Pynchonverse Science

Posted on March 2, 2008  Comments (1)

Mind-Bending Science in Thomas Pynchon’s Mind-Bending Novel Against The Day: Part I

Pynchon takes the science of this period and incorporates it deeply into the language and structure of Against the Day, more so perhaps than in any of his other novels. Against the Day is suffused with meditations on light, space, and time, and often plays with the tension between different perspectives in math and physics – classical physics versus relativity, Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism described with the imaginary numbers of quaternions versus the real numbers of vector analysis. This material is not just filler – it’s critical to the core of Against the Day, a fact which has been underappreciated in early reviews of the novel.

One reviewer claimed that a new generation of writers has a “grasp of the systems that fascinate Pynchon — science, capitalism, religion, politics, technology — [that] is surer, more nuanced, more adult and inevitably yields more insight into how those systems work than Pynchon offers here.” When it comes to science at least, this claim is not true – Pynchon’s achievement in Against the Day proves that he is peerless as a poet who can mine science for gems of insight and set them into the context of the humanity that is the ultimate concern of his novels.

This great post offers a detailed explanation of some of the science related to Pynchon’s writing.

Related: Books by Thomas Pynchon (with online resource links)New Yorker Review of Against the Day

One Response to “Pynchonverse Science”

  1. vijay
    December 9th, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

    You could argue, of course, that Pynchon can deploy as many talking animals and Star Trek jokes as he wishes without putting a dent in his super-highbrow status. I’d have to agree, but I’d also have to point to his latest novel, Inherent Vice, which shows, if nothing else, that his brow is less rigid than is commonly assumed.

Leave a Reply