The Crying of Lot 49

The Presence of Entropy in The Crying of Lot 49

In The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon expresses a very interesting view of entropy through the actions of Oedipa Maas. In communication theory, entropy is a measure of the efficiency of a system, as a code or language, in transmitting information. Otherwise, the definition of entropy I will use is “the ultimate state reached in the degradation of matter in the universe: a state of inert uniformity of component elements; an absence of form, pattern, hierarchy, or differentiation.” In Oedipa’s adventures throughout the novel, Pynchon uses her attempt to sort out Pierce’s will as an example of the work of Maxwell’s demon. Maxwell’s demon is a vessel divided into two portions, A and B, by a division in which there is a small hole, which allows only swifter molecules to one side and slower molecules are contained in the other. The purpose of Maxwell’s demon is to contradict the second law of thermodynamics and, without work, to lower the temperature of A and raise the temperature of B. The principle of entropy is explained in the chaos that Oedipa discovers traveling through California. Pynchon clearly proves the idea that gathering information is directly related to measurements of disorder. Through Oedipa, Pynchon ultimately...

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