|Dirk Vanderbeke (Greifswald)
Vineland in the Novels of John Barth and Thomas Pynchon (1)
At the end of the first chapter of Thomas Pynchon’s novel The Crying of Lot 49, the heroine Oedipa Maas is reminded of a trip to Mexico with her former and now late lover Pierce Inverarity.
In Mexico City they somehow wandered into an exhibition of paintings by the beautiful Spanish exile Remidios Varo: in the central painting of a triptych, titled “Bordando el Manto Terreste”, were a number of frail girls with heart-shaped faces, huge eyes, spun-gold hair, prisoners in the top room of a circular tower, embroidering a kind of tapestry which spilled out the slit windows and into a void, seeking hopelessly to fill the void: for all the other buildings and creatures, all the waves, ships, and forests of the Earth were contained in this tapestry, and the tapestry was the world. (Pynchon 1967, 10)
If you imagine a tapestry spreading out from a single point, you will get something approaching the shape of a wavy V, the letter which is of crucial importance in the novels of Thomas Pynchon.
If Mexico City is chosen as the starting point of this image, the shape of the wavy V may come to resemble the North American continent, and it may be useful to keep in mind that it was Central America where the first concepts of the New World were formed.
And if you finally travel along the branching lines of the V up to 40° of latitude, you will come to Vineland: i.e. the actually existing town of Vineland, New Jersey in the East and the fictional city and county of Vineland in the West.
When Pynchon’s novel Vineland was published in 1990, the initial V. served to some extent as a trademark of the obscure author, and after 17 years of silence since Gravity’s Rainbow, expectations were running high. But many of the reviewers were rather disappointed at first (cf. Keesey 1990; Hawthorne 1992, 77).
The title suggested some historical depth, a concern with the origin of America, and possibly an evocation of another American dream, the mythological ‘Vinland the Good’, which never had to face the reality of history and thus could remain in a prelapsarian state. Yet there is less historical interest in the actual book than in any of Pynchon’s previous novels.
The text hardly ever leaves the time-frame experienced by its readers, i.e. the few decades since the 60’s; only occasionally are there some brief reminiscences about the strikes and labor movements of the 30’s or the anticommunist witch hunt of the 50’s. And the only mythology mentioned in the text is the lore of the Yuroks, the Native Americans of the Vineland area.
Still, some attempts were made to link the fictional Vineland of the novel with the Vinland of the Vikings:
As a distant, romanticized land, Vinland connoted refuge, a haven after the harrowing crossing of the Atlantic. Pynchon’s Vineland is also a refuge where fantasy, or at least the ignoring of reality, can shape a girl’s education, keeping her from knowing the secrets of her mother, but it is a refuge surrounded and finally invaded by reality.
Vinland became identified with Thule, the White Island or Blessed Islands of Western mythology; likewise, Vineland is associated with Tsorrek because it stands at the mouth of the river that, according to Yurok geography, flows from the land of the living to the land of the dead. (Hawthorne, 77)
I will later come back to the mythical river of the dead, but for the moment I would like to suggest that this kind of analogy is rather forced – the ‘Blessed Islands’ do not really resemble the grim image of Tsorrek.
Another critic wrote:
…Vineland sets its dreary depiction of contemporary reality against former utopian dreams of what America might one day become. Although the title refers to the novel’s setting in the fictional (but realistic) town of Vineland, California, it also evokes the name given America by the Vikings, a name that conveys a sense of abundance and promise.
The New World as a whole originally functioned in the European psyche as a locus of hopeful idealism. […] But the cruelty with which … [the] conquistadors subdued the native population of Mexico anticipates Pynchon’s suggestion in Vineland that the American dream has become a nightmare. (Booker 1992, 7)
The sudden shift from Leif Erikson’s idealized Vinland to the Spanish conquest in the quotation above blends two images of the New World which are not so easily reconciled. After all, even in the earliest Spanish accounts of America, the utopian dream was frequently balanced by its opposite, the dystopian nightmare, and the arcadian garden was also supposed to be inhabited by a multitude of monsters and man-eating savages.
I also doubt that Pynchon suggests that the American dream has become a nightmare – all his novels and especially his latest book Mason and Dixon indicate that history has lately been ‘a nightmare from which he is trying to awake’.
But the setting of the novel in the year 1984 certainly does suggest a dystopian view of contemporary America and thus the Vineland region, a dwelling place of marijuana farmers, old hippies, and large sections of the counter culture, may very well indicate the other America which is now under siege, the land of myth and eternal childhood.
But Pynchon’s novel is far too ambiguous to offer us a simplistic alternative of a better world, even if this world is eventually doomed to fail and succumb to the evil forces of Reaganite persecution.
His Vineland is a complex web of intertextual references and hidden allusions, and I want to suggest that one of the most important texts in this context is John Barth’s novel The End of the Road, which is partly set in Vineland, New Jersey – Barth’s title would, of course, be a very suitable subtitle for all of Pynchon’s novels.
Vineland, New Jersey, was, by the way, the site of a utopian community in the 19th century based on strictly teetotal regulations. The fact that Pynchon’s Vineland is rather the last refuge for dope heads and the grass-growing segment of American agriculture may tie in with concepts of complementarity in his earlier novels.(2) And maybe the oversized grapes of the mythical Vinland were simply translated into modern modes of intoxication.
The End of the Road, published in 1958, explores the human condition in terms of freedom, choice, and motivation. I suppose that it will not be necessary to outline the plot of the novel; for the purpose at hand, a brief summary of the basic situation will suffice.
At the chronological beginning of the novel, the hero, Jacob Horner, does not sit in the corner as in the well-known nursery rhyme but instead sits on a bench at Pennsylvania Railway Station in Baltimore, and he is completely paralyzed not because of some kind of bodily handicap or ailment but because he simply cannot find any reason to move.
Having asked at the ticket window for possible destinations he might reach with his money, he takes a seat to make up his mind.
And it was there that I simply ran out of motives, as a car runs out of gas. There was no reason to go to Cincinnati, Ohio. There was no reason to go to Crestline, Ohio. Or Dayton, Ohio; or Lima, Ohio. There was no reason, either, to go back to the apartment hotel, or for that matter to go anywhere. There was no reason to do anything.
My eyes, as Winckelmann said inaccurately of the eyes of the Greek statues, were sightless, gazing on eternity, fixed on ultimacy, and when that is the case there is no reason to do anything – even to change the focus of one’s eyes. (Barth 1988; hereafter quoted as ER).
The plurality of possibilities has led to an impasse because the alternatives offered carry no intrinsic value. If everything is ultimately the same, there is no basis and no reason for choice.
Jacob Horner remains in the grip of paralysis, like Buridan’s ass locked in its state of indecision, until the next day he is observed by an obscure, nameless Black doctor who specializes in cases of psychological paralysis and takes him to a remobilization farm. The farm is situated in Vineland, New Jersey.
This choice of location in a novel of mainly fictitious places may be taken as an indication that America and the American dream are at stake and that the therapies offered or rather prescribed bear some significance for the American condition.(3)
The most important and striking feature of all the quite unusual therapies mentioned is that they do not even try to touch upon the causes of psychological paralysis – all they deal with are the symptoms of a state of mind which is more or less taken for granted.
Among the therapies offered there are Agapotherapy or Devotional Therapy, Sexual Therapy, Conversational Therapy, Virtue and Vice Therapy, Philosophical Therapy, Theotherapy and Atheotherapy, all of which are basically methods by which one may choose between different modes of action without the necessity of an individual evaluation of the possibilities at hand.
The doctor states that “Choosing is existence” (ER 77), and in this claim we may detect a faint echo of the credo of democracy and a celebration of the ultimate achievement of freedom in the proverbial land of unlimited possibilities, but the principle of choice is re-qualified as an absurd ritual, vital but meaningless:
[D]on’t let yourself get stuck between alternatives, or you’re lost… If the alternatives are side by side, choose the one on the left; if they are consecutive in time, choose the earlier.
If neither of these applies choose the alternative whose name begins with the earlier letter of the alphabet. These are the principles of Sinistrality, Antecedence, and Alphabetical Priority – there are others, and they are arbitrary, but useful. (ER 80f.)
The French equivalent of Jacob Horner, the hero of René Clair’s La Princess de Chine, organizes his life on the basis of similar modes of selection in an extensive game on probability. In Barth’s novel, the ability to choose remains a sine qua non of existence even after the evaluation of alternatives has long lost its relevance.
Jacob Horner’s paralysis is the result of an ultimate lack of ego, he is simply a person without a personality. His emblem is a small statue of Laokoön, immobilized, the mute mouth opened in a silent scream. The doctor’s solution to Horner’s problem is Mythotherapy, the willful selection of a role-model as the prototype for one’s own life and every process of decision-making.
Mythotherapy is based on two assumptions: that human existence precedes human essence, if either of the two terms really signifies anything; and that a man is free not only to choose his own essence but to change it at will. Those are both good existentialist premises, and whether they’re true or false is of no concern to us – they’re useful in your case. (ER 82, italics in the original)
The philosophical principle ‘Know thyself’ is thus undermined by the realization that there is no self to be known, that there are only multitudes of masks to conceal the essential emptiness. The American ideal of the self-made man takes an almost Lacanian twist where the “self” is “made” by prefabricated roles, and the life story precedes the life it will narrate.
It is made quite clear that Mythotherapy is not simply the cure for Jacob’s state of mind but the general mode of human existence, and that paralysis is rather the result of not being able to participate in Mythotherapy any longer.
In consequence, all the characters of the novel are occasionally observed in the process of donning and doffing their masks. In fact, it seems as if Barth in his novel had anticipated Michel Foucault’s diagnosis of the selves as the difference of masks (cf. Foucault 1974, 131).
Thus the question for motivation leads to an infinite regress, as every action can be traced back to an earlier choice of the role to which the function of decision-making was assigned.
When Jacob Horner commits adultery with his only friend’s wife, the attempt to analyze this act, to attribute motive to a deed done, will lead to catastrophe.
As neither of the characters in question is able to account for any intentions which motivated the act or to define the infinitesimally small change in atmosphere which ultimately led to the considerable result, the only mode of investigation seems to consist in a forced and increasingly reluctant repetition, which leads to pregnancy, which leads to abortion, which leads to death.
The concept that each life is based on a story and that the story precedes life must take into account that each story ends with the final period and that human life follows the law of diminishing possibilities.
It might be possible to take the development of the plot as a kind of analogy to the butterfly effect of chaos theory, i.e. a minor shift in initial conditions leads to major effects, but then novelists knew about this long before scientists began to investigate the phenomenon.
The ill-fated abortion is performed by the nameless doctor in Vineland.
It is preceded by a kind of Faustian pact in order to gain the doctor’s agreement, but in accordance with the basic lack of human essence proclaimed throughout the novel, Jacob Horner does not have to trade his dubitable soul but his future life – he agrees to become the property of the doctor, to follow him as a living case study when the farm is moved to a new location – the remobilization farm turns out to be the most mobile element in the novel.
On the last page, Jacob Horner is taking a taxi to the railway station to meet the doctor. Beginning and end are reversed in the image of the railway station, i.e. the starting point of endlessly bifurcating paths but at the same time the final destination of all those paths. This image will return in the mythology of the other Vineland on the West Coast.
But in a sense the story of Jacob Horner begins and ends in Vineland at the remobilization farm, where initially unlimited though meaningless possibilities are offered, except they lead back to the same place and to the loss of any choice.
The American dream of liberty, of mobility, of the eternal frontier, has been replaced by arbitrariness, chance, mindless motion, and ultimately by paralysis and death, the last word of the novel being “terminal” – I do not think it will be necessary to elaborate on the double meaning.
In Pynchon’s Vineland some of the elements of The End of the Road are re-investigated. Again I do not think that it will be necessary to give an outline of the plot; as a matter of fact, this would be quite impossible, as the novels of Thomas Pynchon do not yield to any kind of summary.
Let it suffice that the novel is based on the quest of a young girl, Prairie Wheeler, for her mother, Frenesi, who in the 60’s had originally been a member of a radical film crew but crossed the lines and for some time became the lover and instrument of the evil principle of the novel, the DA Brock Vond. As in The End of the Road, the novel begins and ends in Vineland, but it is Vineland, California, and 30 years have passed.
Again, Vineland marks an end of the road, and in a sense one might say that Vineland is the last frontier of an expanding and colonizing America.
Someday this would be all part of a Eureka – Crescent City – Vineland megalopolis, but for now the primary sea coast, forest, riverbanks, and bay were still not much different from what early visitors in Spanish and Russian ships had seen.
Along with noting the size and fierceness of the salmon, the fogbound treachery of the coast, the fishing villages of the Yurok and Tolowa people, log keepers not known for their psychic gifts had remembered to write down, more than once, the sense they had of some invisible boundary, met when approaching from the sea … (Pynchon 1990, 317; hereafter quoted as Vl)
This almost mythical land has become the last refuge for the remains of the American counterculture of the 60’s, eternal hippies as well as labor movement activists, but it is under siege from the lumber industry on the one hand and from CAMP, i.e. the Campaign Against Marijuana Production, on the other hand.
In consideration of Pynchon’s rather obvious bias for the failed revolution of the 60’s and the identification of evil with the Reagan administration and especially every kind of law enforcement, this could lead to the simple understanding that Vineland resembles Vinland the Good, that good and evil are easily distinguished in the novel and in politics in general, and that mind-expanding drugs may offer a new vision of the American dream.
As a matter of fact, one of the leaders of the 60’s in the novel, later to be assassinated, is called Weed Atman, which might be translated into ‘marijuana smoke’. But things are not so easy in Pynchon’s novels.
If possible, psychological involvement with Mythotherapy has taken leaps since The End of the Road. But while the doctor’s prescriptions were chiefly based on the classical role models of Western tradition or even on narrative functions as described by structuralist patterns, we now encounter distinct voices and gestures taken directly from the ever-present television, the capitalized Tube.
In George Orwell’s 1984 the telescreen serves as the ubiquitous instrument of control because it can monitor each and every move. In Vineland’s America of 1984 this has proven to be quite unnecessary because each and every move is motivated by the images and characters observed on the screen.
The vision of the American dream has been replaced by television, and the question of good and evil has been blurred by the fact that every story needs its villain, no matter whether the villain is the outlaw or the cop.
When Prairie’s father is confronted by an old-time acquaintance from the police who is still after him, the conversation turns into a fast game of impersonations, with the law enforcement officer humming the tune from Meet the Flintstones and alternately imitating Clint Eastwood and Skipper from Gilligan’s Island.
As one result of this impact of the media, the generation gap tends to close. The world of Vineland is marked by a culture of reruns and thus also by a ritualized and quite literal déjà vu, as each childhood is largely structured by the tubal input which remains constantly retrievable ever after.
Children and adults are thus shaped by the same experience in which the past and the present are to some extent fused – the endless repetition creates a kind of timelessness.
As a matter of fact, a childhood which is extended into adult life was one of the significant features in the culture of the Yuroks, the native Americans of the Vineland region (cf. Becke & Vanderbeke 1992, 63-76), and it might be of interest here that one of the standard texts on Childhood in America contains a chapter on the Yuroks and was written by Erik Erikson (4) – the surname should ring a bell in the context of Vineland.
Pynchon’s Vineland features an equivalent to the clinic in The End of the Road, but it is no longer concerned with those who are unable to participate in Mythotherapy, it rather deals with patients who have developed some televisionary addiction, it is a “dryin’-out place for Tubefreeks” (Vl 33).
The name of this clinic is one of Pynchon’s typical acronyms: the abbreviation of the ‘National Endowment for Video Education and Rehabilitation’ spells NEVER, and like the Neverland of Peter Pan or Michael Jackson, it is a place for those who are unwilling or unable to grow up.
But it is not only the personal of Vineland that is obsessed with the new media, the text itself occasionally reads like a complicated version of Trivial Pursuit’s silver screen edition. The novel contains about 300 names, and disregarding the characters of the novel, by far the largest group of them consists of real or fictional characters associated with the new media.
As a result, the reading process occasionally turns into an extended excursion into pop culture, but there is a catch. Once you have achieved a complete understanding of all the allusions, you yourself will have turned into a potential patient of the rehabilitation center for addicts of tubal abuse.
And finally, reality itself seems to have been infused with the fantasies of the screen. All of Pynchon’s novels call for a heavy dose of willing suspension of disbelief, and quite regularly, the most unbelievable elements are actually taken from life. But here the fantastic element is almost completely an extension of television’s virtual reality into the world of Vineland.
The Thanatoids, a group of reproachful revenants who try to obtain recompense for wrongs done to them while alive, are, for example, quite obviously descendants of George A. Romero’s living dead, and when a Japanese Research and Development laboratory is flattened by a size 20,000 foot, we simply know that it was an act of God or Godzilla.
The world is constantly being told and retold on the screen until the narrative claims priority over the world itself. In terms of the image of the girls who weave the world in TCoL49, in Vineland the tapestry of the world has turned into video tape.
The ritualized cultural experience based on repetition, the dependence on pre-fashioned role models in any attempt to cope with an increasingly complex world, and especially the interaction of reality with the virtual reality of a prevailing narrative mode which is distinctly illiterate mark a cultural situation which bears some resemblance to mythical ways of worldmaking. America has to some extent returned to its origins.
This world is ruled by the members of a remote power elite – Brock Vond calls them the “Real Ones” (Vl 276) just as H. P. Lovecraft refers to the “Great Old Ones” or the “Ancient Ones.” Their will is carried out by the computer, an instrument of control which has turned into a symbol of arbitrariness, incomprehensible but unquestionable processes of decision-making, and a metaphor for a cruel and despotic God.
When Prairie’s mother Frenesi and her husband are quite suddenly dropped from the government’s pay list and their bank accounts are canceled, she starts to hum to a sort of standard gospel tune:
We are digits in God’s computer (…) and the only thing we’re good for, to be dead or to be living, is the only thing He sees. What we cry, what we contend for, in our world of toil and blood, it all lies beneath the notice of the hacker we call God. (Vl 91)
The computer has assumed the role of former mythical deities, granting or withholding the flow of modern forms of sustenance, i.e. money, in the same way in which the local gods granted or withheld the return of the salmon.
The novel opens with a ritualized annual performance by Prairie’s father: once a year he has to jump through the closed window of a public building to prove his mental instability and also his obedience to the powers that be, and he is rewarded for this act with a monthly mental disability check.
The story of Vineland follows Joseph Campbell’s well-known pattern of the quest for the mythical hero’s – or in this case heroine’s – origin. The time frame is cyclical rather than linear, and both the beginning and the end are marked by annual happenings, the beginning by Zoyd Wheeler’s autodefenestration and the end by a yearly family reunion which seems to embrace all segments of the American counterculture.
This counterculture has lost the revolutionary momentum of the 60’s. In fact, the anticipation of a better society has given way to a nostalgic remembrance of times past; the utopian dream has taken a regressive twist. America scorns its intellectuals, and the development of the political Left seems to prove the point.
According to Pynchon’s assessment of the last decades, large sections of the former Left have turned to a new irrationalism and the eclecticism of the so-called New Age philosophy. The movement of the 60’s, which never excelled in excessive coherence, has further dissolved into a heterogeneous mass of solipsistic and interchangeable ideologies.
In Vineland these include the usual forms of radical vegetarianism and mysticism but also the clinic for karmic readjustment and the Sisterhood of Kunoichi Attentives. But in one way or another all segments seem to be connected with Vineland, and they all turn up at the annual reunion of a Pan-American family in the Vineland region. In the course of this reunion, American history is ritually retold as an endless succession of persecution and the abuse of power:
…grandfolks could be heard arguing the perennial question of whether the United States still lingered in a prefascist twilight, or whether that darkness had fallen long stupefied years ago, and the light they thought they saw was coming only from millions of Tubes all showing the same bright-colored shadows. One by one, as other voices joined in, the names began – some shouted, some accompanied by spit, the old reliable names good for hours of contention, stomach distress, and insomnia – Hitler, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, Hoover, Mafia, CIA, Reagan, Kissinger, that collection of names and their tragic interweaving that stood not constellated above in any nightwide remoteness of light, but below, diminished to the last unfaceable American secret, to be pressed, each time deeper, again and again beneath the meanest of random soles, one black fermenting leaf on the forest floor that nobody wanted to turn over, because of all that lived virulent, waiting, just beneath. (Vl 371)
In Barth’s novel, Vineland offered a cure for paralysis, but the cure did not include a return to a meaningful evaluation of different possibilities – it was based on arbitrariness and chance.
In Pynchon’s Vineland all the decisions seem to have taken a bad turn, and American history reads like a long list of wrong roads taken. The final failure of utopian ideals was established once the screen dominated the scene. The diagnosis is announced by an adolescent violence freak:
Whole problem ‘th you folks’s generation … is you believed in your Revolution, put your lives right out there for it – but you sure didn’t understand much about the Tube. Minute the Tube got hold of you folks that was it, that whole alternative America, el deado meato, just like th’ Indians, sold it all to your real enemies, and even in 1970 dollars – it was way too cheap… (Vl 373)
America, the seemingly most advanced society, has relapsed into a quasi-mythical mode, and Original Sin is endlessly repeated in every instance of giving in or selling out to the agents of power – in fact, with every use of the remote control, the term carries a very precise double meaning in this context.
The area of Vineland may be a last refuge for the other America, but it has long succumbed to the American way of life in the age of mass media. It may be of interest here that the name of Prairie Wheeler fuses both aspects of America: the old and the new, the primordial and virgin American landscape and the intrusion of the railroad or, using Leo Marx’s image, the machine and the garden.
In addition, the seductive power of order is working on the last inhabitants of the happy enclave. In Orwell’s 1984 there was a catch:
If there is hope, wrote Winston it lies in the proles. (…) (Orwell 1972, 59)
Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious. (ibid., 60)
In Vineland‘s 1984 the paradox reads: If there is hope it lies in the hippies, the anarchists, and especially the children. But until they organize they can never succeed, and once they begin to organize, they have changed sides.(5) But even more important: behind every act of revolt there lurks the wish for a return to the equilibrium of order (6):
Brock Vond’s genius was to have seen in the activities of the Sixties Left not a threat to order but unacknowledged desires for it. While the tube was proclaiming youth revolution against parents of all kinds, and most viewers were accepting the story, Brock saw the deep … need only to stay children forever, safe inside some extended national Family. (Vl 269)
All this seems to indicate the necessity of doom, the ultimate failure of each and every hope for individuality and the salvation of the American dream. But Pynchon ends his novel with an unexpected twist. The mythical landscape of the Native Americans itself succeeds and overcomes the forces of evil, if only temporarily.
On the last pages, the villain is led to the land of no return – to Tsorrek – the Yurok version of Styx, the river of the dead. The road to Tsorrek can open anywhere, i.e. all roads finally lead to the same destination, and so many have walked this road that it is trodden deep into the earth.
The familiar image of time as a garden of branching paths, i.e. of endless possibilities, is turned into its opposite, an image of the irreversible processes leading to death. The question of general history is replaced by the inevitable conclusion of life.
With the death of the villain, the book may end on an unfamiliarly happy note (at least in the context of Pynchon’s novels), but this is balanced by the rather grim image of the unhappy hereafter, which after all seems to be a place in Arcadia.
(1) The ‘Pynchon-part’ of this paper is to some extent a revised version of aspects already touched upon in a paper I read at the Alte Schmiede, Wien in 1994, published as “Thomas Pynchon’s V, oder: Wie man einen Buchstaben erzählt”, in: Strukturen erzählen, Hrsg. Herbert J. Wimmer, Wien 1996. (back)
(2) In The Crying of Lot 49, for instance, we find the names Tristero and Hilarius, one being the incarnation of the entropic forces in nature and society, the other a psychoanalyst who started his career in a German concentration camp and is thus ultimately associated with the forces of order.
But the names allude to Giordano Bruno’s motto for his play Candelaio “In tristitia hilaris: in hilaritate tristis” and thus to the concept of the coincidentia oppositorum – and, as a matter of fact, Tristero and Hilarius do each – like yin and yang – contain elements of the opposing principle, and they both lead to the same reaction, i.e. paranoia. (back)
(3) In the discussion at the conference it was suggested that the doctor’s existentialist background may put Europe rather than America under attack in Barth’s novel. This is certainly a valid point, America is heavily influenced by European philosophy in The End of the Road.
But the text does not offer any alternative. Joe Morgan, complementary counterpart to the doctor and all-American scoutmaster, definitely takes part in the game of impersonations. The rules established by the doctor in Vineland govern each and every character of the novel, they define the American condition. (back)
(4) I am grateful for Hartmut Lutz’s remark in the discussion of this paper that Erikson’s account of the Yuroks bears little resemblance to reality. Pynchon’s allusions to the Yuroks are chiefly references to Yurok mythology, still the importance of a prolonged adolescence in Vineland seems to indicate that Erikson’s book and its claim of ‘infantile attitudes’ preserved within Yurok culture may have served as a source for the novel. (back)
(5) This problem recurs frequently in Pynchon’s texts, it is of crucial importance in his short story “The Secret Integration” and it leads to the ultimate failure of the ‘Counterforce’ in Gravity’s Rainbow.(back)
(6) Anne Hegerfeldt has reminded me of the fact that in nature there is, of course, no equilibrium of order but only equilibrium of disorder. I would like to maintain though, that in Pynchon’s novels there is a tendency towards order and that the entropic process is reversed in his depiction of human history and society. (back)
Barth, J., The Floating Opera and The End of the Road, New York 1988.
Becke, R. & Vanderbeke, D., “Chants of Dispossession and Exile: The Yuroks in Vineland“, in: Pynchon Notes 30-31, spring – fall 1992, pp. 63-76.
Booker, M.K., “Vineland and Dystopian Fiction”, in: Pynchon Notes, No 30-31, spring – fall 1992, pp. 5-38.
Foucault, M., The Archaeology of Knowledge, London 1974.
Hawthorne, M.D., “Imaginary Locales in Pynchon’s Vineland“, in: Pynchon Notes, No 30-31, spring – fall 1992, pp. 77-90.
Keesey, D., “Vineland in the Mainstream Press: A Reception Study”, in: Pynchon Notes, No 26-27, spring – fall 1990, pp. 107-113.
Orwell, G., 1984, Harmondsworth 1972.
Pynchon, Th., The Crying of Lot 49, New York 1967.
—–, Vineland, Boston 1990.
“Vineland in the Novels of John Barth and Thomas Pynchon” was first read at the Conference: The Viking Connection: Canada – Continentalist Perspectives (Greifswald 1996), and then published in Informal Empire? Cultural Relations Between Canada, the United States and Europe (Schriftenreihe des Zentrums für Kanada-Studien an der Universität Trier, Bd. 8); ed. Peter Easingwood, Konrad Groß and Hartmut Lutz, Kiel, l&f Verlag, 1998, S. 415-427. It is reprinted here by kind permission of the editors.