Ironic Distance in Thomas Pynchon's "Entropy"

Ironic Distance in Thomas Pynchon's "Entropy" ´ ´ JULIAN JIMENEZ HEFFERNAN Verstand ist mechanischer, Witz ist chemischer, Genie ist organischer Geist. Friedrich Schlegel, Kritische und theoretische Schriften homas Pynchon's early short story "Entropy" (1960) seems to be captured in a hermeneutic predicament. There exist two customary ways of misreading it. The first reads the concept of entropy into "Entropy," the story, leading thereby to thematic mystification. The second sees in "Entropy" the textual seed of Pynchon's mature achievements, invoking thus a noxious teleological organicism, for the specificity of this small piece is obliterated in the interests of its author's monumental novels. One way or another, the resulting interpretation begs the question by proclaiming that entropy has always been the question. It is not all that easy to dodge biographical causality, what the narrator in V. calls "the fiction of continuity, the fiction of cause and effect, the fiction of a humanized history endowed with `reason'" (306). But the excesses of thematic criticism seem hardly excusable.1 Its dangers are substantially aggravated in this case, since the very concept of entropy is often used The epigraph can be translated, "The spirit of reason is mechanical, the spirit of wit is chemical, and the spirit of genius http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Ironic Distance in Thomas Pynchon's "Entropy"

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University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © University of Wisconsin Press
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1548-9949
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Abstract

´ ´ JULIAN JIMENEZ HEFFERNAN Verstand ist mechanischer, Witz ist chemischer, Genie ist organischer Geist. Friedrich Schlegel, Kritische und theoretische Schriften homas Pynchon's early short story "Entropy" (1960) seems to be captured in a hermeneutic predicament. There exist two customary ways of misreading it. The first reads the concept of entropy into "Entropy," the story, leading thereby to thematic mystification. The second sees in "Entropy" the textual seed of Pynchon's mature achievements, invoking thus a noxious teleological organicism, for the specificity of this small piece is obliterated in the interests of its author's monumental novels. One way or another, the resulting interpretation begs the question by proclaiming that entropy has always been the question. It is not all that easy to dodge biographical causality, what the narrator in V. calls "the fiction of continuity, the fiction of cause and effect, the fiction of a humanized history endowed with `reason'" (306). But the excesses of thematic criticism seem hardly excusable.1 Its dangers are substantially aggravated in this case, since the very concept of entropy is often used The epigraph can be translated, "The spirit of reason is mechanical, the spirit of wit is chemical, and the spirit of genius

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Sep 4, 2011

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