What’s Cooler Than Being Cool? ICE Cold!

Throughout the entire first half Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, I noticed seemingly countless instances where Pynchon’s use of prose leads to “more than initially meets the eye.”  These moments allude to some greater piece of the larger puzzle while also playing their own self-evident purposes in the storyline.

When I stumble across words in which I am unfamiliar, I immediately look them up.  One such word that I came across was on page 25 when I was reading about Heidi describing Horst as “alexithymic” which I found to mean: difficulty in experiencing, expressing, and describing emotional responses.  While this may suggest the issues Maxine and Horst had with their marriage, I also found this to be a coincidence that I happen to look up a word meaning unable to express emotion. This is all the while we had been talking about Deep Archer, the internet, and how seemingly emotionless, distant, or impersonal this behemoth of a creation can seem.  It was only then, after seeing two examples of ostensibly emotionally deprived themes that I turned my scrutiny to Gabriel Ice.

Going back, after instilled with this emotion(less) idea in my head, I found where Maxine is first talking to Reg about the Deep Web and where he first brings up a man known as Gabriel Ice, the CEO of hashslingrz, (a computer security firm).  Having just finished an exam in another class about archangels I found this name to be very peculiar indeed, but I will get to that point in a minute.  The specific excerpt is from the conversation between Maxine and Reg regarding Gabriel Ice in The Bleeding Edge by: Thomas Pynchon is on page 11:

“He makes Bill Gates look charismatic.”

“You’re suggesting what, mob, covert ops?”

“According to Eric, a purpose on earth, written in code none of us can read. Except maybe for 666, which tends to recur. Reminds me, you still have that concealed-carry permit?”

“Licensed to pack, ready to roll, uh-huh… why?”

A little evasive, “These people are not… what you usually find in the tech world.”

I find this paragraph very insightful to not only who this Gabriel Ice may be as an individual and “businessman,” but also to what type of people Maxine is about to get herself involved with trough her fraud investigations.  First off, the number 666 is the Devil’s number in the New Testament, bluntly drawing a relationship between Gabriel Ice and evil/antagonism. Now I would like you to recall my recent exposure to archangels, through which I will intertwine Gabriel Ice’s name with his work in that both have the inability to express emotion; it’s a bit lengthy but bear with me.  When I think of the name Gabriel I think of the Archangel Gabriel who is the gentle Archangel of water which also represents emotion.  We now look at Gabriel’s last name- Ice.  Ice is the solid, non-flowing form of water.  When applied to my string of connections, the result is Gabriel Ice’s name meaning that emotion is stuck, stopped, unable to flow.

Now while this may seem rather far-fetched, I believe that this is one of the beauties of Pynchon’s prose as the reader has to pick up on such minute clues and symbolisms and to think in a way one would normally never use.  It is almost the over analysis of an ostensibly infinitesimal detail such as this that gives this work of Pynchon the potential to rise to the level of bliss it is often read with.  Piggybacking off of that, I would like to also draw attention to the friendship of Maxine and Tallis Ice which ties some of my previous interpretations together.  Tallis Ice is currently married to a man whose name seemingly implies the lack of emotion and Maxine used to be married to a man who was described as alexithymic which is synonymous to the meaning of Gabriel Ice’s name.  Does this suggest a plausible explanation to their friendship or a potential similarity between the two for the rest of the novel?

Stepping back and looking at this in a broader sense in regards to the plot development, I believe that all of this could lead to/represent potential danger for Maxine in dealing with Gabriel Ice, fraud investigation, the web, or with Horst.  The dangers that come with the internet and the corrupt individuals involved in this “emotionless web” of fraud foreshadow potential peril and uncertainty Maxine will face in dealing with such seemingly distant technologies and antagonists.

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4 Responses to What’s Cooler Than Being Cool? ICE Cold!

  1. tspace22 says:

    I find your analysis of the naming of Gabriel Ice extremely interesting and valid. I thought it would be interesting to look into the origin of the name ‘Tallis’ to see if anything came up. According to the internet (http://www.sheknows.com/baby-names/name/tallis), Tallis means ‘woodland’ or ‘forest’. While I am unsure of connections thus far, it is interesting that Pynchon chooses to name the Ices with references to the natural world, water and forests, especially given the focus on technological themes evident within the novel.


  2. trafalgarlaw9 says:

    Both of these references to nature could then also relate back to the Ices “not fitting in” with the technological culture of the time as the clash between man-made and natural forces. While I agree that this sometimes feels like the overanalysis of word choice or prose, it is hard for me to believe that Pynchon did not intend at least a portion of these interpretations!


  3. soc19 says:

    I really enjoyed reading your analysis of Gabriel’s name! I always find the naming of characters to be one of my favorite modes of analysis, since I do think a lot of authors deliberately choose certain names to convey certain meanings (I think of J.K. Rowling especially, with her very deliberate naming of characters and objects in Harry Potter). I think the parallel drawn between Horst’s alexithymic personality and Gabriel’s name possibly alluding to impeded emotion to be a really interesting catch, and not something that I noticed initially. I’m looking forward to finding out more about this mysterious character to see what lies in store for Maxine.


  4. This is a very, very perceptive and close reading, but I think you could have expanded and taken it even further–i.e., it is not yet quite clear why all this matters, what you are arguing.


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