Author: Larissa S. Schieweg (University of Rostock)
Inger H. Dalsgaard's mindful "investigation of Pynchon's Spenglerian vision" (97) shows how "[i]n both The Decline of the West and Gravity's Rainbow, prospects of deliverance are radically constricted," concluding that "[o]nly the sense that Pynchon's Rocket State is constructed from the earth as resource whereas Spengler's Faustian culture is a natural outgrowth of the earth as seedbed appears to offer room for some hope" (114). This essay begins at that precise point, also combining Spengler's diagnosis with Pynchon's prose but focusing, unlike Dalsgaard, on the latter's specific geographical representations. Pynchon's landscape depictions, while they stand in obvious relation to the earth as resource/seedbed, rearticulate the crisis of modernity as they lead to ontological incertitude and epistemological dilemmas. A plenitude of historico-cultural layers lies beneath the wastelandish depictions, rendering landscape as substantially more than just contextualized scenery. Indeed, landscape in Pynchon's works figures as a sort of reflective matrix. Although much of this can well be framed with Spengler's rhetorics of decline, decay and disease, the openness and boundlessness often invoked in Pynchon's texts point at the same time to a possible loophole in the pessimistic predicament pace Spengler.
How to Cite: S. Schieweg, L. (2002) “The Decline of the Baedeker Country: The Representation of Geographical and Cultural Identity in Pynchon's Novels”, Pynchon Notes.(0). doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/pn.74