Vectors of Grace: Thomas Pynchon’s Reimagined Technology and the Digital Humanities in Against the Day

By Richard Dragan.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 1, 2016 $US5.00

This article explores the work of Thomas Pynchon, especially “Against the Day” and his use of ideas and allusions from science, technology, and mathematics to challenge humanistic values in much of his earlier work. This argument makes use of an early essay by C. P. Snow published in “The Kenyon Review,” which also published Pynchon’s early short story, “Entropy.” I argue that this story was a direct answer to Snow’s charge that no one in the humanities knew the Second Law of Thermodynamics (in which entropy is an essential concept). The essay also looks at recent debates in the digital humanities, which, of course, challenge our ideals of “close reading” with machine reading and algorithmic analysis. Pynchon’s work, I argue, has long examined the tension between scientific and humanistic values, and thus his work can be a guide to navigating some of the debates in the digital humanities that we face today.

Keywords: Thomas Pynchon, Digital Humanities, C. P. Snow, Science and Literature, “Against the Day,” The Two Cultures

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 14, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.19-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 1, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 622.287KB)).

Dr. Richard Dragan

Associate Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College, The City University of New York, Long Island City, New York, USA