The Crying of Lot 49

If You Mean It, Sing It

Despite the fact that The Crying of Lot 49 is chock-full of the use of methods of communication, the only time when anything is actually communicated is when a few songs are sung by The Paranoids. Any letters mentioned in the novel are void of meaning; relationships tend to be self-indulgent and superficial; even radio broadcasts are phony. Moreover, of the few songs that are not sung by the Paranoids, none have any substantial meaning either. Overall, unless stated or utilized by a member of the band, no form of communication possesses the slightest trace of an actual desire to communicate.

The first time one sees meaning in communication is immediately before Oedipa and Metzger have sex - yet another form of exchange void of substance - when the Paranoids are singing outside their bedroom window. The song immediately has some sort of meaning because it tells a story: A man longs for the woman he loves, but knows he cannot go to her - "As I lie...and you lie alone can I come to you" (Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999. 27). It may sound like a rather blas, overdone theme for a song; yet, compared to anything that has appeared in the novel before it, it is monumental in...

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