In Chapter 7 of Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, Maxine is traversing the program DeepArcher when she makes this observation:
“Before long, Maxine finds herself wandering around clicking on everything, faces, litter on the floor, labels on bottles behind the bar, after a while interested not so much in where she might get to than the texture of the search itself. According to Justin, Lucas is the creative partner in this. Justin’s the one who translated it into code, but the visual and sound design, the echoing dense commotion of the terminal, the profusion of hexadecimal color shades, the choreography of thousands of extras, each differently drawn and detailed, each intent on a separate mission or sometimes only hanging out, the non robotic voices with so much attention to regional origins, all are due to Lucas.”
This lengthy observation of the attention to detail and sheer depth of the computer program mirrors in many ways the complexity in the novel as a whole. One focus of Maxine’s investigation up to this point in the novel has been to discover exactly what DeepArcher is, and upon finally using it she is entranced with its intense nature. She finds herself researching every detail in the virtual environment just as she would in her real job as a fraud investigator. Parallels can be drawn between this environment and the computer programs in today’s society. DeepArcher appears to be a virtual world where one can live a second life through an avatar. This kind of experience can be found today in such places as Second Life, a website similar to DeepArcher where users have avatars and contribute their own created content into a virtual world, or in video games that present an open world gameplay that allows a user to live any style they choose. These fantasy-fulfilling games are fun and attractive to many people, but they require lots of concentration and time to truly appreciate their vastness and complexity. The user must be cautious of becoming lost in the games, losing precious time and distracting from real life.
I feel that DeepArcher in these ways can represent both Maxine’s journey in the novel and the structure of the novel itself. In the time-sensitive world of sleuthing, Maxine must closely observe and analyze every detail of the situation in order to ascertain the fraud. If she becomes distracted she risks allowing the bad guys to get away with their misdeeds or even being harmed in the crossfire. As she slips further into the game she loses her sense of self, possibly foreshadowing a later point in the novel where she will lose sight of herself in the pursuit of hashslingerz. The detailed and complex world of DeepArcher can represent the novel as well, as Pynchon’s writing is an intricate web of memory and reality. Just as concentration and devotion is required for navigating the online world, it is also needed for reading the novel. This style lends itself well to the content of the story, as the web of lies surrounding hashslingerz is just as intricate. The dense commotion of activity in the deep web, the choreography of the hackers each on a mission, and the different regions involved all are echoed in the computer program. Incorporating these elements into DeepArcher allows Pynchon to connect both the outside world and Maxine’s quest into this central story element.