Surrealpolitik: Bleeding Edge

Author: Thomas Pynchon

New York: Penguin Books (2014)

Quick Summary

Pynchon's 9/11 novel. Suitably paranoid, literarily thrilling. Vacillates between conspiracy connoisseur information (insider trading, Promis software), strong denial that the government would actually plan such a thing (from the mouth of a character anyway), and baseless nonsense like an underground Arab network with foreknowledge of the events that extends as far as random taxi drivers. Writes a lot of checks he chooses not to cash. At least two mentions of Promis software that go nowhere. A detective novel that solves nothing, in classic Pynchon fashion. Choice paranoid and connoisseur conspiracy details include:
  • Bush family does business with Saudi terrorists (p 53)
  • Lucky Luciano and the OSS (p 66)
  • Promis software (pp 104, 248)
  • "the terminal truth about the US government, worse than anything you can imagine" (p 117)
  • they know and they're not going to do anything about it (LIHOP) (p 284)
  • Insider trading/put options (p 315)
  • Reichstag (p. 317)
  • CIA pretending to be jihadi


There are 11 quotes currently associated with this book.

Maxine can't avoid feeling nauseous at the possibility of some stupefied consensus about what life is to be, taking over this whole city without mercy, a tightening Noose of Horror, multiplexes and malls and big-box stores it only makes sense to shop at if you have a car and a driveway and a garage next to a house out in the burbs. (page 51)
Tags: [Capitalism]
"So better to stay deep," Vyrva sez. "After a while it can get to be an addiction. There's a hacker saying -- once you've gone Deep, never get back to sleep." (page 78)
Tags: [Conspiracy, Literary/Poetic]
"Phantom ware countermeasures."

"Wait, you're supposed to be pro-phantomware, what's with this 'counter'?"

"We built it, we disable it. You're frowning. We're beyond good and evil here, the technology, it's neutral, eh?" (page 89)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Conspiracy, Literary/Poetic]
"No offense," his smirk indicating otherwise, "but what's disturbing about this Promis software is that there's always a backdoor built in, so anytime it gets installed on a government computer anywhere in the world -- law enforcement, intelligence, special ops -- anybody who happens to know about this backdoor can just slip in through it and make themselves at home -- wherever -- and all manner of secrets get compromised. Not to mention there's a couple of Israeli chips, highly sophisticated, which Mossad have been known to install at the same time, without necessarily informing the client. What these chips do is scavenge information even while the computer's turned off, hold it till the Ofeq satellite comes over, then transmit everything out to it in a single data burst." (page 104)
Tags: [Conspiracy, Literary/Poetic]
How right-wing, Maxine wonders, does a person have to be to think of the New York Times as a left-wing newspaper? (page 105)
Tags: [The Left, Literary/Poetic]
"The Montauk Project."

"The...Oh, wait, Heidi's mentioned that...She teaches it, some kind of...urban legend?"

"You could say." Beat. "You could also say, the terminal truth about the U.S. government, worse than anything you can imagine."

Mike shows up with the food. Maxine sits peeling her banana, slicing it over the cereal, trying to keep her eyes wide and unjudging while March digs in to her high-cholesterol eats and is soon talking with her mouth full. "I see my share of conspiracy theories, some are patently bullshit, some I want to believe so much I have to be careful, others are inescapable even if I wanted to escape. The Montauk Project is every horrible suspicion you've ever had since World War II, all the paranoid production values, a vast underground facility, exotic weapons, space aliens, time travel, other dimensions, shall I go on?" (page 117)
Tags: [Conspiracy, Literary/Poetic]
Sid kills the running lights and the motor, and they settle in behind Island of Meadows, at the intersection of Fresh and Arthur Kills, toxicity central, the dark focus of Big Apple waste disposal, everything the city has rejected so it can keep on pretending to be itself, and here unexpectedly at the heart of it is this 100 acres of untouched marshland, directly underneath the North Atlantic flyway, sequestered by law from development and dumping, marsh birds sleeping in safety. (page 166)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Simulacra/Illusion, Literary/Poetic]
But now as they decelerate down the last stretch of Route 27, she can only feel the narrowing of options -- it's all converging here, all Long Island, the defense factories, the homicidal traffic, the history of Republican sin forever unremitted, the relentless suburbanizing, miles of mowed yards, contractor hardpan, beaverboard and asphalt shingling, treeless acres, all concentrating, all collapsing, into this terminal toehold before the long Atlantic wilderness. (page 191)
Tags: [Everyday Life, Culture, Capitalism, Literary/Poetic]
How could there be secrets here? Drive-through kitchen, state-of-the-art projection room, everything out in the open, no passages inside the walls, no hidden doors, all still too new. What could lie behind a front like this, when it's front all the way through? (page 191-192)
Tags: [Postmodernism, Literary/Poetic]
That night she dreams the usual Manhattan-though-not-exactly she has visited often in dreams, where, if you go far enough out any avenue, the familiar grid begins to break down, get wobbly and interwoven with suburban arterials, until she arrives at a theme shopping mall which she understands has been deliberately designed to look like the aftermath of a terrible Third World battle, charred and dilapidated, abandoned hovels and burned-out concrete foundations set in a natural amphitheater so that two or more levels of shops run up a fairly steep slope, everything sorrowful rust and sepia, and yet here at these carefully distressed outdoor cafes sit yuppie shoppers out having a cheerful cup of tea, ordering yuppie sandwiches stuffed full of arugula and goat cheese, behaving no differently than if they were at Woodbury Common or Paramus. (page 196)
Tags: [Literary/Poetic, Dreams]
"Heidi, tell me again about the Montauk Project."

"Been around since the eighties, part of the American vernacular by now. Next year they'll be opening the old air station to tourists. There's already companies running tour buses."


"Another form of everything ends up as a Broadway musical."

"So nobody takes the Montauk Project seriously anymore, you're saying."

A dramatic sigh. "Maxi, earnest Maxi, forensic as always. These urban myths can be attractors, they pick up little fragments of strangeness from everywhere, after a while nobody can look at the whole thing and believe it all, it's too unstructured. But somehow we'll still cherry-pick for the intriguing pieces, God forbid we should be taken in of course, we're too hip for that and yet there's no final proof that some of it isn't true. Pros and cons, and it all degenerates into arguments on the Internet, flaming, trolling, threads that only lead deeper into the labyrinth." (page 197)
Tags: [Conspiracy, Literary/Poetic]