March the Conspiracy Theorist

Mike shows up with the food. Maxine sit peeling her banana, slicing it over the cereal, trying to keep her eyes wide and unjudging while March digs in to her high-cholesterol eats and is soon talking with her mouth full. “I see my share of conspiracy theories, some are patently bullshit, some I want to believe so much I have to be careful, others are inescapable even if I wanted to escape. The Montauk Project is every horrible suspicion you’ve ever had since World War II, all the paranoid production values, a vast underground facility, exotic weapons, space aliens, time travel, other dimensions, shall I go on? And who turns out to have a lively if not psychopathic interest in the subject but my own reptilian son-in-law, Gabriel Ice.” (Pynchon, Bleeding Edge p. 117)

The scene in discussion describes when Maxine and March are discussing Hashslingerz and the operations by Gabriel Ice. March suspects there is some wrongdoing going on by Gabriel Ice and begins to highlight conspiracy theories from the past and how she believes her son-in-law could be part of an anti-government plot. Of the conspiracy theories, March mentions the Montauk Project, claimed conspiracies stemming from an underground facility located in Montauk, Long Island.

When it comes to conspiracy theories, the Philadelphia Experiment and Montauk Project are some of the more high profile ones. The Philadelphia Experiment occurred around the time of October 28, 1943, when the United States Navy was supposedly conducting experiments on the USS Eldridge at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. As claimed, the U.S. Government was working with the idea of cloaking a naval ship, making it invisible to radar for a brief amount of time using electromagnetics. According to accounts, a green fog surrounded the naval ship, but then with a flash of a blue light, the ship disappeared. It was reported at a naval yard in Norfolk, VA that there was a sighting of that exact ship, and then moments later; the ship reappeared at the shipyard in Philadelphia. It was claimed by Al Bielek and Duncan Cameron, crewmembers who said they jumped off of the deck of the USS Eldridge sometime while in “hyperspace” and landed at the Air Force station Montauk Point, Long Island in 1983. At the Air Force in Montauk, there were claims of exotic research, including time travel, that lead some to believe that the events surrounding the USS Eldridge may be in part associated with the secret projects at Montauk Air Force Station, also referred to as the Montauk Project.

The Montauk Project consisted of experiments geared towards mind control, teleportation, time travel, and space travel. With the intent of a psychological war weapon, the experimenters hoped that the subjects could materialize objects out of thin air. They also had set up tunnels that would allow them to transport through time and space, taking them from Montauk to Mars, and in the case of the Philadelphia Experiment, those two crewmembers somehow accessed those tunnels to show up in 1983. Preston Nichols and Peter Moon wrote a book called The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time where they detail experiments conducted in time travel at the Montauk Air Force Base. This could definitely be an interesting read for someone who is interested in conspiracy theories. There are also interviews of the two crewmembers from the USS Eldridge, Al Bielek and Duncan Cameron, who recount their memories of time travel and teleportation. One thing that I thought was quite interesting was that Nicola Tesla was actually one of the leading scientists for the Philadelphia Experiment. It is interesting to think of how the big minds of that time, Oppenheimer, Einstein, Tesla, etc, all were working for the U.S. Government to find advancements in technology to give them an advantage during the war. You hear of conspiracy theories being well connected within them, but I found it interesting how the alleged events of the Philadelphia Experiment and the Montauk Project were so closely connected.

In a novel about 9/11, one cannot avoid recognizing the role conspiracy theories play in the aftermath of the tragic event. Pynchon acknowledges this with the inclusion of the character March Kelleher, a paranoid blogger with a familial connection to Gabriel Ice and Hashslingerz. Pynchon throughout his novel, continued to play with historical events, in my opinion to add depth to the situation. In relation to March, as she mentions in the quoted text above, she is well aware of the many conspiracy theories out there. This does not just make her fixated on her son-in-law, but it now gives her depth, as she is now someone who is fully aware of government craziness. She is now someone who comes off as even more of a paranoid blogger because it leads me at least, to think that she has been around the web, exploring all of the different conspiracy theories out there. In addition, as Maxine is exploring the secret tunnels under the mansion in Montauk, I am led to think about the Montauk Air Force Base and the possibility of a connection with the many experiments conducted with the Montauk Project. What could she possibly see down there? Is there Gabriel Ice somehow connected with these types of government projects, playing with those technologies? While reading it the first time, I could feel a sense of secrecy within those tunnels, but now knowing the alleged events of the Montauk Project, it made me concentrate more on the possible secret operations of Hashslingerz. Even in relation to the footage seen on the videotape with the missiles on the roof of The Deseret, Pynchon acknowledges the idea of conspiracy theories with the inclusion of this tape and the other conspiracy theories referenced in the novel, especially the many surrounding the events of 9/11. I believe that Pynchon is engaging the reader to think about deeper possibilities, not so much that 9/11 was an inside job, but rather that there is an entire range of things that Gabriel Ice and Hashslingerz could be up to. Pynchon’s use of history gives the reader a wider range of possibilities and strengthens even the aesthetic characters. March is meant as a paranoid blogger in the background that Maxine must deal with and with the reference to the Montauk Project, it adds even more to her paranoid, conspiracy theorist side.

Works Cited

“Montauk Project.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

“Montauk Project.” Montauk Project – Crystalinks. Crystalinks, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <;.

“Philadelphia Experiment.” Philadelphia Experiment – Crystalinks. Crystalinks, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <;.

“Philadelphia Project.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

Pynchon, Thomas. Bleeding Edge. New York: Penguin Group, 2013. Print.

Thomas Pynchon Wiki. Wikipedia, Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

This entry was posted in Bleeding Edge, Reading Response and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to March the Conspiracy Theorist

  1. ideasbylocke says:

    I agree with your interpretation of March’s conspiracy theories as someone who as been “around the web”. Pynchon references these theories on the first page of chapter 30, where he discusses the News Paper of Record and the “darker possibilities” that were suggested on the internet regarding the attacks. In regards to the use of March’s character, is it possible that Pynchon also uses her as a vehicle to express the thoughts of the public at the time. I have conducted vast and very in-depth analyses of the attacks on 11 September and have heard some of March’s ideas before. Although some are absurd, like most conspiracy theories are, I feel that March’s ideas are included as part of the cloud of illusion that surrounds 9/11.


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