Pynchon’s Vision of America in The Crying of Lot 49 Essay

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First published in 1965, The Crying of Lot 49 is the second novel by American author Thomas Pynchon. The novel follows Oedipa Mass, a young Californian housewife, after she unexpectedly finds herself named the executrix of the estate of Californian real estate mogul, and ex-boyfriend, Pierce Inverarity. In reflecting on their history together, Oedipa recalls how her travels with Pierce helped her acknowledge, but not overcome, the poignant feeling that she was being held paralyzed and isolated from the world (and others) within a staid, middle-class existence by some invisible and nefarious external force. Moreover Oedipa struggles to understand why Pierce would name her the executor of his will considering her deep ignorance of finance,…show more content…
To assess this vision of an American society heading towards stasis developed in The Crying of Lot 49, one must first discuss the concept of entropy.
Broadly speaking, entropy refers both to the level of disorder and uncertainty in a system.The concept originates from thermodynamics, where it is used to describe the thermal energy in heat engine that is unavailable to be converted into work (i.e. transferred through a change in form or location).The second law of thermodynamics stipulates that within a self-contained system like a heat engine, the aggregate measure of entropy must remain the same or increase over time because with no external energy inputs, the system’s net energy flow gradually subsides as the gaps between its higher and lower energy particles decrease through the transfer of heat as they interact. This diminishing gap between particle energy levels, denoted in part by a stabilization in temperature and phase state (e.g. solid, liquid, or gas), reflects the system’s progression towards a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, or maximum entropy, where particles regress into towards a uniform set of characteristics and inertness as the net energy flow grows infinitesimal. In moving towards equilibrium the system also becomes increasingly disordered because in losing their distinctiveness particles become fungible, rendering attempts to impose order and coherence on the system by drawing relations and distinctions between

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