Written By: Krysta Chianta
Science Empowering Women
Oedipa from The Crying of Lot 49 and Circle from Vas: An Opera in Flatland are both women who are empowered by technology in two very different ways. For instance, Oedipa takes control of the information she is given and decides what is important and what isn't, which embodies information theory as well as mirrors Maxwell’s Demon. While, Circle being the primary financial aid in the household, asks her husband Square, to get a vasectomy. In both of these cases, the men around these women become weaker than the dominant women. Therefore,
I will explore a feminist perspective with in Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Tomasula’s Vas:
An Opera in Flatland by revealing how both Oedipa and Circle are superior to their men because of the science in each of the novels. However, it is important to note that science empowers both character in very different ways.
At the beginning of The Crying of Lot 49, Oedipa is just a simple housewife who has just attended a Tupperware party. She starts her journey to becoming superior to the men around her when she receives a letter naming her executor of her ex-boyfriends will. The Tupperware party is a symbol of her entrapment as a housewife.
“Thermodynamic entropy is the measure of this disorganization in the universe. In a closed, isolated system, the total quantity of energy remains the same, but irreversible
transformations or chemical reactions within this system cause a loss in the grade or quality of the energy” (Dutta).
The thermodynamic entropy is a mirror of Oedipa before she escapes her housewife lifestyle.
She recognizes her entrapment when she had an excursion with Pierce, “. . .Rapunzel-like role . . . magically, prisoner among the pines and salt fogs of Kinneret, looking for somebody to say hey, let down your hair. . . What did she so desire escape from?” (Pynchon 10-11). Oedipa’s entrapment is similar to the trapped area where entropy lives. If she does not escape from her
‘tower’ she will become a random body of disorder (Dutta). Oedipa decides to break out of her
‘confinement’ when she excepts her role as executor. This is an empowering move for Oedipa because she is taking control of her life and is no longer living within her housewife entrapment.
The similarity between Oedipa’s entrapment and the entrapment where entropy thrives is just one of the occurrences where her character mirrors the science in the novel and takes control without the help of a man. Oedipa starts her journey, breaking free of her entrapment and begins to mirror Maxwell’s Demon. When she drives to San Narciso she has a ‘religious instant’ she states that, “a revelation also trembled just past the threshold of her understanding . . . As if, on some other frequency, or out of the eye of some whirlwind rotating too slow for her heated skin to even feel the centrifugal coolness of, words were being spoken” (Pynchon 14). This religious moment foreshadows her growth of character where she becomes strong enough to sort through the overload of information she finds and the mirroring of her character to Maxwell’s Demon.
Oedipa’s infidelity is significant because it symbolizes her taking control and the beginning towards her journey. As Oedipa collects more information, her character becomes more confident and dominant. At this point in the novel, Metzger seems to disappear and Oedipa continues her journey without his help. She decides that W.A.S.T.E and the symbol that goes
along with it are important information. At this point of the novel, Oedipa starts to mirror
Maxwell’s Demon because she is sorting through information and deciding what is important and what isn’t. Oedipa collects information and tries to decide what is part of her mystery much like the Nefastis’ box and how Maxwell’s Demon passes information to the sensitive. Through this information overload,