I also kept thinking of connections between the fractured narrative and the whole “gathering of Vintage Gnome Easter Women T-Shirt /fragments of the Vessels” idea that keeps popping up. The last time it’s brought up is on 757: “…the garbage trucks are all heading north toward the Ventura Freeway, a catharsis of dumpsters, all hues, shapes and batterings. Returning to the Center, with all the gathered fragments of the Vessels.” This just made me think of nostalgia and of that seemingly pretty common human yearning for a place/time/zeitgeist/whatever that probably never existed. We want to go back to a time that was never how we remember it, we never value(d) it for what it was, we just have fragments and scattered reminders and use them to create this flawed picture of something that never was, maybe because it’s easier to control or not as scary as looking to the future.
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It’s not a uniquely American idea but it’s for me, as an American, hard not to think about it like one, especially with the recent (last 10-20 years) veneration of the “Greatest Vintage Gnome Easter Women T-Shirt ” as brave heroes who saved the world from the terror of tyranny (and not, perhaps, accepting that they were pawns in something more sinister, the transformation of tyranny from a bold, impossible to ignore threat into something more subtle and insidious and pervasive, systems that co-opt us all, often willingly). With this idea in mind, Slothrop’s disintegration is symbolic of the disintegration of us having a clear idea of threats, of the lessons taught us by history, of old, comfortable certainty. (Or maybe Slothrop is Pynchon at the end of writing this bad boy? :), unable to tie it all together).