INFLUENCES #2: THOMAS PYNCHON
Those who follow us on Facebook may already know that we practically can't stop talking about Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr., American writer born in 1937, famous for evading pictures and interviews at all costs. His oeuvre in general, and particularly Gravity's Rainbow (1973), is the major influence on the themes, atmosphere and, of course, title of our in-production adventure game: Personal Rocket.
“Each will have his personal Rocket,” he writes at a key moment of that giant 1973 book. The Rocket, in the novel that takes place at the end of World War II and the beginning of the Post-War (though it also goes through Southwest Africa, USA, Kyrgyzstan, and even has a memorable crew of Argentines and a special mention of Mar del Plata, the city where we were born) symbolizes... we don't really know. Transcendence? Control? One of the central conflicts is the obsessive search by many characters of a particular rocket, like captain Ahab chasing Moby Dick. In that sense, like Melville's mythical whale, the Rocket could be Fate, God, or the Universe.
Or maybe it's just a V2 rocket and nothing else, a simple MacGuffin, an excuse to make vulgar jokes (it's obvious the rocket looks like a penis, and Pynchon doesn't beat around the bush to let us know that) and, while he's at it, talk about paranoia, occultism, science, racism, corporations, capitalism, colonialism, fascism, and disturbing and depraved sexual practices. An enormous novel in every sense.
And what does this all have to do with videogames? Well, that's what we're trying to figure out. We believe that the narrative experimentation of postmodern literature in all its forms could be a beautiful source of ideas and influences for any video game designer and gamer.
So now you know: read Pynchon. It's much more fun and easier to read than it looks like. If Gravity's Rainbow seems too gigantic a place to start, you can begin with The Crying of Lot 49 (a short paranoid novel in sixties California, that's just screaming to be adapted into an adventure game, and maybe some day we will do it...), or Inherent Vice (another California one, adapted to film by Paul Thomas Anderson with Joaquin Phoenix in the lead), or Bleeding Edge (his New York novel about 9/11 and the Internet boom, where he name-drops Psyduck, the best Pokémon ever), or Mason & Dixon (gargantuan and encyclopaedic as GR but more tender and nicer, set in the 18th century).
As a final thing, we share the five "Proverbs for paranoids" found in Gravity's Rainbow:
- Proverbs for Paranoids, 1: You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures.
- Proverbs for Paranoids, 2: The innocence of the creatures is in inverse proportion to the immorality of the Master.
- Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.
- Proverbs for Paranoids, 4: You hide, they seek.
- Paranoids are not paranoids (Proverb 5) because they’re paranoid, but because they keep putting themselves, fucking idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.