Who is Marvin “the Kozmonaut”

“‘Marvin. You’re up early. What’s with the outfit, you guys folded weeks ago.’
‘Don’t mean I have to stop ridin. My legs are still pumpin, no mechanical issues with the bike, I can ride forever, I’m the Flyin Dutchmahn.’
‘Strange, I’m not expecting anything, you must have me mixed up with some other low life again.’ Except Marvin has an uncanny history of always showing up with items Maxine knows she didn’t order but which prove each time to be exactly what she needs.
This is the first time she’s ever seen him in the daylight hours. His shift used to begin at nightfall, and from then till dawn he’d be out on his orange fixed gear track bike delivering donuts, ice cream, and video tapes, guaranteed to arrive within the hour, to the all-night community of dopers, hackers, instant-gratification cases who thought the dotcom balloon would ascend forever” (Pynchon 106-107).

Marvin “the kozmonaut”, as Pynchon calls him, is a peculiar character. He used to work for kozmo.com as a messenger. However, after the dotcom crash, the business folded. He still wears his bright orange uniform and rides his bright orange bike. His character is portrayed as a secret delivery boy in the scene above. He is never called upon for delivery. He merely shows up at Maxine’s door with the exact item she or another character so desperately desires. In a way, Marvin is similar to a Deus Ex Machina. In Greek Mythology, this literally translates to God from a Machine. The Merriam-Webster definition for Deus Ex Machina is a character or thing that suddenly enters the story in a novel, play, movie, etc., and solves a problem that had previously seemed impossible to solve. Marvin, with his dread locks and cargo pants, is certainly not portrayed as being God-like. However, he is a character that seems to magically appear and resolve Maxine’s current issue like a fairy Godfather. I find it uncharacteristic of Maxine to naively accept his deliveries without knowing the very company he is working for. She is fully aware that Marvin is no longer working for kozmo.com, yet, she accepts packages, videos, and even food from a man who could be working for anyone. Moreover, her nonchalant attitude concerning the deliveries is bizarre. Is she even the slightest bit curious as to who sent her these items? How did someone know what she needed? Could there be someone watching her? All of these questions are not addressed. She simply accepts the delivery and moves on with her daily activities. My gut feeling of Marvin’s character is that he is connected to someone that Maxine is investigating.

We know that DeepArcher works as a real life virtual program that allows a user to take on the form of an avatar and interact with others to accomplish a variety of tasks. Furthermore, DeepArcher is an untraceable pathway. It is a way of hiding where you move and how you got there. This idea parallels with Marvin’s character. Marvin cannot be traced or contacted in any form. Maxine does not know where Marvin is coming from and also does not know the next time he will be returning. In a way, Marvin can be compared to a real-life avatar in DeepArcher. Flash-forward about 35 pages from the scene mentioned above. Marvin reappears, out of the blue, delivering chocolate peanut-butter cookie dough ice cream for Horst and a videocassette for Maxine (Pynchon 133). Maxine shows interest in his arrival this time asking for a number to reach him for future engagements. As fast as he appears in the scene, he declines her request and is gone. Pynchon created Marvin’s character as the middleman. However, I hypothesize his character is foreshadowing a significant event or scene that the audience is unaware of at this point in the novel.
Marvin’s slangy dialogue allows the reader to understand he is not the mastermind behind these deliveries. He is simply an employee trying to earn a living after the dotcom crash. Moreover, the slang that Pynchon utilizes throughout the novel has an extremely casual and colloquial tone. Most often recognized is “sez” for “says” and “rilly” for “really.” Looking at Marvin’s dialogue, it is phrased in fragments and at times grammatically jumbled. It is quite simple to get lost in even one sentence of Bleeding Edge. One must adjust to Pynchon’s form of writing before trying to analyze it. One can easily get lost in the jargon and historical references that he so frequently employs. To comprehend Bleeding Edge, it is most beneficial to pay attention to Pynchon’s language in order to understand different characters and scenes. Although not every character Pynchon introduces plays a major role, it is worthwhile to recognize their significance because they may be referenced later in the novel.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Who is Marvin “the Kozmonaut”

  1. riderphilze says:

    Marvin as avatar, now there’s something interesting. Following the program set for him, receiving input (items to be delivered) and producing output (the act of delivering the items). Little to no knowledge of who he’s working for, it seems, and if he does know, he’s not at all forthcoming about it.
    Maxine is definitely curious about everything, though. In the sections for this coming Thursday, she gets an inkling of who sent the video, and when she receives the ice cream, she points out to Marvin that the flavor has been discontinued for a few years now. He doesn’t have much of an answer for her, either because he can’t or won’t, but it’s not clear.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dfw1alskare says:

    I really like your interpretation of Marvin as a possible DeepArcher avatar in the novel’s world outside of bleeding edge technology. His character reminded me a lot of this predictable but entertaining movie with Joseph Gordon Levitt (Premium Rush), where Levitt plays a biking messenger incidentally also taking place in NYC. In a lot of ways, the responsibilities of a biking messenger is to be able to deliver a package and do so in the fastest way possible. I would imagine such a person needs to know shortcuts throughout the city, which is basically a grid, and not only be aware of the underground, not so “play by the rules” way of doing things, but also be creative and capable of thinking of ways to manipulate the proper way to do things on the spot. Even now as I’m describing a biking messenger, I can’t help but think of hackers and how they have to manipulate their way through computer protocol and be able to find a path that allows them to accomplish a particular task. Marvin definitely seems like the middleman, but I think you’re completely right in saying he may have a bigger role in Pynchon’s story than we see now having gone this far in the reading. Very cool response, thanks for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newtonscradle7 says:

    dwf1alskare, it is interesting how you can compare a bike messenger with a hacker. I definitely agree that they both find the shortest routes and don’t really apply to the rules. Even looking at it in terms of traffic, web traffic or street traffic. Whether it’s hackers or bike messengers, they seem to get around the traffic with their tricks and fastest routes, the mainstream society sticks to the “controlled” areas but there is much more than what is on the surface. To then relate it to DeepArcher and Marvin, there is an image to them, but they work behind the scenes, they take paths that the common person does not know of and it gives them a sense of control. I think this definitely goes with the entire operation of hashslingerz because Pynchon keeps presenting things with surface value, but there is much more to it. Pynchon kinda stays in your head and really makes you think and question what is happening, you can’t just take it as it reads.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is a very interesting and careful description of a relatively fascinating moment in the novel, and you’re right on the verge of doing some fantastic work, but it is not entirely clear what you are arguing here. I think there’s a few different directions you could have further expanded upon this (some of them suggested in the comments).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s