“Down on the Barroom Floor of History”: Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge


An ironic engagement with history sets Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge apart from other 9/11 fictions. Engaging in a shadow polemic on the historiographical responsibilities of the literary artist, Pynchon critiques a burgeoning technology (the Internet) and the economic order it serves. He presents the Deep Web as a virtual unconscious, a “dark archive” beneath the surface Web. In his probing of this digital arkhē, Pynchon escorts the reader into an abyss previously explored by Nietzsche, Freud, and Derrida. Like them, he finds repression, death wish, “archive fever,” and the oblivion from which life emerges and to which it returns.