“Though she’s on board the train now, Maxine sees no reason to stop clicking—she clicks on the hostesses’ toe rings, on the chili-glazed rice crackers in the Oriental Party Mix they bring, on the festively colored toothpicks which impale the chunks of the tropical fruit on the drinks, you never know, it could be the next click—Which eventually it is.”(Bleeding Edge, pg. #77)
The passage I chose to evaluate from Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge takes place in Justin and Lucas’s DeepArcher Central. In it, Maxine is taking her turn navigating through the mysterious technology that is DeepArcher all while attempting to gain her bearings. Eventually she finds a train schedule and boards the “Midnight Cannonball” train. Almost instantaneously upon boarding, the train is off at “warp speed” to DeepArcher.
What I thought was interesting is that, once on the train, Maxine doesn’t just settle and let the train take her deep into the vast abyss that is DeepArcher. She examines everything. She is an active user who is very involved in the process. She explores. She clicks around, waiting for something new to happen. It seems as if the train will continue on into the abyss forever but Maxine is actively involved, looking for a portal. Eventually, what seems like a fruitless search, pays off. One more click was the key. She found the portal.
Maxine’s avatar’s journey is interesting because it can be related to the theme of DeepArcher as a whole. The possibilities are endless and they can take you anywhere. DeepArcher is user created, therefore it is solely dependent on the input. The abyss is never ending as is the train ride that Maxine took. She chose to click around and explore, just as is possible in DeepArcher.
Another part of this quote that drew my attention is the form. The passage starts off very positive with bright, welcoming imagery. Then, as soon as Maxine clicks on the portal, the scene changes completely. Her avatar ends up in a “region of permanent dusk.” This is a stark comparison to the scene immediately prior. This comparison is interesting because it is possibly foreshadowing what DeepArcher really will be later in Bleeding Edge. On the surface, DeepArcher is a novel, new technology with infinite possibilities. So far, there have been no real mentions of any malicious intent with which Lucas and Justin created DeepArcher. Below the surface, DeepArcher still has infinite potential and possibilities, but those possibilities are shrouded in darkness. As mentioned earlier, Maxine ends up in a “region of permanent dusk.” Dusk often carries a negative connotation and in this instance, it seems it has the definite possibility of hiding something or someone. As mentioned in Bleeding Edge, DeepArcher covers a user’s tracks, making them untraceable, just as is with the night which shrouds Maxine’s avatar. The dusk is important to examine. Crimes happen when it’s dark, only, in this instance, the possibility of crime exists in a deep network abyss rather than actual darkness.
Bleeding Edge is set in New York, New York during the spring of 2001, prior to the September 11th attacks. Knowing Pynchon’s knack for taking history and twisting it to fit his own agenda, I could see DeepArcher becoming a focal point during the September 11th attacks. There is just too much of an unknown with respect to DeepArcher. That unknown quite possibly will assist an enemy of America elude detection until it is too late.