Origin of the term “Eternal September”

Back in Chapter 16, Maxine meets Lester at a “disused techies’ saloon” called Eternal September (pg 174). The term originates from the days of Usenet back in 1993. For much of the 80’s and early 90’s, access to this proto-internet forum was limited to college campuses. As a result, every September Freshman would log into Usenet for the first time. Much like Freshman today, they had little disregard to the agreed upon rules of the network they were using and took some time to get used to the etiquette of the service. This was an example of a large established userbase having new users integrate into the already established rules of conduct.

In September of 1993, AOL began to offer its customers access to Usenet. The large influx of new users quickly overwhelmed the established userbase. It was a never-ending onslaught of Freshmen to the site and as a result, Usenet’s existing social norms were completely overwhelmed and the service began to decline in popularity. It was the September that never ended, the Eternal September.

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3 Responses to Origin of the term “Eternal September”

  1. pmc9122 says:

    Thats a cool angle to draw attention to because I think that Pynchon is postulating that the United States has been in an eternal September since 9/11, meaning that the fear of attack has become a fundamental part of our interaction with the institutions of power. By using a term that has a history like the one you described, you are able to draw a parallel between the influx of users on the internet who had no idea how it worked, and who destroyed all social consciousness of the medium, to the amount of people who, in fear of terrorism after September 11th, threw social consciousness out the window and allowed the government to pull to itself massive amounts of control (I’m looking at you Patriot Act). i maybe be pushing the bounds a bit into reading into this, but I like to try to pull layers back when reading Pynchon, cause theres usually something cool going on underneath.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. cso9 says:

    I think both of your analyses are interesting and intuitive. It’s pretty neat how we can utilize this webspace to make perceptions, then build off one another to create an even more in-depth analysis of the novel (and on that note, I wish I were able to contribute more to this particular observation but it seems your collaboration has already hit the nail on the head). Thank you for sharing, though, as this tiny detail I would have easily overlooked. Having been introduced to this subtle symbolism really amplifies my appreciation for Pynchon’s technique.

    Like

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