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Communication and Meaning in the Crying of Lot 49

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Introduction

Mark Sinclair 10/31/08 Contemporary Fiction Honors A Mr. Miley Communication and Meaning in The Crying of Lot 49 Communication is a core necessity of humanity. It is the cornerstone of development for our society, and indeed for the world. It is the only way to transmit concepts, ideas, and inspirations from one person's mind to another's. As sophisticated a race as humans are, there is always room for error, and difficulties in communication are quite abundant. There are also many opportunities for differing interpretations, which eventually leads to a struggle to find a single meaning. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is a novel entirely about communication and interpretation of language, whether there are multiple valid meanings or a single one. Pynchon writes about communication having a variety of mediums, and yet what is being said is insignificant. Therefore, the author suggests that the very act of communication is much more powerful than the content itself. Right from the beginning, Pynchon uses communication to confuse Oedipa, where Pierce is switching between voices, none of which are his own. Pierce uses multiple voices and accents, where he finally settles into a Lamont Cranston voice. "So it was the last of his voices she ever heard. ...read more.

Middle

To the reader, it is meaningless, but to Mike and the people who write by WASTE, this note is key. It is a symbol that stands for the rebellion, the uprising against a society that scorns communication in all forms. The note, however rudimentary, is in itself extremely significant because it shows that humanity will always have the power of communication, and how important that skill is for human beings to live on. When Oedipa sees the play The Courier's Tragedy by Richard Wharfinger, she is left awestruck by the final couplet of the second to last act. "...Who's once been set his tryst with Trystero...Trystero. The word hung in the air as the act ended and all lights were for a moment cut; hung in the dark to puzzle Oedipa Maas, but not yet to exert the power over her it was to" (58). Oedipa is left extremely confused by this, and Pynchon notes that in the future, it will be even more prevailing. Theater experiences, in general, are all about the act of communicating and conveying a message to an audience. Here, Pynchon writes as if this message is solely intended for Oedipa. This theater-going experience and the art of communication is not wasted on her; it resounds within her, much like the Remedios Varo painting, and she now trudges through this mystery with more clues and information. ...read more.

Conclusion

"You're an antenna, sending your pattern out across a million lives a night, and they're your lives too...The songs, it's not just that they say something, they are something, in pure sound" (118). For Mucho, the world has become much more significant because of the drugs. However, it also highlights some communication and hidden meaning motifs because of the hyperreal state that is drug-induced. Mucho begins to "communicate" in many different forms now, and somehow finds multiple hidden meanings within each passageway. The content, or the songs, are semi-significant, but the sound waves are much more fascinating to him. This distinction between the act of communication and the content is something that Pynchon utilizes to suggest that everything is open to interpretation, and that there is no universal truth or singular meaning. While raw communication is the cornerstone of humanity, it is also the only possible way to transfer ideas from one person to another. This capability provides human beings with new ways of interpretation, and new explanations to provide them with a more understandable view of the world they live in. For Oedipa, much of the communication and language she encounters appear to be meaningless, but it is incredibly symbolic. The very act of communication between two entities is much more critical than the actual content or meaning, and within the context of this novel, communication is the only thing that humanity can rely on. ...read more.

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