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Fuck the War?

Way back in 1.7, as Roger Mexico and Jessica Swanlake have begun to settle into a routine in the abandoned house they’ve adopted, Pynchon closes with this kind of lovely passage:

It is marginal, hungry, chilly — most times they’re too paranoid to risk a fire — but it’s something they want to keep, so much that to keep it they will take on more than propaganda has ever asked them for. They are in love. Fuck the war.

Now we jump forward to 4.2 and this realization:

“The War” was the condition she needed for being with Roger. “Peace” allows her to leave him.

And now Mexico views the foregone war almost with something like nostalgia. Little wonder, I suppose.

Also of note as we flip from the earlier chapter to the later is the shift in his sense of paranoia from situational paranoia (somebody might see our fire) to systemic paranoia more along the likes of what Slothrop suffers.

As in the early sections of the book, Roger is characterized as a child. In this episode, he throws a tantrum, cries snot “by the cubic yard” (which I quote because it delighted me), pulls a man around like a child’s sleigh (by the wiener!), expresses his displeasure by urinating inappropriately, and so on. Even the inexplicable jars of baby food rolling around in the floor of the car he’s driving reinforce the idea of Roger as infantile. Pynchon characterizes him as a “30-year-old innocent,” and then at last, getting back to paranoia, Prentice tells him he’s a novice paranoid. The sense I get, in other words, is that until now, Roger has thought about paranoia — to the extent that he’s thought about it at all — as simply a synonym for minor nagging fear. Once he connects the dots about Pointsman’s role in having Jessica sent away, his worldly innocence is ruined. It seems fitting that Prentice, who also previously found himself in a similar romantic triangle  to Roger’s, should be the one to induct him into the world of real paranoia.

And of course, given the reality Pynchon sets up for us within the novel, it seems sufficiently clear that this real systemic paranoia is well founded, that it’s not paranoia, as they say, if it’s true.

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