Reading: The Economy of Consumption: The Entropy of Leisure in Pynchon's Vineland

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The Economy of Consumption: The Entropy of Leisure in Pynchon's Vineland

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David Thoreen

State University of New York at Stony Brook
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Abstract

When, "[I]ater than usual one summer morning in 1984 … with a squadron of blue jays stomping around on the roof" (3), Zoyd Wheeler drifts awake, it is to a cacophony of echoes from Kafka's Metamorphosis and the Orwellian state, not to mention Pynchon's own Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity's Rainbow. During the period of most of Vineland's action, from 1945 to 1984, advances in video, audio and broadcasting technology made possible an increasing compression of "history," so that at its most frenetic, yesterday's news can appear repackaged as today's documentary. News programs offering up-to-the- minute or live coverage are one sign of the contemporary fixation on a present given the privileged status of the historical. Side by side with all the live coverage, we have reruns of old TV series, from The Brady Bunch to CHiPs, so that by 1984, there are effectively two timeframes in American society, the live and the rerun, and it is against these that Pynchon foregrounds his story of Zoyd, Prairie, Frenesi and Brock Vond. Video technology provides Pynchon with the perfect analogue to the consumption economy Hannah Arendt described in 1958.
How to Cite: Thoreen, D., (1992). The Economy of Consumption: The Entropy of Leisure in Pynchon's Vineland. Pynchon Notes. (30-31), pp.53–62. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.233
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Published on 22 Sep 1992.
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