An Excerpt from Gravity’s Rainbow. . .

“‘And sometimes I dream of discovering the edge of the World. Finding that there is an end. My mountain gentian always knew. But it has cost me so much.

‘America was the edge of the World. A message for Europe, continent-sized, inescapable. Europe had found the site for its Kingdom of Death, that special Death the West had invented. Savages had their waste regions, Kalaharis, lakes so misty they could not see the other side. But Europe had gone deeper–into obsession, addiction, away from all the savage innocences. America was a gift from the invisible powers, a way of returning. But Europe refused it. It wasn’t Europe’s Original Sin–the latest name for that is Modern Analysis–but it happens that Subsequent Sin is harder to atone for.

‘In Africa, Asia, Amerindia, Oceania, Europe came and established its order of Analysis and Death. What it could not use, it killed or altered. In time the death-colonies grew strong enough to break away. But the impulse to empire, the mission to propagate death, the structure of it, kept on. Now we are in the last phase. American Death has come to occupy Europe. It has learned empire from its old metropolis. But now we have only the structure left us, none of the great rainbow plumes, no fittings of gold, no epic marches over alkali seas. The savages of other continents, corrupted but still resisting in the name of life, have gone on despite everything. . . while Death and Europe are separate as ever, their love still unconsummated. Death only rules here. It has never, in love, become one with. . . ” (Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow [New York: Viking Press, 1973], 722-3).

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