Reading: "Trapped inside Their frame with your wastes piling up": Mindless Pleasures in Gravity's Rai...


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"Trapped inside Their frame with your wastes piling up": Mindless Pleasures in Gravity's Rainbow


Terry Caesar

Clarion University of Pennsylvania
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It is well known that Gravity's Rainbow was initial entitled Mindless Pleasures. what is not so well know is how this fact has been assessed by the considerable critical industry which has already grown up around the text. "It is the very rhythm of what is read and what is not read," writes Roland Barthes, "that creates the pleasure of the great narratives: has anyone ever read Proust, Balzac, War and Peace, word for word?" Possibly not. But many have read Gravity's Rainbow this way. It is already one of the most massively explicated narratives of the century. Not only does it have a reader's guide; chronological errors in the dating I certain movies have been noted, mistakes in the German have been identified, and textual sources for such matters as the imaginative recreation of Peenemünde of the semantics of Herero have been traced. There may pleasure in the enterprise, but finally it is pleasure of a quite familiar, academic kind. Concerning one of the sequences in the Zone, Douglas Fowler writes: "some of the references in this scene's last paragraph escape me." These words are the very voice of critical consternation, if not despair: something in the text has escaped, and cannot be located in terms of either knowledge or elucidation. An intellectual rhythm has been disrupted which ideally seeks to process every word. What is potentially mindless in the text must be converted into mind. The title of one of the first books of Pynchon criticism discloses the energies of what continues to sponsor it as well as have thoroughly the earlier title of Gravity's Rainbow has been transformed: Mindful Pleasures.
How to Cite: Caesar, T., 1984. \"Trapped inside Their frame with your wastes piling up\": Mindless Pleasures in Gravity's Rainbow. Pynchon Notes, (14), pp.39–48. DOI:
Published on 01 Feb 1984.
Peer Reviewed


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