Mason & Dixon's examination of America's origins is informed by a dual temporal perspective: that of the late eighteenth century during which the modern nation-state was conceived and the late twentieth century in which a globalized economy and rise of huge conglomerates have led critics to proclaim the era of the nation-state as over. With New World slavery jettisoning all notions of American exceptionalism, colonial faction preventing national consolidation, and the very shape of the earth making the actuality of America impossible to determine with any fixity, establishing what is American becomes an act of representation. Pynchon portrays that act as less a function of politics, as the colonists demanded, and more a question of aesthetics, as the pictorial mapping in which his surveyors engage illustrates.


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pp. 283-302
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