“It’s really just another maze, only invisible. You’re drowning for transparent links, each measuring one pixel by one, each link vanishing and relocating as soon as it’s clicked on…an invisible self-recoding pathway, no chance of retracing it.” (p.79, Pynchon)
This quote is from a conversation between Maxine and Lucas, who the latter of whom explains how the DeepArcher program works in relation to the Internet and it’s abyss like nature.
I chose this quote because I saw it’s relevance in a variety of inter-relating plot themes like entropy (I had to read up on Pynchon’s short story in relation to this topic) which plays into a larger social theme of a contextualized present or a perpetual crisis as can be paralleled with Kermode’s “The End”.
However, to start, I want to focus on this quote by Lucas who explains the ‘goal’ of DeepArcher which is not really much of a goal at all. Basically the program is almost like an early Sims game, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sims ) where the player is interacting with their environment hence constructing their reality through interaction and the presence of other users. With every click, the user does not know where they will end up which can have major repercussions if not thought through, especially since the actions are not recorded, hence one can not go back and fix their mistakes, only move forward. Sounds a lot like the game of life, huh? This interactive representation of the internet, where users can move freely, randomly generating their next move parallels with Kermode’s “The End” in the sense the moment, the present is all that matters, the future is simply made up of consecutive decisions of the present. This can be very destructive since, people tend to forget or disregard the past, or conveniently for users of DeepArcher, they don’t have to. Kermode says, “What they, the dying men, can do is to imagine a significance for themselves in these unremembered but imaginable events.” (p. 4, Kermode). He continues to say that this is accomplished by focusing on the present, “…make objects in which everything is that exists in concord with everything else..” (p.4, Kermode). As is further explained, the coming and going of fictionalized interpretations of the beginning and end preoccupy our present, we keep our minds occupied with imaginations of them so that we don’t dwell on the beginning or end, but I think the concept of DeepArcher is to be a distraction, it’s a distraction of the present by becoming occupied with the present. However, as history has showed, this danger of being unaware of the past and future can lead to very bad decision making, as history has showed through the housing crash of 2007-09 as well as the dot com bubble. There is a recklessness in such carless decision-making, a lack of foresight that caused these things to happen. I think with DeepArcher, this program is a digital representation of these type of irresponsible decision making. During the dot com bubble, there was so much faith, hope and optimism for technology and the future it could potentially hold, however, technology is only as good as the users make of it. Technology can’t necessarily make the world better if the problems aren’t changing, and by lack of speculation and visitation of the past, our problems will never evolve; we as a human race will continue to make the same problems and mistakes throughout our generation. This recklessness I think, can cause a heighten sense of crisis; there is a crisis occurring as we make decisions without thinking about the repercussions, there is a crisis in clicking on pixels that you don’t know where they will take you.
DeepArcher also reflects the nature of disorder. In addition to constantly moving forward, constantly interacting in the “maze”, a user may find “…emptiness, absence of color, the entropic dwindling into Netscape gray of the other brighter world.” (p.77, Pynchon). Having a strong science background I think I was able to parallel Pynchon’s metaphor of entropy with DeepArcher, however, unlike the more common use of the word, I don’t think that Pynchon is using entropy to showcase disorder or chaos, but rather entropy can be potentially used productively. Since energy is neither created nor destroyed, this entropic energy can be transferred into the production of a growing world inside DeepArcher. There is disorder in everyday life and I think that Pynchon is using the interactions between potential users of DeepArcher paralleled on how societal systems, like thermodynamic systems can be self-regulated.