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The Crying Of Lot 49 In Pop Culture

Thomas Pynchon has a cult following unlike few authors. His status is only magnified by his reluctance to appear in public and or in media. The guy is almost a myth.

But even though Pynchon is the equivalent of a literary ghost, his work (especially The Crying Of Lot 49) appears all over popular culture.

Some examples:

  • The Yoyodyne company, mentioned in the novel and which first appeared in V., is also the name of a manufacturer of starship drives in the Star Trek universe.
  • While Lost was on air, ABC created a website for a fictional company called PB-Sales, which owned interest in other corporations, including Yoyodyne.
  • During the opening of a Mad Men season 5 episode (“Lady Lazarus”), Peter Campbell is reading the novel.
  • Radiohead and Yo La Tengo have included themes from Pynchon’s works in their songs. Plus, Radiohead’s mailing list is named W.A.S.T.E.
  • My old friend William Gibson, he the author of Neuromancer, in his novel Count Zero, named a corporation Maas Neotek in honor of Oedipa Maas.
  • The writers for Parks and Recreation have also been influenced by The Crying of Lot 49. Notice that the abandoned construction site that appears early in the series is called “Lot 48.”

I’m just getting started here. I’m guessing this could be an interesting essay for a college paper or something like that. No charge for that advice, college students.

The Crying Of Lot 49 is a lot like the W.A.S.T.E. system described within the novel’s pages. It’s everywhere. You just have to look for it–and know what you’re looking for in the first place.

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. For its small size, “Lot 49” may seem like “Gravity’s Rainbow” Lite — but it still packs a helluva gnostic funhouse. Pynchon’s next novel, due out this September, looks to overlay the postal communication grid on what falls in cyberspace. For me, though, “Rainbow” is the one that knocks Pynchon out of the park. After a half-dozen readings, I still don’t really know what it’s about, but it sure makes the going fun.

    Like

    July 11, 2013
  2. Marc Hutchison #

    FYI – Yoyodyne also appears in “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai – Across the 8th Dimension!”.

    Like

    July 11, 2013
    • Yep! I had no idea what that was until the other day when someone told me.

      Like

      July 12, 2013
  3. Thanks. I have been meaning to check Pynchon’s work. Is there a particular book of his that I should read first?

    Like

    July 11, 2013
    • Probably this one. It’s usually considered his most accessible work, but like remindmagger says above, it still packs a punch. It’s short. So you won’t spend a ton of time reading it and it will give you a good feel for his style.

      Like

      July 12, 2013
  4. Nice post Robert,
    It is interesting what types of subtle references are hidden in pop-culture!
    Thanks for the good read.

    Like

    July 11, 2013
  5. Arh, goodness, I guess this is a call to arms. I was given the crying a few years ago by the boyfriend of my couchsurfing host in Japan. I still haven’t read it, and this post makes me feel like I should probably try to get a grip on modern pop culture a little more. Like, maybe I should actually read it!

    Like

    July 11, 2013
  6. brianbuchbinder #

    Actually, I’d say Vineland is his most accessible, and most affecting work, until you get to “Seize the Day”, but that one’s a doorstop.

    Like

    July 12, 2013
  7. Brian Collins #

    Soft Machine made a track called “Esther’s Nose Job” (a scene from V). And Pynchon has ‘appeared’ a couple of times on The Simpsons . . .

    Like

    July 12, 2013
  8. Me gusta que me escribas.Voy a hacer traducir tu texto, y luego te respondo.Abrazos.Teresa

    Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2013 12:29:10 +0000 To: teresac831@hotmail.com

    Like

    July 13, 2013
  9. No dejes de escribirme. Voy a buscar un traductor, y luego te respondo en mi idioma (el que s). Abrazo.Teresa

    Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2013 12:29:10 +0000 To: teresac831@hotmail.com

    Like

    July 13, 2013
  10. Reblogged this on Adithya Entertainment.

    Like

    July 15, 2013

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