In the epigraph to Gravity's Rainbow. the German rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun tersely declares that "Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation." Even before his fiction begins. Pynchon offers a chilling instance of the supreme Cover-Up. the Ultimate Rationale which. in effect. excuses the human race in advance for inflicting unimaginable atrocities upon itself. culminating in its own annihilation. So long as the brute and brutal reality of extinction can be rationalized or fictionalized as a mere episode of transformation from one stage to another in some idealistic evolution of the spirit. mankind can plunge ahead mindlessly towards its own destruction.