and the ideological success of American fascism render informing costly and redundant. 27 Finally, In herent Vice narrates an experience of the end of the 1960s; in 1970, Doc is not a turncoat, like Frenesi, but instead a stereotype Inherent 45). That fog, though, is also linked thematically a nd symbolically with the uncertainty of historical experience, the difficulty of making sense of the present for Doc, the passage into the 24 politics of his historical novels; similarly, it is a central reference for much of the criticism as well. See, 39; Willman. 25 Oedipa who is apparently, like Pynchon, a graduate of Cornell (Pynchon, Crying 1) is thus a contemporary of Pynchon; cf. Slow 6. 26 On Vineland 1984 see, e.g., Dussere 580 81; Thomas, Pynchon 13 3 37. 27 Vineland 1984 in the foreword to that espite the Axis defeat, the will to fascism had not
156 ath. The other main strain in the Pynchon canon consists of his historical novels: Mason & Dixon and Against the Day Whereas the California novels are more or less geographically restricted, the historical novels sprawl across vast in ternational spaces. takes place in Britain, Germany, Poland, German South climactic prolepsis occurring at the Orpheus Theater in Los Angeles. In Mason & Dixon the title characters travel from England to South Africa, St. Helena, and the British colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Quebec. Against the Day is ranging novel, with scenes in the U.S. (including Chicago, Ne w York, Cleveland, mining towns in Colorado and Utah, the campus of Yale Germany, Austria, the Balkans, Hungary, and elsewhere. In contrast to the local contexts inhabi ted by the California novels, the historical novels are uncontainable by national boundaries, tending instead toward an increasingly global jurisdiction. Moreover, this global space is not just international but also, at times, supranational or at least other than nationalist. Most of the action in occurs in the Zone of occupied Germany after V E Day. Administered variously and ambiguously by the Soviets, the British, and the Americans, the Zone is an open space of possibility: as Geli spaces in Mason & Dixon are ungovernable by national sovereignty and inexplicable by
157 the Enlightenment rati onality that undergirds nationalism. The Warrior Path, used by the Iroquois, Mohawk, Catawba, and other Native American peoples, marks a Lines in Englan the means for magical air flight. The concave surface of the hollow earth visited by at everyone else unavailable to those living in the dema pointed away from everybody else (741). The hollow earth appears again in Against the Day but this time with a rather different politics, le ss utopian and it is the realm of hostile gnomes (117). Although Against the Day its counterpart in Mason & Dixon there is nonetheless an abundance of supranational spaces in that later novel indeed, just as the geographical scope of Against the Day is spaces, places, and enclave s that escape national sovereignty and capitalist control, at least for a time. The Chums of Chance, the crew of the skyship Inconvenience search absence. Not the di scovery of a place but the act of leaving the futureless place where subterranean city of Nuovo Rialto, which has persisted in relative peace since the Middle Ages but is presentl y under threat of exploitation by oil prospectors (439 41). Throughout the novel, the Chums are consistently associated with places and spaces
158 like Shambhala and Nuovo Rialto: early in the novel, an expedition takes the Chums to political space, the map The Inconvience itself little more than an ordinary dirigible at the beginning of the narrative, has by now grown into a flying city and occupies a literally supranational space. Both quantitatively and qualitatively, the geography of Against the Day and the other historical novels tends increasingly toward the international and the global. Similarly, the chronological scope of the historical novels, taken collectively, expands beyond the comparatively narrow timeline of the California novels. Rainbow is set prima rily in 1945, while its final scene occurs in the early 1970s. Mason & Dixon is narrated mostly by the Rev d Wicks Cherrycoke over a single (!) winter evening in 1786, and the bulk of his narrative covers the span 1760 68. Finally, Against the Day begins between 1918 and the early 1920s. 28 Notwithstanding Mason & Dixon storytelling, each of the historical novels encompasses a longer chronological span than any of the California novel s, suggesting a pronounced concern with questions of 28 time a t (1988; 2 nd ed. 2006) and the helpful resources to be found at the Pynchon Wiki (pynchonwiki.com) are guide and the wiki for Against the Day see Schroeder and den Bensten.) However, in the case of Against the Day two details give a rough sense of Chance uncorks bottles of champagne with a 1920 vintage (1040, 1084). The latter fact, though, is not hard evidence that the narrative extends as far as the early 1920s: the Chums encounter time travelers from the future, so it is ambiguous whether the uncorkin g precedes or follows that date.
159 epistemological and onto Poetics 121]). Moreover, the historical novels together seem to form one vast narrative of moments of radical uncertainty, possibility, and transition in political organization and historical moments: the r evolutionary era in America, the fin de sicle world that would become twentieth century modernity, and the formation of a Cold War world order all rise, like change. If it seems a stretch to imagine that these novels conspire to form a single historical narrative, even if only a loosely united one, there are textual details that connect the universes of these novels with each other: the hollow earth ( Mason ; Against ); cartography ( Mason ; Against 121); the hallucinatory Kenosha Kid ( 60 61) and the anarchist Kieselguhr Kid ( Against 171 et passim); allusions to the nineteenth century physicist James Clerk Maxwell ( Against 98; 239 et passim). Most compe llingly, though, and suggesting a stronger interrelation than might be indicated by mere thematic resonance or a common stock of allusions and symbols 29 all three of these novels feature a sail or named Bodine: Pig Bodine is assigned to the U.S.S. John E. Badass in Seahorse in Mason & Dixon 29 For example, Maxwell figures prominently in The Crying of Lot 49 Vineland is also a descendant of the Traverse family from Against the Day
160 Stupendica in Against the Day 30 If these are not in fact the same Bodine, they certainly bear an unmistakable family resemblance to each other. More importantly, his/their presence in each of these novels, either intergenerational or through an impossibly long lifespan, suggests a co mmon historical project as noted above, Smith sees in One of the most frequently cited passages in Mason & Dixon deals directly with the question of how we access the past in orde r to arrive at such a coherent historical vision. In the passage from that novel th at I take as an epigraph to Chapter 4 Cherrycoke reveals some crucial distinguishing features of the specific kind of historical thinking that drives not only Mason & Dixo n matter of the rhetorical m anipulation of details aimed at an instrumental outcome rather than a deep understanding of the past. Second, historical thinking is not the same as narratives in a cultural sto rehouse for example, the American nationalist myths of the Founding Fathers (themselves ironically reworked in Mason & Dixon ) which, historical thinking requires both a br oader perspective than the close, legalistic attention required for the ordering of facts in a chronology and a more ecumenical relation to what is passed over by official chronologies and narratives of mythologized 30 As my good frie this observation.
161 remembrance: in other words, preterite h istory. 31 In place of ordered chronologies and line back into a back into the past of our postmodern present. It remains to be seen how those tangled lines into the past migh t also connect horizontally or laterally with the California novels. Moreover, it also remains to be seen what both the historical novels and the California novels might reveal about the present. I begin to draw out those connections in the next section, where I coordinate this periodization of his oeuvre. Before I do so, however, I want to discuss some of the differences between the periodiza tion I argue for and some important periodizations of other critics. I mentioned one such periodization in the introduction to Chapter 4 : postmodern period ( V. The Crying of Lot 49 and eriod ( Vineland and Mason & Dixon briefly V. The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland novels of the Mason & Dixon and Against the Day 31 The distinction between the elect and the preterite th e chosen and the passed over comes
162 39). Both of these schemas shed useful insight the newly important role of nostalgia centered around Mason & Dixon s something other than (high) postmodern captures a crucial sense of departure from, or at least resistance to, the sometimes paralyzing effects of late capitalism canonically identified with s, in particular, inform my periodization that follows. those critics suggest some sort of radical break between an early and a late Pynchon. On my take, however, the more re chronological but rather metasynchronous: more important than the differences between, say, and Mason & Dixon are those between Rainbow and The Crying of Lot 49 or Vineland or better yet, between Rainbow + Mason & Dixon + Against the Day and The Crying of Lot 49 + Vineland + Inherent Vice ve from postmodernism to something else (other than postmodernism, post postmodernism, etc.) but rather allegorize a perpetual struggle between two postmodernisms: a canonical high postmodernism that buttresses the reigning ideology of late capitalism and a radical late postmodernism that attempts to subvert late capitalism from below. Second, unlike my precursors whose periodizations, in all fairness, predate the publication of Inherent Vice Against the Day I make the bifurcation o
163 novels into the California and historical lines an explicit and direct thematic focus. coherent historical and political intervention in a postmodern moment that remains always already contested and conflictive. Pynchon is not a postmodernist: he is at least two of them. 4. 2 Paranoia, 1966/1973 The Crying of Lot 49 The Crying of Lot 49 and V. are perhaps his best known and most frequently taught, not least because of their exemplary status among postmodern American novels. These novels indeed provide convenient indices to the development of postmodernism in American fiction. However, rath er than taking them as textbook examples of postmodern literature, I find it instructive to read them as instances of two postmodern aesthetics corresponding to the The Crying of Lot 49 to search out the origins of the Tristero, a conspiratorial underground communication network. Her first exposure to the Tristero comes through her attempts to sort through the estate of the late Pierce Inver arity, a former lover who had named Oedipa the drawing of a muted post horn. Oedipa immediately desires to understand or decode the is fed not only by objective amb iguity surrounding the significance of the text and
164 Subsequently, she encounters a whole series of muted post horns and WASTE references scattered throughout L.A. and its suburbs. This compulsion to make her speculate that a nything can potentially be a sign and that everything. istero consumes her. Its convoluted history seems to now seemed to come crowding in exponentially, as if the more she collected the more would come to her, until ever ything she saw, smelled, dreamed, remembered, would from above, to an integrated circuit (14) imparts on her search the character of She was meant to remember (95). On her interpretation, there is no room for coincidence or mere chance: she has been deliberately selected as the recip master plan. But this suspicion is also counterbalanced against an equal and opposite having lost the direct, epileptic Word, single turn of thought, Oedipa postulates both deliberation and manipulation: she seems to be subject to a plan, but that plan might not be what it seems.
165 as hermeneutical detective and manipulated subject comes to a head late in the novel. Having chased down several leads only to have them pulled from her grasp the director of a play that might be an allegorical history of the Tristero commits suicide; a boo kstore where she had conducted research on the Tristero burns down Oedipa arrives at an impasse among has been ot, in which case you are a nut 41). These interpretations pivot around two axes. First, Oedipa surmises that she must be either lucid or delusional: there might be something (a c ommunication network or a plot), or there might be nothing (hallucination or fantasy). This is centrally sound or accurate are her interpretations of the evidence at hand ? Second, the category of lucidity itself pivots on an axis between the external and the internal: if she something can be an existent network to which she is fundamen tally external, or it can be an elaborate plot with Oedipa at its center. This is an ontological issue: what is the nature of the reality that Oedipa has discovered? What kind of world does that reality Shall I project a world? dilemma is at least threefold: she must decide whether and how she knows anything; what it is that she knows; and what to do with that knowledge. Complicating matters for Oedipa is the response that any of her propositions
166 (140). As a tool for making sense of reality, paranoia has low stock. From Richard Empire 3), paranoia is widely deemed ill suited for serious political analysis. However, that does not mean that paranoia and conspiracy theories have nothing to reveal. As Jameson po stmodern age; it is a degraded figure of the total logic of late capital, a desperate 32 Tristero straws is therefore significant independently of the empirical reality of the Tristero itself. Degraded figures are still figures of something. Oedipa learns, st arts out as a medieval courier service. Through political machinations, Low Countries. From then on, the Tristero is pushed underground, becoming a clandestine antagon ist to Thurn und Taxis and other official state monopolies on the Tristero system and its opposition to Thurn und Taxis, whose own symbol is an 32 Crying in Part 1 of The Geopolitical Aesthetic (1992) entability is what conspiracy narratives represent in the first place: and also the form 22; see al so 16 17).
167 open post horn. The Trist Crying 70, 139). Thus, the Tristero as best as Oedipa can tell, at least turns out to be secret conspiracy aimed at overthrowing its officially sanctioned nemesis and establishing hegemony over communication networks. However, despite what is clearly an oppositional stance toward the status quo, it would b e premature to descr ibe the Tristero as revolutionary or even a resistance movement. Indeed, The Crying of Lot 49 provides examples of secret societies and conspiracies espousing a variety of political agendas. Take Inamorati Anonymous, a support group d edicated to helping people kick addictions to love 94). Far from establishing a platform from which to launch collective praxis of any kind, revolutionary or reactionary, IA attempts to help people escape the notion of collectivity Meetings woul a politic al stance ); its fundamental purpose is to foster isolated individuality, not to nurture any sort of movement. Or take the Peter Pinguid Society. Named for a (fictional) Confederate commodore who may or may not have been attacked by a Russian ship in an apocryphal naval battle somewhere off the coast of California in 1864, the Pinguid
168 Society synthesiz es the American right wing traditions of anti communism and southern freed the serfs in 1861) and a Union that paid lip service to abolition while it kept its own indust rial laborers in a kind of wage War in a nineteenth century alliance between Russia and the industrialized northern states, the Pinguid Society positions itself even to the right of capitalism itself, s o that (36). 33 However, it is unclear what sort of action the Pinguid Society is interested in ]peculating in secrecy do not a revolutionary movement make. Much of what applies to the Pinguid Society and to IA also applies to the Tristero. For starters, both the Pinguid Society and the IA communicate by means of the W.A.S.T.E. network. What unites the Pinguid Society, the IA, and other users of W.A.S.T.E. is not any sort of political agenda but rather their outsider status. Over the course of a single night, Oedipa observes several users of the network, all of whom possibly even of defia nce. But it was a calculated withdrawal, from the life of the own preterition: too insi gnificant to the constituted power of the republic to merit either 33
169 campaign overtures, like those directed at politically desirable demographic groups, or concerted repression, like perceived threats to order suffer, the preterite users of the W.A.S.T.E. n etwork persist in their subterranean, outsider status. That status defines and unifies them as a community of isolates. The community of W.A.S.T.E. users is composed of the excluded middle that which a binary system cannot accommodate because it falls i n with neither term of an opposition. The classic example from logic is that a proposition must be either true or false; there is no middle term between those binary extremes (see Kirwan). This is why, as Oedipa knows from her humanist training at Cornel Crying 150). But they are bad shit only for a binary system that forces subjects into one of just two slots a system that flouts the utopian (if also ideological) American self conception as a la nd of immigrants and outsiders that is evident, say, in the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Oedipa regards the with the chances once so good for diver of all in a common life of the republic, processes of marginalization produce as system (101). W.A.S.T.E. exists as a sep arate world because there is no room for it in the officially sanctioned reality of the midcentury U.S. Central to that reality is, of course, the Cold War. In addition to the Pinguid an allusion to Cold apocalyptic sense of the Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction (according
170 to which the possession of nuclear weapons by both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. served as a deterrent, since retaliation would be equally devastating as initial aggression). as a misprint on a postal envelope comparatively innocuous as the misrouting of mail, but the im age also evokes the so called nuclear football the device to be used by U.S. presidents to authorize a nuclear attack. Mutually assured destruction lurks in the background throughout The Crying of Lot 49 placing those connected with W.A.S.T.E. in danger of being slotted under the Soviet heading in the binary logic of the Cold War. When Oedipa considers trying to 0). The same binary thinking is what marginalizes those W.A.S.T.E. users to begin with; when Metzger suggests that a Bircher [or any mainstream Cold War inadequacy of Cold War binarisms by pointing out that Marxism devel ops directly out of the context of industrial capitalism (37): no twentieth century communism without a nineteenth century industrial capitalism for Marx to write about and revolt against. But when the mutually exclusive positions demarcated by Cold War i deology saturate the
171 political landscape, underlying truths like the historical inextricability of capitalism and Marxism have nowhere to go but underground. It is politically significant that The Crying of Lot 49 stops short of narrating any direct conf rontation between the W.A.S.T.E. outsiders and the hegemonic Cold War ideology of the U.S. Indeed, there is little in this novel in the way of hope, nothing that sympathies certa joins any of the collectives that comprise the W.A.S.T.E. network; although she wonders nonetheless remai (150, 100). As such, she can only interpret the alternative narratives proffered by the preterite she cannot write them herself or shape the realities those narratives imagine. Instead her conspiracy theories about the Tristero register the hegemony of ideology during the Cold War. The constituted power of the state exercises such extensive control over official reality that alternative or counterhegemonic ideologies have nowhere to g they do t[ing] Amid all the paranoia of The Crying of Lot 49 however, one also glimpses the used car salesman turned disc jockey, begins to experience the schizoid effects of LSD
172 more generic. He enters a access to that truth is commun W.A.S.T.E. network and the Tris tero conspiracy, remaining a paranoid, voyeuristic outsider, Mucho seems to participate he had sent Oedipa the letter with the and enjoy the schizoid pleasures that come from abandoning the security of a clearly defined individual ego. Her paranoia marks her distance and separation from the Tristero, while his schizophrenia reconfigures his very subjectivity in a network of clandestine communication. political ag paranoid fantasizing about the mysterious Tristero lin es of escape and the state and opening onto the pleasures of collective, schizophrenic subjectivity (Deleuze and Guattari, Anti Oedipus 277; see section 3.2 algia words activates a set of desires alternative to the Cold War conservatism to which Oedipa still feels herself a reluctant heir.
173 Whereas The Crying of Lot 49 lo cates schizophrenia in a marginal character whose connection to the main action of the novel is uncertain and tenuous, much of focuses on the subjective dissolution of the schizoid character Tyrone Slothrop. Before Slothrop even makes hi s first appearance, the novel jigsaw puzzles showing parts of the amber left eye of a Wei maraner, the green velvet folds of a gown, slate blue veining in a distant cloud, the orange nimbus of an explosion (perhaps a sunset), rivets in the skin of a Flying Fortress, the pink inner thigh of a pouting pin 18). That these fra gments are puzzle pieces initially The Crying of Lot 49 However, frustrates any knowledge apparently exceeds what could that is, the narrator identifies the wholes of which the pieces are fragments so there is little mystery what the puzzle pieces depic t, with the possible exception of the nimbus cloud. The reintegration of the jigsaw puzzles would hardly amount to a hermeneutic This is not necessarily to say, however, that there are no connections in Rainbow and explosions of German V re for
174 (85, 86). This correlation, which originates in experiments in Pavlovian conditioning e White research outfit seeking strategic advantages over Germany during the closing years of World War II. Subsequently, S lothrop, a lieutenant in the U.S. army, throughout Europe and, following the armistice, about the V 2, particularly its Schwarzgert ed to play anticipatory erections might make him especially well suited for investigating other aspects of the missile. His penis is somehow able to communicate with the ro ckets, and it is precisely that ability to communicate across otherwise impermeable boundaries that makes him useful. 34 As Slothrop pursues his missions throughout Europe and the Zone, his close connection with the V 2 missile comes to change his very ide ntity. When Slothrop dresses as the comic book superhero Rocketman, he and other characters immediately scale Rocketman Hype, in which the people bring him food, wine and mai dens in four color dispensation 34 Nor is Slothrop alone among the characters of in his capacity for otherwise Prenti managing Later, several pairs of characters are suspected of being the same person: for example, Roger Mexico, a avlgyi, a psychologist studying abreaction of Gll, and Gottfried, submissive lover and sacrificial victim of the sadistic Captain Blicero; and Bianca and release from the Dora concentration camp (634, 672, 577). However, given the immensity and density of as well as the requirements canon, I limit my discussion here primarily to Slothrop in particular and the Counterforce in general.
175 (366). Slothrop accepts his role as Rocketman, coining a superhero style s nicht mit dem Rak e temensch! cketman!) (435 ; sic ), and becoming a champion of the Counterforce, the movement in the Zone opposed to the secret control exercised by international cartels including the likes of IG Farben and the Phoebus light bulb cartel. Having been manipulated at the hand s of those cartels Jamf had worked for IG Farben (249) Slothrop as Rocketman turns the schizoid subjectivity constructed by Jamf against them. What enables Slothrop and the Counterforce to resist the cartels and the states that cater to them is in large part the sociality proper to the Zone. The Zone, as noted above, is a space where sovereignty is only unclearly and provisionally established, where boundaries are inconstant and permeable, and where both individual subjects and collectivities enjoy a car nivalesque freedom unattained in nationalist space. Witness, for example, a party where Slothrop (disguised again, this time as Plechazunga, a mythical pig and German folk hero), Seaman Bodine, and a shipmate of John E. Badass take refuge: brightly lit and busy combination bar, opium den, cabaret, casino and house of ill repute, all its rooms swarming with soldiers, sailors, dames, tricks, winners, losers, conjurers, dealers, dopers, voyeurs, homosexuals, e asy at gathering newcomer and old regular to itself, that who can say for sure which victory? which war? (602) Unlike the lease V. which this scene superficially resembles, the party at Put seeking temporary respite from enforced conformity but rather an entire new social
176 reality that emerges in an uncertain and open temporal and geographical space. Moreover, whereas those earlier parties are characterized by t he entropic dissipation of forming a new and potentially lasting social arrangement. My point here is not that the party or the Zone persists indefinitely: this is false both historically and within the confines of the novel, as demonstrated by its closing episodes, especially the final lines (more on which later). Rather, I w ant to argue that entropy is no longer the privileged logic here that it was m odernist micro V ., it is the dynamic of entropy determines the fate of collectivities in advance, whereas in utopian parties meet their end as a result of external historical developments. What is important, the refore, is not the eventual closing down of the Zone and its utopian parties but rather the moment in which the social possibilities engendered by the Zone remain open. underst anding of space itself in the Zone. Slothrop is able to evade Soviet forces in the Zone precisely because he and the Soviet military regard space in the Zone differently: Their Fine for S lothrop, though are still back in geographical space, drawing deadlines and authorizing personnel, and the only beings who can violate their space are safely caught and paralyzed in comic books. They think Rocketman here. They keep passing him and he remains alone, blotted to evening by velvet and buckskin if they do see him his image is shunted immediately out to the boondocks of the brain where it remains in exile with other critt Conventional military tactics no longer apply in the Zone because they are designed to engage national enem ies in national territories; occupying powers in the Zone must
177 the laws and logic of nationalism are unfit in a place that, to repeat the character Geli Or, as Phlmann describes it s the expression of a postnational imagination 283). In the Zone, as in the Rocket notoriously di sjointed concluding sec Outside and Inside interpierc[e] one another (Pynchon, 681). The older spatial categories of nationalism are obsolete in the Zone. Slothrop and the C ounterforce press their advantage by exploiting their postnational mobility to escape detection and violate now defunct boundaries. Counterforce (640), and waging war requires organization. As both my own text here the cartels and the states that the Counterforce fights. This necessitates that the Counterforce be sy stem as a They system y study of Mark Richard Siegel describes creative paranoia as a strategy of resistance which functions by its opposition to the They system of the c artels, the We system of the Counterforce the rational ones. We piss on Their rational 639). This is not the same, however, as being
178 utterly disordered. The Counterforce does m anage, somehow, to arrive at decisions made at best they manage to emerge (676). Even in the absence of the kind of centralized authority attributed to the They system, the Counterforce exhibits something like Mul titude 91). So, even though the 638), it is nonetheless able to mount effective attacks against the putatively better organized T hey system. Let me offer one example of this Seaman Bodine and Roger Mexico disrupt a dinner party hosted by a former executive for Krupp, a member of the Phoebus cartel, by metaphorically pissing on the rational arrangements that govern etiquette at T heir to disgust the bourgeois appetites right out of the well to do dinner guests by naming snot soup clot casserole abortion aspic, 17). They are joined, moreover, by Constance Flamp, a journalist sympathetic to grunt t and the butler, who Although the scene begins with the irrational event of a shared hallucination, Bodine, Mexico, and their sympathizers exhibit both the swarm intellig ence of the multitude and
179 its inclusiveness in mounting what is a successful, even if minor, strike against Them. The dinner The m. Elsewhere, for example, Slothrop and the balloon pilot Schnorp are attacked midair by Major Dwayne Marvy, a racist southerner with possible ties to Rolls Royce, who or iginally sold him into his Pavlovian bondage under Jamf. Slothrop and Schnorp retaliate by attacking Marvy with custard pies and taking cover in the clouds, another coordi leaves him only the pig suit. Marvy is consequently mistaken for Slothrop by the MPs, who then proceed to castrate him (606 09). In these and other instances, what and social logics of the Zone: neither geography nor subjectivity is bound in the Zone by the limits imposed by nationalist rationality. But the Zone does not last in nor do Slothrop and the ty to Slothrop following his ultimate the Wall Street Journal in which he betrays both Slothrop
180 concerned with Slothrop qua and the Counterforce therefore just as susceptible to cooptation and recuperation as other oppositional clusion and the WSJ interview, the Counterforce is effectively defunct. In his interview, the spokesman distinguishes between members of the nt for the fragmentation and disintegration of Slothrop himself. Roughly midway through the novel, Slothrop is t orn between contradictory interpretations concerning connectedness: paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long. Well right no w Slothrop feels himself sliding onto the anti Paranoia is not without its comforts: despite the sense of powerlessness that comes from perceiving oneself at the center of a vast conspiracy or indeed, because of that powerlessness paranoid conspiracy theories at least have the merit of simulating a total map with which to situate oneself. If Slothrop can make sense of the vast web of interconnections that entangle him, the V 2, the cartels, and countless other factors (including, for example, the legacy of American Puritanism, the history of plastics, quantum mechanics and probabilistic s ciences, and so forth ), then he can chart his
181 maps align his sexual activities with German rocket strikes. But at times, the opposite possibility strikes Slothrop as equally likely: that he has nothing at all to do with the V 2 or the cartels and that the only connections he can make will be false. The closing of the novel seems in some ways to bear this fear out. Over the fourth and final part of become one plucked albatross. Plucked, hell stripped Scattered all over the Zone. subjectivities takes its toll. After so much pu tting on and shedding of personas, about Tyrone Slothrop, who was sent into the Zone to be present at his own assembly perhaps, heavily paranoid voices have whisper ed, and still see Slothrop as any sort of integral creature an can say by way of eulogy Rocketman, Rocketman. You poor fucker The dissemination of Slothrop throughout the Zone and the dissolution of the th should come as no
182 surprise, given that the historical moment spatialized in the Zone ended up being essentially a brief interregnum preceding the Cold War and that the novel itself speaks from the pessimistic vantage of the Vietnam War and the Nixon 1970s. 35 However, notwithstanding the sense of lost opportunities evoked by the fates of Slothrop and the Counterforce, the novel also defers a moment of absolute defeat. The novel ends with here, ju st at this dark and silent frame, that the pointed tip of the Rocket, falling nearly a mile per second, absolutely and forever without sound, reaches its last unmeasurable gap above the roof of this old theater, the last delta the missile hovers threateningly just above the cinema, it remains perpetually suspended in before everybody er to join in the singing of a preterite hymn (760); that collective, preterite utopia never arrives, but neither does the missile itself. Ending in a dash, the final line both figures the miniscule, final interval of time (the dash is like a fragment of a timeline in that sense) and gestures beyond the confines of the novel itself to whatever outcome or resolution follows it. If apocalypse occurs, it can only happen after the ending of in the ion and apocalypse are deferred here, ultimately preserving the open structure of the Zone in a sort of narrative afterlife. 36 35 On and the Vietnam War, see Jarvis. For recent approaches to Ra inbow 08. 36 Thomas 60; Thomas, Pynchon 155 56. In of Postmodernism (2008), draws on the inclusiveness of highlight the problematic relation between the New Left, on the one hand, and the Civil Rights Movement and Black nationalism, on the other (6 7).
183 That openness of the Zone, temporary though it is, is where I locate both the most important difference between w and The Crying of Lot 49 and the most significant feature of The Crying of Lot 49 Oedipa remains separate from the Tristero, leading her to adopt a paranoid hermeneutic and to formulate co nspiracy theories; she is only ever a reader, never an author. In Slothrop oscillates between paranoia and anti paranoia, but he also occupies the excluded middle between those terms: what Pirate call, following Deleuze and Guattari, schizophrenic subjectivity. Between the extremes positing that everything is connected and space is fully striated (paranoia), and that nothing is connected and space is utterly smooth (anti paranoia) positions which about the Tristero lies the premise, highlighted by critic Molly Hite, that not everything that lines of connection are sub ject to change (Hite, Ideas 17). The efforts of Slothrop and the Counterforce to prevent Their hegemony in the Zone dramatize the attempt bonds and connections tha t will structure whatever orders will emerge in the Zone. After all, as Deleuze and Guattari remind readers, smooth and striated space the spatial regimes in which nothing is connected and everything is connected, respectively th space is constantly being translated, transversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned Thousand 471). Schizoid freedom and paranoid bondage really exist as degrees relative to one another, no t as absolute values. In political terms, this
184 paranoid struggle is precisely a struggle to determine proportions of smooth and striated space in the Zone, of freedom and order proportions that can and hi storically do take multiple, variable forms. Indeed, this is the sense in which Ideas 133). In The Crying of Lot 49 Oedipa tries to mak e sense of the convoluted history of the Tristero. In Slothrop attempts to directly shape the history of the present. This distinction also points toward another crucial difference between the novels in terms of power. Whereas Oedipa largely reacts to structures of power and Cold War ideology that govern midcentury America, Slothrop and the Counterforce act on and against Their structures of power, attempting in the process to construct their own allegiances and collectivities. Thus another operative distinction is that between rereading of Spinoza, constituted power refers to the established power of the state, constituent power to the active social f orces that drive democratic revolutionary movements and shape history as it emerges. As an outsider to the W.A.S.T.E. community, Oedipa can only react to and attempt to read the structures she finds already established; she never gets the opportunity to p articipate directly. Slothrop and the Counterforce, on the other hand, are preterite insiders among militants waging war against Their capitalist control. The brief time of the Zone the delta t of Rainbow that signifies both a missed opportunit y and, it must be stressed, a brief
185 historical opening onto new social and political possibilities is a time of constituent power. 37 4. 3 Nostalgia, 1990/1997 Vineland Mason & Dixon ends, perhaps, on the cusp of defeat, but it stops just this side of resignation and pessimism. Notwithstanding the threat posed by the hovering missile preserves at least a faint glimmer of optimism and hope for the pr eterite. However, the long span seventeen years that intervened between that novel and Vineland saw a precipitous foreshortening of preterite prospects, already severely limited in 1973. After the debacle that was the Nixon administration, which Pynchon had already parodied with the epigraph to part 4 of attributed to Nixon and the portrayal of the theater manager Richard M. Zhlubb, the 1980s ushered neoliberalism onto the global stage with the elections of Ronald Reagan and Marg aret Thatcher and the successful widespread implementation of their economic agendas. 38 In the U.S., Reagan advanced a massive assault on New Deal era social securities and labor rights, eroding much of the already scant protection afforded the American wo rking class. Culturally, meanwhile, the Reagan era in the United States was also marked by escalation of the so called culture wars, with an ascendant religious right reacting 37 Cf. Robert J. Lacey s much more pessimistic argument that Gravity s Rainbow depicts the Such a reading is possible only if the novel s final delta t is reduced to zero. 38 See, e.g., Harvey, Brief History esp. chapter 2 (39 63).
186 stridently against the gains earned in the previous two decades by feminist, Ci vi l Rights, gay and lesbian and other social movements. 39 Perhaps the rise of Reagan style conservatism in the U.S. and the re long silence from 1973 through the 1980s 40 After all, his sympathies clearly being with the working class, the poor, the disenfranchised, and other categories of preterite, the 1980s certainly must have seemed bleak to him. Much less speculatively, though, the experience of the 1980s unambiguo usly affects the novel to emerge from that decade. even more than registers the 1970s and Nixon Vineland mounts a frontal and overt critique of American political leadership of its day. And yet, f ollowing the despair of the 1980s in the U.S. was the optimism of the 1990s. For a moment, it seemed as though possibilities for change were once again s and instability, of experimentation and opportunity, of conflict and insecurity a place, in other words, wherein history might move in a number of very Life The Crying of Lot 49 and that succeeded the utopian flash of the Counterforce in was over, and the regime to replace it, most commonly called 39 Even a cursory glance at headlines covering early developments in the 2012 U.S. presidential campaigns suggests that we might still be living in the era of Reaganite cultural conservatism, most rape of women seeking abortions, to site but a single flagrant example, seems to signal a full scale right 40 T his silence was not total, however. Although Pynchon penned no novels, he did publish some new material during the interim between and Vineland : Slow Learner (including
187 globalization today, had just begun to crystallize. By the end of that decade, a new global coalition of diverse political movements, ranging from labor activism and environmentalism to feminism, queer politics, and indigenous rights movements, had begun to gather in opposition to the neoliberalism that had flourished under Reagan and Thatcher and which was b eginning to achieve global hegemony as the millennium approached. My characterizations of both the 1980s and the 1990s are admittedly unexpected though limited success of the Democratic party nomination for president, which were based on comparatively left liberal platforms relative to dominant American politics at the time (and since). hegemony globally and domestically, respectively, or of his part in further suppressing the voices of queer servicemembers policy. But my purpose here is not to provide exhaustive or definitive historical accounts Vineland Mason & D ixon openly polemical novel ( especially in relation to living political figures), the latter remains In this section canon by reading the second iteration of each of those strains. This section helps develop an understanding of the role of the 1960s in each strain, as well. Vineland and
188 Mason & Dixon co function of nostalgia which corresponds to concrete historical understandings of the impact and legacy of the 1960s is different in each case. Furthermore, my analysis of these novels also does much to support the periodization of postmodernism itse lf that I aim to perform modernist work and his first postmodern micro period, Vineland and Mason & Dixon are published after the widespread adoption of the term postmodern ism in literary, academic, artistic, and cultural spheres (both high and popular). Postmodernism is recognized to be in full swing by this point witness, for Italian Wedding Fake Book by Deleuze & Vinelan d 97) 41 and the two novels that I read in this section exhibit salient The Crying of Lot 49 and The 1984 of Vineland is a time of dead futures, marked in Jamesonian fashion by a ty, and it fantasizes it dismantle the New Deal, reverse the effects of World War II, restore fascism at home and aroun d the world, flee into the past retrograde motion is only recognizable to characters who retain an historical 41
189 his effectively blinkered against such historical perspective, producing conflict between the two groups of characters. Federal drug agent Hector Zuiga tells former hippie Zoyd real revolution, not that little fantasy hand job you people was into, not only conflicting politics but also contested definitions of revolu tion and competing The Crying of Lot 49 reappears in this change felt in the experience of the 1960s, the conservative 1980s amounts to a fascist 42 Vineland narrates a struggle between left and right politics, but that struggle itself is staged as a confrontation between the 1960s and the 1980s. A central venue for that struggle in Vineland is the moving image. Whereas is often read in terms of cinematic narrative strategies, Vineland pits documentary cinema of the 1960s against television of the 1980s (as well as mainstream Hollywood cinema i n general). 43 In addition to ubiquitous references to 42 I am thinking here, of course, of Francis Fukuyama, whose pronouncement of the triumph of Western capitalism and liberal democracy in the infa contemporary of Vineland radical change. 43 On cinema in see Cowart, Thomas chapter 3. On television in Vinel and see above all McHale, Constructing 115 41.
190 cultural context. Vineland is peppered with allusions to television culture, including by my count at least 27 spec ific series as well as individual television personalities. There are also several fictitious made for TV biographical movies mentioned in the novel, Young Kissinger wee Herman in The Robert Musil Story 44 More important, though, are the ways in which television structures not merely the leisure time but the everyday lives of social world and to t heir sense of identity. Witness the reaction of an unnamed airplane passenger who grows nervous watching Takeshi Fumimota pound cocktails and question rang almost pray erfully argument about the d ominant role of simulation in postmodern culture: unable to accept destructive actions as authentic, the nervous passenger 1). Moreover, his view of Takeshi as not only a television simulacrum but, more in Vinelan d second, an ordering and prioritizing of simulacra themselves under the commodity 44 As Willman points out, such jokes, of course, also implicate the reader in Vineland 14).
191 form. 45 in Vinel and simulation supplants putatively unmediated experience. 46 Nowhere are the pervasive effects of television on everyday life clearer than in the year old daughter, Prairie Wheeler, speaks a language that is unmistakably th at of 1980s American television. Her interactions with Zoyd are frequently couched in terms borrowed from game shows, she offering prizes or other times, she speaks to Zoyd neighborhood scold and soap these relatively superficial imitations of television culture simulacra of simulacra, as it were are the ways in which te and her sense of self. Late in the novel, after making some limited progress in her search for her mother, Frenesi Gates, Prairie contemplates her gender identity and fantasizes about a relationship with Frenesi through television imagery 47 : On the Tube she saw them all the time, these junior high gymnasts in leotards, teenagers in sitcoms, girls in commercials learning from their each time this mixture of annoyance and familiarity, knowing like exiled 45 The Society of the Spectacle y has succeeded in totally colonizing social life. Commodification is not only visible, we no longer see anything else; the world we see is the world of the 46 I hasten to add that my goal is not to establish a binary opposition be tween simulation and Vineland shows, at issue is the specific form that mediation or simulation takes. For Vineland wing adults and erstwhile apo litical youths, television is the privileged lens for interpreting and relating to social reality. On the other hand, other forms of mediation, most especially documentary film, are taken to be more politically useful by other important (and more politica lly active) characters. 47 On gender politics in Vineland
192 difficult years marooned down on this out of the way planet had come to have trouble remembering anymore. (327) comm The Phil Donahue Show a syndicated talk show that aired into the 1990s) (103). On the other ha nd, she also experiences a desire for some sort of completeness or fulfillment her difference from the identities proffered by television is simultaneousl y percei ved as a lack; consequently, the absence of her mother becomes transmuted into a narrative of loss, a fantasy of being an restore her to her proper place. Her desire for F renesi becomes bound up with a wish to live a mediated existence. 48 Perhaps Prairie has been conditioned by her family life to view the latter as a commodified spectacle. In the opening chapters, the reader learns that Zoyd, a former hippie and unrepenta nt pothead, must perform an annual defenestration before news family life. Zo yd is coerced by the narcotics agents Brock Vond, for whom Frenesi originally leaves Zoyd, and Hector Zuiga into not only performing for the media but 48 watch, and not atable when it is imagined as television.
193 also abandoning any familial claims to Frenesi: the checks are payoff in exchange for his taking no acti on to reunite Prairie and Frenesi, while the broadcasts of his window ay for us to know where you are of esca ping persecution (and prosecution, for that matter). Still other characters are compelled into dependence on television. Hector dreams of escaping his place in the lower levels of federal drug enforcement hierarchy by casting Frenesi in an anti drug pro paganda film that would cash in on nostalgia for the Pynchonian twist of irony or cruel humor, Hector suffers from Tubal addiction, at one point breaking out of a Tubal rehab clinic and later driving down the freeway with a TV set placed in the backseat so he can watch in the rearview mirror (see 32 34, 334 37). plight, though, is that of the Thanatoids, the und ead who reside in Shade Creek, near Vineland. What centrally characterizes the Thanatoid imbalances unanswered blows, they are therefore driven by a desire for vengeance (173). The Thanatoids focus that keep[s] them from advancing further into the condition of death. Among these the most common by far [is] resentment, constrained as Thanatoids [are] by history and by rules of imbalance and restoration to feel little else 171). However, th ere is a disjunction between
194 restoration and revenge : the Thanatoids desire revenge because they die unjustly (typically as victims of perpetrators who escape punishment and continue living), but e undo the original injustice of the death that causes one to exist as Thanatoid in the first replaces a notion of justice with c alculation or bookkeeping; as Derrida writes in his well programmable application or the contin uous un folding of a calculable process ; real justice on the other hand, remains irreducible to such processes (252). Unsurprisingly, then, the Thanatoid pursuit of justice and peace fails Each year at the annual a Thanatoid old Vineland 219). Far them to an interminable undead existence. Thanatoid resentment is also fueled, Vineland suggests, by the Tube. One of the art of atrophying of their emotions: the lines that I just quoted lead directly into the passage describing the significance of resentment to the Thanatoid ethos. Take shi, who by 1984
195 topic with doctor shows, war In view the trivialization and commodification of death renders the real thing unaccept able and incomprehensible to those facing it; television estranges the undead from the fact of their own death. Thus death, or at least being undead, provides no escape f rom the hegemony of the Tube : just as the fantasies propelled by television simulacr a determine conditions of existence for the living inhabitants of Vineland, so also do they inform expectations of death in Thanatoid Village and Shade Creek. It is something of a commonplace in criticism of Vineland to read these destructive effects of television culture as an indictment by Pynchon of mass media. 49 Tubal abuse, for example, clearly suggests that TV, not drugs, is the real addiction that threatens contemporary American culture and that a homogenized mass culture is far more dange rous than demonized countercultural elements (which, after all, Hector published in the New York Times Book Review during roughly the same period as Vineland suggest t the form of its dissemination and consumption. historically grounded response to concrete conditions of exploit ation: the original eighteenth and nineteenth frames] coming more and more to be the property of men who did not work, only owned 49 See, e.g., Berressem 204 23; Willman 213 16.
196 and hired. It took no German philosopher, then or later, to point out Frankenstein as a foundational deny the machine machine or anti technology he makes it plain, for example, that the historical Ned Lud, in his view, was technology are always really attacks on the structures of domination and exploitation that the technology merely serves. Put differently, Luddites strik e at the means of production, but they do so in order to und ermine relations of production. Pynchon consequences of nanotechnology a gesture clearly incompatible with definitions of Vineland As he does in the Luddit e essay, Pynchon begins by historicizing sloth. For Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, sloth was deadly because it freed up time for other sins the American Revolut sin against God or spiritual good as against a particular sort of time, uniform, one way, in general not reversible that is, against clock time, which got everybody early to bed and early to r
197 ethic and the factory system of industrial capitalism has been replaced by a radically and infi lie in sinning against what now seems increasingly to define us technology. Persisting virtual reality, glumly refusing to be absorbed in its idle, disposable fantasies glance, this redefinition of sloth in Luddite terms would s eem to corroborate readings of Vineland Indeed, both sloth and Luddism entail a rejection of means of exploitation and control, concretized momentarily in the form of the weaving fr ame or clock time but subject to historical variation. To the extent that mass media is a particularly powerful form of fascist social control a view for which there is certainly ample support in Vineland it must be resisted and refused. What that readi Luddism as more emancipatory than virtual reality is not the same as avoiding it or doing nothing with it whatsoever; on the contrary, if something badass about it. The real Luddite move with respect to media technologies, then, would be to use those technologies against the power structures that they serve, to wrest them from the elect and claim them for the preterite. 50 At the very least, such a 50 immaterial affective, and communicative production ( Empire 403 07).
198 move would seem to have much better chances for large scale mischief than a straightforward rejection of the technologies themselves. For all of Vineland consequent flattening and homogenizing of postmodern American culture, there is in fact a moment in the novel when a more properly Luddite truth about television begins to emerge. In order to wreak badass h avoc on technological systems of domination, there for it much about the Tube. Minute the Tube got hold of you folks that was it, that whole alte rnative America, el deado meato Significantly, unlike his mostly conservative elders in the 1980s, Isaiah does not fault 1960s radicals for their political com mitments; if anything, he implies a degree of respect for their revolutionary aspirations. Rather, his problem with them is that they were unprepared to deal with television or to anticipate its success as a means for social control. This naivet with r espect to television is, first of all, an ignorance of video time. In slower This slower phenomenological time experienced during the 1960s begins to explain television. 51 When Baudrillard argues for the supremacy of advertising in the regime of 51 ment of 1960s politics which of course leads, via the Nixonian Thermidor, into the Reagan 1980s of Vineland
199 postmodern languages are absorbed in advertising because it has no depth, it is instantaneous and fu 52 A lived temporality of continuity is clearly incompatible with, and unable to account for, a temporality of advertising that lives only in the moment. The former requires constructing or imagining a stable, du rable subject embedded in collective social realities, while the latter assumes an individualist, consumerist subjectivity that lives in an eternal present and acts (i.e., purchases) on impulse rather than reflection and deliberation. Video time moves too rapidly for that. 24 frames per second, the standard rate for shooting 35 millimeter film. Many of Vineland of which Frenesi had been a central member and which she betrayed to Brock Vond. The group ), efforts that 24fps continues. In addition to echoing Jean spoken by the character Bruno Forestier in Le Petit Soldat (1963), d, constant ratio between image and reality. If cinematic images portray truth, then film has immediate syndicated like television reruns. T ime seems to slow down. It almost seems as if recent history were historical change and the commodification of history itself as television, the effects of which in Vineland are most noticeable on Prairie. 52 Vineland cf. Willman 216 17.
200 is a death performed. Images put together are the substructur e of an afterlife and a Judgment. We will be architects of a just Hell for the fascist pig. Death to everything political ethos; it also comes perilously close to effacin g the symbolic dimension of symbolic acts. In The Political Unconscious Jameson admonishes against the dangers of exclusively emphasizing either the symbolic or the act ive valence of symbolic acts (82; see section 2 .2 above). In insisting on the violen ce and efficacy of radical filmmaking, however, 24fps obscures important differences between metaphor and social reality or between metaphoric and political praxis. 53 For them, filming action is the same as taking action. This is not to say that the memb ers of 24fps are unaware that their films are in fact constructs. 54 It is to say, though, that 24fps underestimates both their own susceptibility to manipulation and control and the efficacy, undeniable by 1984, of television and mass media as disciplinary apparatuses. Both of these mistakes coalesce when Frenesi betrays 24fps and Weed Atman, a math professor at College of the Surf who particularly vulnerable to the kinds of affective manipulation accomplished by television. In addition to her sexual attraction to men in uniforms produced, of course, by television and cinematic spectacles from cop shows, war movies, and the like she lives in precisely the kind of temporality that the commodity as spectacle exploits. While 53 opposite error of viewing symbolic acts as merely or only symbolic. 54 and Ditzah produce a desired effect (Pynchon, Vineland 198).
201 believe her dangerous vice that she [is] on her own, with no legal history, no politics, Frenesi imagines herself as a subject without history or attachment, who acts outside the bounds of cause and consequence: in short, and following Baudrillard, as an ideal consumer of television and adver tising. 55 Thus, when she reflects on her complicity with problem anymore with tal even sex was mediated for her now radical politics and documentary medium of 24fps, its central and purportedly best photographer by now views herself and the radical movements of the 1960s through the lens of something like a Hollywood conspiracy drama. The transformation is total: agents of history become characters o n a screen, and even the intimacy of sex is supplanted by the voyeurism of pornography. If 24fps views film as politics, Frenesi sees politics as film. history and the dead, to imagi ne no future, no yet to be born 72). Frenesi is in 55 Of Pynchon Character Names: A Dictionary na
202 several senses a fugitive fro m her own past : her plot with Vond successful Weed has been murdered by one of his own comrades, and 24fps has disbanded she has betrayed her onetime revolutionary ambitions as a filmmaker. The daughter of left wing film workers who survived McCarthyism, Hub and Sasha Gates (a gaffer and script reader, respectively), and the gran ddaughter of a Wobbly, Jess Traverse (who also appears in Against the Day ), she has literally gone to bed with a repressive agent of the state. And having married Zoyd, a fellow traveler during the 1960s, and given birth to Prairie, she abandons that fami by night life with Flash Fletcher, another informer, with whom she has a child, Justin. Her experience of time obscures obligations to both past and future: she lives in a world with no history. s internalization of television temporality brings about both her inability to think historically means, among other things, that she cannot anticipate the Reagan p rogram, her meal ticke t her daughter Prair ie attempts to reclaim some version of the onetime close friend DL Chastain, and other former members of 24fps, Prairie turns to archival 24fps footage in an attempt to connect somehow with her mother. Significantly, and the waning o f historicity under postmodern television that provides Prairie an opening onto a new kind of historical awareness. Raised on television, Prairie is
203 or distantly impl 56 In place of stock footage aired so often that it becomes a clich and oblique allusions to a history an d movies whirred o n, reel after reel went turning s assaulting the film 99). The archival footage exposes Prairie to an experience of the 1960s which vexes the nostalgia promulgated by a culture industry that empties n through the crude old color and distorted sound, Prairie could feel the liberation in the place that night, the faith that anything was possible, that nothing could stand in the way of such nce without history, this faith in possibility is precisely a faith in history and politics as such, a faith that lasting and radical change, and not just the frenetic alternation of a dvertising is possible. However, Vineland concludes rather modestly, not with revolution or systemic change but with reconciliation. Much of the final chapter takes place at the 1984 Traverse oid J ess Traverse. Prairie, 56 thus largely commensurate with 950s Postmodernism 19).
204 having taken a crash course in 1960s history from a radical perspective, and Weed, make peace with his death but also that under the right circums tances, the generations of the 1960s and the 1980s can in fact meet on common gr ound (366). Moreover, by It is crucial to recall that Prairie, unlike the generation o f the 1960s as viewed by Isaiah Two Four, understands and moves comfortably in Tubal reality. The precondition for mediating between different registers of social reality an d different moments in history: it is only after Prairie bridges the gap between her mediated 1980s experience of history and the alternately mediated experience of the 1960s documented by 24fps that the Some critics re ad Vineland Vineland is less dramatic [than in ] but more sustainable (29 n9). This resistance claims that although Vineland lacks the utopian dimension found at times in the system, a Meanwhile, Erik Dussere views the Becker
205 just quoted, Vineland the 1960s enables a modest yet potentially effective politics, rooted in concrete individual experiences of politics, history, and family life, even as it backs down from the more ambitious yet ultimately impractical radicalism Others, however, are inclined to view Vineland as a rather pointless or cynical hic Vineland was eventually swallowed by the system it had set out to change, its revolutionary fervor not being strong enough to withstand the pull of television and the image expectancy [in The Crying of Lot 49 opposed values these readings attribute to the political implications of Vineland they nonetheless share a common ground: regardless whether they ultimately view Vineland as optimistic, pessimistic, or somewhere in between, these readings are united by the notion that the novel is not only unambiguously about the 1960s but also In connection with such interpretations, however, it is important to note that nostalgia for the 1960s in Vineland is tempered at times by irony and ambivalence. For among vegetables, excluding from their diet
206 fe of the hippie ethos, its survival as New Age metaphysics, stereotypically found among middle class Californians. Vineland is not just about nostalgia for the 1960s; rather, it discriminates among nostalgias, not all of them historically and politically commodity of the sixties to redeem even Ditzah, DL, and other former members of 24fps first experience and later recall the 1960s in political terms, the spirit of that decade is largely ethical for Frenesi: the fascists will be redeemed by love, not re moved by revolution. The narrator, though, even s and by highlighting the Just as Frenesi betrays and abandons the political ethics of redemptive love. 57 If Vineland is nostalgic for the 1960s, it is nostalgic for a specific experience o f the 1960s, one that televised, mass mediated representations of that decade either efface or commodify. What distinguishes Vineland imparts on it a critical edge is the fundamentally political character of experiences of the 57 contrast the roles of love in the California novels and the historical novels as a means for exa mining each than ethical or romantic love, see, e.g., Hardt and Negri, Empire 413, Multitude 351 52, and esp. Commonwealth 179 88. See also se ction 2 .4, above.
207 radical spirit. In that sense, though, while what they demonstrate counts historically or temporally as a nostalgic attempt to relive the past, in political terms it amounts really to a desire for praxis itself, in an age when praxis seems to have become all but impossible. t I take as an epigraph Postmodernism 331). In many way s, the novel certainly does suggest that the neoliberal ordeal of the 1980s has closed down the possibilities represented by the 1960s, not only by parodying the ineffectual, post hippie afterlife of the 1960s among the middle class but also by problematiz ing the very reconciliation between those decades suggestively figured in Prairie a reconciliation which would sublimate and reanimate the undead Traverse Becker c ampsite when Vond nearly abducts her. At first she resists Vond, helicopter flees into the night (374 76). A few pages later, however, Prairie invites reconciliation between the 1960s and the 1980s that she might otherwise represent. The genetic explanation that to men in uniforms is unconvincing and, moreover, not terribly useful to political
208 Vond is to undermine the s at the family reunion. 58 As mentioned above, the novel offers reconciliation in place of systemic change; notwithstanding personal gains made by characters in the final chapter, those gains have li ttle if any effect on the capitalist class structure or state power on this point, however, Vineland dog finding Prairie in another image of reconciliation. Thus the novel simultaneously supports and undermines both optimistic and pessimistic readings. A certain kind of nostalgia for the 196 0s is necessary, the novel suggests, but it is also impossible during the Reagan 1980s. More specifically, the nostalgia for the 1960s that Vineland positively portrays is a ense, Traverse Vond, and other agents or cronies of the state ), though useful to and s upportive of collectivity (flawed thought it be), 24fps, is defunct, a relic of the past. Prairie, like Oedipa Maas in The Crying of Lot 49 stands outside that coll ectivity, and like Oedipa, she witnesses exploitation and suffering at the hands of constituted power, not the revolutionary political and historical work of constituent power. Her nostalgia for the 1960s is nostalgia for an ultimately dead or, at best, u ndead past. 58 On Vineland par. 45; S. Smith 113 14.
209 Mason & Dixon exhibits a markedly different historical perspective than Vineland viewing the past not as undead or closed but as open and actively unfolding. The frame narrative of Mason & Dixon occurs in 1786, shortly after the Ameri can Revolution, with the main action just preceding the revolution, in the years 1760 68. Unsurprisingly, the Times are as In stark contrast to the historicity of Vineland which documents the frustration of past revolutionary expectations in order to calculate the present of 1984, the historicity of Mason & Dixon atever else nostalgia turns out to be in Mason & Dixon it will be rooted in a longing not for an undead past but for a yet to be born future. Mason & Dixon therefore celebrates possibilities that are rooted in the present but which unfold along multiple axes of futurity. Chances are still good for diversity in this Mason and Jeremiah Dixon travel westward along the line of latitude that would later bear their names, the y encounter a host of marginal, preterite subjects and collectivities representing a variety of alternative social arrangements, manners of living, and fundamental realities. However, both as Enlightenment thinkers and as agents of the state, Mason and Di xon are also aware of the threat that they pose to those liminal
210 subjectivities. As Mason learns when he visits the fantastic utopian space of the hollow earth, the latter is incompatible with the rule of Enlightenment rationality and the nationalist terr entrenchment of the Cold War that reterritorialize the formerly open space of the Zone in the saturation and colonization of geographical space, preterite subjectivities, and history threatens the open futurity of Mason & Dixon It is cruc it by capitalist modernity, is still narrated as a live possibility, one that deserves to be demonstrates such a deep commitment to futurity: in which all that the restless Slumber of these Provinces, and on West ward, wherev seen, serving as a very Rubbish Tip for subjunctive Hopes, for all that may yet be true West be seen and recorded, m Work of Points already known, that slowly triangulates its Way into the Continent, changing all from subjunctive to declarative, reducing Possibilities to Thi s long sentence alludes to a series of oppositions that run throughout Mason & Dixon It opens by contrasting England (and by extension the colonial powers of western Europe) with America, themselves linked symbolically with the past and the future, respe other. What keeps these oppositions from becoming a sort of primitivist chauvinism,
211 though, and may yet be true declarati ve or indicative becomes a leitmotif around which Mason & Dixon builds not fundamental project is nothing less than a defense of marginalized histories and subjunctive ut opian hopes against the incursions of official histories and marginalized, oppressed, and exploited groups among other things, the experiences and perspectives of slaves in Cape Town, St. Helena, and America; servants in England; Native Amer icans; working class the Irish runaways, the Chine Fellowship in a Mobility that is to be, whose shape none inside this House may know. (759) Here the political implications of the opposition betw een Enlightenment wakefulness and irrationality are unavoidable: the working class and even lumpen fellows in the Mobility are creatures of the night, unexpressed in and incompatible with the Enlightenment discourse that undergirds capitalist and imperiali st exploitation. Confined, to borrow an image from Marx, to the hidden realm [abode?] of production,
212 they remain largely invisible to the bourgeoisie. A defense of subjunctive hopes must therefore align itself with the preterite Mobility. Nowhere is this reactions to the institution of slavery. Many of those reactions take the form of ethical denunciation; for example, the Rev d tale, compares invisible to history, invisible yet possessing Mass, and Velocity, able not only to rattle Chains but from the same blindness to slaves ascribed to history by Cherrycoke: slaves remain invisible to Dixon, despi he does regard slavery, he does so with distaste for example, he compares American colonists unfavorably to metropolitan Britons on account of slavery and the genocide of Native Americans (248 ) but he demonstrates little inclination to act. Progressively, however, he grows increasingly strident in his criticisms, as when he invokes his Quaker Dixon amiab Slaves, and the Indians Native here, that e ngages the Friends more closely reddening should not be too hastily attributed to the ale he is drinking; it also suggests th inly veiled indignation at the hypocrisy of the revolutionary rhetoric of freedom in a in the novel when he recognizes slaves as the unifying presence in Cape Town, S t.
213 Helena, and America, this last appearing now in a formulation that significantly echoes as a failed promise: not 93). The climax of th and perhaps a Luddite as well, turning a whip against a slave driver in defense of a chained group of African slaves (696 700). In this act, Dixon makes the leap from an ethics to a praxis of the Mobility and demonstrates allegiance to subjunctive utopianism over against the indicative history of slavery, colonialism, and exploitation. Mason & Dixon historiograp hic dimension, which emphasizes subjunctive multiplicities over indicative unities. In the passage from Mason & Dixon tha t serves as an epigraph to Chapter 4 and which I discussed in section 4.1 Cherrycoke differentiates Mason & Dixon historiography fr om both the work of professional rhetoricians (lawyers) and the functioning of popular memory and national mythologies. Whereas those discourses attempt to establish or project arborescent, hegemonic truth, this historiography requires a rhizomatic multip 59 Indeed, as Cherrycoke observes elsewhere, because slaves and others among the Mobility remain historiogra phy and a form adequate to their marginalized experiences, subjugated 59 On rhizomatic structures, see, e.g., Deleuze and Guattari, Thousand 3 25.
214 simultaneously an historical focus on what otherwise would be obliterated from official histories. 60 It is therefore unsurprising that from the perspective of official histories, many of after all, they contradict the indicative and the known. A mechanical duck achieves sent ience, flies fast enough to be invisible, and falls in love with a human (372 84); Mason and Dixon stumble upon a vast garden of preternaturally gigantic vegetables (656 57); Mason walks the concave surface of the hollow earth (739 42). What makes these c ases politically significant and not just flights of subjunctive fancy is that each constitutes or describes a collectivity. When the chef Armand Allgre falls in love not o harm Luise, indeed extends to he r the same invisible Protection few of them is a communal Task, easily comparable to a Barn th at everyone else, axes converge, an entirely spec ies but between inorganic and organic sentient life; laboring in common; unavoidable, universal consciousness of the existence and rights of all others: these collective arrangements have no place in official histories of a capitalist modernity that 60 and interpellations from his historical and theological tracts thus draw attention not just to the past but to the ways the past is discursively constructed, the categories through which subjectivities understand that past in the present, and the conditio ns of possibility for such construction and dissemination. In this, Mason & Dixon of the epistemological and onto Poetics 121).
215 police s subjectivities by managing sexuality and gender, replaces class consciousness disenfranchisement. These episodes are utopian precisely because they are subjunctive: t hey describe what could be, what may yet be. The hollow earth, in particular, is utopian in a fairly strict sense of the word. Throughout this dissertation, I tend to stress the political aspects of the term utopian : I call utopian the bohemian Castle i 6 Persons and the hollow earth in Mason & Dixon collectivities they figure and imagine. Each of these spaces, though, is also utopian in a geographical sense: they are o ff the official maps of white American middle class culture or the modern nation state. According to Jameson, imagining utopian spaces like these requires that they maintain a certain spatial or geographic separation from the actually existing places and polities ruled by common sense, ideology, and the possibility is dependent on the momentary formation of a kind of eddy or self contained backwater within the general di fferentiation process and its seemingly irreversible Archaeologies characterization of utopian space explicitly unites its social, political, and historical meanings utopia is a space where new, otherwise unimaginable collective social formations can exist with its geographical, spatial sense. The hollow earth in Mason & Dixon is utopian in all of these ways at once. The utopian space of the hollow earth also opens onto a whole archipelago of utopian enclaves that dot the map of known, instrumentalized territories. Mason and
216 Dixon are charged after all, with mapping the West Line (the line separating Maryland and Pennsylvania and the most common referent of the term Mason Dixon line in con temporary usage), the 12 Mile Arc (the odd semicircle located at the northern original charter), and the Tangent Line (the main border between Delaware and Maryland, which deviates from a true north south orientation by a few degrees) (see fig. 4 1 ). All of the regions mapped by Mason and Dixon contain utopian enclaves similar to the hollow earth. In each case, being off the map provides cover, allowing utopian soci al and political configurations to flourish, at least temporarily. The conjunction of the social, political, historical, and spatial in utopian enclaves earth and the no cartography operates on all those levels simultaneously: in inscribing borders, the practice of cartography spatializes politics and history while it politicizes space itself and documents Work of Points already known thereby translating subjunctive possibilities and terrae incognitae into indicative facts. 61 The hollow 61 In the conceptual language of Deleuze and Guattari, what Mason and Dixon are producing is chical, supporting axis, something that comes ready ( Thousand 12). A tracing thus locates subjectivities in str iated spaces that confine and manage desire. endeavor that provides multiple openings onto fields of smooth space in which schizophrenic desire plays out in critical freedom (see above, section 2.2). The challenge for Mason and Dixon, then, is to resist the the tracing should always be put back on the map the sake of convenience, I continue to use t he term map rather than tracing in reference to Mason and suffice it to say, though, that I mean tracing whenever I speak of the capitalist
217 mass of the earth are established, the subjunctive possibilities of a hollow earth w ill be rendered simple impossibilities, incompatible with the indicative facts that they would otherwise contradict. The whole of Mason & Dixon works against this translation from subjunctive to indicative, not only thematically or in terms of content but also by means of its narrative form. One of the most important functions of the Cherrycoke frame narrative is to call laws, the audience for his narration, repeated ly voice skepticism about the veracity of his narrative and his reliability. Uncle Ives LeSpark, in particular, frequently interrupts ime on Earth is too precious. No one has time, for 62 Cherrycoke whose treatise Christ and History excludes facts from the purview of historians and insists upon a multiplicity of life lines in place of univo cal histor ical truth often responds by resorting to d who was there [i.e., with Mason and Dixon in England] in but a representational s ense, ghostly as an imperfect narrative to be told in possibilities. Much later in the n 62 sense valuation of the scarcity of time takes on enlarged significance in the commodification of time as interest in Inherent Vice which I analyze at length in section 3.5, below.
218 Question may be rather, Must we wait till they are found, to speculate as to the toriographic method rejects any claims to empiricism, insisting instead on the value of subjunctive reason as a means for understanding history. 63 His speculation, therefore, is evaluated according to its effect in advancing the possibilities opened up by the narrative, not by its accuracy; like the method of the tendency in Negri and other autonomist Marxists (as well as other theorists reading of the present in light of the future, in order to make projects to illuminate the Marx 49). The point of his story, as well as the novel itself, is to not to document historical truth but to animate subjunctive possibilities. Before I connect this discussion of the politics of subjunctive historiography to the role of nostalgia in Mason & Dixon and the conditions of possibility for collective praxis imagined by the novel, I want to take a moment to distinguish the subjunctive here from the subjunctive found elsewhere in Pynchon. In purely grammatical terms, the subjunctive mood is not confined to Mason & Dixon For example, The Crying of Lot 49 to make sense of the Tristero: If one object behind her discovery of what she was to label the Tristero System or often only The Tristero ( as if it might were infidelity with Metzger would log ically be the starting point for it; logically perhaps : the way it fitted, logically, together. As if were revelation in progress all around her. (31; my emphases) 63 For other passages in Mason & Dixon that question, challenge, or subver indicative authority, see 153, 171, 341, 345, 393, 497, 519, 537, 652, 695 96, 698, 744, and 758 60.
219 This passage uses the subjunctive mo od in two ways, both grammatically standard. First, it uses the subjunctive mood in conditional sentences, such as the first sentence. There, however, the possibility noted by the subjunctive is logical and formal, not ontological and political as in Mas on & Dixon Second, much of the subjunctive mood in this passage denotes speculation, as it often does in Mason & Dixon In The Crying of Lot 49 existing state of affairs, even if only potentially (given that Crying ultimately defers certain knowable facts which, once revealed, can either corroborate or disconfirm incompatible with any indicative discourse that would serve as a basis for such a measure. He traffics in life lines, not facts. 64 indicative; Cherryco The present tense perspective of Vineland meanwhile, is marked by a subjunctive 1960s and regret over the closure of paraphrased using the subjunctive language of possibility: Vineland mourns what could have been but not what might yet be Subjunctive possibilities are absorbed and 64 in an unmoving Stupor throughout, as Mason would the next year, crossing, perhaps, on to York, taking then the Baltimore Road (P ynchon, Mason 393)
220 annulled in the indicative history of the N ixon Reagan years and the triumph of neoliberal capitalism and electoral conservatism. Even a shift in perspective from 1984 to the remembered past of the 1960s fails to align either the grammatical or the affective mood of Vineland with Mason & Dixon T he in your face, camera as gun documentary style of 24fps speaks not in the subjunctive but in the indicative (This is what happened) or even the imperative (Look at what happened!). Where Mason & Dixon dramatizes utopian possibilities in the subjunctive mood, Vineland reserves the subjunctive for mourning and assigns both revolutionary praxis and historical understanding to other grammatical and affective moods. Thus, unlike its counterpart in Vineland the subjunctive in Mason & Dixon actively affirms what indicative history takes to be contrary to fact. In addition to subjunctive spaces and the subjunctive collectivities that inhabit them, Mason & Dixon performs that affirmation through its use of anachronisms. Although the novel is written overwhelm ingly in a period style witness, for example, the pseudo Germanic capitalization of common nouns, strange punctuation such as the combination of it nonetheless paraphrases several 1990s collo quialisms and speech habits. For instance, Jet Vroom, a 16 year as (translation: like 1). Dixon himself seems to end his sentences with the much maligned upward inflection also associated with 1990s California culture, as in the following he threatens a slave
221 you anachronism. At one point, he summons his house 8). 65 Much more than occasional comic elements (though they are funny), such linguistic anachronisms suggest that the revolutionary, late eighteenth century moment narrated in Mason & Dixon also somehow belongs to the 1990s. In addition, the novel also a lludes obliquely to a third historical moment: the 1960s, which remains, as promised, a touchstone for the political sensibilities of the novel, as with The Crying of Lot 49 66 Shortly after arriving in the American colonies, Ma son and Dixon visit Mount Vernon, where they smoke homegrown pot with George Washington, satiate their munchies on pastries served by ve and Master Joaks, re and king jokes (280, 284; see 275 88). Other signifiers of 1960s counterculture are found in the appearance and character of Benjamin Franklin. Giving an interactive public demonstration of Le yden jars in what is less a science lesson than oclivity for partying, his familiarity with 65 Washington thus seems also to represent or parody white middle class appropriations of African American speech, styles, and cultural practices. For a comparison of appropriations and portrayals of Black culture in Pynchon, Mailer, and Kerouac, see Witzling 26 critical portrayal of such appropriations in 6 Persons discussed in sec. 2.3, above. 66 importance as a signifier of front and rear views, its expectations and its aftermath, the sixties is a ripple between them. Because the
222 74, 294 95) namely, obscuring the effects of drug use on the eyes. T aken collectively, these signifiers of stoner culture, recreational drug use, and the psychedelic gesture toward the 1960s as 67 Together, the anachronisms and the subjunctive mood of Mason & Dixon reveal the contours of nostalgia in the novel. As in Vineland it is a nostalgia for the 1960s, yet the difference between the two nostalgias is crucial. As told in the indicative mood which, I have argued, dominates praxis and official history alike and forec loses subjunctive promise in Vineland the 1960s is no longer a live possibility. That nostalgia mourns a loss; its critical import or utility consists chiefly in illuminating the gap between what is and what could have been by maintaining lost utopian opp ortunities in an undead limbo. In the subjunctive mood of Mason & Dixon on the other hand, nostalgia seeks and, crucially, believes in a reawakening of historical consciousness, a grand reopening of utopian possibilities, and a miraculous reanimation of a past that in the 1980s could only persist in Thanatoid existence, refusing to die quietly but nevertheless no longer living. Vineland Mason & Dixon The work of Walter Benjamin helps clarify the difference between the relations of nostalgia to history in each novel. As both James Berger and Skip Willman 67 In addition, Mason & Dixon history of the Civ il Rights Movement in the 1960s.
223 (Benjamin 257). Berger reads the Thanatoids in Vineland as a manifestation and return of the historical trauma of the failure of the 1960s; on his take, the joining of Prairie and Weed, not Prairie, Frenesi, and Sasha, is tha argues that the Thanatoid repetition o h Berger and Willman, the nostalgia of Vineland is 68 Although these readings rightly identify the critical function of n ostalgia in Vineland namely, refusing to let the utopian flashes of the radical past vanish into Mason & Dixon the future in that amin 266) a future unthinkable at the neoliberal end of history. On the contrary, the cyclical nature of the intergenerational Traverse Becker Gates Vineland 1984, every second is the gate through which the long arm of the state might return. Notwithstanding the strong resonances between Vineland philosophy of history, I want to argue that it is the nostalgia of Mason & Dixon which is much more closely related to Mason & Dixon and Benjamin, nostalgia inhabits a now or a Jetztzeit that not only seizes the past 68 On nostalgia in Benjamin, see also Jameson, Marxism 60 83.
224 but also opens onto a utopian, messianic future. 69 In the subjunctive logic of Mason & Dixon historiographic l ife lines do not chronicle the past, for that would require the indicative mood. Nor do they attempt to saturate the past, in all its wholeness; their redeemed mankind Mason & Dixon Jetztzeit is always subjunctive: life lines connect with and preserve what may yet be. anticipation of fut urity. 70 That messianic anticipation of a subjunctive, utopian future colors the conclusion to Mason & Dixon offspring from his first marriage, whose apostrophe to their dead father is at t he same time an expression of nostalgia for a subjunctive future: were, 69 For this reason, it makes more sense to locate a periodic shift in postmodernism in Mason & Dixon than in Vineland Note also that Palmeri does not consider nostalgia in his reading. 70 Given the Benjaminian connections in terms of nostalgia and messianism, as well as the wide ranging and diverse composition of the Mobility, it might be tempting to link Mason & Dixon to another Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International (1993; trans. 1994). I want to r esist though not exclusively, by the working and l umpen classes, unlike the New International, which lacks Specters 85). Second, while both collectivities share a ut than a future to come, a justice to future, although certainly not utte er in this chapter, in section 4 .5, in conne ction with the notion of the gift and its relation to economic exchange.
225 ideological commitments, as in the final chapter of Vineland but as a result of our own twentieth and now twenty first century absorption in to indicative history. From that effect to nostalgia for the 1960s in Vineland by indexing how far the U.S. has fallen from its former promise (which was, of course, al ways already myth and ideology as well as utopian longing). The temporality of such an interpretation, however, looks only from the present to the past, with no recourse to the future, whereas the subjunctive narrative structure and historiography of Maso n & Dixon Marxism America, therefore, must be under stood not only as an indicative representation but laws are asleep. Taking their place as auditors of e Mobility itself: in the passage that I quoted above in order to first Mobility enters is none other than the parlor of the LeSpark home. It is to the Mobility tha that the conclusion evokes and anticipates.
226 That Americ a might not be our indicative own, but it is one, the novel keeps insisting, that may yet be. 4. 4 High and Late Postmodernism I want to open this section by returning to the topics with which I began the previous one: Vineland and Mason & Dixon the 1980 s and the 1990s. As I have shown, those novels are indelibly marked as artifacts of their respective moments What I want to emphasize here, to begin, is the crucial connection between each publication) and the role of nostalgia in each. Indeed, the skepticism of Vineland nostalgia and the hopefulness of Mason & Dixon passage from one decade to the next but, more significantly, a transition between two radically divergent configurations of postmodern culture itself: high and late postmodernism. I take these periodizing concepts from the work of Phillip E. Wegner, who f late modernism. In section 4.1 both a moment of transition between high modernism and postmodernism and a period in its own right. As a period, late modernism is also therefore, l ike any historical period, radical creative energies and their replacement by an aesthetic ideology prescribing a set of rules where there had formerly been an open field for literary and artistic experimentation to paraphrase Pynchon, a reduction of aesthetic possibilities to ideological simplicities.
227 In Life between Two Deaths, 1989 2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties (2009), high and late modernism to read the 1990s as a and ideological transitions between high and late postmodernism the 1980s and the 1990s move in the opposite directi on to the trajectory of high and late modernism, with practices, among sev eral other fields. Politically, it is manifested most notably in the neoliberal capitalism, famously theorized by Hardt and Negri in Empire Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004), and most recently Commonwealth (2009). literary form (33, 44). 71 71 This late postmodern resurgence of forms and categories drawn from modernism (and earlier) sm. For Lyotard, become modern only if it is first postmodern. Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end but in the nascent state, and this what will have been done emergence of ever ne w inability to articulate postmodernism together with late capitalism and, postmodernism has the merit of grasping the antagonism between innovation and institution or, to repurpose termin ological codes that I use elsewhere in this dissertation, between constituent art ing and
228 These developments signal a dramatic move away from the postmodern ism Postmodernism and elsewhere, the postmodernism of apolitical pastiche, ahistorical thinking, and depthless simulation. These and other similar characteristics of postmodern culture have often been central to theoreti cal and critical discourse about the postmodern. Dating back to the dominance of postmodernism in literary studies and the high water mark of theory in the 1980s, hostile critics of postmodernism have denounced it for its perceived political ineffectivene ss or quietism, historical myopia, and superficiality. Defenders of insisting instead on the subversive potential of pastiche, play, historiographic metafiction, and the like, n otwithstanding their admitted limitations. 72 I do not wish to rehearse the details of those debates here, but I do want to suggest that wherever one stands concerning 1980s postmodern culture and its political corollaries a question about which I agree wit h Jameson that it is often a pointless exercise or a matter of Postmodernism 46, 297 300) the salient features of late postmodernism henceforth high postmodernism. Se veral of those differences are evident in miniature in a comparison of Vineland and Mason & Dixon Although he does not analyze Pynchon directly, Wegner highlights constituted art between those poles that plays out between the high and th e late. 72 For hostile critiques of postmodernism, see, e.g., Callinicos; Eagleton, Illusions and, more recently, After esp. 41 73; and Norris, Truth and among others. For celebrations or defenses of postmodernism, see, e.g., Hassan, Dismemberment ; Hutcheon, Poetics ; Lyotard; McHale, Constructing On the ultimate futility of judicial criticism of the postmodern, see Jameson, Postmodernism 45 66, 297 300, et passim.
229 Mason & Dixon as exemplary of some of the literary trends of late postmodernism. Discussin Mason & Dixon postmodernism of Vineland (36) a departure which, I hope, section 4.3 has demonstrated in detail. In light colored nostalgias of those novels register the transformation of openings for praxis in the passage from high to late postmodernism and the concomitant shift in perspective from skepticism, cynicism or resignation to a renewed utopian hopefulness. It is imperative to note, however, that many of the characteristics by which Wegner Wegner observes, Mason & Dixon not Vineland Rainbow and Mason & Dixon subcategory of historical novels within 90s but nonetheless sharing in the expression in U.S. culture of that decade. novels and his long historical novels correspond substantially to the historical periods of high and late postmodernism. In addition, lest my claim be taken to violate the very historical thinking it aims at by substituting ahistorical or transhistorical formal cat egories
230 for what are rigorously historical periodizing concepts, I argue that high and late postmodern aesthetics can productively be understood as symptomatic expressions of tensions that are inherent in late capitalism itself but which nonetheless shift in relation to each other from one historical moment to another. From this perspective, the alternation between high and late postmodernist formal and political possibilities in that forms the backdrop against which criticism reveals the ideology of form. 73 What emerges as an historically new eruption of collective praxis and its aesthetic corollaries during the 1990s is, at base, an expression of class antagonisms that run throu ghout postmodernity but which experience a moment in the sun of indicative history during that decade. In order to substantiate my claim that the concepts of high and late postmodernism but rather have metasynch r onous applicability, I want to begin by reviewing and underscoring some important continuities throughout the California novels and historical novels discussed thus far. I then proceed by identifying the critical operation or hermeneutic most appropriate to each strain in order to explore more deeply the political projects that it enables or imagines. Finally, I conclude this section by drawing some implications of my metasynchronous periodization of Pynchon for the recently established field of globaliz ation studies. In addition to the similar geographical and chronological scopes that I identified in my earlier general sketch of the California novels, The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland share a number of important commonalities relating specifically to 73 On perpetual cultural revolution and the ideology of form, see Jameson, Political 75 76, 88 102, 206 80. See also section 1.2, above.
231 and social concerns. Both Oedipa and Prairie attempt to access collectivities from which they remain excluded Oedipa by the gnostic secrecy of the Tristero, Prairie by the historical incommensurability of the 1960s and the 1980s. Pr axis is thus essentially foreign to Oedipa, who catches occasional glimpses of the Tristero from the outside just as she remains an observer of student radicalism on the Berkeley campus. Similarly, praxis is impossible on all but the most local scales for Prairie, and even then it remains provisional and dubious, as in her inconclusive reconciliations with her family and with structures of political and economic power. Oe without their brief utopian glimmers, but those glimmers are overshadowed by Inverarity could after all be at the root of the Tr istero conspiracies seem delusional at times, but they are borne out in Vineland where conspiracy in fact turns out to be a vital operative logic only this time, the conspirators are known to be agents of the state itself, working in the interests of the capitalist class and paranoia is therefore justified. Each novel exhibits a desire for collective praxis, but at the same time, each ultimately projects a world in which that praxis is impossible, inaccessible, or unsustainable. and Ma son & Dixon by contrast, project worlds where collectivity has at least a fighting chance. Slothrop, Mason, and Dixon all commit class treason in one form or another to join up with the preterite Counterforce or the subjunctive Mobility. Furthermore, wh ereas the quests of Oedipa and Prairie are largely epistemological, seeking insider or firsthand knowledge of a collectivity that remains beyond their ken, characters in the historical novels engage directly in collective praxis,
232 effecting political and on Maryland slave driver are not in themselves revolutionary acts, but they are nonetheless acts of a diff the subject and, ultimately, the addressee of the narrative. and Mason & Di xon figure collective praxis as possible despite Their unavoidable control or the chances they offer for praxis are historically bounded by the entrenchment of the Cold W called grand experiment, those historical limits are excluded from the narratives. The triumph of control ultimately lies outside the diegetic historicity of the novels and instead in the interval between the narrative pr concludes with an interminable final delta t in which the missile remains ever suspended above the Orpheus Theater, while indicative America is seen to fail in its democratic ambitions only retrospectively, two hundred years after the narrative of Mason & Dixon concludes. The novels indefinitely prolong and intensify what appear as mere flashes of possibility from the standpoint of indicative history. They are therefore utopian spaces in themselves: imposs ible enclaves or imaginary eddies that persist despite the ineluctable passage and momentum of real historical time. I want to clarify both the political implications of each of these strands and the deep connection of each to high or late postmodernism by discussing the critical operation that predominates in each case. In the California novels, I argue, that
233 operation is what Jameson calls symptomology The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland confront readers with a list of attributes of life under late cap from a sense of common belonging; the inability to comprehend the movements of history and the functioning of power except through recourse to conspiracy theories; the itics to the mediated forms of television and documentary film; the undead limbo of a 1960s that refuses to pass quietly yet no longer lives. Although the California novels stop short of imagining the kinds of radical alternative social orders encountered in the historical novels, they do critic reestablishes the link between antinomies figured in a text, on the one hand, and the historical context that Political 77, 82 83; see sec. 2.2 above). The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland enco urage such a reading: the antinomian War politics, just as the inescapability and utter hegemony of the Tube attest to the saturation of the postmodern by spectacle and simulacra. 74 The California novels provide comparatively little in the way of imagining utopian alternatives, but they stand 74 In addition to exhibiting symptoms, Vineland also performs its own work of diagnosis in some of its more critical moments for example, in its argument, surrounding Hector, that television and not dr ugs is the chief culprit behind American cultural degradation. For interpretation s of the novel highlighting its critical vocation (as opposed to its susceptibility to symptomatic readings), see Madsen 115 30 ; McHale, Constructing 115 41, esp. 121 25, 139 41
234 The historical novels, on the other hand, mount vast surveys of their social, political, and economic worlds in order to project just those sorts of utopian alternatives that are excluded from the imaginary of the California novels. Whereas the latter register symptoms of late capitalism and thus serve prim arily a diagnostic function, the former imagine collective projects that would undermine or explode the very late capitalism that determines possibilities and impossibilities for Oedipa or Prairie. The shift from the indicative of the California novels to the subjunctive of the historical novels is analogous to the difference between symptomology and another indispensible critical operation famously theorized by Jameson: cognitive mapping Cognitive mapping refers to an imaginary construction or allegoric al representation of the social whole, in reference to which one locates oneself. This operation, says Jameson in his essay sm, so it is impossible to represent the latter except conception of the social totality (and the possibility of transforming a whole social system), no properly socialist poli axiomatic justifications of cognitive mapping, Jameson elsewhere implies that cognitive political form of postmoder nism, if there ever is any, will have as its vocation the Postmodernism 54). 75 In a 75 Collectively, these characteristics of cognitive mapping reveal both its kinship to ideology and its necessary political commitments that is, cognitive mapping is not ideologically or politically neutral. tive mapping underscore its similarity to ideological constructs (Jameson, Modernist xiii), so an ideological construction of class identity, like cogn figurative rendering of capitalism, is a necessary precondition for any experience of class identity and
235 regime of late capitalism that produces both a vast world system that escapes our ability to conceive it as a whole and the symptomatic representation of that world system in overwhelming, disorienting spaces like the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in L.A. or the labyrinthine world in which Oedipa hunts down the Tristero, we cannot do without the project of cognitive mapping 76 Significantly, cognitive mapping provides one way for thinking about the historical Underworld (1997) that could be extended to cover other American historical ficti ons of Life 44). Both Underworld Mason & Dixon in my own, attempt the ultimately impossible figurative task of envisioning the s ocial Life 36). Moreover, the collective project of cognitive mapping in the 1990s also characterizes several important theoretical developments d uring that a totality a totality which, I must emphasize, can never be adequatel y or exhaustively represented in the allegorical renderings produced by cognitive mapping itself. 77 To use thus for collective praxis. Given the relation between cognitive mapping and ideology which is also analogous to the relation between utopia and ideology, which I discuss toward the end of section 3.4 any project of cognitive mapping must also be regarded as an ideological commitment and a socially symbolic act. See also section 1.1, above. 76 of the Bonaventure Hotel, see Postmodernism 38 45. 77 the thing itself that cognitive mapping tries to represent. Totalization remains constitutively inc omplete: there are always remainders of the totality that cannot be accounted for in a given totalizing project.
236 Empire stands as a totalizing project in that their concept of Empire is a fi guration for the function and distribution of sovereignty under capitalist globalization and real subsumption of capital. What determines the critical or heuristic usefulness of Empire and other totalizing concepts is not simply their comprehensiveness or exhaustiveness relative to the totality that they think a measure which they can only ever fall damnably short of but rather their ability to coordinate and, as Jameson might put it, transcode into each other a wide array of discursive regions such as, fo r example, political economy, sovereignty, culture, and praxis. Totalization thus enables a cognitive mapping that allows for coordination and navigation among what would look from a purely empirical perspective, along with several other anti theoretical positions, like utterly disparate phenomena. and totalizing thinking. The metaphor or concept of mapping itself provides one way to link Mason & Dixon in particular to cogn itive mapping. In addition to the obvious twelve mile arc, that novel also includes alternative or subjunctive processes of spoken Map and which Sascha Phlmann takes as the conceptual basis for his post nationalist totalizing thought in the conceit o such a totalization that coincided with totality would be indistinguishable A map has to fit in your pocket, and cognitive mapping must likewise be conceptually or metaphorically portable lest it lose its critical utility. See also Jameson, Postmodernism 332 34.
237 reading of Pynchon (Pynchon, Mason 57, 78, 141; Phlmann, esp. 141 47). In the context of Mason & Dixon aphic life lines, preserving a plurality of contingent, subjunctive experiences of time and space. attempt to render the full range of knowledge and beliefs of a national culture, while identifying the ideological perspectives from which that culture shapes and interprets its characterization of encyclopedic narratives nonetheless aptly in dicates the broad, ultimately world systemic horizon that points toward. conception of culture nationalism itself, as Benedict Anderson canonically demonstr ates, having been facilitated by the rise of print culture, and the printed word being the proper medium for traditional encyclopedic projects 78 Luc Herman and periodizing mode l. In their 2009 essay, Herman and van Ewijk present the encyclopedic character of in terms less akin to standard print ] is so charged with motifs tha 78 On nationalism and print culture, see esp. Anderson 37 46.
238 79 Indeed, in its combination of a totalizing impulse with political commitments to the Counterforce and the preterite, nbow prefigures both the structuring logic and the radical political uses of the Internet, the explosive expansion of which during the 1990s helped globalization movements by making possible the epts and practices of communication, information, literacy, Life 33). In mapping out the Zone as well as the emerging Cold War order that would replace it, the utopian spaces of subjunctive hope and the nationalist reterritorialization that would annul and to imagine spaces for the work of the Counterforce, the Mobility, and other preterites. Without such efforts at cognitive mapping, as Jameson reminds his readers, new forms of praxis appropriate to our global world are impossible. alongside symptomatic registers of the dea rth of freedom under late capitalism suggests that something other than linear chronology is at work. Notwithstanding the important 79 Furthermore, the function of synecdoche and metonymy in both and model than an encyclopedic one. Acknowledging that the encyclopedic voca in the case of statistics, behavioral psychology, the history of plastics, and other scie ntific technological subjects the vast web of connections underlying such topical concerns, it seems that much more fitting to compare to a hypertextual encyclopedia, in which synecdoche and especially metonymy serve an indispensible organizing role. Indeed, much of the utility and pleasure to be derived from Wikipedia and the like including, significantly, the Pynchon Wiki results precisel y from the logic of metonymy, manifested there in the forms of cross references, disambiguations, embedded hyperlinks, and so on. For readings of science and/or technology in see, e.g., Collignon; Cowley; Friedman and Ptz; Lynd; Reilly and Tomaske.
239 without denying the significance and the h istorical specificity of the political and cultural novels. Let me review some of the characteristics of this method of interpretation, which I discussed in more detail in section 2.2 First, in place of a focus on strict chronology bounded by dates and punctual events, the ideology of form understands history to consist of the whole sequence of modes of production. Moreover, and despite their standard presentation as a linear series, those modes of production really exist only in coexistence of several m production (Jameson, Political both coeval with and antago the critic the production to which they correspond. Hence, in the chapter of The Political Unconscious on the ideology of form in Joseph Conrad (206 80), Jameson links the modernist and popular Lord Jim to the emergence of
240 residual existence of an earlier mome nt of industrial capitalism. Whereas Jameson reads cultural revolution in Lord Jim as a confrontation between monopoly and industrial capitalism, I argue that the conflictive poles of the f all, to specific class positions: the elect and the preterite, Them and the Counterforce, the bourgeoisie and different configurations of power: as I have argued, it is predo minately the constituted power of capitalism and the state that holds sway in the California novels, while in the historical novels, it is the constituent power of the preterite. These power arrangements, in turn, alternately give rise to operations of sy mptomology and cognitive mapping: the California novels symptomatically indicate the concentration of power and wealth under late capitalism and the disenfranchisement and exploitation of working class and lumpen subjects, while the historical novels attem pt to perform a cognitive mapping of that same late capitalism in order to locate or force revolutionary utopian openings. Beyond or beneath these power dynamics and critical strategies, however, the metasynchronous historical horizon of the ideology of form ultimately refers to the modes of production whose epochal struggle with each other my reading would allegorically reconstruct. After all, if the series of contrasts that I have established ics alone, then ideologemic analysis or ideology critique, not the ideology of form, would be the most applicable of The Political Unconscious More importantly, many of the
241 ls his sustained concern for history, not just in the historical novels but in the California novels as well; his more or less unquestionable political and moral sympathy for the preterite; 80 his preoccupation with social, political, and economic systems su ggest that visions of the social and It will come as no surprise that I identify late capitalism as the stage within the capitalist mode of production allegorically represented by the California novels. In cataloguing symptoms of life under late capitalism, those novels allegorize the apparent inescapability of capitalist control and the concomitant perceived futility of praxis. In the ideology of postmodern form, high postmodernism is the cultural expression of the seemingly utter dominance of global capitalism under real subsumption. But late postmodernism reveals fissures in the edifice of late capitalist hegemony. can be otherwise attests to a utopianism that was suppose d to have died in postmodernit except it keeps resurfacing. It resurfaces, despite the failures of radical politics in the 1920s and for Pynchon in the anti systemic revolt of the Counterforce in but also sublimated as the political foundation of his whole career. 81 It resurfaces, 80 commitment to the preterite is continual, it is not static. Rather, different preterite groups or subjects at casionally excluded from or marginal to a given embodiment of the preterite. This is particularly the case when it comes to race and gender. In the early story ally rendered Native American character into massacring an apartment full of people. 81 On Pynchon and the New Left, see, e.g., Witzling 2 25, 61 61, 146 48, et passim. There is
242 notwithstanding the defeat of 1960s radicalism, in the late postmodern renewal of historical thinking and collective praxis in the counter globalization movements of the ts most openly utopian. It resurfaces, perhaps, even today in the wake of a retrenchment of U.S. nationalism under Bush and the fascist domestic policies and global militarism that came with it this time in the forms of the Arab Spring starting in 2010 an d the Occupy movement begun in 2011. 82 section 4.5 .) Both the cyclical eruptions of radical politics and praxis into indicative history, and the persistence of historical thinking, pret erite collectivities, and revolutionary projects in Pynchon, stand from a metasynchronous perspective as nigh messianic anticipations of a new social whole and a future mode of production: a universal democracy of the preterite in verybody Mason & Dixon or the coming communism of the multitude in globalization movements of the 1990s and since. In concert with the California novel cultural revolution pitting a dominant late or global capitalism against an emergent or anticipatory communism of the preterite. modernist period stages that confrontation by means of the corresponding metaphor or concept that guides my Crying (109 30; 128). 82 Overlap between these two topics the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement is to be ex Declaration (2012) not only articulates them together but also does so in a framework that serves as a sort of postscript to the Empire trilogy. In addition, on the Arab Spring, see, e.g., P. Anderson; Davis; Ray; Sass en (which also deals with the Occupy movement); On the Occupy movement, see, e.g., J. Adams; the essays collected in Dean, Martel, and Panagia (esp.
243 reading (paranoia in The Crying of Lot 49 and nostalgia in Vineland and Mason & Dixon ). Moreover, the permutations of each of those concepts are produced by fundamental contradictions inherent in late capitalism between ideologies of individualism and freedom associated with the tradition of liberalism, on the one hand, and mechanisms of social control and discipline, on the other. Finally, the ways that char acters relate to, adopt, or move between the concepts produced by those have just been describing. In The Crying of Lot 49 and both Oedipa and Sl othrop are driven by paranoia throughout their respective quests. However, not all paranoias are equal. When Oedipa vacillates concerning the reality or unreality of the Tristero conspiracy, she alternates between two antinomian poles of paranoia and con nectedness. At one pole, nothing is connected: Oedipa is isolated from others and subject to pure contingency or facticity. At the other, everything is connected: whether the Tristero be a communications network or a sadistic plot, it is real, and everyt hing in the novel points toward it. Either way, the Tristero is driven by insurmountable forces of social determination that subjugate all those who remain outside its gnostic secrecy. Slothrop occupies parallel positions in : his sense of manipulation at the hands of Laszlo Jamf and the cabals leads to extreme paranoia, while at other times he confronts the abyss of anti paranoia where, again, nothing is con nected in anti paranoia and everything is connected in paranoia, it is also possible that connection is nothing, that it is meaningless. This is the position of entropy and
244 e are all irredeemably doomed to preterition, subject to metaphysical fate or the cosmic heat death of the universe, both of which function as theological or physical deterministic allegories of social control. Opposed to this is the proposition, intro duc ed by Hite that not everything is connected, but some things are, and that connections can be severed, modified, or formed anew. This is the place occupied by creative paranoia, which refuses determinisms of all stripes and insists on the collective dime nsion of preterite subjectivity. Chapter 2 I used the semiotic rect angle to analyze the dialectical relation between form and content (see sec. 2.3 above). Here, the rectangle again proves useful (see fig. 4 2 below). Barred from entering the collectivities that she investigates, Oedipa is unable to project a world in which praxis is possible. Consequently, she remains confined to the antinomian middle plane of the rectangle, subjectivity allows him to alternately inhabit each paranoid position in turn and, more importantly, to imagine and perform the collective praxis of creative paranoia as a revolt against Their rationality and sovereignty. Whereas The Crying of Lot 49 and pivot around paranoia, it is nostalgia tha t is central to the ideological and political implications of Vineland and Mason & Dixon Characters in both novels move from antinomian political platforms to nostalgic philosophies of history. In Vineland Prairie begins as an essentially
245 disengaged po litical subject whose relation to the social world is shaped by her status as an individual consumer of television commodities and by a removal or distance from history and politics. The film collective 24fps, meanwhile, exists during the 1960s as an enga ged, militant activist collectivity, directed toward the transformation of politics and history. The positions of both Prairie and the surviving members of 24fps, however, converge in a nostalgic perspective from which the political and subjective liberat ions experienced or anticipated during the 1960s have been disciplined and corralled into an undead past that in its obsolescence haunts the present. Mason & Dixon charts a congruent set of movements. At the beginning of their collaboration, Mason and D ixon are more or less detached from the politics and economics of empire and slavery, in a way they move from that disengaged perspective to a nostalgic view of history. Crucially, however, their movement is past but rather anticipates the future. Meanwhile, the youth of Mason & Dixon approach subjunctive nostalgia from the pole of political engagement. In the frame narrative, Ethelmer and Tenebra e express the excitement and hopefulness of the revolutionary era. 83 vision of a subjunctive American utopia. ror each other and illustrate the divergent political functions of the California novels and the 83 For example, following his perfo a song Ethelmer compares the Eat leaning politics, such as when he (like his uncle Cherrycoke) derides the hypocrisy and logical inconsistency of religious violence (76).
246 historical novels (fig. 4 3 ). Characters in both novels begin from positions corresponding to antinomian possibilities for praxis in the present but subsequen tly adopt a broader historical view. However, Vineland assimilation into the regime of indicative history, the ideological projection of which renders 1960s style politics impossible in the 1980s. Nostalgia for the future in Mason & Dixon historiography and therefore represents a possibility of utopian escape from the indicative history that holds Vineland In addition to these thematic, political, and critical oppositions, the through the very fabric of form itself. Thus the labyrinthine structure of The Crying of Lot 49 abandon both her and the reader on the nether side of gnosticism, stands as a formal Meanwhile, the f ragmented narrative of disintegration overpowers the coherent, linear account that Their rationality would proliferation of collective affiliations. The protagonists of the California novels, doomed by the indicative history of late capitalism, spiral inward toward empty centers the med iated and commodified to begin with that evoke nothing as much as the deconstructive thesis of centerlessness and deferred meaning that dominated theory in the 1980s and is still on occasion erroneously identified with postmodernism itself.
247 Slothrop, the Counterforce, Mason, and Dixon move in the opposite direction, approaching escape velocity along a line tangent to the orbital pull of global capitalism, a line that gestures allegorically toward new worlds, expansive futurities, and subjunctive, even as y et unimaginable spaces. These are formal traces of the vast metasynchronous clash between global capitalism and global communism. In concluding this section, I want to highlight some important implications of my n for the fields of postmodernism and that its less desirable or politically debilitating qualities are only one side of postmodern culture, the side that expresses ideology simultaneously has a utopian valence. As I discussed earlier in connection form of content (see sec. 2.1 ), ideological constructs serve an indispensible figurative or heuristic function, notwithstanding their very status as ideology and their consequent buttressing of reigning class structures. narrative or ideologeme of a given class as a placeholder for the class itself, a utopian figuration or Modernist xiii; Political 291). Grasping both of these poles at once is paramount, Jameson claims, for a Marxist criticism that would avoid instrumental or mechanical theories of culture without betraying th e Marxian commitment to ideology critique and the insistence on the economic as the final determining instance (see Political 281 99, esp. 296).
248 This bifocality is also crucial, I argue, in the context of postmodernism studies. The postmodern waning of historicity and spatialization of history have as their unexpected utopian offshoots the politicization of instantaneous, nonsynchronous communication an d the resultant forms of democratic coordination and organization demonstrated by the social movements of the 1990s. The saturation of social space by the image and simulation, notwithstanding their biopolitical functions under global capitalism, also ope ns a possibility, however slim, of collective reappropriation by means of social media and the democratization of the Internet. The disintegration of stable subjectivities not only curtails political agency as it is traditionally understood but also makes possible new forms of collectivity and their revolutionary schizophrenia fragmentation. To focus exclusively on the ideological fun ctions of postmodernism is to reduce postmodern culture to a mere instrument of late capitalism and to ignore the radical or antisystemic uses to which it can be put uses that must be recognized and exploited if there is to remain any utopian hope or revol utionary aspiration in postmodernity. 84 For similar reasons, contemporary pronouncements of the death of postmodernism are, for now, premature. Just as the ideological limitations of high 84 Meanwhile postmodernism is his symptomatic reading of late capitalism ( Life 170 71); thus, concept of the postmodern exclusively to its ideological functions and ignore the crucial utopian horizon of the postmodern that Jameson gestures toward in his call for postmodern cognitive mapping. If there is a critique of Jameson to be made in this regard, it is perhaps that postmodern novels like
249 postmodernism have their utopian counterparts in late postmodernis m, the very characteristics frequently taken to indicate a passage beyond postmodernism are themselves products of postmodernity. For example, the contemporary experience of (Hardt and Negri, Empire 11 et passim) are merely historical and political analogues to the notorious waning of historicity that Jameson identifies in 1980s postmodern culture. 85 More importantly, globalization itself from a Marxist perspective, th e likeliest or most compelling candidate to replace postmodernism as a critical paradigm is a thoroughly postmodern version of capitalism. Hardt and Negri persuasively make this point when they discuss the rhizomatic dispersal of control through biopower; the crucial role of information, discourse, and affect under real subsumption of capital in 86 Thus, if wh at they term monopoly capitalism (or imperialism) to postmodern global capitalism (or Empire), then their call for critics to abandon postmodernism should likewise be read as a symptom of passage between high and late postmodernism not a passage out of postmodernity itself. 85 The same holds Vineland mounts a powerful symptomological critique of American television culture, it does so using tactics drawn from television itself episodic structure, cross cutting, flash backs, and so forth. Or, to use Vineland in comparison with Mason & Dixon it makes more sense to locate a shift or transition out of (high) postmodernism in the later novel. Cf. Palmeri. 86 See, e.g., Hardt and Negri, Empire 22 27, 280 303, 150 54.
250 4. 5 Day, 2006/2009 Against the Day Inherent Vice However, between the late lies another historical mark er : 9/11. In addition to its wide ranging historical significance, 9/11 has had several consequences that pose specific problems for the intensification of surveillance and control, as evinced i n the U.S. context by the passage of the Patriot Act, the use of electronic wire tapping to monitor citizens, and massive expansions of counter terrorist agencies. In concert with the Bush doctrine of preemptive warfare, these ac tions seem to indicate a vehement resurgence of a nationalism that the counter globalization movements of the 1990s had begun to erode. Consequently, those social movements themselves seem in the minds of many seem to have expired prematurely. As Jameson puts it in his contribution to the collection Dissent from the Homeland: Essays after September 11 a special issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly consisting of dissenting leftist reactions to 9/11 (eds. Stanley many ways no more promising and perhaps even less so, than they had in Vineland Reaganite 1980s. However, the chief critical task facing radical theorists and activists in the twenty first century is nonetheless fundamentally the same as it always has been under capitalism: finding or creating an d exploiting openings for resistance and anti systemic revolt. What has changed is the specific historical configuration of political and economic power under capitalist globalization. Hence, Against the Day and Inherent
251 Vice 9/11 novels, continue the longstanding projects of symptomology and cognitive mapping that run throughout his oeuvre, only this time operating in the aftermath of a perceived sea change in geopolitics following 9/11. My readings of these novels focus on two related left : the intensification of surveillance and control, and the precarity of contemporary resistance. As with my other comparative readings, this analysis hinges upon a common set of concepts and metaphors that each novel alternatel y transcodes and deploys. However, whereas scholarly consensus acknowledges the prevalence and importance of the concepts that guide my earlier readings, in this section I introduce a new key term that arlier novels as well as in the critical literature: day. Furthermore, while entropy, paranoia, and nostalgia function primarily as theoretical/philosophical concepts and ideologemes, the term that I introduce here serves a more traditionally symbolic or metaphorical function that allows the post 9/11 novels to coordinate and transcode a wide variety of political and My treatment of Against the Day and Inherent Vice exploits tw o alternate connotations of the term day First, day functions as a temporal concept, introducing a whole field of temporal or historical propositions. The passage of days amounts to the passage of time and history itself, with promises, however dubious they may be, of futurity; as characters in Inherent Vice If day functions as a chronological unit or a periodizing term, it is also therefore possible to rebel against the dominant l wn time; that is, to be against the day. But the term against the day also carries another meaning: in photography,
252 backlighting a subject lighting it contre jour against the day or against daylight produces, in the extreme, a silhouetted image that obsc ures detail and color and emphasizes line, shape, and contrast (see Hicks). Day thus also connotes light and illumination, along with related tropes of visibility, invisibility, sight, and a whole range of lig hting related phenomena Against the Day and Inherent Vice mobilize this manifold of associations with day, as both time and light, in their investigations of and Against 87). 87 Leading up to its publication, Against the Day had been widely anticipated as 9/11 politics. The novel does not disappoint in that regard. Relatively early on, an unspecified city suffers catastrophic damage at the The harm to the city is enormous: entangled carriages, wagons, and streetcars which the population had at first tried to flee in, then abandoned, and which even now lay unclaimed, overturned, damaged by novel omits the punctual moment. R ecall that similarly, the hegemonic official image of 9/11 is the smoldering towers after, not at the moments when the planes crash into them. 88 What Against the Day 87 Henceforth, I distinguish between the word day and the concept of day typographically, with italics honoring the conventional use/mention distinction and roman denoting one or more conceptual meanings or thematic associations. 88 Indeed, as Jameson points out, it is dubious whether 9/11 even counts as a punctual moment at Against the Day In the Shadow of No Towers (2004), however, is an interesting exception: in addition to its more metaphorical representations of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers, it includes one comparatively mimetic depiction of a moment of impact (10).
253 a city physically broken and psychically traumatized: the municipal leadership has been killed, the economy has ground to a ha lt, troops and volunteers are being mobilized, 52). This episode stands as an anachronistic representation of 9/11 itself. Against the Day but there are certainly enough clues to infer that it does. A neighborhood specified to be in New York 1), evoking the of the ens circa 1899, whereas the boroughs of historical New York were incorporated in 1898. Perhaps most ly insane (now Such marginalization of heterodox interpretations, of course, also happened in t he aftermath of 9/11 when anyone who questioned the ethical status o f the United States conspiracy theorist. In addition to that relatively empirical textual evidence, Against the Day also provides another, more conceptual justifi cation for this interpretation. Among the (the mineral calcite) possesses the capacity to doubly refract light, producing a second,
254 fainter image of whatever is viewed fin de sicle universe, however, amid feverish excitement surrounding electricity and light the novel features appearances by Nikola Tesla, Sir Oliver Lodge, William Crookes, and other scientists and inventors, as well as allusi ons to Thomas Edison double refraction is more than just an optical phenomenon. If engineered properly, it can actually split one person into two T light, the right lenses you can separate [doubly refracted images] in stages, a little aro with doubles, bilocation, parallel universes, twin worlds, and other dyads. My point in mentioning double refrac tion here is to suggest that Against the Day actively encourages the kind of doubly refracted reading that I propose here. Just as Ratty terrorist attacks of 2001. the official, media sanctioned reaction in the U.S. immediately following 9/11. Witness oss of innocence not sexual or political innocence but somehow a shared dream of what a city might at its media rhetoric regarding concomitant mobilization not to mention the popular romanticization of New
255 York in the American psyche recently e shirts to demonstrate the parallels here. Against the Day however, forces a wedge of critique into its allegorical, anachronistic echo of 9/11, first about just such a possibility. The city more and more vertical, the population growing in imagined them as victims taken by surprise who, for that matter, inside it? though only does this passage echo revelations that there really had been warnings and CIA intelligence regarding a pot ential attack on the World Trade Center; it also corroborates Against the Day critical bent. Dou bly refracted anachronism therefore counts as one form of opposing the dominant ideology of the present: of being against the day. 89 89 An excellent visual representation of both double refraction and Against the Day name, in a boldface, sans serif font. Layered behind or beneath these are two fainter reproductions; however, the reproductions are not exact copies. Each layer uses a slightly larger font size than the one above it, and each is in a different typeface the second layer uses a serif typeface, while the third uses a sans Against the Day like subjunctive historiograp hy in Mason & Dixon provides a means for not only recording but critiquing history (not only marking the day but pushing against it). images can be view the link for the hardcover edition) as well as on the Pynchon Wiki.
256 9/11 context is not to be found in connection with the Figur largely distinct from the rest of the novel. With the exception of the later, oblique evocation of the scene of the attack cited above, this incident is never again directly generally, this apparently abortive narrative strand is typical of the novel as a whole: a great many characters make an appearance, play a vital role in furthering the plot of whatever episode they happen to be involved in, disappear for a few hundred pa ges, and then crop up again unexpectedly, in a new context and with a different function. 90 One would therefore reasonably anticipate that this post 9/11 theme could resurface elsewhere in the text. What might be surprising, however is the way in which t his strand continues: Against the Day transposes the contradictions and antinomies of our post 9/11 moment back into the historical context of World War I. What unites these admittedly disparate pivotal moments in world history, which nonetheless remain i ncommensurable except perhaps in the global scope More specifically, the many anarchists of Against the Day leftists stand to have their resistan ce neutralized by the outbreak of World War I. 91 Toward the close of the novel, Ratty McHugh, a former British espionage agent who is 90 Such seemingly discontinuous character development poses one of the great difficulties of reading Pync guides to his novels. This difficulty is further exacerbated with Against the Day one comes in at just under 1,100 pages. Therefore, I would like now to acknowledge the debt that I owe to Aaron Cerny and Andrew Gordon, colleagues of mine at the University of Florida. The three of us read Against the Day together over the course of a s emester; without the mutual support and invigorating discussions that emerged from our collaborative reading, it is quite possible that I would never have finished the novel, let alone taken on the task of 91 For an ana lysis of anarchism in Against the Day that also contextualizes it in light of the
257 very striking worker a traitor, flags threatened, the sacred soils of homelands defiled, would be just the ticket to wipe Anarchism off the Today even the dimmest of capitalists can see that the centralized nation state, so promising an idea a generation ago, has lost all mobilize and go to war? Central g national idea obsolescence of the nation state, itself the topic of considerable debate in our own moment, serves a critical function much lik e that of the subjunctive anachronisms of Mason & Dixon Indeed, it is comprehensible only as a critical historical projection into the past of certain perceptions of geopolitics just preceding 9/11. One thinks s postnationalist theory of Empire; substitute anxiety on the left regarding the post 9 /11 status of global anti systemic movements. during the Bush administration, with dissent frequently equated to terrorism, just as as a possible outcome, as the subjunctive would indicates a subjunctive whose distance from the subjunctivity of and Mason & Dixon I elaborate on
258 later in this section 9/11 has already re ally happened for the reader, and many of its consequences seem all too similar to what Ratty dreads. 92 Nevertheless, like and Mason & Dixon Against the Day refuses to abandon hope in utopian possibilities altogether, even if utopia its elf takes on a different value here than in the other historical novels. Rather, this novel is concerned to explore precisely the dilemma facing resistance movements after 9/11 which Ratty identifies in the context of World War I. Against the Day narrate s the rise and, crucially, 9/11, late capitalist historical moment. Ratty, his fellow anarchists, and the labor movement of which many of them are a part embody the first of thes e utopian configurations. They are also repeatedly Colorado where anarchists perform both waged and political work, is first depicted in against the s electric street 281). Imagery of light and illumination, of course, are traditionally associated in Western metaphysics with knowledge and truth. However, against the day lighting produces a specific kind of knowledge for the anarchists. In sacrificing fine detail and color for stark contrast and sharp definition of shapes and lines, against the day lighting emphasizes difference and, in the context of radical 92 However, given my earlier arguments about the distinction between narrative time and the and Mason & Dixon the fact that 9/11 has happened for us, indicatively, is not in itself conclusive. Nonetheless, as my reading of Against the Day goes on to demonstrate, anarchism becomes neutralized as a radical threat within the confines of the novel itself.
259 praxis, antagonism. Telluride is a fitting locale for revelations of such oppositional knowledge. While worki ng in the Uncompaghre, Webb Traverse, a miner and labor activist and also grandfather to Jesse Traverse and great great grandfather to Vineland Against 195 98). against the oppositionality serv ing an indispensible function to the extent that it illuminates and clarifies the vast, muddled scen e of the capitalist world system and contemporary history; as Thelonious Monk puts it in the slogan taken by Pynchon as the epigraph to Against the Day o grasp labor relations under capitalism as a whole in order to identify contours of class struggle as well as to affirm their being against capitalism. 93 Early on, Webb himself personifies this simultaneously political and epistemological sense of seeing against the day. In addition to labor organizing, Webb engages in more direct forms of praxis through political violence. When he first appears, he recognizes a scent resembling that of nitroglycerine, and he compares his 93 It is also possible, therefore, to think of against the day consciousness in more explicitly Marxian terms. To the extent that seeing against the day combines epistemology (grasping the social totality in terms of class antagonism) with political commitment (partisanship and revolt against the capitalist system and the bourgeoisie), it approximates the classic vocation of Marxism as the unity of theory and praxis.
260 What accounts for t explosive demolition of railroads and other components of mining infrastructure (81; see 81 96). Moreover, notorious dynamiter of the San Juans [a Colorado mountain range] known as the 94 Kieselguhr Kid is surrounded b y an outlaw mythology rivaling that of Butch Cassidy only shrouds him in mystique it also resonates with the Kenosha Kid, an alias of Tyrone Slothrop in and the resonances come from more than just the name: it was as if physical appearance actua lly shifted causing not only aliases to be inconsistently Against 172). Like Slothrop, the Kieselgurh Kid stands as a revolutionary figure in Against the Day partly because of his ability to evade the determinatio ns and limitations imposed by rigidly defined individual identity. again, like Slothrop fo r the Counterforce a mythical figurehead for a whole revolutionary movement (172). Not surprisingly then, the Kieselguhr Kid is also, like the anarchists more generally, associated with against the day imagery. He first appears in contre jour 94 Against 171).
261 lighting resembling that of the Uncompahgre Plateau as seen from Telluride, a black, the day appearance, of course, is the visual analogue to his revolutionary vocation. In addition, however, it is also connected with the trope of westward travel: an image of an outlaw riding off into the sunset is always necessarily backlit. According to popular accounts, the Kieselguhr Kid first emigrates with his family from Germany to San Antonio and then contin ues along that westerly trajectory to the San Juan Mountains (171 72). Westward travel remains an important trope associated with Against the Day characters. It also provides an important point of comparison between that novel and Mason & Dixon : the west is heavily loaded with symbolic political values in both novels, but with significantly different consequences in each case. Later in this section, I explore those differences as a way to determine the relation between Against the Day a nd the other historical novels. For now, let me simply point out that traveling west results in an interesting paradox with respect to the metaphorical valences of day: westering produces against the day lighting, but the movement itself, in temporal term s, follows the sun and therefore travels with, not against, the day. Other symbolic associations of revolutionary impulses with the temporal sense of day, however, are less complicit with the passage of historical time than westering might be. The Cohen of the True Worshippers of the Ineffable Tetractys (or T.W.I.T.), a neo Pythagorean sect of mystics based in London, explains the mechanism by which other introduced into th e accustomed flow of the day, may easily open, now and then,
262 explosions like the one described by the Cohen also represent revolutionary openings t happens in situations as something that they and the us to decide a new possibility of a radical ne w beginning, the inauguration of that which was unexpected, Life 23). The revolutionary impulse embodied by anarchists in Against the Day onto the present, demolish ing the status quo and redirecting the flow of the day in radical new directions and toward utopian ends that, from the standpoint of the present, can only have come from elsewhere. nst the day temporal/historical senses of day. After sustaining an injury while f ighting alongside peyote driven hallucination that affords him a vision of utopian collectivity and alternative history. He finds himself from a third person perspective, as if viewing his doubly refracted self 26). That city is an imagined
263 colonization (924). The collective utopian dream of a thriving, independent Mesoamerican culture not only projects an alternative history of the so called new world but in so doing, also mounts a political critique of the indi cative history of colonialism and imperialism, just like the subjunctive historiography of Mason & Dixon In casting denounces as atrocity the domination of a whole culture and the upending of its history. exploited in sharp relief and reaffirms the necessity of revolting against the present. The most explicit statement of the anar present comes from the character Yashmeen Halfcourt, who is central to the rest of my analysis of anarchists. Her reflections following a brief time at an important utopian enclave, which I discus vocation in the novel and the indispensible function of utopian thinking in the present: frontiers and seas of Tim e. We make our journeys out there in the low light of the future, and return to the bourgeois day and its mass delusion of safety, to report on time A gainst the Day present in contre jour lighting and seeks a means of escape or flight from the history of that present. Theory and praxis alike require a commitment against the day. Significantly, the anar the day consciousness finds a parallel in Lew dawning awareness of class stru ggle Lew begins the novel as an agent for White City Investigations, but notwithstanding his position as an enforcer of capitalist
264 control, he also es pouses sympathy for the working class and at times collaborates with anarchists. 95 His work as an investigator slowly exposes him to the larger class relations that ultimately define the system he serves. Although the finer details of the individual cases he investigates escape his recall, he comes to grasp class conflict between owners and workers as an antagonistic whole organized around networks of distribution and exploitation, just as contre jour lighting effaces detail in exchange for a contrasted vi it was a war between two full scale armies, each with its chain of command and long term strategic aims civil war again, with the difference now being the railroads, which ran out ove r all the old boundaries, redefining the nation into exactly in the clash between labor and capital would fail to identify the underlying contradictions and antagoni 96 Just as against the day photography emphasizes line and contrast over color and detail, and cognitive mapping substitutes figurative totalization the day view of class conflict, in shifting attention away from empirical details, provides him with a means for imagining 95 historical novels (as, for that matter, does Ratty McHugh). As I discussed above, characters like Roger Mexico in the Rev d Cherrycoke in Mason & Dixon all members of the bourgeoisie who nonetheless align themselves with the Counterforce or the subjunctive Mobility. Significantly, however, Against the Day ends with Lew wealthy and successful as an sort of leftist partisan (1041). 96 Le the methodology of the ideology of form, which, as I have already discussed, grasps discrete incidents as
2 65 and projecting a model of the fundamental antagonism at the heart of capitalist labor relations. the Chums of Chance, an aeronautical surveillance outfit with which Lew works at the a utopian impulse the inverse of that of revolutionary anarchism. Like the anarchists, the Chums of Chance conceptualize history and politics in terms of the two senses of day that I have been discussing. For the Chums of Chance, however, light and time are the purview not of revolutionary theory and praxis but of science, technology, and industry. The inextricable connection between the suggests a logic of technological determinism. Indeed, one of the Chums, Lindsay Nosewor th, approximates just such a view when he postulates that light itself, not secret determinant of history of military battles to political decisions made behind closed doors (431). In itself, the temporal and epistemological conceptualizations of day. However, the Chums exploit the senses of day for vastly different ends than do the anarchists. oppositional; rather, it propagates capitalist dynamics of instrumentalization, exploitation, and prof Inconvenience
266 a privileged vantage from which to perform surveillance in 9/11 right wing equation of resistance with terro rism (25). Working in this capacity, the Chums use their perspectival advantage, which of course depends on not only altitude but also light and Command, or Hierarchy and the capitalist interests to which the latter is connected. High Command. A cluster of episodes late in the novel centers on the Tunguska Event of 1908. Scientific consensus now attributes the Tunguska Event to a falling meteoroid that exploded over Siberia, but for characters in Against the Day the event is bound up in the larger context of scientific experimentation and the investigation of strange lighting pheno Against 779, 792). The cosmic or apocalyptic overton es of their experience of the event also signal irrevocable changes in separating their own space from that of the everyday world airborne Chums can no longer entertain fantasies of separation from telluric reality or of propels the Chums ever further into the thoroughly material history of late capitalism. Mor to historical and political reality it also effects changes in that reality itself. Leaving
267 Siberia aboard the Inconvenience ey knew ch anged now in unpredictable ways character and proportions of historical change in its tendential universality and massive, unacknow violence of the event and the martial comparisons it suggests do not exhaust its significa nce; in addition, the Tunguska Event also marks a moment of transition in the a transition that, I argue later, allegorizes the phenomena time that we were sent here Command; instead, they work independently, invest in multinational industry and finance, and are considering incorporating (795). The Tunguska Event punctuates this unmooring from Hierarchy by both transforming and illuminating a new, decidedly twentieth century political and economic landscape. exploiting their sophisticated grasp relativity theory, light is incorporated [into the Inconvenie nce ] as a source of motive like that of the o cean to a surfer on a surfboard their break with
268 High Command the Chums continue to depend on visible lig ht as their condition of possibility. For both the Chums of Chance and the anarchists, political possibilities and openings for praxis correspond to permutations of the te mporal and luminous senses of each strand conceive of and act on desire. This, in turn, has direct political implications: the degree of political freedom and the extent of revolutionary openings associated with each strand or the curtailment of freedom and squelching of resistance hinge directly on the configurations of desire that emerge from specific crystallizations of day. A stand in for leftist praxis generally, as is evident not only in passages I analyzed above but also in numerous labor strikes, most n otably the strike leading up to the 1914 massacre at Ludlow, Colorado (see 1000 17). Moreover, the continuity of this utopian resistance, the pleasure of collective praxis, is punctuated by a series of more libidinal manifestations of utopian collectivity Yashmeen Halfcourt, and Cyprian Latewood, an erstwhile self takes up with various resistance movements in the buildup to World War I, stumble late Yz les Bains, hidden near the foothills of the [is] no fixed sequence in fact, no f ixed number are free to play out,
269 pleasure and luxur y they assemble and live according to a revolutionary impulse: Frank and Webb at Tellu present; their commitment against the day, like the mystical explosions described by the Cohen of T.W.I.T., demolishes the day and welcomes a utopian future. s against the day spirit reaches its most intense fever pitch and most literally erotic manifestation in the sustained mnage trois among Yashmeen, Reef, and Cyprian. Of these three, Yashmeen acts as a sort of spokesperson for the affair, and she is by far the most consistently polymorphous. For Yashmeen, moreover, polymorphousness and promiscuity are not just personal preferences but are endowed with political value and a utopian charge, as her comments to Cyprian regarding love and sex bear out an do whatever we can imagine. Are we not the world to come? Rules of proper conduct are for the dead and possibilities of political and social freedom generally. The freedoms Yashmeen The first glimpse of the sexual freedom championed by Yashmeen takes place at ter highlights its similarities to the practices associat ed with historical carnival, the
270 canonical account of wh ich remains Mikhail (see Rabelais ) erbatim identities Against carnivalesque, however, which functions as a social safety valve by granting temporary expression to class antagonisms, Carnesalve aspires to last ing revolutionary change and seeks to free its anarchist participants from the hold of the present. 97 For Yashmeen, this necessarily entails an anarchistic effacement of social norms governing sexuality and the emancipation of sexual desire. Cyprian atten ds the ball in drag, Yashmeen, becomes aroused at seeing Cyprian, and the three of them retire to an unused room. At this first collective coitus, Cyprian functions largely as a go between: initially, by performing oral sex on Reef and then Yashmeen; next, by continuing to perform oral sex on Yashmeen while Reef engages him anally (881 83). position mediates between heterosexual and homosexual desire, thereby allowing Reef to maintain a dominant, heterosexist position. This begins to change when Yashmeen 97 If ca rnival counts as a (temporary) negation of the dominant social order, then perhaps between historical carnival and Carnesalve also corresponds, to an extent, Commonwealth 331 32; Patton 85). Whereas the former free subjects in their identity including the subject positions that comprise identity, along with the forms of manipulation and exploitation related to race, class, gender, ethnicity, and so on the latter free subjects from their identity in order to pursue t heir free becoming. Like historical carnival, then, emancipation and liberal freedoms leave intact the cultural, social, political, and economic mechanisms through which subjectivity is exploited, manipulated, and managed, whereas Carnesalve, liberation, and critical freedom seek to erode those mechanisms themselves and the class structures that they suppo rt.
271 ncy also breaks sexual imagination a nd practice that she tant to recall that this sexuality is a utopian impulse as well, constitutive of a emancipation of sexual desire provide new structures for collective subjectivity among the anarchists. Yas overtly utopian version of desire in Against the Day However, that collective desire soon undergoes a process of neutralization and recuperation. Almost immediately after Reef acknowledges his tentative desire for Cyprian, the group disbands when Cyprian decides to join a convent in the Balkan Range (958 ts, his trousers, you that defines her utopian vision of the future, but it does so on an ex clusively symbolic level. Her faltering at the end of the sentence seems to tacitly admit that she is proposing heterosexual (even if not quite heteronormative) play acting. Likewise, the lity of sexual desire to a secondary role: having journeyed west through Europe during the war, Reef,
272 Yashmeen, and their daughter Ljubica the three by now coalesced into a recognizable family, if not a fully traditional one reunite with Frank, his wife St ray, and their child. between Reef and Frank reinstates, through the incest prohibition, m asculine of the multiple permutations and combinations made possible by the earlier mnage trois This recuperation of anarchist sexual desire by the ideology of t he family contains and neutralizes the revolutionary promise first affirmed by against the day The narrative of the Chums of Chance expresses a n alternative utopian impulse, one facilitated by science and technology. In addition to the evolving uses of visible light that I discussed above, the skyship undergoes vast, dramatic changes in its Inconven ience is little more than a dirigible, a flying gondola, but it gradually grows more and more massive, with increasingly cutting edge technology, acquiring internal sources of power, a full al] fourths of the way into the novel, it has grown so large that along with the a Russian skyship, it [s ] is dwarfed by the proportions that the Inconvenience takes on by the end of Against the Day
273 (1084). Thus the ship becomes the site of its own community, a sort of techno utopia opposite the libidinal utopia of the anarchists. However, technology in Pynchon is always at least two faced. On the one hand, technological development often helps facilitate liberation and radical praxis. For example, the quasi hype rtextual form of serves as a crucial model for creative paranoia, and Mason & Dixon radical new configurations of interspecies collectivity. 98 Luddism consistentl y grasps technology not on its own or as a creature of pure science but as a tool for capitalist exploitat ion. The clearest example of this is the V 2 rocket in which embodies the violence and fascism at the heart of extreme nationalism the Enli information technologies to manage, sustain, exploit, and eventually replace Brock Vineland Technology is a cog in the capitalist machinery, or else a b rick to be thrown through a window by a Luddite Badass. 99 There is no 98 Even the California novels occasionally touch on radical political functions of technology. Whereas the examples that I just cited from s Rainbow and Mason & Dixon illustrate those functions positively, Vineland he 99
274 This holds for the Inconvenience as well. Although the ship is susceptible to both capitalist exploitation and, potentially, use for revoluti onary praxis as Ani DiFranco sings in the lyric used by Hardt and Negri as an epigraph to Empire it always bears some direct relation to capitalism. Moreover, it is continually produced and reproduced by capi talism itself. This point is utopian Aztln and the spa at Yz les Bains, are produced by the collectivities that inhabit them, and they represent or anticipate forms of flight and escape from the capitalist world system. The Inconvenience in contrast, is first a vessel designed to serve ends dictated by Hierarchy, whose centralized authority mirrors not only the logic of nationalist sovereignty but also the structure a nd organization of industrial capitalism. The utopian space that the Inconvenience becomes is, above all else a capitalist space. Consequently, the freedoms imagined by the utopian impulse associated with the Chums of Chance and the Inconvenience are n ot the political freedoms of revolutionary anarchism or the libidinal freedoms of anarchist desire, but rather the economic freedoms promised by capitalism itself. Desire in this case aims not at revolutions in production and reproduction the labor moveme nt wing among the anarchists aspires to freedom in the realm of material production, while anarchist sexuality aims at liberation of the production of subjectivities but instead seeks to modify relations of production and networks of distribution and consu mption within the framework of the capitalist system: the aim, in short, is reform, not revolution.
275 I have already briefly discussed one unanticipated benefit of this desire to reform er the Chums and moment when this reformist desire comes close to imagining a full alternative to capitalism. At first, the crew of the Russian skyship Igra operat es as a paramilitary vessel under the command of the Okhrana, a secret police answerable to Tsar Nicholas II. The Okhrana sends the ship on missions in which the crew bombards cities with large pieces of masonry and then recycles the resultant debris as a mmunition for later missions. After the onset of World War I, however, the becomes a courier ship, rechristened the Pomne o Golodayushchiki The Pomne o Goladayushchiki providing nonprofit humanitarian relief beyond the control of any one national power (1024). Forming a brief alliance with Igor Padzhitnoff, captain of the / Pomne o Goladayushchiki the Chums of Chance spend the war assisting h im, eventually taking over the task of transporting wounded high profile prisoners and political leaders into and out of Switzerland. The Chums accept their charge and devote themselves to their share of the war effort with zeal, negotiating for the relea se of prisoners and exposing themselves to barrages o f gunfire (1027). T he signing of the armistice brings notably, in California they do so not without a certain guilt: as Randolph St. Cosmo, commander of the
276 ns of unconnected souls adrift, orphans and cripples, unsheltered, sick, starving, incarcerated, insane, who must In the end, the drive for profit trumps preterite concerns; the Chums accept the offer and head for Californ ia, sending the Inconvenience to its last great technological metamorphosis into a city of the sky. Against the Day ends with the Chums of Chance aboard a vastly enlarged, impossibly advanced Inconvenience The Inconvenience grows not only in its techni cal capabilities but also in its sheer size, eventually rea ching municipal scale. With the se urban dimensions comes an urban composition: in addition to the Chums of Chance, the Inconvenience now houses a social totality in its own right In this final f orm, the ship becomes the fullest expression of the techno utopian impulse that persists throughout the story. The high tech jouissance velocity and altitude; its commingling of all sorts of animals ds, fish, rodents, and less Inconvenience to transcend the old political space, the map ). The mobility of an airship in an age when an ascendant railroad system was still working to establish itself as the dominant mode of tran sit in man y parts of the world clearly symbolizes freedom from spatial constraint as well as the political constraints of the nation state. 100 100 The utopian aspects of the Inconvenience freedom, along with its high tech reliance on and incorporation of light, are underscored in juxtaposition with the theory of cyborg myth faithful to
277 Yet transcending or superseding the nation state is not the same as escaping capitalism. Notwithstanding the utopian impul se that undergirds the flying city, the Inconvenience overflowing the edges of the main table corporate legality that informs our own current economic context (1084). T he utopian impulse of the Inconvenience is under constant threat of being reabsorbed within a now seemingly inescapable capitalist logic. N owhere is this tension between utopian longing and recontainment clearer than Never sleeping, clamorous as a nonstop feast day, Inconvenience once a vehicle for sky pilgrimage, has transformed into its own destination, wh ere any wish that can be made is at least addressed, if not always granted. For every wish to come true would mean that in the known Creation, good unsought and uncompensated would have evolved somehow, to become at least more accessible to us. No one ab oard Inconvenience has yet rainstorm, but invisible. Soon they will see the pressure gauge begin to fall. They will feel the turn in the wind. They will put on smoked goggles for the glory of what is coming to part the sky. They fly toward grace. (1085) The utopian impulse is, to be sure, more vivid here than perhaps anywhere else in the novel: witness the vivacity of the airborne community, the pleasures of desires fulfilled, the impending change comprehensible only through metaphors of transcendence or sublimity. The sky will be parted, like the Red Sea in the biblical exodus. However, the utopian impulse is also arrested and incomplete; the Inconvenience possesses a sunshine; they are all light and clean because they are noth ing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a just as easily describing the Inconvenience in these lines as, say, the latest innovations in personal communicati ons technologies.
278 hither to unseen capacity for the satisfaction of desires, but desire still remains subject to structural constraints. I would like to connect this limiting of satisfaction to a key moment in the Chums of Chance narrative: their rejection of Hierarchy control of authority inaugurates their decoupling from Hierarchy, this act does not constitute a rejection of the concept of control tout court Rather, control is transferred, between the Chicago Expo of 1893 and the flying city to the Chums themselves: hence the enormous and presumably Byzantine contracts that control transactions and set parameters for business. That is, the Chums do not reject control they internalize it. In p lace of the control exercised by Hierarchy hierarchical authority being a distinctive organizing principle of the factory system under industrial capitalism late capitalism installs a form of control that is horizontal and collaborative but not thereby any less hegemonic or pervasive than its predecessor. For it is in fact late capitalism itself that ultimately governs this erstwhile utopian space. Several factors attest to the submission of the Chums of Chance and the Inconvenience to the demands of cap italism and the imperative to exchange. In addition to sticking out like a sore thumb amid the utopian tumult of the Inconvenience Commonwealth Hardt and Negri argue that the expropriation of wealth under 42). 101 No one personifies this parasitism and accumulation of weal th unearned more than a slumlord, 101 For other autonomist/workerist perspectives on the centrality of rent to contemporary capitalism, see also Marazzi 44
279 a bourgeois who profits off tenants without meeting such minimal criteria as, say, proper maintenance of appliances or adherence to safety codes. Furthermore, earlier in the Command coincides with the Tunguska Event, which symbolically carries all the weight of an against the day explosion onto world history. Notably, at this juncture the Chums also support themselves in part through financial investment. Both of these fact ors are congruent system in The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times (1994). According to Arrighi, transitional moments in the history of capit alism between what he the primary means for generating profit from production to i nvestment and finance. Thus, financialization and rent in a transitional historical moment allegorize s our own historical interests and our entry into a properly global period of capitalism. The pleasures and gratifications offered aboard the Inconvenience are, I conte nd, precisely those of late capitalism. The key characteristic of those gratifications is that they remain constitutively circuit the capitalist regime of exchange. What is really at issue, then, in the structural limits persuades subjects that they have some vo id which needs filling ( Parallax 61). 102 102 Grundrisse 92).
280 as a stand In contrast, d rive exceeds the phenomenological frameworks that account for desire. It is possible to make sense of desire from the standpoint of the individual subject, whole capitalist machinery, it is the impersonal compulsion to engage in the endless circular movement of expanded self reproduction. We enter the mode of drive the moment the circulat ion of money as ca as an expansive force in capitalism. As any student of thermodynamics knows, tion for the circulation of money (63). This need for imbalance undergirds the insatiable expansiveness of capitalism under real subsumption as well as the exponential spatial and social growth of the Inconvenience It explains such wide ranging features of capitalist globalization as interest charged on loans to so called developing nations, the restoration of class power under neoliberalism, and the globalization of poverty, in which what used to be called the first and third worlds now exist in an inte rnally stratified close proximity. 103 restless excitement, high tech pleasures, and transcendence of nationalism and nation state politics, the utopian space aboard the Inconvenience is nevertheless pockmarked with poverty and slums. 103 On interest, see, e.g., Harvey, Brief 74. On class inequalities, see, e.g., Harvey, Brief 74, 82, Hardt and Negri, Emp ire xiii, 251 54.
281 The tension between utopia and recuperation by capitalism also colors the t he pressure gauge begin to fall. They will feel the turn in the wind. They will put on Both the utopian impulse and its ultimate deferral are evident in these lines On the one indeed, the simple fact that it is, after all, the future that the passage describes should count for something. On the other hand, that future is described by means of weather metaphors, which have the effect of naturalizing historical change, and metaphysical concepts associated with redemption and the sublime, which uproot that future not just from the history of the present but from material history itself. Casting historical change as natural (therefore inevitable) and metaphysical or cosmic (therefore beyond the reach of human influence), rather th an attending to the immanent structural constraints of the Inconvenience organization, attests to the internalization of mechanisms of control and containment onboard the ship. Here we have starkly illuminated biopower at work: so th orough a reproduction of ideology that subjects become their own self reflexive police force and can no longer conceptualize change outside the confines of their present system (see Hardt and Negri, Empire 22 alized in the service of capitalist reproduction. Whatever else might be different in the future
282 capitalist vantage aboard the Inconvenience capitalist drive still reigns. Against the Day thus ends with both its utopian im pulses effectively neutralized. The Chums of Chance narrative posits theology or a hope for transcendence in the place occupied, in radical utopian thinking, by revolution itself, while the liberated anarchist sexuality that had constituted revolutionary collectivity is now annulled by the resurgent ideological apparatus of the family. Significantly, the paths followed by these foreclosed utopian impulses are parallel with each other in more than just a political or theoretical sense: in both cases, utopi a dies in the west. The Chums end the novel flying west to pursue business interests in California a place as we have seen by the closure control of possibilities for radical praxis. The brothers Traverse, meanwhile, follow an about as far west in the contiguous U.S. as one can go (96 3, 1075, 1076 77). 104 In comparison with the liberated sexuality and the ceaseless revolutionary flight that guides the earlier movements of Reef and Yashmeen particularly, the containment of that sexuality in this remote outpost of the Pacific Northwest ta kes on the character of retreat from battle in notable, dramatic contrast with the subjunctivity of the west in Mason & Dixon which stands there as a space of the possible or, in phrasing drawn from Vineland a future yet to be born. The problem with wes tering in Against the Day of course, is that there 104 counts as an attempt to escape not on ly the elect themselves but also all the ideological scaffolding that reaffirms election and preterition class striation as preordained, inevitable, natural, and so on.
283 is nowhere to run from global capitalism under real subsumption system from Against t he Day concludes with resistance to capitalism trapped in an antinomy between market reformism and the wishful thinking of opting out. Inherent Vice likewise registers antinomies in the post 9/11 context. However, whereas Against the Day ends in a ntinomy, double binds are the order of the day from the outset in Inherent Vice opening scene, Doc, a private investigator, is approached by Shasta Fay Hepworth, a recent ex lover who wants Doc to take on a case involving a possible conspiracy against a married man with whom she is having an affair, and whose later abduction Doc spends most of the novel trying to conflicting interests and competing motives. Doc is bound by professional obligation to nothing romantic tonight. Bumm love ] these days was being way too overused. Anybody with any cla 105 105 Recall Inamorati Anonymous, the support group for recovering love addicts in The Crying of Lot 49 as well as Vineland (see sec. 3.2 and 3.3, above; see also Crying 93 94, Vineland 217). All three of these instances suggest that romantic love, at least in its ideologically overdetermined forms, holds little political promise for the left. In contrast, the historical novels encourage a different perspective on love. Those novels deal primarily not with the sentiments of romantic love but rather with practices of sex and desire, especially deviant or subversive forms. Moreover, love, sex, and desire in the historical novels repeatedly function as a means for establishing or sustaining oppositional
284 that Doc remembers 106 print bikini, faded Country Joe & the Fish T while her lover is a rather than a member of the hippie counterculture with which Shasta had run and of which Doc is still a part in 1970 (1, 2). 107 These social and cultural differences also indicate a vast e conomic disparity between Doc and the lover, Mickey Wolfman, a wealthy Los Angeles real estate mogul with land holdings scattered throughout California and Nevada. In taking on the case, Doc would be required to act in the interests of the propertied clas s and against those of his own. characteristic of his PI work generally, notwithstanding the unique predicament in which his former romance with Shasta places him at the and lifestyle are rooted in hippie counterculture, but they are also at odds with his work; his occupation and his hippie persona seem only uneasily reconciled in the name of his agency, LSD Investigations and in another canon, I suggest, highlight both the radical political potential of love and its susceptibility to recuperation in the guise of ideological narratives. See also sec. 1.4, a bove. 106 Flatland refers to middle class inland suburbs near foothills of a handful of coastal mountain manuscript for 107 Crucially, Inherent Vice is thus unique among the California novels in that it is in a sense also an historical novel, given the gap between its 1970 plot and its 2009 publi cation.
285 personal loyalties are with the working class, yet he effectively serves capitalist interests, and not only in the Wolfmann case. Betrayal of his own class is a fundamental precondition for entry into PI work: when his car is repossessed, the repo a skip tracer trainee and let[s] loyalties he often takes on cases with no hope for compensation, except perhaps in and an occupation that nonetheless makes Against the Day presents antinomian possibilities in the field of praxis, Inherent Vice thus attests to the internalization of antinomy on the level of the individual subject. However, antinomy in Inherent Vice is not exclusively internal in that sense; Doc detective with the LAPD. The relationship between Doc and Bigfoot dramatizes and estab lishment serving practice as well as the ultimate impossibility of reconciling or synthesizing the two. Bigfoot personifies straightworld disdain for countercultures. He tolerates Doc only to the extent that the tactics and demands of his detective work
286 Do c (22, 29, 138). 108 And yet, collaborate they must, since each periodically has intelligence that the other needs. Bigfoot acknowledges their mutual dependence early on when he offers to hire Doc as a snitch for the LAPD (32). For his part, and despite hi s repulsion at the notion of being purchased by the police, Doc is willing to accept a tip from Bigfoot that links the Wolfmann case with a seemingly unrelated missing person investigation (210 12). 109 On more than one occasion, therefore, Doc and Bigfoot a ppear to be doubles of each other, unified in their antinomian opposition. Doc mysterious power to ruin might efface the difference between them altogether and lapse into sheer identity an bu siness aspirations, which I discuss below.) Like the strange and perhaps untenable 108 allusions throughout the novel. Many of those allusions highlight the ways in which Bigfoot and other straightworlders identify all hippies with Manson and th e Family. Regarding hospitality, one character longer to open their home to complete strangers (38). In addition, the LAPD institutes a profiling progr am, popularly taken as signifiers of hippie subculture on account of that fact alone can be questioned by police (179). Bigfoot himself, despite his own association of all hippies with Mans the LAPD (208). Crucially, however, the hippie character Denis implies that widespread fear resulting from the Manson murders is actually part of a larger vicious circle, in which fear and hostility are in fact ethos with Manson and the Family thus indexes the larger conservative backlash against not just hippies but 1960s culture more generally under Nixon. For other references to Manson and/or the Family, see 48, 53, 107, 119, 138, 199, 280, 283, 292 93, 304, 308, 311, and 332. 109 Notions of recurrent theme in Inherent Vice haracters suspected of selling out include Bigfoot himself, Shasta, and Coy Harlingen, whose apparent death from heroin overdose and subsequent reappearance are connected with the Golden Fang as well as right wing political groups. See, e.g., 84, 95, 122, and 257.
287 relationship with Bigfoot assembles a set of oppositions that can be neither reconcil ed nor avoided. In a sense, then, Inherent Vice multiplies oppositions and antinomies much like Against the Day In Against the Day oppositions and antinomies function on two levels. onist against an opposite number: anarchists against capitalists, the Chums of Chance against first, Hierarchy. Second, those two storylines figure a pair of apparent options for resistance to global capitalism retreat and reform w hich, despite their antinomian incommensurability, tend essentially toward the same result: political convergence of opposites. However, just as the antinomian political poles o f Against the Day can be distinguished by means of specific systemic tactics of neutralization the ideological containment of desire with the anarchists and the structural drive of capitalism with the Chums Doc and Bigfoot likewise work according to distin ct logics. Differences between those logics are evident, first of all, in the epistemological models and practical methods used by each man in his detective work. Bigfoot takes a pragmatic, commonsense approach to empirical evidence, one that is appropr iate for which he derisively locates Doc and other hippies (23). Because his empiricism assumes evidence to be accessible to careful observation and sound interpret ation, surveillance the gathering of evidence is possible everywhere, at all times. When Doc asks whether someone might be listening in on a private conversation, Bigfoot
288 hat the paranoia he attributes to Doc is ultimately pointless, since no amount of conspiratorial speculation can trump empirical observation and commonsense judgment. 110 One must of course discriminate between relevant and irrelevant evidence and draw the p roper connections but those tasks fall to clear minded deduction, not hippie intuition. Detective work for Bigfoot thus entails the collection of a broad base of empirical evidence and the careful, cal culated interpretation of the latter. In this, Bigfoot is consistent with larger patterns of intelligence gathering practices used by state agencies in the novel. In particular, the ARPAnet (Advanced Research Project Agency Network), a precursor to the I nternet, is susceptible to surveillance via wiretapping (258). One character even predicts that surveillance is the first step toward total mastery of information: if, a s he holds, the methodical application of common sense and sound judgment reveals the truth that underlies collected evidence, then having all possible evidence is tantamount to having access to all knowledge. 110 means for cataloguing potential outcomes of his cases, such as when he considers possible perpetrators en he explores conspiratorial connections among the FBI, the mob, and Mickey (95 96, 220 21; see also 193 94, 217, 293, 306, 350). In the discussion that ork results. It is epiphany rather than paranoia that actually guides Doc toward useful leads and valid conclusions and, crucially, that enables Inheren t Vice from merely repeating what would be by now worn out tropes from the Pynchon canon.
289 relies on mental experiences expressly ridiculed by Bigfoot: epiphanies, or, as Doc remembers Bigfoot calling them, his membership in the official law enforcement esta trademark of his belonging to drug subculture: they tend overwhelmingly to be induced or facilitated by the use of drugs. 111 Early on, when Doc speculates correctly, it turns out s Warbling, her yoga trainer, are tripping was and details that remain lost on sober s traightworlders. Inherent Vice abounds with similar narcotic epiphanies. After Shasta, like Mickey, mysteriously disappears, Doc has an acid trip in which he sees her onboard a ship at sea (109 10). This apparent hallucination, however, is also confirme d by Shasta as in some sense real when she Prussia a loan shark connected with the disappea rances of Mickey and Shasta as well as the long martial tradition in which resisting authority subduing hired guns, defending your old 111 In addition to Doc, the subcultural character Jade, a.k.a. Ashley, has an acid induced epiphany pertaining to the centrality of sexuality to her sense of identity ( Inherent 136). In this, Inherent Vice is also consistent with the logic of narcotic epiphany that occasionally operates in induced, hallucinator y trip down the toilet (60 71).
290 work: narcotic epiphanies improb ably yet consistently lead Doc toward essential clues properly discovered only through sober realism. realist epistemology and pragmatist method take a calculative, rational approach to all observation, evidence, and knowledge; his detective work is methodical and goal d irected. Following from this, evidence is nothing other than information or intelligence to be gathered, managed, and distributed as necessity and common sense dictate. Access to information is controlled based on the assessment of cause and effect: Bigf oot shares tips with Doc and later reveals select details concerning the death of his former partner because, as the narrative eventually shows, he is ultimately attempting to 29). I nvestigation, intelligence, and interpretation respectively, the act, object, and e nd of surveillance are therefore subject to laws of exchange and equivalence. Bigfoot shares intelligence only when he receives something in return; as he admonishes Doc, there is no such thing as a free hunch. 112 means balancing debits with credits that is, managin g debt. The concept of debt is utterly central to the economic relations that structure Inherent Vice even when debt is 112 A pun, coming a few pages after the conversation between Doc and Bigfoot that I have just quoted, humorously alludes to the occasionally dear price of such knowledge. In an echo of the Book of Job, the restaurant The Pr
291 rranges characters into columns of creditors and debtors, perpetuating a whole series of dues and repayments that further concentrate wealth under capitalism. Recall that Doc first enters the PI field as a way to work off his own debt, collecting from oth ers on behalf of the same capitalist class that Smilax, a maritime lawyer, ex by night character of credit ca rd companies whose applications are found on matchbooks frequently given away for free at bars or with the purchase of tobacco cannot but evoke the scandalous predatory lending practices that led to the 2007 crisis in the U.S. housing market. Subprime hom e loans, of course, were attractive to lenders for the same reason long shots are enticing to gamblers: the greater the risk, the greater the the therefore provides a means for not only keeping capital in circulation in order to satisfy desire for commodities but also accele 113 Relations of debt are 113 As Richard Dienst points out, this relation between debt and radical imbalance results in a ar as all those debts will be held and enforced by a class of creditors keep to preserve the prerogatives of free ranging capital, the only economic trend that seems certain to continue is the ongoing transfer of wealth to those who already have a lot of i
292 therefore crucial for maintaining consumer demand and class inequality under capitalism. epiphanies begin to appear. Those epiphanies violate the laws of commodification, knowledge only ever comes with a price in B arrive, unbidden and unexpected. Therefore, the notion of exchange value that corollary in epiphany: exchange value presupposes commensurability between commodity and money, or between intelligence and whatever payment Bigfoot demands, but there is no comparable counterbalance to epiphany. The logic of epiphany thus constitutes a radical alternative to the capitalist market of ex change. Inherent Vice mystical, mythological, and occult knowledges, is the character Sortilge, whose name alludes to practices of divination. 114 When Doc comes down from his first acid trip, distu rbed and disoriented, it is Sortilge who explains that hallucinatory experiences reverberates in acid contemporary regime of debt also becomes one more vehicle for capitalist biopower, as Stefano Lucarelli financial markets than tendency of real wages to fall and was a major contributor to the 2007 subp rime mortgage crisis (131 Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011 ) a theoretical touchstone for the Occupy movement provides a sweeping comparative historical overview of debt that is simultaneously an anarchist inflected critique or the interrelations among debt and interest, international finance, militarism, global i mmiseration, and commonsense morality. 114 The OED defines sortilege
293 investigative use of hallucinations and flashbacks. Sortilge also articulates the structure of epiphanic experience in a way that highlights its crucial differences from thought this [i.e., an inexplicable and unexpected divulging of information] was a form of grace and that he [Doc] should just accept it, because at any instant it could go away as personal confession made to Doc by one of his clients, it is nonetheless applicable to the logic of epiphanic experience. In both cases, knowledge comes without either warning or intention, violating normal expectations and conventions. More importantly, the exc essiveness and incommensurability with quotidian experience signified in the determining an equivalent value for epiphany or of assimilating it into a regime of economic exchange. obligation on the re ceiver and thus fall back into the logic of economic transaction ( Gift 29). 115 However, unlike this gift which is necessarily and constitutively impossible, along with other acts that would satisfy unconditional, absolute ethical laws 116 epiphanies actu ally happen. They therefore count, in Inherent Vice 115 Cf Derrida 188). 116 Among the impossible ethical imper Of Hospitality ), democracy ( Rogues ( Memoires ; Work ), to cite some of the best known cases.
294 capitalism and alternative regimes of exchange, as live possibilities carrying all the Narcotic epiphanies might be hallucinatory, but political/ontological interpretation. Politically and ontologically, they represent an escape from the capitalist market, a breakdown in equivalen ce and exchange value. Aesthetically, however, they do indeed take the form of hallucinations: experiences that a hardboiled realist like Bigfoot would never recognize as valid, authentic, or conclusive. Nonetheless, given the independent confirmations a epiphanies, the hallucinatory nature of these experiences must count as something other than pure fantasy or sheer illusion. Rather, to the extent that they reveal truths even partial ones they are better understood, metaph orically, in terms of alternative perceptions of light itself. In photography, filters modify or absorb some of the light that enters a camera lens, but they still document the physical presence of light, not falsify it. 117 Astronomers use filters on teles copes to block interference, sharpen images of celestial bodies, and reveal selected wavelengths of visible light, resulting in greater accuracy and practical usefulness And infrared technologies register wavelengths of light beyond the threshold of visi bility to the human eye to reveal aspects of reality that remain hidden from ordinary, sober experience. They do not obscure reality: they illuminate it. 117 sence in his canonical Camera Lucida optionally real thing to which an image or sign refers [as in most signifying systems] but the necessarily real thing which has been placed before the lens, without which there w the thing has been there
295 Epiphanies therefore provide a crucial analogue in Inherent Vice to the luminous senses of day in Against the Day : like the oppositional subjectivities that grasp history and politics in contre jour nces exploit alternatives to the wholesome, straightworld light of day to take a non normative, subversive perspective on social reality. Later in this section, I analyze important differences between figurative uses of light in these two novels as well a s the political implications day in Inherent Vice epiphanies stands as a utopian other. Crucially just as day is bivalent in Against the Day alternately denoting both light and time, the predominant transcoding of day in Inherent Vice exchange also transposes day from the context of illumination to its parallel context of t paid specifically, time to raise money before a loan comes due. Continuing on, Puck connects the time purchased by interest with retribution leveled by loan sharks against d elinquent debtors e thought they had all to themselves would have to be spent now on stays in hospitals, move 21). Thus, the principle of exchange value dominates not only
296 distributing intelligence, but also phenomenological experiences of freedom, pain and ter ms of exchange value, time itself comes to play a role analogous to money: like money, time becomes the privileged abstraction in terms of which other goods are valued. Moreover, time and money are mutually convertible, allowing otherwise disparate categories like outstanding debt and human suffering to be balance d against each other. This holds not only for loan sharks but for the creditor system generally: when Doc works off his debt as a repo man at Gotcha!, he is paying the firm a quantity of time commensurate with his monetary obligation, commensurability its elf originates in finitude and inequality: if money and time were inexhaustible or shared in common, expropriation would be a zero sum game. Control over the distribution of tim e is thus a lynchpin of the regime of debt. Between commodified, repossessed time and epiphanic illumination, then, Inherent Vice follows Against the Day in mobilizing conceptual associations with day, even if the more recent novel does not directly play with the word day itself to the same extent as its predecessor Despite that fact, the luminous and temporal thematics associated with day accumulate in Inherent Vice beyond the central examples I have most notable instance of subversive, friend Tito Stavrou drives his limo fast enough to compress approaching light and redshift receding light (249); these phenomena are p roduced by the Doppler effect,
297 working over cosmic distances, and are typically detectable only by suitably sensitive equipment. In the context of dodging a repressive apparatus of t he state, such a conceit amounts to a superhuman effort at revolutionary flight. Moreover, epiphanic illumination and relativistic redshift both seemingly violate the laws that structure commonsense empiricism and Newtonian physics, underscoring the kinship between alternative lighting in Inherent Vice and contre jour symbolis m in Against the Day However, antisystemic lighting in Inherent Vice is also opposed by recuperative uses of light by the creditor system and hegemonic U.S. culture. In an analepsis sort of perfect a visible analogue to the police dramas with which Doc associates perfect daylight also open onto a bro ader social and political critique. Inherent Vice singles out police dramas as especially pernicious forms of the eroticization of fascist authority earlier sexual attraction to uniformed men in Vineland and the demonization of subversion as criminal behavior the latter coinciding with the ideological effacement of the distinction between Charles Manson and hippies generally (see note 105). Inherent Vice makes much of the fundamentally conservative function of series like Adam 1 2 (aired 1968 75), Hawaii Five O (1968 80), The Mod Squad (1968 73), and others (see, e.g., 32, 97, 261). Moreover, Bigfoot himself is frequently and derisively described using imagery drawn from TV shows like these or, even worse, painted as a TV cop wan nabe. Early Adam 12
298 colleague in the LAPD resentfully implies that Bigfoot would jump at the chance to star in a made for reminds Doc of cop TV is thus necessarily incompatible with epiphanic light. 118 insufficie a Perp Targe t Range where Doc trains gutter, and dead from real world Hollywood betrayal and persecution, and the controlling order under which outcomes like this were unavoidable, because they ran off 119 character in He Ran All the Way 118 In addition to its critique of cop dramas, Inherent Vice also follows its predecessor in the California trilogy, Vineland in presenting television in gener family will quite soon be gathering night after night, to gaze tubeward [note the echo of Vineland fo Inherent 22). However, just as Vineland does not dismiss the moving image entirely but rather contrasts reactionary television with radical documentary film, Inherent Vice discriminates among genres of television, notwithstanding its overall r ole as superstructural support. During a narcotic epiphany that I have already discussed, the three revolutionary or quasi radical practices central to that epiphany corresp ond triumph of cops over PIs as screen heroes, the latter This discrimination between television genres implies that not all of them are equally reactionary, d espite serving read of becoming Bigfoot. On both television in Vineland and Inherent 9 10, 202, 328. 119 Like social and political critique of television, the Waste a Perp range which features a n Inherent 269) marks a notable similarity between Inherent Vice and Vineland In that earlier California novel, Isaiah Two and so on ( Vineland 18 19). In addition to highlighting or parodyin g right wing glorifications of violent heroism, both Waste a postmodern Californian commodification, Disneyland, with its equally overdetermined if superficially harmonious variety of t
299 take, a re lic of McCarthyism, and to attacks on Garfield by the House Committee on Un American Activities; see 254.) If blinding daylight represents an ideological, things countercul tural, this darkness at the shooting range corresponds to the screen or camouflage of ideology behind which the real repression and brutality of capitalism evade detection. However, b y far the most prevalent sources of opacity in Inherent Vice are fog, h aze, smog, and the like. Fog obscures and disorients. At times, the confusion produced by fog is analogous to (non by the fog of dope fog and related phenomena symptomatically in dicate baleful effects of late capitalism. Driving through fog, Doc experiences familiar block, and all colors, including those of traffic signals, shifted radica lly elsewhere in the bearings, cognitive mapping in the original geographical sense of the term becomes simultaneously all but impossible yet all the more crucial just as the totalizing aesthetic tends to prevent as it simultaneously postmodernity. Indeed, under the right circumstances, fo g produces a perceptual third dimension grew less and less reliable a row of four taillights ahead could either belong to two separate cars in adjoining lanes a safe dist ance away, or be a pair of
300 Inherent 367). Unsurprisingly, smog is associated with the urban sprawl emblematic of L.A. and the American automobile culture to which sprawl giv l psychedelic could ever happen observations by Doc link together several important symbolic features of smog. Produced by commuters traveling from suburban class consumerism in postmodernity while also highlighting the straightworld intolerance that renders conformity and a foreclosure of the radical alternatives metonymically associated in this novel with hippie culture and drug experi settling often indistinguishable from selling out, or even betrayal reopens the the legacy of the 1960s and fidelity to that Inherent Vice is thus all at once a matter of phenomenology, culture, economics, politics, and ultimately history itself. However, at this poi nt, fog begins to pass from the thematic field of visibility to that of temporality from day as light to day as time where it joins the commodification of temporality. Capitalism does not have a monopoly on the temporal connotations of day
301 in Inherent Vic e ; just as light and illumination have subversive as well as hegemonic valences, so too is time not only an object of capitalist exchange and the postmodern waning of hi storicity but also a site of contestation and struggle. More than just a missing both the history of the 1960s and, even more importantly, the future of radical politics. s investigation dramatizes those historical and political struggle s by pitting the epiphanic logic of grace against the system of capitalist exchange. As I argued above, the incommensurability of grace subverts capitalist circulation by rendering exchange value impossible. I can add now that under capitalism, violations of the rule of exchange value by grace must never go unpunished. Indeed, an offense as venial as profit sharing not even an instan ce of grace but rather a reform ( no more radical than anything aboard the Inconvenience ) that merely adjusts the distribution of profits is enough to sentence to death the dentist Rudy Blatnoyd (318). ts for strategic philanthropy. Philanthropy, however, yields returns: tax breaks, good publicity, legislative consideration or other political favors, and so forth As such, philanthropy poses no threat to capitalist exchange; it merely counts as one more item in the debit column, to be repaid with one form or another of credit down the road. Mickey transgresses when he crosses a threshold between profitable philanthrop y and he was working on a way to just give it
302 120 His crime is to envision a utopian community that would pro vide housing without rent or profit, called Arrepentimiento epentimiento therefore would not be profitable exchange, the capitalist justification for philanthropy, but excessive grace, approaching the Derridean notions of not only the gift but also hospitality, in its unquestioning, unconditional welcome to the ot 121 capitalist imperative to accumulate but also, in so doing, counts as a radical threat to the whole system this imperative supports. Descri expresses the same vitriol and abhorrence for marginalized subjectivities that Bigfoot change his life and give away millions to an assortment of degenerates Negroes, recipients are a far cry from charitable groups, political campaigns, and other entities whose straightworld respectability underwrites their continued receipt of capitalist ation of Charles Manson and its equation of the latter with hippies generally as well as its parallel moral denunciation of 120 W.A.S.T.E. users in The Crying of Lot 49 while the punishment he suffers in consequence confirms tions to such a move ( Crying 150). See also sec. 3.2, above. 121 Notably, both the would be tenants of Arrepentimiento and the other welcomed by Derridean hospitality are arrivants those who arrive. Articulating the law of unconditional hospitality, Derri da writes: to who or what turns up before any determination, before any anticipation, before any identification Of Hospitality 77) Inherent Vice
303 see Chapter 3 above) to what Deleuze and Guattari call minoritarian subjects would undermine commonsense acceptance of middle class ideologies and practices while enabling new collective associations and manners of living that fall outside the jurisdiction of circulation and e xchange. 122 It comes as no surprise, then, that the reigning capitalist order in Inherent Vice resorts to any means necessary to prevent Arrepentimiento from becoming reality. In ment. Several of his business connections link him to a secretive capitalist network known as the Golden Fang. On site at Channel View Estates, housing development currently under construction, is Chick Planet Massage, an erotic massage p arlor that also provides a front for a Golden Fang heroin operation (20 22, 159). In addition, rehab facility in the city of Ojai, where Tito reports Mickey had reques ted to be picked d has ties to a known heroin dealer (149, 211). Prussia himself is connected to the Golden Fang: his counterfeit twenties fea turing a portrait of Nixon in front of the Golden Fang a schooner recently spotted near L.A. (286). Much The Crying of Lot 49 sorting out both the hydra 122 On minoritaria n subjectivity, see sec. 2.2, above.
304 it occupies Doc for everywhere, except where ubiquitous and unavoidable, but also unobservable. 123 Above abducti on and the death of Rudy Blatnoyd, the profit sharing dentist. Before his death, story high golden fang! hallucination personifies the darkest underbelly of capitalist society and admits to killing Blatnoyd: have named themselves after their worst fear. I am the unthinkable vengeance they turn to when one of them has grown insupportably troublesome, when all other conversat ion with Doc, there is reason enough to conclude that it plays a key part in 123 landlord, the finance company, the loan shark community sat invisible and unspeaking, tapping feet in expensive shoes, weighi ng options for punishment, leniency insufficient lighting).
305 is Golden Fang when Doc hallucinates seeing her and she feels his presence (109). Moreover, the link between the Golden Fang organization and Prussia also connects the former to a va st network that includes two powerful repressive apparatuses. First is organized crime, which covertly controls much of Las Vegas, where Mickey is ultimately apprehended and near the site of Arrepentimiento. Second, the network also includes the LAPD, wh black and Chicano activists, antiwar protesters, campus bombers, and assorted other pinko f through grace and its embrace of and material support for new collectivities. The one nul lifies exchange value, thereby removing all grounds for equivalence and t hus for capitalist drive itself. T he other awakens and worse still for the Golden Fang and company, might actually be able to satisfy desires for collective forms of living that give the lie to the capitalist ideology of atomized consumer subjectivity and to the social and political conservatism that derides utopian thinking as hippie delusion. It therefore matters little that Mickey returns to L.A. in the company of the FBI rather t Las Vegas the Just
306 these facts attest more to the pervasive hegemony of capitalist drive and exchange than to any weakness on the part of the Golden Fang. The Justice Department would rather Mickey t han a mobster purchase and renovate a Vegas casino (240), but that preference nowise translates into a warm welcome for Arrepentimiento or its Fang does; both parties sh are, if nothing else, an allegiance to capitalist exchange and class structure which (361). In place of a legal remedy, then, Inherent Vice imagines a hallucinatory, epiphanic single fateful day, the events of which propel Doc toward several crucial resolutions. The day in question begins with a brief, seemingly innocent marker of the passage of day was as they say another day day unfolds, however, it becomes progressiv ely clearer that it is not just another day like any other but rather objective imp subversive truths and produces real results. disappearance and his connections with the Golden Fang. Do c gains access that day to the sealed Department of Justice file on Prussia. The file provides Doc with several
307 the death of Vincent Indelicato, only now discovers; recount Prussia in the Golden 86). I have already discussed the important role that now is the way Doc gains access to this information in the first place: at great personal and professional risk to herself, Penny Kimball she gives him intelligence, in accordance with which the Justice De partment compiles and distributes gift to Doc. Grace and epiphany figure even more pr ominently as the day progresses. As events and, for a political interpretation of Inherent Vice far from the most important. As the day continues, significant epiphanic realizations come about concerning politics and economics and crucial gr oundwork is laid concerning history itself. This last epiphany only comes throughout the day help prepare him for it s arrival. Earlier level bu
308 certain hand might reach terribly out of darkness and reclaim the time, easy as ta king a closure of the 1960s connects several themes that I have been developing throughout find a way ubiquity of capitalism under real subsumption and to its naturalization as so called human nature, a.k.a. ideology. Moreover, that ideological naturali zation results in part capitalism bogarts time. The passage bespeaks the irrev ersibility of history and lost as it also expresses a sense of the uniqueness of the 1960s as a utopian moment following his late modernist beginnings is in many ways a single, massive literary testament. Finally, these lines bundle together several of the metaphorical functions of day that are ce 9/11 micro period: a darkness that confuses and disorients L ike a loan the fate of the 1960s represents an attempt to accept that
309 Later experiences inch Doc toward a mor e critical assessment On the same day as he reads the dossier on Prussia, way back into a past that despite them both [i.e., Doc and Shasta] had gone on into the and the futility must relinquish nostalgic attach ments to the past, without th ereby betraying its inheritance, and instead grasp in the present the makings of alternate futures. uent epiphanies help him begin to adopt this perspective. Later that day, in a pizza joint called the Plastic Nickel and frequented by a wide variety of drug users, Doc experiences a hallucinatory epiphany in which he converses with a plastic bust of Thom as Jefferson. The epiphany begins with a comment by Jefferson which I have quoted already, on the Golden F ang lecture Doc on the importance of revolution: companions return to the table, just as he is preparing to offer some crucial do have to do, however, is reasons.
310 apparently conflictive ends as a way to maximize profit (think heroin and rehab). More importantly, this is the first time in the novel that Doc openly entertains ideas of political revolution, as opposed to cultural or social revolution, and political violence. His insinuation that Nixon is both a patriot and a tyrant, immediately aft er Jefferson calls for blood shed marks a shift from decrying evils of the fascist state to flirting with direct action against it. this conversation. The targeting of Ni xon, critically and also perhaps violently, recalls Vineland Nixon 1970s along with the Reagan 1980s. 124 Furthermore, like the subversive portrayal of the Founding Fathers in Mason & Dixon the hallucination dislodges the figure of Jefferson from the conservative context of nationalism and patriotism, positioning him instead as a revolutionary against not only tyranny but also a late capitalism metonymically represented by the Golde n Fang. 125 closing gesture recalls The Crying 124 I cite in passing another of Inherent Vice sodomizing the president in the Lincoln Memorial at high noon and local law enforcement would still have on debut, The Origin of the Brunists appeared in 1966, the same year as Crying ). For example, Hutcheon The Public Burning (1977) as an examp le of historiographic metafiction, along with (e.g., Poetics particularly vivid point of connection with Coover. A guiding conceit of The Public Burning is that eac h U.S. president plot) must submit to anal sex with Uncle Sam, who is, like the FBI in Inherent Vice a personification of state sovereignty (see Coover, The Public Bur ning 470 85). 125 not in a tradition of American nationalism but rather in a revolutionary tradition whose heirs have included Lenin, Che Guevara, Mao, and Subcomm andante Marcos. For Jefferson Je
311 of Lot 49 leaves Oedipa awaiting. nation resonates on several crucial work as a whole. As in the rest of his oeuvre, commitment to the preterite remains c entral to the politics of Inherent Vice Fittingly, then, the day that brings Doc his epiphanic flash of revolutionary consciousness also witnesses critical reflection concerning his impact on the preterite. Following his conversation with Jefferson, Doc begins to question the effective political and economic loyalties performed by his work as a PI (as opposed to the affective loyalties he unambiguously feels for hippie counterculture, the working class, and so forth ). He goes so far as to speculate that his own contradictory politics In addition to expressing a multifaceted sen se of guilt, Doc tellingly contrasts political commitments in terms of their respective forms of collectivity. Heroin users might be junkies none of the liberatory or radical potential associated with other drugs such as pot and acid crucially, the same word used to describe the collective bond of the Mobility to be in Mason & Dixon is perhaps colored categories of elect and preterite; I have in mind the rhetoric, prominent especially among smaller Protestant churches, touting fellowship (and using the word fellowship ) as a chief benefit of church life. However
312 preterite, fellowship is here associated not with upstanding middle class churchgoers but with drug users. It is they who foster an accepting, mutually supporting community. By contrast, Doc describ es the collectivity of the elect with the word class more analytically rigorous than fellowship sense of common belonging predicated on anything other than the accumulation of wealth. The capitalist ac cumu lation of wealth tends both to presuppose and to construct subjectivities as isolated agents engaged in competition rather than collaboration: hence, Doc is not a fellow member of that class or even, say, a helper or apprentice, either of which could imply some kind of personal connection between Doc however : in order to remain a faithful stooge of capitalism, one needs to buy into the myth of upward e is but a stooge casts into doubt the social function of his PI work, along with the capitalis t system it supports what was he who to what is analogous to the difference between ethical critique, w hich evaluates actions of individual agents in terms of moral categories, and political critique, which focuses instead on systems of exploitation and decidedly a what rather than a who and as he scrutinizes the political consequences of his own practices, he approaches a standpoint that grasps capitalist society systemically, as a network coordinating and controlling flows of wealth. It is in flouting the rules and dynamics th at govern those flo ws that the significance of this epiphanic day finally fully emerges. The excessive grace demonstrated in
313 crucially, underwrites the day itself: the day does not belong to the hegemonic official history of late capitalism but is rather a gift whose temporality cannot be assimilated into Inherent Vice is dated more precisely than any other novel by Pynchon. I have said already that the narrative is set in 1970; more precisely, it runs from Tuesday, 24 March to Friday, 8 May 1970, a span of a month and a half. These dates are anchored by references to basketball games during the 1970 NBA playoff s; using the historical dates of those games in conjunction with narrative time markers which the narrator, in the main, is remarkably diligent in pointing out it is possible to date every day of the narrative. In nic day is impossible to account for (see t able 4 1). The day does not exist on the calendars of indicative history. I t is literally an day was as they say another day must originate, therefore, in some utopian, revolutionary temporal order that stands outside the dark history of a capitalism which chokes parentheses of light, an order whose distribution of wealt h time is money can only scandalize a credit economy that generates profit by commodifying time. 126 Another day, indeed. Over the subsequent four days that conclude Inherent Vice the potentially revolutionary fruits of this extra day flower as a series o f epiphanic realizations concerning 126 In connection with this point, it is worth recalling the crucial role played by historically specific, economically determined conceptions of time that Pynchon highlights in his discussion of sloth as a
314 fundamental limitations. Examining a series of enlarged stills taken from security camera footage at Channel View Estates, Doc is unable to identify his subject of interest. Phenomenologically, his initial experience of the defamiliarization resulting visual decomposition of the images begins to morph into an intuition, in this case of images becomes simultaneously an allegory for the impossibility of historical return and for the bad faith of nostalgia for the because it poses no meaningful threat to capitalist order: as long as nostalgia remains content to mourn, as it does in Vineland it stops short of identifying openings in the present through which radical inheritances from the past might be channeled toward a revolutionary, utopian future, the latter evident in Mason & Dixon future. Because its primary critical function is to emphasize present failures of past promises, nostalgia for the past remains trapped in an experience of history whose continuing us efulness for praxis, by virtue of the very pastness of the past and the poignant as nostalgic memories or reconstructions of the past are, they remain of the commodity: the reduction of history to period style under the postmodern waning
315 of historicity, disseminated as media commodities to consumers of television like Prairie Whee ler.) Only a bad faith that refuses to believe in historical change and history itself (think Thanatoids) or, perhaps, a bad analysis that simply fails to recognize hippie parents) can fail to s Doc, the term inherent vice sooner or later, the present becomes the past. A nostalgic insistence on reassembling the past from its fragments cannot thereby circumvent the movement of a history that has already contained and commodified what in the 1960s used to be radical. 127 extra day and this ensuing epiphany reveal the inherent vice of nostalgia for the past and discredit it as a political strategy. In my analysis of nostalgia in Vineland a nd Mason & Dixon I argued that differences between political functions and historical perspectives of nostalgia in those novels also correspond to the distinction between the indicative and the subjunctive. Similarly to Mason & Dixon future, Inherent Vice expresses a utopian impulse in the subjunctive discourse of mythology. The myth of the lost continent of Lemuria, in particular functions as a subjunctive corrective to the inherent vice of nostalg ia for the past. Moreover, it is also connected to epiphany and grace, and not merely because Sortilge who articulates the principle of 127 to reassemble Humpty Dumpty in the nursery rhyme.
316 is its most vocal believer. Like epiphany, Lemuria cannot be summ oned; rather, Sortilge claims, it arrives on its own, up out of the ocean light on the present, illuminating the gulf between indicative reality and the subjunctive possibilities of myth. In that sense, the myth of Lemuria is similar to the more critical or oppositional forms of nostalgia for the past found in Pynchon, such as Ditzah Pisk nostalgia in Vineland those nostalgia s, the Lemuria myth stands outside indicative history entirely. Its function is therefore p edagogical rather than mournful; and because it refuses mourning, it is not subject to inherent vice. the myth of Lemuria allows Doc to assess the shortcomings of present day mainstream U.S. culture. Stuck in rush hour freeway traffic a source of the smog that symboli zes a foreshortening of historical perspective Doc imagines how Angelenos would react to eam about being wised up, about the truth setting them free. What good would Lemuria do of Lemuria is an index of the impoverishment by capitalist media apparatuse s of the utopian imagination; enshrinement of exchange value and ideological construction of common sense, among other things, preclude the grace that og
317 of postmodernity. Through the myth of Lemuria, grace and epiphany register the imaginative and revolutionary sterility of the present, just as they reveal the political and historical insufficiency of nostalgic attachment. of the present by means of epiphany takes the form here of imaginative, hypothetical speculation revealing the limitations of commonsense experience, elsewhere it illuminates and indicts the underlying material basis of middle class common sense, eventual ly flowering into a full fledged critique of class society. encounter with the Golden Fang incarnate. That epiphany, I have argued, allegorizes lergy toward grace and its brutal efficacy at enforcing the rule of loyalties that he had begun to doubt in his epi phanic self critique during the extra day. Following his Golden Fang When Golden Fang member Crocker Fenway accuses Doc of being an inauthentic hippie because he pays rent on the face of it, an absurd charge to begin with, since it assumes that there are viable alternatives to the capitalist housing market Doc t landlord decided to stiff the first renter for his security deposit, between th e logic of commensurability inherent in exchange, with its pretenses to so called fair market value, and the compulsion to maximize profit, by whatever means.
318 The pursuit of profit, of course, tends toward expropriation pure and simple, or what David Harv New 137 82). Unchecked, however, capitalist expropriation can also lead to the unintended consequences of class all Inherent 347). Doc is markedly more radical here than in such earlier critiques of confrontation with Fenway grasps antagonism in material terms as an inevitable product of capitalist class society. His threat that working class and lumpen subjects might one and revolution itself. If the Lemuria myth exposes the feebleness of the middle class in imagining alternative worlds, and the Golden Fang hallucination reveals the cruelty of immiseration in the present as fuel for a dramatic explosion of revolutionary f uturity. and in marked contrast with that futurity also remains open. Even Bigf oot, les another figure familiar to readers of Pynchon: a passage from V. used above as an epigraph
319 62). Bigfoot presents history congru ently to the extent that grooves in a record likewise form a concentric series of peaks (or perhaps plateaus) an d valleys However, his simile differs from the earlier metaphor when it comes to history in V. obscure historical connections among past, present, and future, condemning subjects to stumble ineptly through the passage of time, blind and impotent ory can be accelerated by the revolutionary skipping of a track or two. Lest Inherent Vice little acid, Inherent like hallucinations, stretch the limits of credibility, it also, as with remaining two scenes that I analyze before concluding, historical change really is th not only here but also in the alienation and deferral suffered by Oedipa in Th e Crying of Lot 49 and the nostalgic recuperation of radicalism in Vineland revolution can still happen in the world of Inherent Vice
320 In the first of the two final epiphanic moments revolution takes the form of alternate history combined with a utopian future as if someone had skipped a track or perhaps even changed th Dreaming, Doc witnesses the Golden Fang which [has] reassumed its old working identity, as well as its real name, Preserved quasi epiphanies, which bear a similar relatio n to sober waking reality. Second, the very act of renaming further connects the dream to epiphany. W hen Doc views Shasta aboard the Golden Fang Prese rved submission to the law of exchange or, conversely, insist on a utopianism that perseveres despite all that, preserved somehow by epiphanic grace. Third, if the renaming of the ship counts as a performative speech act that installs grace in place of exchange, it also has economic reverberations. At one point in its storied past, the Preserved had been owned by (fictitious) act or Burke Stodger like John Garfield, a victim of blacklisting and McCarthyism. Following a mysterious budget major studio project called Commie Confidential Preserved Golden Fang (92
321 reaffirming working class solidarity (the Preserved had been a fishing schooner) as well as anti systemic and perhaps even communist revolt. Fourth and finally, the somnolent return of the past and the notion of preservation attem pts to reconstruct a mosaic from fragments of the past which is the only way to proceed in indicative discourse, since all that is left of a recuperated, neutralized past is fragments and ruins Preserved in a wholeness that flouts common sense and indicative history. Mosaics are made incrementally, bit by glittering bit, much like the w ay Bigfoot manages intelligence, amassing a broad base of evidence and assigning to each fact a commensurate exchange value. In both ca ses, the whole emerges over time and through careful application of method. In epistemologies and commonsense methodologies. Thus the schooner is not reassembled out of fragments but rather preserved as an integral whole, as if by s redemption through grace does not reassemble a past; it writes history anew. Crucially, that rewritten, epiphanic history also opens onto a utopian future. In eulogy fo r the Preserved the years of promise, gone and unrecoverable, of the land almost allowed to claim its better destiny, only to have the claim jumped by evildoers known all too well, and taken
322 inste Thus far, has exude d bitter regret, indignation, and resignation, all affects begin s to pass from the funereal discourse of mourning ship is bound for some better shore to the mythical disc ourse of alternative futures: some better shore, some undrowned Lemuria, risen and redeemed, where the American fate day and developed through epiphany: it critiques the present, focusing on failed promises and betrayal s of the past, la Vineland ; it figures a mythical past that reveals the paucity of imagination at the heart of the ideologi cal regime of common sense; and it same ti he can unflinchingly assess the failures of the past and the consequent limitations on the present without giving up on utopian futurity in the process. His refusal to abandon utopian hope allows him to conceive of the future as a live possibility and as an open field of contestation a far cry from the deferral and foreclosure symptomatically registered in The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland The theoretical and poetic climax in the closing pages of the novel. Inherent Vice ends with a grand gesture toward utopian futurit central motifs. Driving, once again, through the fog the same fog whose erosion of the
323 third dimension I have read as a metaphor for postmodern depthlessness Doc experiences a resounding epiphanic moment of c ollectivity, grace, and utopian anticipation. This experience begins with the unexpected formation of a temporary possible and voluntary the convoy thwarts capitalism on two fron utopian community at Arrepentimiento, it acknowledges and validates a desire for collectivity, the very existence of which reveals purportedly natural or innate individualism to be the ideological construct that it is. Further, as freely given assistance that stands outside the reach of the profit motive and capitalist exchange, the convoy operates in accordance with the principle of excessive, generous grace. It therefore creates a temporary, contingent utopian community in the midst of the fog of late capitalism. sweeping and dramatic historical epiphany, one that is a matter simultaneously of temporality and visibility, the dual cores of Inherent Vice a nd Against the Day symbolism. In the final paragraph, Doc entertains two scenarios. First, he imagines that the fog will linger and prove inescapable. However, he also wrests the fog symbolically from the clutches of capitalism and claims it for t where nobody could tell anymore in the fog who was Mexican, who was Anglo, who was
324 In herent Vice as a figure of disorientation, here it renders incomprehensible categories according to which privilege is gra nted or revoked 128 Doc puts opacity and low lig ht to work against the social order that they had previously sustained. Instead of fostering class striation, the fog now obliterates class distinction. Instead of masking the ideological means for policing identities, the fog renders race and ethnicity not merely in determinate but also irrelevant to social status. Released from class fetters and overdetermined identities that trap subjectivities in their being and delimit material freedoms, subjectivities become free to pursue their own becoming. Fog b ecomes a tool for liberation and revolution. The second possibility imagined by Doc pushes this liberatory, revolutionary thinking further still, at the same time that it layers an historical dimension atop the visual symbolism reclaimed in the previous Then again, he might run out of gas before that happened, and have to leave the caravan, and pull over on the shoulder, and wait. For whatever would happen. For a forgotten joint to materialize in his pocket. For t he CHP [i.e., California Highway Patrol] to come by and choose not to hassle him. For a restless blonde in a Stingray to stop and offer him a ride. For the fog to burn away, and for something else this time, somehow, to be there instead. (369) Like its temporal neighbor Against the Day Inherent Vice ends with utopianism. tion in a collectivity, in light of the overall symbolic function in the novel of freeways and traffic, it also signifies a refusal of the workaday pragmatism that gets the middle class from suburb to office 128 In a sense, then, the fog at the end of Inherent Vice it is somewhat akin to the clouds that provide cover for Slothrop during his pie fight with Major Marvy in In both cases, the weat her facilitates logics and practices that empower preterite subjectivities against capitalism and constitut ed power.
325 and back. Rather than pursue a utilitarian goal, Doc waits. This waiting is different, however, than that at the end of The Crying of Lot 49 : whereas Oedipa awaits a res Any pothead who has ever found weed when there was none to be found knows well the generosity of that moment of discovery. Moreover in a novel where drug use is not merely a means for self discovery or spiritual revelation of a strictly metaphysical variety, but rather a figuration of epiphanic knowledge of the social world and human history, the fortuitous finding of an unaccounted reefer amounts to a potential open ing simply letting Doc be is also a gift of time time which, according to the anti hippie rrogation, running license plate numbers, checking warrants, and all which Doc is able to act: at the very least, it presents an opportunity for f orming, however briefly, a common bond with an erstwhile stranger. But the most radical, utopian incarnation of this grace, of course, is the final line. latter is marked most of all by its difference from things as they are. That dream is unlikely, its realization inexplicable: Doc is at a loss to imagine how it might come about,
326 so Golden Fang in day, the events of which, somehow, catalyze his political commitments and transform his pe rspective on history. And somehow, the fog of late capitalism might finally lift, revealing a landscape miraculously transformed, somehow, into something else. Something else is utopia; somehow is revolutionary grace. This imaginary anticipation of utopi a and revolution provides a reference point for Inherent Vice Doc perceives and antagonism toward Bigfoot is motivated not by a critical awareness of the fascist social function of the police but by cultural opposition between hip and square, in light of which Bigfoot is less an agent of the state or of capitalism than an extra on Adam 12 ass but he conceives of t hat difference culturally, not politically. It is only as the epiphanies accumulate that Doc begins thinking of himself as not only countercultural but also politically resistant. By the end, of course, his political stance and historical perspective con geal into a radical imagination of a social order other than capitalist. Against the Day Yashmeen Halfcourt and the Traverse family start out as militant radicals using propaga nda of the deed against capitalist infrastructure and practicing anarchist sexuality as a means for eroding the ideological bases of patriarchy and
327 heteronormativity and constructing oppositional collectivities By the end, however, from their retreat in Washington state, they pose li ttle revolutionary threat Their movement, from revolutionary praxis to countercultural retreat, is thus the reverse of The Chums of Chance, meanwhile, follow a different course altogether. They begin Against the Da y conducting surveillance work under the direct authority of Hierarchy. In that capacity, they are subject to a form of command consistent with both military discipline and industrial capitalism: orders are irreversible and unquestionable, emanating out f rom the center and down from the top. However, the Chums subsequently move from surveillance into other fields investment, courier work, unspecified but lucrative business in California, perhaps housing and real estate aboard the city sized Inconvenience and so forth while also gradually freeing themselves from Hierarchy. Their consequent autonomy, I have argued, corresponds to the internalization of social control, or biopower, under real subsumption They are permitted to be capitalist free agents pre cisely because capitalism is woven i nto their social organization Capitalist drive continues to rule on the Inconvenience scaling back any desire for meaningful change to the modest proportions of market reform. However, there is yet another element t relative autonomy and the political interpretation to which it gives rise. In addition to their antinomian relation to the Chums, the anarchists also follow a political course opposite Inherent Vice describ es a similar tendency which, although not embodied in individual characters in the same way as the other three movements I have just described, nonetheless reverses the direction followed by the Chums. The tasks of
328 debt management and surveillance are in itially performed in Inherent Vice by independent firms that pursue capitalist agendas but act more or less independently or even roguishly, most notably LSD Investigations, Gotcha! Searches and Seizures, and most prominently of course the Golden Fang. In addition, however Inherent Vice also anticipates from the standpoint of narrative time or records from that of empirical history the absorption of such work by information technologies: recall the ominous prediction, quoted above, of inescapable su rveillance through the ARPAnet or the Internet. 129 The recent history of cyberspace incursions against individual privacy, ranging from the wide availability of consumer credit reports to cases of identity theft and cyberbullying, attests to the massive suc cess of such surveillance. Once personal information is brazenly sold by Facebook or is only a click of the mouse or tap of the their work becomes less sexy and glamorous, a nd more clerical and administrative. 130 The tendency here is to invalidate proprietary claims to specialized expertise on the part of PIs and the like, and to make that expertise an immanent property of the capitalist system of exchange itself : capitalism n ow manages intelligence as a commodity to be traded or sold, as we see capitalism that accounts for the opposite movements of surveillance in Inherent Vice 129 130 Stephen Paul Miller highlights sundry ways world, by PIs and other independent agents of surveillance came to be increasingly systematized over the such as computer matching to cross 3).
329 and Against the Day : late capitalism can es chew the vertical hierarchies of an earlier industrial capitalism because biopower makes such structures inefficient, just as the system wide commodification of information and access render specialized surveillance redundant. Thus, Inherent Vice the Ca lifornia novel which is also in a sense an historical novel, published in 2009 but set in 1970 management of information through biopower but also sites of revolutionary struggle and utopian enclaves indicating a pot ential escape from capitalism. Conversely, the historical novel Against the Day attests to the antinomian bind of resistance in the post 9/11 world, suspended between capitalist reform and countercultural retreat. Once again, the semiotic rectangle pro ductively illustrates my political reading (see Fig. 4 4 ). It would seem that with this final micro period, the political valences of the two strains in Inherent Vice now sounds the clarion call of utopian thinking and cogn itive mapping, while Against the Day narrates an arrest of radical thought and praxis that is symptomatic of life under real subsumption Things are ultimately never quite so straightforward as that First, the utopia ting fog remains strictly metaphorical, especially in comparison with the utopianism of the earlier historical novels. Even there, of course, utopia remains dubious from the perspective of Their rationality, indicative history and capitalist biopower. N ever theless, the narrator of assembles a preterite collectivity at the Orpheus Theater, just as the Rev d Cherrycoke summons the Mobility into the LeSpark house in Mason & Dixon Similarly the conclusions to those novels insist more adam antly than that of Inherent Vice on the reality of their utopias,
330 tenuous though those realit ies may be: in the narrator is able at least wn sons, fully commit to the utopian promise of a subjunctive America. Inherent Vice figure d unless Maybe might experiences make a stronger claim on reality than this. For comparison, although Against the Day for example, the scenes centered on Webb Traverse/the Kieselguhr Kid still manage to achieve concrete results. The ending of Inherent Vice certainly marks its difference from the other Ca lifornia novels, but its utopianism does not for that reason alone stand on equal footing with comparable moments in the historical novels. A second complication arises from the conclusion of Against the Day closing epiphany in Inherent Vice i s utopian only within limits, the final paragraph on the Inconvenience in Against the Day airship certainly is a capitalist fantasy, but it is perhaps more than that as well I return to the closing lines of Against the Day have already analyzed, the donning of goggles by the Chums is a reasonable
331 ominous winds. 131 T he fact t hat the goggles are smoked, however, suggests another purpose. In addition to its religious connotations, the term glory is also a synonym for the lighting phenomenon anth elion: under the right conditions, with an observer looking appears to possess a halo, as in Christian iconography. 132 T he observer is facing the with the day, not against it. At the end of the novel, coming from the west and heading east temporally against the day. For all their acquiescence to capitalist drive, their internalization of biopower, their propagation of poverty and class stratification, there is nevertheless an intimation of opposition or resistance about the Chums here, a hint of potential revolt against what would become the twentieth century, pos tmodernity, and late capitalism. Furthermore, the abnormal visual quality of glory also suggests a kinship with the Against the Day indeed, the final word is therefore all the mor Toward but not to : the Chums approach grace but do not arrive, much like they flirt with alternatives to capitalism during their partnership with Igor Padzhitnoff only to revert following the armistice. This incom plete progress is consistent not only with the arrest or suspension of the utopian impulse at the end, and not only with the element 131 Furthe rmore, by this time in the novel (ca. 1920), flight goggles would be standard issue for normal aircraft, since cockpits then were predominately open; whether goggles would be necessary on a craft as advanced as the Inconvenience however, is unclear. 132 See in the OED
332 of deferral present in the conclusions to the other historical novels but also, crucially, with the anticipation o Inherent Vice Against the Day contains other points of overlap that potentially connect sk of stating the obvious, it is worth noting that the Chums are bound for California. The anarchists, too, link up with that other strain via Jesse Traverse, whose family settles in Washington at the end of Against the Day By Vineland IWW, organized loggers, be en murdered by capitalists, become a Thanatoid, and with all that accumulated history, continued to preside over the annual Becker Traverse this, the separation between the California novels and the historical novels seems slimmer in Against the Day than elsewhere. Although Inherent Vice lacks this kind of strong connection with the historical novels, Doc himself shares some similarities with characters in those novels While Investigations in Against the Day Not only is Lew a fellow PI, but he also temporarily sides with anarchists and labor unionists; if only for a moment, his political commitments a task of supreme tactical importance for Against the Day i s both revolutionary and heroic.) Closer still is the connection between Doc and Mason & Dixon though it is, is evident not least in pride of place at the Mason &
333 Dixon ends with Dr. Isaac and his brother William in their paean to Mason and to the dream of a subjunctive America inaugurating the Ameri can line of the Mason family ). 133 closing dialogue announces a utopian impulse that unfolds along an axis of futurity. Against the Day is not alone, then, in bridging th e gap between the California novels and the historical novels in the period since 9/11. Taken together, all of this points toward the possibility that in Against the Day and Inherent Vice ide from the specific examples that I have just discussed, a broad view of the prospects for praxis imagined in these two novels implies that such a reading deserves consideration. Even though it persists in reserving space for utopian figurations of a fu ture beyond capitalism, illuminated by glory and underwritten by grace, Against the Day nonetheless strikes an unmistakably less hopeful tone than its predecessor, Mason & Dixon Moreover, the suspended animation of revolution and resistance following 9/1 1 is at scene of At least that latter fate remains deferred, whereas Against the Day devastating consequences. Inherent Vice meanwhile, retains its family resemblance to The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland but it also stands unquestionably as the most optimistic iteration of utopianism among the California novels. Likewise, it is the closest 133 Without making much of this, I point out in passing another potential overlap between Mason & Dixon and Inherent Vice one that almost certainly is nothing but fortuitous but not for that reason unin teresting: namely, the nominal near coincidence of Charles Ma(n)son.
334 of the California novels to the rejection of instrumental capitalist rationality and the vocation of subjunctive historiography that we find in the historical novels. Perhaps paradoxically, then, the California strain formerly the terra in of the worst grievances in begins after 9/11 to take over some of the work previously assigned to the historical novels. In turn, that nts in cognitive mapping, collective resistance, subjunctive historiography, and utopian figuration, now comes to exhibit symptoms of late capitalism hitherto characteristic of its opposite number: the suffocation of community, the triumph of capitalism as a master narrative of history, and postmodernisms begin to bleed into each other. The high postmodernism of the dernism is now, perhaps, simply too late. 4. 6 Pynchon and the Futures of Postmodernity corpus, I want to return to a cluster o f topics with which I began my discussion of Pynchon : Pynchon, postmodernism/postmodernity, and late capitalism/globalization. radical praxis in postmodernity at the same time that they reveal, beneath the postmodern f lux, fundamental, metasynchronous contradictions a t the heart of late capitalism. These system of accumulation and expropriation and, conversely, to the precarious yet perennial desire for a fulfilling, utopian life in common. Further, those contradictory impulses have as their radical critical vocations on the one hand, the symptomological
335 diagnosis of the social and political malaise of capitalism, and on the other, the figurative co gnitive mapping of capitalism that reveals fissures to be opened and weaknesses to be exploited for collec tive, utopian ends Tho se hermeneutic agendas a metonymic r epresentation of commodity culture, a sinister space for the recontainment of utopian longing; and in the historical novels, which not only reflect the historical emergence of capitalist globalization but also, more significantly seek out or construct ima ginary utopian sites of resistance and revolt against the capitalist order. my account. Against the Day and Inherent Vice I have argued, continue to pursue the projects that have defined areer since The Crying of Lot 49 ; but their pursuit brings cognitive mapping and symptomology asymptotically closer to each other, at times rendering them indistinguishable. This complication raises several important theoretical questions; I limit myself here, however, to just two that are particularly important for postmodernism studies, globalization, and radical praxis alike. The first question concerns causality: what accounts for the dramatic shift in the relation between cognitive mapping and sympt omology in Against the Day and Inherent Vice ? I want to answer that question by taking up each of those critical operations in turn. Against the Day attempts a vast, ambitious cognitive mapping of late capitalism following 9/11, yet it apparently fails in the end to map out suitable spaces for revolutionary praxis or utopian alternatives. In another sense, however, that failure is a globalization movements
336 during the 1990s arose from the pe rceived newfound opportunities for resistance presented within capitalist globalization itself. As Hardt and Negri argue, the same network structures and productions of affect from which capitalism extracts value are also the very means by which the multi tude revolts against capitalism through self organization and the production of the common by love (see, e.g., Commonwealth 179 88; Multitude 285 88). Hence the vividness of Mason & Dixon subjunctive spaces, of what might yet be durin g the possibilities experienced during the 1990s. In the opening decade of the twenty first century, however, global capitalism under real subsumption advanced even further along its seemingly inexorable path, with ever more intensive means of propagating and ensuring control. Consider the single but paramount example of Citizens United: that Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission legally formalized the relation between capital and electoral politics that had already funct ioned practically, moving the U.S. even further toward unabashed plutocracy. When even the pretense of a distinction between government and capital is discarded, it is little wonder that a cognitive mapping worthy of its name would struggle to imagine alt ernatives within the capitalist world system, what accounts for both the nullification of meaningful radicalism among the anarchists and the institution alization of a c apitalist state, not just ideologically bu t also formally and practically, aboard the Inconvenience The project of cognitive mapping, at least as practiced by Pynchon throughout the historical novels, becomes inadequate after the advent of real subsumpti on
337 Things are rather different when it comes to symptomology in Inherent Vice I have shown that novel to be the most optimistic among the Cal ifornia novels ; I can now add that just as the failure of Against the Day an utopianism of Inherent Vice identifying symptoms of closure under capitalism, an indicator of the novel diagnosis. Despite the herculean difficulty of finding utopian openings in global capitalism or rather, precisely because of that difficulty the latter appears, in many ways, to be clinging desperately to its remaining vestiges of legitimacy as a just system for distributing wealth globally. Since recent global recession has proved capitalism incapable of providing equitably for the needs of all, and since the capitalist system itself leaves virtually no room for any but the most inconsequen tial reforms, it is all the more expedient and timely to reject capitalism altogether as a global economic system. Such rejection is evident in widespread revolt, such as the global Occupy movement, just as it is registered symptomatically as fomenting cl ass hatred in Inherent Vice The externality to capitalism of Inherent Vice ultimate codeword for utopia. The symptomatic revo lt against systemic oppression and exploitation recorded by Inherent Vice also opens onto a second question: what do the post 9/11 novels reveal about current prospects for meaningful, revolutionary change? Let me respond by exploring three hypothetical s cenarios.
338 First is the most obvious scenario, and the most depressing: in all likelihood, global capitalism will recover from its current woes and recuperate the widespread opposition that is momentarily expressed in popular revolt but ultimately suscept ible, like so many earlier moments even more radical than ours, to strategies of containment, management, and neutralization. In the U.S. alone, and limited to the twentieth century, capitalism has succeeded in squelching radical movements in the 1920s an 1960s, and perhaps the 1990s In this reactionary if not dystopian scenario, neoliberal nor provide cover for the autonomous formation of collectivities b y free subjectivities. Postmodernism might revert to the reactionary high postmodernism of the 1980s, or it might shift yet again, requiring the construction of yet another internally differentiated periodizing vocabulary, but the material basis of which postmodernism is the cultural logic late capitalism will remain fundamentally the same. The second scenario likewise assumes a continuation of the postmodern period. In this case the expressions of revolt symptomatically registered in Inherent Vice are the heirs and the continuance of the counter globalization movements of the 1990s. In this view Hardt and Negri have been right all along, and as they argue in Declaration (2012), their most recent collaboration, in fact the latest manifestation of the global multitude that first crystallized in the 1990s. Contemporary anti systemic movements are therefore to be coordinated as autonomous distributed networks using postmodern labor and postmodern expertise in the service o f democratic cum communist revolution. Eventually, that revolution, in turn, would presumably lead a way out of the postmodern morass, the latter being a properly late
339 capitalist cultural constellation unfit for a global communism of the multitude. As du bious as this possibility might seem, it is surely to be preferred over the previous one there but for the grace of Doc go I. Third, however, is the most radical historical possibility. It is also, for that reason, the least likely. It is nonetheless p ossible that the mounting dissatisfaction with capitalist rule will successfully topple the market and that it will do so in an entirely new historical form, founding a future that stands outside both capitalist exchange and the tradition of the counter gl obalization movements of the 1990s. This scenario would fiction provides an invaluable aid to their realization in relentlessly mapping the terrain of global capitalism, searching out and identifying its vulnerabilities, and insisting on the necessity of sustaining utopian impulses against stacked odds and nigh invincible adversaries which is real ly what utopian thinking is all about anyway. Utopian thinking is indispensible if there is to be any hope that the fog of postmodernity and late capitalism might someday, somehow, finally lift, revealing something else and escorting ody
340 Figure 4 1. Delaware wedge map showing lines surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. Source: Lasunncty [username] at English language Wikipe dia. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
341 Figure 4 2 Semiotic mapping of paranoia in The Crying of Lot 49 and Rainbow. Figure 4 3 Semiotic mapping of nostalgia in Vineland and Mason & Dixon. LIBERALISM individual freedom REFUSAL deterritorialization CONTROL discipline, militancy REAPPROPRIATION reterritorialization Disengage m ent Activism, involve ment Nostalgia for the past, indicative history Nostalgia for the future, subjunctive historiography Prairie 24fps Mason, Dixon Youth in MD LIBERALISM preterite individuality REFUSAL contingency, refusal of determinisms CONTROL social determination REAPPROPRIATION preterite col lectivization Nothing is connected Everything is connected Connection is nothing Not everything is connected
342 Figure 4 4 Semiotic mapping of the metaphorics of day in Against the Day and Inherent Vice. LIBERALISM individualism REFUSAL irrationality desire CONTROL instrumental reason d rive REAPPROPRIATION collectivization Counter culture Capitalist free cells Systemic management of surveillance Revolutionary flight Utopia Doc Debt manage ment Chums of Chance Yashmeen the Traverse clan
343 Table 4 1. Narrative time and historical time in Inherent Vice Day of narrative Time markers NBA playoff references Date (1970) 1 Tuesday, 24 March 2 Wednesday, 25 March 3 ffice next day Thursday, 26 Marc h 4 ely sunny and uneventful spin (50) Friday, 27 March 5 c called Sauncho next morning Saturday, 28 March 6 (98) Sunday, 29 March 7 The previous day ends with Doc on a drug trip; after a chapter break, Doc converses with Aunt Reet, apparently during business hours (111 ff.) division semifinals between (113). The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers four games to one; games were played on 25, 27, 30 March, 1 April, and 3 April. Monday, 30 March 8 day ends with Doc watching a televised Nixon rally (123) Tuesday, 31 March 9 Wednesday, 1 April
344 Table 4 1. C ontinued. Day of narrative Time markers NBA playoff references Date (1970) 10 during business hours (137) postseason the Lakers were having, and did he happen to (138) The Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns played in the Western Division Semifinals on 25, 29 March, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 9 April. Game 2 (29 March) was played before Thursday, 2 April 11 Friday, 3 April 12 Nighter Saturday, 4 April 13 Doc goes to his office the next day (163) Sunday, 5 April events anchoring the second half of the novel, the period must actually be 20 days. In addition, Riggs Warbling, previously clean 14 Saturday, 25 April
345 Table 4 1. Continued. Day of narrative Time markers NBA playoff references Date (1970) 15 just bef (186), but after Doc has lunch with Tito and has a phone conversation; since Doc must also drive to Ojai, it is reasonable to conclude that his trip occurs the day after his lunch with Tito Sunday, 26 April 16 Mo nday, 27 April 17 walked around well into the note the date) Tuesday, 28 April 18 Wednesday, 29 April 19 Thursday, 30 April 2 0 all asleep till close to dawn Friday, 1 May 21 the narrative resumes after a full day of driving with Tito (256) Saturday, 2 May 22 h the Sunday Times Sunday, 3 May
346 Table 4 1. Continued. Day of narrative Time markers NBA playoff references Date (1970) 23 Doc visits the Hall of Justice during business hours (275) was Eastern Division tonight, Game 5 of the NBA Finals was Division mistaken reference to the Eastern time zone: New York hosted game 5, so the game would likely be over by the time Doc gets to his TV set in the Pacific time zone. The Lakers and the New York Knicks played in the NBA Finals on 24, 27, 29 April, 1, 4, 6, and 8 May. Monday, 4 May 24 y was as they say another day that it could not possibly This is an extra day, unaccountable in any calendar 25 (315) Tuesday, 5 May 26 Wednesday, 6 May 27 Thursday, 7 May
347 Table 4 1. Continued. Day of narrative Time markers NBA playoff references Date (1970) 28 7 of the finals to the Game 7 of the NBA Finals was played on 8 May. Friday, 8 May This table supplements and forma lizes material first developed for the Pynchon Wiki; Inherent Vice
348 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION : ON SINGULARITY, IDEN TITY, AND ACTUALLY EXISTING POLITICS It does not take a particularly attentive reader to notice the disproportion between my treatments of Amiri Baraka and Thomas Pynchon. This disproportion, however, is not a result of some authorial disregard for balance or appearances t o the contrary notwithstanding the vagaries of whims or obsessions. Rather, this disproportion is produced by the juxtaposition of two distinct but nonetheless complementary methodologies for historicizing culture. The history of linguistics demonstrates the same alternation as this dissertation between synchronic and diachronic approaches, between momentary snapshots of linguistic structures frozen in time and dynamic narratives of change unfolding across time. The clearest example in this dissertation of synchronic interpretation is found in C hapter 2 where I use the semiotic rectangle an obviously and explicitly structuralist device to chart political and conceptual indebtedness t o the former, which is indeed its precursor, the function of the semiotic rectangles is not to demonstrate the diachronic processes by which the contemporary multitude develops out of the classic proletariat but rather, by reading those collectivities adja cently, to highlight specific differences between them. The chief value of that comparison lies in revealing and emphasizing the composition and the stakes of the multitude as an influential and perhaps potent figure of collective praxis. My figuration o f the multitude provides a synchronic account of one way to conceive of the dialectic of form and content in political thinking and praxis today.
349 There are, of course, some important differences between the synchronic and diachronic perspectives I adopt in this dissertation and their counterparts in linguistics. For one thing, the scientific character of Saussurian linguistics in particular is far more sanitary than the synchronic readings I offer here, where linguistic difference gives way to outright p olitical antagonism. For another, philology and other diachronic approaches to language seek historical origins through the mists of the longue dure, whereas I take a diachronic view of a considerably more limited span of time, studying literature publis hed between 1959 and 2009, in order to identify forces that remain in play and options that remain open or that reopen in the present. The question, ultimately, is less Baraka and Pynchon each help answer that question. The synchronic reading I 6 Persons focuses on a moment of emergence of minoritarian postmodern oppositional politics. The composition of 6 Persons in 1973 74 occupies a list and Marxist phases but also between experiences of the 1960s and the full fledged postmodernism that, according coalesces in the early 70s. My reading of the novel grasps it as a phenomenology of minoritarian praxis which, like the multitude at its best, constitutes an oppositional subjectivity that vexes the striated space of capitalist control and restores bonds of collective agency which capitalism in general and postmodern late capitalism i n particular dissolve in the solvent of consumerist ideology and global market fundamentalism. The minor current in postmodernism, manifested in 6 Persons arises coeval with the major current of real subsumption That the novel sat silently for more tha n 25 years before finally being
35 0 published in 2000 is in a sense a testament to that minor current: perhaps it took the visible eruption of that minor current in the late postmodern 1990s to prepare a broader readership than the novel was taken by publisher s to have had in the mid 1970s. In any case, 6 Persons stands as one snapshot of the fitful, momentary emergence of oppositional collectivities that continue to reemerge that must continue to reemerge in the perpetual struggle and permanent cultural revol ution between global capitalism and the constituent power of the multitude. modulations of this epochal conflict are most vivid. There are at least two lessons to be learned from the dialectical transformations of paranoia, nostalgia, and day in revolutionary as well as reactionary or recuperative uses signals both the intimate connectedness and the i class suburbia and prevents her from establishing the collective bonds for which she longs in The Crying of Lot 49 ; however it enables Nostalgia for the 1960s traps praxis in a paralysis of mourning in Vineland but the revolutionary no stalgia of Mason & Dixon reanimates a lost subjunctive praxis that constitutes an indispensible part of the inheritance of the idea of America. Finally, in Against the Day the Traverse clan and the Chums of Chance travel west, with the day, their utopian impulses recontained and neutralized, even as chronological time itself is disrupted by a gift of an unaccounted day in Inherent Vice
351 currents mobilize the same conceptual tools and political metaphors, but to antithetical ends each time. dialectic between revolution a nd recuperation. Notwithstanding the chronological periods, in which each micro conceptual lexicon while displacing and transforming previously dominant ideologemes, the broader historical pattern of revolutionary eruption and retreat suggested by the alternation of the California and historical novels speaks to the metasynchronous continuance of revolution ary struggles The ideologemes, agents, and practical strategies change with each micro period, just as they do from one social upheaval or political revolution to the next. But as Jameson argues in The Political Unconscious rather than discrete, isolated skirmishe s (97). The persistence of utopian thinking in episode. exts also bespeak another tension that is equally deserving of critical scrutiny: that between the praxis of singularity and the ethics of identity. I have already discussed the relation between singularity and identity at the close of m y reading of Barak a, World Marxist period is best explained in terms of the overcoming of singularity and
352 becoming by identity and being. What I can add now is that this same tension also with her mother Frenesi Gates in Vineland marks a very different nostalgia than Charles Mason, Jeremiah Dixon, and the Rev d And the Traverses end Against the Day in retreat from praxis and united by family identity, while Inherent V ice of becoming other. Whereas Baraka ultimately succumbs to the temptation of identity in 6 Persons choosing identity ov er praxis. politics. In section 4 .4, I briefly discussed the Occupy movement as one contemporary manifestation, among others, of the metasynchronous resurgence of revolutionary praxis and utopian critique. At its peak, t he Occupy movement held promise as a potentially powerful agent for political, economic, and social change. Speaking at an early Occupy Wall define d and defend ed the Occupy movement through a series of attributes that explicitly re for the commons the commons of nature, of knowledge which are threatened early 2012, it seemed possible that the Occupy movement might have widespread political and social
353 effe cts. However, success, of course, is never guaranteed for oppositional movements like Occupy: not only do such movements face external threats from the state in the form of riot police, FBI probes, and the like, but they also suffer constant threat of apa thy, burnout, or complacency. to remain committed to praxis rather than basking in o ppositional self in love with yourselves, with the nice time we are having here. Carnivals come cheap the true test of their worth is what remains the day after, how our normal daily life will be changed. Fall in love with hard and protester, he warns revolt. The emblematic slogan of the Oc balance between these poles of singularity and identity. As a speech act asserting the control a mere 1% of global wea lth, the slogan symbolically reveals as farce the last vestiges of perceived legitimacy of global capitalism, already in crisis for decades. But insofar as it speaks the identitarian language of being, the slogan is in peril of becoming a badge of members hip: we, the Occupy movement, speak for the global multitude of which you, middle class consumer, are a part but for which you are unqualified to speak. At this point, as I have shown earlier, political praxis devolves into ethical discourse: we are revol utionaries, and we have the correct platform. We are the
354 nostalgic inheritors of the 1960s, and we mourn its loss. We are the Traverses, Northwest. I am a protester, and I have told you so on my sign: we are the 99%. As a counterpoint to this language of identity, it is worthwhile to recall that among the most radical actions taken in connection with the Occupy Movement has been refusal, in particular the refusal to vacate a foreclosed home. Contemporary squatting amounts to an utter rejection of the terms and conditions of a distributive system designed for the benefit of the infinitesimally few and to the cost of nearly everybody. If exodus in Michael Hardt and An oppositional praxis conventionally means leaving, this is stationary exodus, one which transforms and reterritorializes the space itself of the foreclosed home rather than fleeing the striated space of c apitalism. Such refusal would make Bartleby the Scrivener proud (see Hardt and Negri, Empire 203 04). The difficulty, though, lies in perseverance in the face of eviction notices, destroyed credit, state violence in the form of th e sherrif knocking on the door (which always seems a hair s breadth from knocking it down). As encouragement despite such odds and as a rejoinder to the identitarianism of the Occupy movement s best known slogan, one would do well to heed the central imperative of Alain Badiou s ethic of truth : Keep going! (52).
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376 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH James Liner was born in the Pacific Northwe st, where his family on one side has lived for generations, with roots spread throughout the remote outpost of the Ki tsap Peninsula. He received a b University before pursuing his m the University of Oklahoma, with a focus on literary theory, postmodernism, and globalization. James holds a d octorate from the University of Florida, where he studied contemporary U.S. literature and critical theory. He currently teaches twentieth cent ury American literature at the University of Washington Tacoma.