Saturday, December 23, 2006

As far as I can tell, Pynchon's novel

takes place in a universe where, at the moment when particle physics was being discovered, it turned out that the laws of physics were a couple of convolutions more complicated than the ones that people settled on. Working with string theory and the idea that there are an infinite number of laws of physics, Pynchon creates a more interesting place -- suggesting by counter-example that, as luck would have it, our particular universe is stuck with a particularly boring set of rules...

I generally avoid works of literature "hot off the presses": Bizarre conflations between the reading public and Poland aside, what kind of person deliberately walks into the jackbooted columns of a marketing "blitz"? New books pay for the advertising that nullifies the effects of the advertising for last year's literatry sensations, so, in a very real way, the extra expense of a new book drives down the prices of used books and I usually wait for a literary title to drop into the two dollar bin like ripe fruit, but I bought this one at an airport, when my mind was too soggy to work through the more ambitious reading that I had packed.

Further, I agree with Nabokov's comment that one cannot form an opinion about a serious novel before several readings: readers must know a novel well enough to hold its compositional elements before their eyes like a painting in order to asess that novel's success or failure. Some people are saying that "Against the Day" is a compositional nightmare, others are saying that it is a work of genius, but nobody other than Thomas Pynchon and his wife is sufficiently familiar with the book to form an intelligent opinion.

Nonetheless, I'm enjoying reading it, and it is quite consoling to think that, if we manage to destroy human life, there is plenty of other life on the planet, and if we manage to destroy the planet, there are plenty of other planets, and even if we manage to destroy the universe, there might just be plenty of other universes, too...


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