Partial Faiths: Postsecular Fiction in the Age of Pynchon and Morrison

By John A. McClure | Go to book overview

1
Ontological Pluralism and
Preterite Spiritualities

Thomas Pynchon

“Mason, shall we argue Religious Matters?”
“Good Christ. Dixon. What are we about?”

Mason & Dixon

He must tell Christian everything he knows,
everything he suspects or has dreamed. Proclaiming none
of it for truth.

Gravity’s Rainbow

There’s a tension between the readings of Thomas Pynchon’s fiction that constitute what might be called “Pynchon studies” and those that could be gathered under the heading of studies in postmodernism. From early on, many of Pynchon’s close readers have registered, with interest, unease, or dismay, his preoccupation with religious discourses, narratives, and models of the real. They have noted that the world of Pynchon’s novels is richly and strangely seamed with religious terms and concepts, story forms, and figures and that the worlds he renders incorporate important features of a whole range of religious ontologies. And they have explored the aesthetic and thematic function of these elements. (See, for instance, the early reviews and essays collected by George Levine and David Leverenz in Mindless Pleasures, Edward Mendelson’s essay “The Sacred, the Profane,

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