Thomas Pynchon’s Southern Californian Literary Heterotopology: Decompression Heterotopias in Inherent Vice

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD Candidate of English Literature, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate Professor of English Language and Literature, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran



Looking back at the early 1970s socio-cultural upheavals, Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice (2009) generates a discursive construct of Los Angeles that captures the transition from a Fordist culture to a Post-Fordist one. This essay holds that around this watershed moment, literary heterotopias specific to Southern California are being made. Michel Foucault defines heterotopias as realized utopias, emplacements that simultaneously represent, contest, and invert the normal space. This study reads Inherent Vice, using Foucault’s archaeological method of analysis to develop literary heterotopology. A discursive analysis of Pynchon’s novel reveals heterotopias’ discontinuous nature, which this study proposes as the seventh principle for heterotopology. Furthermore, Pynchon uses a new vehicle, Decompression Heterotopias, to reshape globalization in his retro-production of Los Angeles. Ultimately, the essay shows how the Fordist and Post-Fordist waves of globalization aspire to affect Angeleno’s lives by compressing the time-space spectrum. Pynchon’s decompression heterotopias, however, resist the status quo and propose reconfiguring globalization’s compression forces.


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