The Crying of Lot 49 and the Age of Paranoia, 12 December 2015

Paranoia is that feeling you get when a prominent fear may be largely imagined. When these fears are given air, the need to justify the initial response, to yourself if no one else, is the first thing to be lost. If paranoia is the fruit, conspiracy is the seed. In Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, the conspiracy behind the Thurn und Taxis carrier service and the W.A.S.T.E. symbol, along with the muted horn, are, in and of themselves, disconnected concepts before Oedipa Maas puts them together using the information she discovers searching for the Trystero. The conspiracy is created, not discovered, like natural phenomena, but conjured up by the imagination like music or poetry. It serves a similar purpose: like poetry, casting tragic events as conspiracy can be a type of catharsis, away of looking less at the impact of tragedy and the nefarious goings-on behind the scenes.

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