(continued from pt. four)
What is different, and important, in this illustration on the principles of approaching death, is that Pynchon went once more against the grain. Now that entropy has gotten his body by the balls (his brain sadly included in the package), he set down to write a novel that is distinctly different from his rest: when every previous one reveled in entropy and wheeled more or less out of control and into darkness, Inherent Vice is actually antietropic. In Vineland, Brock’s antics, although at times triumphant, were tinged with streaks of desperation pointing out that he, too, knew that this Reagan-assisted cop domination has its own expiration date, the way the hippie communes of the 60’s and 70’s had theirs and that what would follow would probably be even worse (as has been proved by the triumph of corporations over sovereign countries). On the contrary, in Inherent Vice, cop stations get gloriously upgraded with huge espresso machines and crews of pastry chefs, no less. Bands break up and then, wow, actually reform (they even get to make some money from the gigs). Girls prowl the bars, out to find love, instead of just fucking people while drawing away from them on their own divergent trajectories. Parties go on and on, instead of perpetually fading out. Pizzas cost, some days, $1.39. Not to mention a real-estate developer who has seen the light and wants to pay it all back, every last cent he made with cardboard-thick walls, canalized streams, cut-rate bath utilities sold as luxury items, and houses built on what can only be called “ground” through acts of faith as yet unnamed and unrevealed, since up until now they were never needed.
If Mason & Dixon holds court to the realization of the proximity of Pynchon’s death, and Against the Day is its denial, then Inherent Vice is the last, calm look back to what has been his absolute terra cognita, mapped out and explored, its keys still hanging around his neck, but sadly eroded by time. Now he, or me, or you, we can’t visit the 60’s, we can’t visit the 70’s.
Only words can do that now.
Only words permit.