Slow Learner is the published collection of five early short stories by the American novelist Thomas Pynchon, originally published in various sources between and The book is also notable for its introduction, written by Pynchon. “Entropy” – First published in the Kenyon Review 22, No. 2, in Spring Thomas Pynchon. ENTROPY. B3oris has just given me a sumnmary of his views. He is a weather prophet. The weather will continue bad, he says. There will be. Pynchon inscribed a couple copies of his short story “Entropy” to UNIX pioneer Greg Chesson, using Isaac Newton’s Second Law equation.
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Introduction Pynchon deals in his work with a complex concept of entropy and reveals how certain trends in our contemporary culture marked by massive consumerism, have a tendency that is similar to that of an entropy. The two main scientific types of entropy, thermodynamic and that of information theory, are deeply explored by Pynchon in his early short story Entropy.
Encountering difficulties with the mechanics of entropy, there is a chance for us, the readers, to prevent heat-death, or in other words information death. There are two main scientific understandings of entropy that Pynchon considers in his works — that of thermodynamics and that of information theory.
Norbert Wiener elaborated on these notions and in his The Human Use of Human Beings he came up with a theory of the heat-death of the universe. The heat-death will happen the highest level of entropy has been reached and there is no other remaining source of energy to create some mechanical work or motion. This have inspired Pynchon to explore the concept of entropy in his short story Entropy, as he stated in the introduction to Slow Learner In The Human Use of Human Beings, Wiener explains the heat-death tendency of the universe by saying that as entropy increases, the universe, and all closed systems in the universe, tend naturally to deteriorate and lose their distinctiveness, to move from the least to the most probable state, from a state of organization and differentiation in which distinctions and forms exist, to a state of chaos and sameness Thus, to get the content of messages transmitted from one source to another, the entropy or distortion of the message must be canceled out by redundant information.
Even though Pynchon himself criticizes his early grasp of entropy in his Slow Learner: Two different apartments create the setting of the story, each representing one of the two already mentioned scientific notions of entropy; that of information theory and that of thermodynamics.
On an example of events that take place at these two apartments, Pynchon shows as, how certain social and cultural tendencies in the American society mirror the principles of an entropy. Entropy begins in February of in Washington D. It is in this apartment, that all other events of the story that resemble the tendencies of communication theory entropy take place.
As the story goes on, the reader is able to observe that the party guests are alienated not only from each other, but also from society by remaining at the party for a longer period of time, and thus isolating themselves from the outside world. He seems to violate social conventions without much concern.
Saul further explains that Miriam is deeply troubled by computer behavior which resembles human behavior: Saul emphasizes the word noise when he says: All this is noise I mean, you know. It helps you think better on the job or something. Saul is not shown to have a connection with anyone else in the apartment, other than Meatball, so when his frustration is not resolved and Meatball leaves him alone, he descends into greater entropy and confusion and spreads that confusion to random people even outside of the apartment, causing more chaos and entropy.
The way he [Meatball] figured, there were only about two ways he could cope: Thus, if Meatball were to follow their example, which follows the natural tendency of entropy to increase, and withdraw himself from the guests and events in the apartment too, the entropy and chaos would most likely simply continue to increase.
So he [Meatball] decided to try and keep his leasebreaking party from deteriorating into total chaos; he gave wine to the sailors and separated the morra players; […] he helped the girl in the shower to dry off and get into bed; he had another talk with Saul; he called a repairman for the refrigerator, which someone had discovered was on the blink.
The apartment itself is depicted as a completely isolated artificial greenhouse: The amount of energy that Callisto has had to exert to create this local and temporary island to resist the effects of entropy is reflected by the amount of time it has taken him: The amount of time spent is much greater than the amount of energy Mulligan spent to create a lesser degree of local and temporary order amongst the guests in his apartment. Outside there was rain […] The day before, it had snowed and the day before that there had been winds of gale force and before that the sun had made the city glitter bright as April, though the calendar read early February Callisto closely monitors the outside temperature with the help of the other inhabitant, Aubade, and recognizes in it a symptom of a highly entropic state or even heat-death, which might indicate an approaching apocalypse.
Unlike Meatball Mulligan, who invited the chaos and disorder of the outside world into his apartment and has become affected by it, Callisto has removed himself from the disorganized outside world and isolated himself within a local and temporary island of ecological balance or order in his apartment, which as the reader is told, neither he, nor Aubade, ever leaves, Callisto realizes that the scientific tendency toward greater entropy and heat-death extends beyond science to everything in the world around him: The horrible significance of it all dawned on him [Callisto]: Callisto then reveals the connection between consumerism and entropy: This suggests that the effects of consumerism contribute to greater entropy, because the observed tendencies correspond closely to those of entropy.
Until finally, Callisto conceives that just as entropy increases in a closed system and inevitably leads to heat-death, so too must society, as he foresees: A heat-death for his culture in which ideas, like heat-energy, would no longer be transferred, since each point in it would ultimately have the same quantity of energy; and intellectual motion would, accordingly, cease.
Unlike in Entropy with each type of entropy pertaining to one of the apartments, Thomas Pynchon no longer provides such clear differentiations between them in The Crying of Lot 49, but rather implicitly reveals features of both as they occur throughout the events in the book, as observed by the main protagonist, Oedipa Maas.
In doing so, Pynchon conveys his observation of the similar tendencies between American consumer culture and those of thermodynamic entropy and information theory to the reader.
Pynchon provides a certain amount of hope of resisting cultural heat death by assuming a role much like that of what the physicist Clerk Maxwell envisioned in his hypothesis in Theory of Heat for his demon, which came to be named after him Grant Maxwell conceived the demon as an entity that operates a door between two enclosed ejtropy of a closed system, filled with fast- and slow-moving molecules.
By allowing the fast-moving, high-energy molecules to pass only into one of the spaces and the slow-moving, low-energy molecules to pass only into the other space, the demon would raise the temperature of the space with the fast-moving molecules and lower the temperature of enntropy other space, without expending. So you would be violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics, getting something for nothing, causing perpetual motion In order to be able to gather information about the molecules, such a sense organ requires light to come into contact with it and with the observed particles.
Unfortunately, if the light and the molecules are in a state of balance, they become indistinguishable from each other and the eye is rendered incapable of perceiving the location or velocity of the molecules at all. As the Demon sat and sorted his molecules into hot and cold, the system was said to lose entropy. But somehow the loss entropj offset by the information the Demon gained about what molecules were where The Crying of Lot 49 This recollection suggests that the Maxwell demon is only reducing entropy and sorting locally in the thermodynamic sense, while increasing entropy elsewhere by acquiring the information about the location and velocity of the molecules.
Thus, it seems that the process of acquiring knowledge or meaning out of the gathered information causes an increase in entropy of the demon at the same time.
The Concept of Pynchon’s Entropy and its Role in Postmodern Society – Essay UK Free Essay Database
This is also evidenced by Oedipa Maas, who, like the reader following her footsteps, assumes a role much like that of the Maxwell Demon in pursuing the truth behind the mystery entro;y the elusive Trystero. In doing so, Oedipa reduces the thermodynamic entropy pyncbon her life, ypnchon had initially been unvaryingly uniform in her opinion: Therefore, the second law of thermodynamics is not violated, because even if a local decrease in entropy is achieved, it is only temporary and results in a greater increase in entropy elsewhere.
This renders her unable to process the entirety of information by sifting through it and increases entropy within her, just as it increases within the Maxwell demon as a result of reducing of the entropy in a closed system by sorting molecules.
As John Nefastis, whom Oedipa encounters not long after Stanley Koteks on her pynhcon, seems to realize, the Maxwell demon cannot work on its own and requires influence from outside its closed system to operate.
The Demon passes his data on to the sensitive and the sensitive must reply in kind. To keep it all cycling.
Conclusion Living in consumer culture that is overabundant with information made available through mass media, it has become almost impossible to discern which piece of information is important and which is redundant and misleading. By leaving his works open to a wide variety of interpretations, Pynchon reduces the probability of readers arriving at identical conclusions, and thus decreases the entropic tendency towards sameness.
Readers are enriched by the experience of active participation and they actively take place in processing of information flow and become more experienced in distinguishing meaningful information from a surplus and misleading information distributed through the mass media and. entrkpy
As a result, readers are encouraged to seek their own interpretations of contemporary chaotic world that is permeated by consumerism which contributes to higher entropy in society in several ways, but most importantly, by conditioning consumers to comply with its materialistic value scheme and adopt it for their own in an effort to promote greater consumption, which leads to the irrational and excessive reduction of all items that cease to hold material value to disposable waste, eve if such consumption is unsustainable.
Corporations have a vested interest in perpetuating omnipresent consumerism in society because there is much material gain and profit to be made from the bountiful consumption of their products by consumers. To that end, corporations go to great lengths to shape people into the desired pattern of a good consumer and in doing so, instigate greater entropy in society and culture by promoting uniform material want over individual.
References Primary Sources Pynchon, Thomas. Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot University of Georgia Press. Thomas Pynchon, Slow Learner. Essay UK – http: If this essay isn’t quite what you’re looking for, why not order your own custom Media essay, dissertation or piece of coursework that answers your exact question?
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Thomas Pynchon, Newton’s Second Law and Entropy
The Concept of Entropy There are two main scientific understandings of entropy that Pynchon considers in his works — that of thermodynamics and that of information theory. To that end, corporations go to great lengths pyncon shape people into the desired pattern of a good consumer and in doing so, instigate greater entropy in society and culture by promoting uniform material want over individual References Primary Sources Pynchon, Thomas.
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