Thomas Pynchon: Allusive Parables of Power by John Dugdale

By John Dugdale

Written via the writer of "William Dean Howells, Indian Summer", "Herman Melville, the boldness guy, White Jacket", "William Dean Howells, a possibility of recent Fortunes" and "File on Shepherd", this can be a serious examine on Thomas Pynchon.

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Freud's description is parodied in the passage on the cannibalism of the Indian with the Windigo psychosis, which predicts what will apparently occur when Siegel leaves the party: 'The manic subject plainly demonstrates his liberation from the object which was the cause of his suffering, by seeking like a ravenously hungry man for new object-cathexes'. The Windigo psychosis is presented as an extreme form of the manic-depressive flipflop, with the first stages 'marked by a profound melancholia' (210).

A child makes it all right' [76]) to renew his marriage, either because he will return to Cindy and they will have children, or because Nerissa is Cindy seen afresh. His experiences in the story are versions of those which, in myth, literature and Jungian psychology, regularly precede rebirth or renewal: a journey into the underworld, a period of festivity and mixing with social outcasts, a symbolic return to the womb and death by water. There are teasing inducements in 'Low-lands' for the reader of literary training and sensibility (that is, the probable reader of New World Writing) to accept both Flange's sea change and the value of fictions.

The 'single human figure' (65) enables the protagonist to bind together a set of fantasies into one fantasy. The last paragraphs of MMV are full of echoes because Siegel's perception of Loon and his own role involves a mesh of ideas which have been successively elaborated: the Machiavel-Jesuit v. Mensch opposition, the eucharistic pun on 'host', the different versions of going native (Grossmann, Lupescu, Kurtz), the Windigo theory. Equally, Flange's acceptance of the 'rightness' of Nerissa and his agreement to remain with her are the result of a tissue of beliefs and associations: enslaving metaphors (58), haunting correspondences (64), curious illusions (65), intuitions of rightness (71), inaccurate memories (59) and so forth.

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