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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access November 24, 2017

“Cinematic” Gravity’s Rainbow: Indiscernibility of the Actual and the Virtual

“There are worse foundations than film” (Pynchon 388).

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From the journal Open Cultural Studies


Acknowledging that all media interpenetrate without any one being privileged as original, this paper focuses on the influence and omnipresence of screen technologies, cinematography in particular, asserting its capacities to act as a dominant technological and cultural force, which surveys and controls the economy, affects human consciousness, and implements its own ideologically tainted reality. More specifically, the analysis demonstrates the impact of cinematography within Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, emphasizing intermedial reflexivity from screen to paper, its unfolding and animation, representations and mutations, but also the notion that virtuality dominates actuality (Virilio, The Vision 63), or, in Deleuze’s terms, the two coalesce within the crystal-image, for the real and the imaginary, the actual and the virtual, although distinct, are indiscernible (Deleuze, Cinema 2 68-69). The study is grounded in Paul Virilio’s theoretical framework and his criticism of the colonization of the real by the virtual, and in Gilles Deleuze’s account on cinematic taxonomy and how cinematography partakes in the emergence of a new notion of reality and history. By appropriating, repurposing, and reshaping the techniques, forms, and contents of cinematography, and at the same time being critical of its effects, Pynchon uses paper surface for transition of his ideas, validating the repercussions of intermediation as a cultural force and unveiling literature’s performativity, its ability to shelter/entertain the “cinematic,” which in turn revolutionizes and animates fiction.


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Received: 2017-08-18
Accepted: 2017-10-31
Published Online: 2017-11-24
Published in Print: 2017-11-27

© 2017

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

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