Pynchon on Entropy

I happened to read Norbert Wiener’s The Human Use of Human Beings (a rewrite for the interested layman of his more technical Cybernetics) at about the same time as The Education of Henry Adams, and the “theme” of the story [“Entropy”] is mostly derivative of what these two men had to say. A pose I found congenial in those days—fairly common, I hope, among pre-adults—was that of somber glee at any idea of mass destruction or decline. The modern political thriller genre, in fact, has been known to cash in on such visions of death made large-scale or glamorous. Given my undergraduate mood, Adam’s sense of power out of control, coupled with Wiener’s spectacle of universal heat-death and mathematical stillness, seemed just the ticket.[1]

[1] Thomas Pynchon, introduction to Slow Learner: Early Stories (New York: Little, Brown, 1984), 13.


About Bradley J. Fest

Bradley J. Fest is assistant professor of English at Hartwick College. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch, 2015) and The Shape of Things (Salò, 2017), and has published a number of essays on contemporary literature and culture. He blogs at The Hyperarchival Parallax.
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