"The paronomaiacal paranoia of Pynchons paradoxes: purpotrated paragraphlessly." Tyrone Slothrop, the aforementioned
protagonist of Gravitys Rainbow, is a prime example of the average Lacanian patient. Slothrop is an admitted paranoid
with delusions of mediocrity and unimportance. He doesnt seem to be the central connection in all the various convoluted
plots surrounding the end of World War II, so much as he is their connection. As a child he was given over to Dr. Jamf, a
Pavlovian behaviorist and organic chemist, by his father for use in bizarre experiments. While still in an infantile (in-fans,
silent) state, he was given sexual stimuli while the sounds of rockets dropping was played in reverseor something very close
to it, the novel is never quiet clear, on this or any other subject. These stimuli gave him a bizarre variation of the mirror
stage in which he connected himself to the rocket. For him, then, the rocket becomes an objet petit a, while the Other
is the mysterious Them operating throughout his life and through his life. The real is completely inaccessible, and accepted
as such, though there is at the heart of the novel a search for self. The rocket becomes not just objet petit a, but
symptom and synthome as well. The rocket becomes symptom as that which, "confers on existing phenomena their consistency
(Zizek, 72)." The rocket becomes a link for everyone in the novel, something that is searched out and believed in. Yet along
the way, each character stops for jouis-sense. Slothrop especially finds this jouis-sense in not only the various
sexual encounters, but in the symbolism of them as well. One of the most memorable of these is the circular orgy-scene in
which as the narrator guides us through each of the participants we are brought finally back to the beginning. This symbolism,
"of sexuality implies the lack of a signifier in the sexual relationship, it implies that there is no sexual relationship,
that the sexual relationship cannot be signified (Zizek, 73);" whereas the symptom itself is, "formed with an eye to interpretation."
It (Es, Id, the rocket, the symptom, the sexual relationships???) then becomes synthome as it is permeated with enjoyment.
Slothrop wants to figure it out and laugh at his own Freudian slips. He wants so badly for a clear-cut Wo Es war, soll
Ich werden: "where the relationships were, so the rocket must become;" which would explain so well the fact that all the
locations for his sexual couplings become bombed. As his specular I is turned into a social I, Slothrop gets
increasingly paranoid. Yet all of this (probably including this paper) is a méconnaissance of the traumatic Thing.
It is this méconnaissance which allows the self to exist (Zizek 68), and as Slothrop becomes closer and closer to the
Real, and a cure, he slowly dissipates, unable to maintain his hold on this misrecognized reality. Stepping out one more level
we see the méconnaissance inherent in the novel as film. Pynchon creates a sense of haste, and a narrative style so
complex it is difficult to gather even superficial plot development, not to mention any symbolism (which is ubiquitous and
deluding) modeled after film. Benjamin wrote that, "The painting invites the spectator to contemplation: before it the spectator
can abandon himself to his associations. Before the movie frame he cannot do so. No sooner has his eye grasped a scene than
it is already changed (Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction")." This confusion leads to a sick
comedy, an irony that is more than beautiful, for "the triumph over beauty is celebrated by humourthe Schadenfreude that every
successful deprivation calls forth. There is laughter because there is nothing to laugh at (Adorno and Horkheimer, "The Culture
Industry")." Schadenfreude, one of Pynchons favorite words, is the principle humor enjoyed by man: laughing at anothers (an
Others?) expense. Thus the méconnaissance leads to a better representation of the Real than a clarity of speech would.
The méconnaissance is in fact the Real, and to step back one step further I must ask the question: is this Real which
we perceive, which is hopelessly marred by méconnaissance, not only not the way things were supposed to be, but rather
is it the very dissonance that this makes within us that causes us to laugh at méconnaissance and wish for simpler
times, when we should see, not specularly, but face-to-face?
Copyright (c) 2004 Jason Helms.
Permission is granted
to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any
later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover
Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
Copyright (c) 2004 Jason Helms.GNU Free Documentation License".
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms
of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no
Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled