Dr. Alex E. Blazer

Department of English

Georgia College & State University

Milledgeville, GA 31061

alex.blazer@gcsu.edu

alexeblazer.com

 

Pynchon as Prestige Cable TV:

The Thermodynamics of Lodge 49's Daemonization of The Crying of Lot 49

 

The cable television network AMC's short-lived prestige comedy-drama Lodge 49 (2018-2019) not only alludes to the various works of postmodern novelist Thomas Pynchon but also serves as an introduction and homage to their themes of conspiracy and paranoia, militarism and capitalism, entropy and uncertainty. Just as Pynchon's protagonist Oedipa Maas from The Crying of Lot 49 drifts around 1960s California searching for clues to a centuries-old underground mail system feud presently tied to the real-estate and aerospace industries when her lover dies and appoints her executrix of his will, and similar to how one of the main characters from Gravity's Rainbow, Tyrone Slothrup, a World War II soldier in Europe who can predict V-2 bomb strikes, becomes lost and gradually disappears in the war zone, Lodge 49's surfer dude hero Sean "Dud" Dudley cruises around 2010s California searching for alchemy scrolls that, according to legend, were used to build weapons for the Vietnam War, make gold, and contain a Bitcoin algorithm, in an effort to refind his purpose in life after his father dies. Harold Bloom's important work of the poetic process, The Anxiety of Influence, argues that great poets unconsciously misread their precursors in order to overcome the anxiety of their belatedness in the face of greatness like Milton and Shakespeare. one type of misinterpretation is daemonization, in which the writer misapprehends the predecessor's Sublime by creating a Counter-Sublime. Pynchon's work uses biting humor to explore psychological cruelty at both the social level (World War II and the Vietnam War) and personal level (sadism) that ends in awful death and incomprehensible entropy; Lodge 49 takes place in contemporary California and exchanges war and the anti-war movement for the economic malaise of dead-end jobs, unemployment, and pawn shops. However, it opposes Pynchon's destruction and disorder with compassion and reverence.

 

This abstract summarizes my presentation, "Pynchon as Prestige Cable TV: The Thermodynamics of Lodge 49's Daemonization of The Crying of Lot 49." South Atlantic Modern Language Association. Virtual Conference, 13-15 Nov. 2020.