Re: RARA-AVIS: Pynchon according to Washington Post

From: jacquesdebierue (
Date: 10 Aug 2009

  • Next message: Steve Novak: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Pynchon according to Washington Post"

    --- In, Mark Sullivan <DJ-Anonyme@...> wrote:
    > What a bunch of elitist crap.

    Please, let's be civil.

    > Who is this "average American" you're talking about that expects "the temporal element of be consecutive"? Guess you don't watch TV. Your description of Pynchon's time shifts and tangents sounds like a description of Lost, or 24, or ER, or West Wing, or daytime soap operas, or reality shows, or Seinfeld, or Dungeons and Dragons, or video games like Zelda or Grand Theft Auto, or daily internet surfing, all of which are intensely inter- and intratextual. In fact, Steve Johnson wrote a whole book on the increasing complexity of plots on TV and in video games and its impact: Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter. Yes, he stacks his deck somewhat with how he defines "smarter," but it's an interesting argument.
    > Also, if popular, bestselling writers like Vonnegut or Adams or, my addition, Stephenson are "niche writers," who qualifies as mainstream?
    > Mark

    I don't think Vonnegut has really been absorbed, though he was popular and probably still is. While you're right about the plots of some series, I fail to see what TV has to do with books, though. Completely different medium, and the same goes for the Internet and video games. You don't learn to be a book reader by playing video games...

    Now, Pynchon doesn't strike me (and never has) as a particularly obscure writer. What he has is a very incisive literary personality and a sense of fantasy -- but this sense of fantasy is not drawn from abstractions, it comes from the street, from ordinary life.

    The mystery is why Pynchon's work has been associated with an "elite" reader... could this be an invention by the critics? And what is an elite reader?

    I once ran into somebody who would not read Gaddis because he had read reviews saying that it was "metaliterature" or something like that... ridiculous! Such epithets make the literature sound like definitely NOT FUN. They're killer epithets.


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