Tag: belief

Relevance of structural mistakes in The Crying of Lot 49

“‘Metzger,’ it occurred to her, ‘what is a potsmaster?’ … ‘So they make misprints,’ Metzger said, ‘let them. As long as they’re careful about not pressing the wrong button, you know?'” (33). The irony of course is that the “wrong button” is in fact exactly what is pressed in order to make the typo from postmaster to potsmaster. The dialogue therefore becomes not about whether there is a level of control placed by a higher power onto this fictional world but to what point it is greatly influential on the lives and experiences of the characters – obviously the press of a nuclear button dramatically influences the ability for the characters to interact in the world, while a misprint on an envelope has fewer consequences. But the question arises; what if an obscene message is received? Can it be reported? The function of the notice has lost all relevance to the world because of an uncontrollable structure. The private postage conspiracy that follows this event is then given new meaning; if the purpose of the conspiracy is to fight this uncontrollable power, the same power that has mislabeled the direction for how to report a letter, is the problem it tries to fix worth the effort, and if it is, is there any solution that comes out of division of power anyway?

Character and Belief

I found it fascinating to track the belief of Oedipa – which develops into an effort to somehow make sense of all the symbols, messages, and mystery surrounding the Tristero and Pierce Inverarity – over the course of today’s reading section. Especially in the last two chapters, Oedipa’s beliefs escalate and in fact drive the action; on 64, she has Metzger take her to The Courier’s Tragedy, convinced that seeing the play for herself will mitigate some of her confusion concerning the bone charcoal. Metzger makes fun of her when she wants to talk to the director, but she is insistent: “I want to see if there’s a connection” (76). Oedipa’s questions make Driblette impatient, as he thinks she is trying to over-intellectualize his production, but Oedipa leaves with some added components to her belief, though still riddled with self doubt: “She stood in a nearly deserted parking lot, watching the headlights of Metzger’s car come at her, and wondered how accidental it had been” (80). By the end of Chapter 4, these suspicions or curiosities have catapulted into an undeniable belief in an underlying system: “She’d gone back, deliberately, to Lake Inverarity one day, owing to this, what you might have to call, growing obsession, with ‘bringing something of herself’–even if that something was just her presence–to the scatter of business interests that had survived Inverarity. She would give them order, she would create constellations” (90). In the urgency and seriousness of her discussions with Mr. Thoth, Fallopian, and Genghis Cohen, we can see Oedipa’s belief in the existence of a system of “constellations” has grown into what seems like certainty: “She nodded. The black costumes, the silence, the secrecy. Whoever they were their aim was to mute the Thurn and Taxis post horn.”