Tristero, Sarcasm, and Miscommunication

Yuemeng Xu

The Crying of Lot 49 is an ironical novel targeting America in the 1960s. We can see a decent case of this in the character of Mike Fallopian, a conservative radical. The group’s foolish name is a sort of coarse mimicry of the John Birch Society, and their radical convictions about mail are conservative libertarian views taken to extreme. The radicals are by all means not the only gathering to fall prey to the parody; the Paranoids are additionally taunted as the cliché pot-smoking band from the 1960s. Later on, Dr. Hilarius will likewise is ridiculed as a radical Freudian specialist obsessed with scholarly brain research. Pynchon regularly utilizes his characters to speak to in an extraordinary manner in the Californian culture of the 1960s.

Chapter 3 is likewise the part that first acquaints us with the Tristero, which Oedipa first said in the creation of The Courier’s Tragedy. It is intriguing that, as she herself acknowledges, she leaves far from the show about the bones as she had initially planned but instead becomes interested about the Tristero. The issue of bones, truth be told, alongside the character of Manny di Presso, vanishes from the novel after this chapter. The bones are simply a different red herring. In any case, the deviation from the bones is ironical. The bone plot is extremely irritating, and most importantly — illegal; it is an issue that truly should be examined by the law to indict the miscreants who damaged the resting spots of such a large number of people. Rather, in any case, Oedipa disregards this genuine wrongdoing that should be settled and moves in the direction of the scan for the unusual, secretive, and maybe non-existent Tristerio that may not have any genuine good results. Starting from this section, the novel appears to take a ponder move in the direction of the ludicrous.

Oedipa eventually reveals that Tristero was an excluded European honorable who battled against the Thurn and Taxis postal system that controlled all European mail conveyance all through the medieval time into the Renaissance and the early present day time frame. Wharfinger, the creator of The Courier’s Tragedy, knew about the presence of Tristero and incorporated one line about him in the play. This single line will trigger the craziness of Oedipa, driving her into the most complex components of the novel’s plot. Be that as it may, the Wharfinger play will be further investigated by Oedipa in more prominent detail in later sections, which presents the issues of communication between the characters. An inability to communicate is the thing that drives a great part of the novel’s activity. In concentrating on Tristero and Oedipa, Pynchon drives forward the story by disclosing the novel’s significant topic: communication. Pynchon cleverly exhibited an obvious miscommunication in the intersection of Wharfinger’s text and the novel itself, but he didn’t stop there.

I began to search for other proofs of miscommunication throughout the book. One trace can be discovered in the previous chapter, where Oedipa has an affair with Metzger, someone who she barely knows. This little incident indicates Pynchon’s view on sexual liberation — one of the motifs of the 20th century. The fact that Oedipa is having sex with someone just for erotic pleasure indicates her boredom of marriage and also her miscommunication with her husband, someone that she is supposed to remain faithful to, and Pynchon sees this breakdown of communication as the reason why the motif plays into people’s lives.

Another trace can be found in Oedipa’s long pursuit of solving the mystery of Tristerio. Oedipa experienced a religious moment that shows glimpses of possibilities of solving the mystery. However, all of the information never succeeds in communicating with Oedipa to provide a solution, but instead only leads her to more information rather than the answer. Throughout this process, Oedipa gradually alienates herself from the ordinary world, and deviates away from the normal and happy life before Pierce died when she is living happily with her husband in Kinneret. Pynchon succeeds in emphasizing the importance of communication by giving this novel a pessimistic look.

Pynchon has also incorporated a lot of puns to exhibit his strong language games. Readers may find a lot of joy when reading these discrete jokes, and awe at Pynchon’s mastery of the language. For example, as Pynchon states that the difference between “San Narcisco” and the rest of the Southern California was visible at first glance, one can’t help but notice that San Narcisco is hinting at San Francisco, with the prefix “Narcis-” embedded in the word expressing a sense of narcissism of the city. Also Mucho’s radio station KCUF is “fuck” spelled backwards, which doesn’t necessarily have any real life meaning. Also another example is the concept of the word “lot”, which has occurred multiple times in the book, but readers only understand what it means at the very last few pages of the books.

Pynchon tried to hint at the political and social turmoil in the US history, like the rise of drug culture, the rock revolution, or the Vietnam War. He has chosen to use satire and jokes to carry out these values and themes, and, from the point of view of a young woman, narrate all the cultural chaos and miscommunication that makes this world hallucinogenic and disintegrating. Pynchon concludes the novel with an open ending, where Oedipa anxiously waits for the bidder at lot 49, leaving people tremendous room to reflect upon the entire story and its correlation with all that were happening in the 1960s — John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Civil Rights Movement, and to some extent, women’s rights movements. The novel’s great implication of the country at that time is probably one of the reasons why people see this as Pynchon’s best work.

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