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"How pleasant to watch Nothing": Narrativity and Desire in V.

Author(s): Timothy Gilmore

Journal: Orbit : Writing Around Pynchon
ISSN 2047-2870

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Thomas Pynchon | V. | Lacan | Zizek | Objet a | narrativity | desire

Pynchon's seriously playful manipulation of narrative makes the reading of his first novel V. an exploration of V. not only as literary experience but also as psychoanalytic quest into the self of the reader. Like the detective genre that he parodies, V. is a novel that invites the reader to follow along in the process of investigating V. and in so doing of asking the question of what is V., but more importantly of what is my V.? The course of the present investigation will be one of going beyond the multiplicity of possible V.s in order to determine the essence of V, insofar as this may be a vehicle for analyzing the manner in which Pynchon utilizes narrative in order to formally exemplify the content of his novel. What will then be important to look at is not the particular manner(s) in which V. appears in the novel and to try and prioritize one over the others or rule some out; what must be determined in order to comprehend the essence of V. is that which supplies the relation between all the various manifestations of V. in the novel. This process entails an articulation of the relation in question in the sense of an examination of both the links and those things which are linked in such an articulation so that the totality may be glimpsed and thus the essence of V. understood. What this points toward is the necessity of an emphasis of focus upon the formal dimension of the text and concomitantly the formal nature of V.In order to facilitate this inquiry, special attention is given to the third chapter, “In which Stencil, a quick change artist, does eight impersonations.” By analyzing the narrative stylistics utilized by Pynchon in this section, the formal exemplification of the novel’s content may be revealed in its multi-dimensional structure, thus opening up the subtle ways in which Pynchon uses narrative form to invoke his subject matter and accentuate it. Because of Stencil’s role in the novel as a major narrative figure and chief pursuer of V., he is the perfect entry point into an analysis of the form-content relationship of V. The essence of V. may be discovered ultimately through Stencil’s narrativity rather than his narrative, from the way he tells his stories and recreates events rather than from the stories and events themselves.
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