Just when I thought the world of literature couldn’t get more baffling than James Joyce, I discover the American post-modernist novelist, Thomas Pynchon. I totally understand if you’re thinking, “Who the hell is that?” Because I know I was. (Incidentally, post-modernist is from the Old Latin, meaning, only English majors read this stuff).
So, how the devil did I land at Thomas Pynchon for today’s Words?
Well, today is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I have zero Mexican heritage, but I love the idea of a day of colorful celebration to honor and remember family and friends, so I’ve adopted it. I picked up a pan de muerto (bread of the dead, and delicious, btw) at a local Mexican bakery, and my daughter and I shared memories of my grandparents. She barely remembers them herself, but she knows they are why I will always have African violets in my house, why I feed the birds, and why there’s no place like Nebraska.
And yesterday (coincidentally??), my cousin posted this on Facebook: Make a Mug from the Ashes of Your Loved Ones.
Seriously. Click on it.
Yep, now you can have your remains transformed into a coffee mug. Drinking my Nescafé out of Grandma just seems kind of, well, gross. I’m not sure this is the right fit for me. But before I decide for sure whether I want to be a coffee mug, I need to know whether I will be microwave and dishwasher safe.
Yuck factor aside, I have no problem with this idea. A few years ago while snorkeling in the Bahamas, we discovered you can turn yourself into a living aquatic reef (which I thought was beautiful), so why not? Except, I’ve never loved being in the water, so I’m not sure that’s the right fit for me, either.
And so, I started thinking about this business of living legacies . . . and (237 clicks later), I landed at Thomas Pynchon.
Pynchon wrote a novella in 1965 called, The Crying of Lot 49. It’s basically incomprehensible unless you’re an English major . . . or you just dropped acid.
Here’s the gist:
The protagonist, Oedipa, has just gotten home from a Tupperware party. Something, something, something. Dimensions of entropy. (WTF?!?) Some kind of secret, underground postal service. A corporate conspiracy involving using the bones of cremated American GIs as charcoal cigarette filters. (Again, WTF?!?) And then, a connection between the aforementioned bones and wine made from dandelions that grow on graves dug up during the construction of a freeway . . .
Told you it was incomprehensible. It’s just super weird. As near as I can tell, Lot 49 is actually an auction, at the end of which Oedipa is left on the brink of insanity, which is kind of how I felt after trying to read this slog.
But I like the idea of persistence.
Maybe I’ll be cremated and have my ashes scattered over a vineyard (I’ll surprise you which one). That way, I can persist . . . even in a bottle of wine.