National Fantasies

Author: Robert Holton (Carleton University)

  • National Fantasies


    National Fantasies



Readers of Thomas Pynchon know that well before Foucault's ground-breaking work on the intersections of power and knowledge, surveillance and the mechanisms of social control, these issues had already provided much inspiration for American writers of fiction. Still, interest in all things conspiratorial has perhaps never been higher than now. A number of books in the last few years, aimed at both popular and academic markets, discuss the emergence of this peculiar cultural phenomenon. Oscillating between anxiety and giddiness at one level, fanatical devotion and scoffing disbelief at another, our responses to it suggest that we are nevertheless unable to get our fill of conspiracy theory. A casual search of's books database yields almost 1500 hits for "conspiracy" and "conspiracies," and the profusion of conspiracy sites on the internet is so great that there is no point in trying to estimate how many there are. We may never know Who is behind this flood of conspiracy theories, and we may never know why They want to dizzy us with these ideas–perhaps to distract us from what is Really going on–but there is no doubt that They have been successful in this. After all, if They can get us asking the wrong questions, as Pynchon once pointed out, They don't have to worry about answers.

How to Cite:

Holton, R., (2001) “National Fantasies”, Pynchon Notes , 225-228. doi:

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Published on
22 Sep 2001