Inherent Vice and Thomas Pynchon
|by Kelly Breaux|
File under: Fake Culture10 Jan 2015 12:25 EST
Why do you continue to read Thomas Pynchon novels? Is it because you are so mindless that you will read anything that the New York Times reviews? Is it because you are the holder of a fake degree in English and you feel it is part of your duty to do so? Is it because you are a hopeless aspiring writer looking for an elderly mentor? Or is it simply prententiousness (probably unacknowledged)?
Certainly, no one reads Pynchon for enjoyment or for mental stimulation. There is no value to be gained from paying attention to the nostalgic internal ramblings of a very old man. Getting through Inherent Vice was like getting through an abusive relationship: your needs and wants — as a reader — mean basically nothing to this author, who requires you to listen endlessly to his self-serving, subjective drivel, presumably so that this he can finally feel that he is better than someone else (and not the mediocrity that he is). Inherent Vice literally has nothing to offer, other than some lukewarm jokes relating to 1960s-isms and some literary obscurantism which is better left in the dark. Perhaps if you too are a nostalgic old man with nothing to do during the afternoons, you might actually enjoy reading it. In fact, I'm sure that Robert Christgau loves Thomas Pynchon. I understand that most of the literate population today is probably old men, but that's still not much of an excuse.
Perhaps this is why Paul Thomas Anderson decided to make a movie version. Perhaps he saw some financial potential in the young, illiterate, movie-watching audience. 'Drugs' are universal and timeless, and the story is about 'drugs', right? Perfect, everything else will fall into place. As an added bonus, the prententious middle-class crowd will feel obligated to go: pseudo-reputations must be maintained at all costs. And you are going, aren't you? Or have you already seen it? Actually there's one reason that would justify paying to see it: you'd like to see a decent movie, but everything else that's showing is wholly unwatchable or under terrorist threat from a foreign aggressor nation.
You can find many reviews of the film already online. The response from 'professional critics' has been mostly positive. These critics, who perhaps paid attention to about 10 minutes of the film, felt a good feeling during that time, and then went back to the iPad and glossed over the missing pieces to create a favorable review. These critics, who didn't pay to see the film, and who have spent decades providing apologetics for Hollywood trash, are now trying to sell the film to you. My less-intelligent friends have been pestering me, "Did you see Inherent Vice yet???" The answer is "no", and I won't be seeing it. I've got much more important things to do tonight and every Saturday night in the foreseeable future. You can go ahead and spend your funny money to pretend for a few hours that you're intelligent and cultured and that you understand all the jokes. You can even feel good that you're helping to promote the cult of embarrassingly dominant American author. But you don't have to, of course.
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