“Originally the guys, you have to wonder how presciently, had it in mind to create a virtual sanctuary to escape from the many varieties of real world discomfort. A grand-scale motel for the afflicted, a destination reachable by virtual midnight express from anyplace with a keyboard. Creative Differences arose, to be sure, but went strangely unacknowledged. Justin wanted to go back in time, to a California that had never existed, safe, sunny all the time, where in fact the sun never set unless somebody wanted a romantic sunset. Lucas was searching for someplace, you could say, a little darker, where it rains a lot and great silences sweep like wind, holding inside them forces of destruction. What came out as synthesis was DeepArcher.” (Bleeding Edge, pg. 74)
Chapter seven of Bleeding Edge is a pivotal chapter early on in the book that describes to Maxine and the reader what the DeepArcher software is all about. The reader is introduced to its creators, Justin and Lucas, and they describe to her what avatars are in terms of this virtual world and what their initial inspirations behind the program were. After the insight into the designs, Maxine is allowed to try the program for herself and enters the “DeepArcher Lounge”.
This particular passage takes its place as part of the explanation of the inspiration behind the program as well as some of the difficulties in the early stages of the program. I found this passage to be quite engaging due to the creation of a new world in the virtual realm and its insight into the reasons and ways in which both Justin and Lucas want to escape from the real world. I found significance in that this passage showed that technology can create something such as a multi-user dungeon that allows users to have anonymous access. Also important is that this technology is available to anyone who has a computer.
Pynchon’s prose form really makes this book challenging for a first time Pynchonian such as myself. This style of writing, coupled with Pynchon’s tendency to jump around in his story telling, has made it rather difficult, at times, for me to keep everything straight from scene to scene. The passage is spoken by the narrator, but has a feel as though Vyrva is speaking directly to Maxine. Rather than a personal interaction between characters, this is a means of communicating the message to the reader. This impacts the meaning because it allows for the reader to learn who Justin and Lucas are, as well as learn about DeepArcher. This gives the reader knowledge that Maxine does not have herself. Being that the narrator is the one speaking in this conversation.
The significance behind this selection lies with its description of the technology and its creators. These main topics support some of the large undertones of the book. These undertones imply that computer technology has now become accessible for anyone who has a keyboard and monitor and that places in the deep web, such as DeepArcher, are private places that allow for an escape from the “real” world.
The first of these implications is something that can still be seen in today’s world, 14 years removed from the dot-com boom. This is the easy accessibility to advanced technology such as personal powerful computers. Prior to the turn of the century, personal computers, which could be used for creating things such as DeepArcher, were not common. This technology was rather reserved for larger companies and wealthy individuals who had the money to afford these machines. The complexity of the software to create something such as DeepArcher had just become available at the turn of the century along with games such as World of Warcraft being beta tested in 2004. The greater idea is that this technology is no longer only accessible to the elect in society, but now to prederate (Justin and Lucas) as well. Companies such as Microsoft and Apple no longer solely controlled these technologies, making them no longer in control of the ill-informed prederate.
The second main undertone is the escape from the real world that DeepArcher allows. The multi-user dungeon that is DeepArcher allows for the user to have privacy as they travel throughout. The avatars created encourage this complete sense of privacy within the dungeon. As mentioned about Justin and Lucas, it is also a very useful way of escaping the real world and creating your own setting, wherever you would like to be whether it is sunny California or a quiet place. I believe that through this, Pynchon is trying to show how technology is a means of escaping the real world. The importance of this is shown in other places in the book, such as when Maxine goes on her cruise to escape from Horst and her “real” world.