Very interesting analysis from an essay that explores Thomas Pynchon’s concept of history by drawing links between Mason Dixon and Gravity’s Rainbow.
by Ariss DerHovanessian
“A … devastating consequence of conventional history is that once consolidated, the voices of Pynchon’s beloved “preterite,” the suffering and powerless masses, are written out and covered-up. “What passes is a truth so terrible that history–at best a conspiracy, not always among gentlemen, to defraud–will never admit it. The truth will be repressed or in ages of particular elegance be disguised as something else” (GR 164). Antonio Marquez suggests that for Pynchon, history is a “system of illusions, an enormous con-game that shields grotesque lies and conspiracies” (Marquez 55). But beyond the fact that so many crimes, like the extermination of the Hereros in Africa, are virtually written out of official histories, a philosophy of history that tends to focus on events, causes, and effects, rather than on people, completely disregards human suffering. Ultimately, such a perception perpetuates a deceptive aggrandizement of the past. When students of history are forced to painstakingly memorize a series of meaningless facts, names, dates, and places, it becomes easy to neglect the real pain that real people experienced.”