About what remained: Freudian mourning in The Crying of Lot 49
Alexander, Matthew Allan
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In the half-century since its initial publication, Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 has proven infamously resistant to systematization. While the novel's preoccupation with a uniquely American construction of death is well recognized in existing scholarship, the dual-register of its prevailing signs tends to obscure its specifically Freudian treatment of the themes of death, mourning, and potentiality. Recent interpretations have exacerbated this decentering affect by removing the work from its sociocultural moment, grouping The Crying of Lot 49 with Pynchon's significantly later bibliography based solely on the common setting of California. While the import of the California landscape and the global-capitalist appropriation of space for the establishment and reinforcement of power relations cannot be understated, the novel similarly cannot be contextualized outside of its paradigm. This paper will consider the larger role of space in organizing the dynamics of power and our cultural attitudes towards death with the aid of Michel de Certeau's elucidation on strategies and tactics, and in so doing will identify a distinctive Freudian mourning pattern in Oedipa's condition, which is amply supported by explicit references to Freud throughout the text.