“Falling into the sky”: gravity and levity in Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-21, 06:01 authored by Doug HaynesDoug Haynes
My argument follows geographer Gunnar Olsson when he asks “What is geography if it is not the drawing and interpreting of a line? And what is the drawing of a line if it is not also the creation of new objects?” Using Thomas Pynchon’s 1997 novel Mason & Dixon about the drawing of the Mason-Dixon line, I explore how the mapmaker’s productive power is never merely reflective but generative too, constructing a world as much as representing one. I question the consequent relation between “above and below,” drawing on Farinelli’s insight that critique of such constructions must recognise an antagonistic humour in the production of maps and territories. Pynchon’s novel, I argue, is exemplary in the wit with which it pits the anomalous, strange and contingent phenomena of the below against the homogenising, categorising power of above. His approach helps us understand the dark heart of Enlightenment cartography and society.
- Accepted version
JournalSpace and Culture
Department affiliated with
- English Publications
Research groups affiliated with
- Sussex Centre for American Studies Publications
NotesThis is part of a special issue called "Above: Degrees of Elevation" due to be published in hard copy in Jan 2020.
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