Seeing is not Believing in Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49” Thomas Pynchon creates a mystery world of constant

miscues in his novel “The Crying of Lot 49.” The protagonist Oedipa Maas indulges in a search for the true meaning behind a sketch of a muted post horn and a man named Tristero. While Oedipa constantly finds recurrent clues to these unknown symbols, she acknowledges that they cannot be trusted. She must remain uncertain because she can only “recognize signals like that, as the epileptic is said to-an odor, color, pure piercing grace note announcing his seizure” (76). Any color or odor can spark a seizure in an epileptic person, without that person knowing why or how. In the same way, Oedipa suspects she is being set off by images of the muted horn without knowing why they spark her interest and keep her investigating. In addition, she goes on to wonder if everything she has been working on will end as a meaningless pile of intimations, clues, and announcements, but “never the central truth itself” (76). In the same way Pynchon tangents from the main point of a sentence or paragraph, Oedipa is led astray with multiplying appearances of the symbol and “W.A.S.T.E.” As Oedipa hallucinates more “leads,” she, along with the reader, becomes more confused. It becomes impossible to decipher between the legitimate clues and the envisioned, reiterating the metaphor of the epileptic world. Every time she sees those certain symbols she is triggered into a new, more confusing twist for no reason other than the physical image of the horn or W.A.S.T.E.. Pynchon’s metaphor of the epileptic attack reveals that Oedipa may be searching for meaning in a world where only circular, or even fraudulent signals exist. However, it is within this world that Oedipa must search for meaning behind the perhaps meaningless signifiers.

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