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(Bleeding Edge 74,75)

On page 74 of Bleeding Edge, Pynchon begins describing the loading sequence of DeepArcher. Pynchon spends twenty six lines of his narrative to paint an exact picture of what DeepArcher is, and what it was created for. Pynchon eliminates the ability for a user of DeepArcher to create bias before the game has began, “no titles, no music”. He then goes on, describing the avatar that Maxine will be utilizing, “A tall figure, dressed in black, could be either sex, long hair pulled back with a silver clip[…]”. Continuing on with the theme of eliminating all prior biases, Pynchon is slowly creating an environment where everyone and everything is on an equal playing field.

After briefly describing what was on the road behind the archer, “suburbs, expressways, misted city towers”, Pynchon goes on to elaborate upon the abyss confronting the archer, “The rest of the screen is claimed by the abyss – far from an absence, it is a darkness pulsing with whatever light was before light was invented.” I wanted to focus on two specific portions of Pynchon’s description of the archer’s surroundings. The first being the placement of civilization in relation to the abyss itself. The presence of man, the current world in which we live is only a distant thought behind (in the past?) the archer, what currently is occupying the rest of the screen is the abyss (present). My second focus from his description of the archer’s environment was the actual abyss itself. Italicized above is the exact line I would like to reference and bring focus to. Pynchon continues to build the idea that the abyss is uncharted territory, untouched by man, or anything else. Pynchon then continues his description of the archer, “attentive and unattached” furthers the prior desire for an unbiased atmosphere to be created.

Justin then affirms my aforementioned ideas, “Looks like we cheaped out and didn’t bother to animate much, but look close and you can see the hair rippling too […] we wanted stillness but not paralysis.” Not only does Pynchon confirm my previous postulates, he also implies another goal of the abyss environment, to create a tranquil, peaceful state of being for the user. On a quick tangent, this moment of stillness and beauty reminds me of the time that Maxine addressed the beauty of the pear tree in the morning sunlight.

Pynchon goes into great detail, almost painstaking detail in this passage to describe the loading of the game. He creates a distinct level of separation between the game and the rest of the world that man has created. He wants to ensure that DeepArcher is noticeably and comprehensively detached from the society of the day. I thought it was very interesting how Pynchon transitioned into the first scene of DeepArcher, following the load screen. Maxine comes into contact with remarkable detail, “far in advance of anything she’s seen on the gaming platforms Ziggy and his friends tend to use[.]” Why does Pynchon choose this as the first image, something so real that Maxine compares it to a lucid dream? In my opinion Pynchon chooses this to contrast exactly what was shown from outside of the abyss. What appeared as nothingness is actually true beauty, mind numbing detail coming from something so desolate and absolute. I look forward to seeing how DeepArcher develops as the narrative progresses.

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3 Responses to Loading…. Loading…. Loading….

  1. trafalgarlaw9 says:

    The complexity of the whole DeepArcher program really resonated with me when I read it for the first time, and I think that you’re getting into what I really liked about Pynchon’s description of the user interface. It’s important to note that DeepArcher is not merely a game, although the graphical interface is impressive, but a way to browse the deep web. However, the fact that it immediately embraces the user with this image of the archer, only showing the slightest signs of movement, pointing steadily away from civilization and into the abyss does indeed instill a powerful and unavoidable sense of forthcoming, almost ominous.

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  2. lostmythics says:

    I like the parallel you drew here with our (and Maxine’s) first encounter with DeepArcher and the opening of the novel. I agree that Pynchon is using DeepArcher to create a certain environment, but I think that he is trying to show that DeepArcher is more illuminating. The structure of the city behind the avatar seems to be a metaphor for one’s current knowledge, what we already hold to be true or accurate. The abyss is the unknown, the secrets that have yet to be uncovered or unlocked. Definitely the abyss is unknown and uncharted territory. It represents to me the further enlightenment of yourself, through your avatar. This actually falls in line with your parallel, since Bleeding Edge reads like a mystery or detective novel. As we fly through the abyss like that arrow, we go deeper into the novel and the mysteries of the case are brought to light.

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  3. bagelbite13 says:

    I liked your reference to “the structure of the city behind the avatar” being a metaphor for one’s current knowledge. That is similar to when Maxine’s avatar was on the train. Everything was known. Everything was normal. Then she kept clicking around and eventually found a portal that transported the avatar into the dusk. When in the dark, it’s tough to see far ahead. You need to explore in order to see closer. The farther into the abyss that the avatar goes, the more they will learn.

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