Some (re)assembly required: Logic, deconstruction, and Pynchon's postmodern literature
Shaw, Christopher K.
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This literary study seeks to make important connections between the logical deconstructive project of Jacques Derrida and the formal mathematical logic of George Spencer-Brown in order to reconnect critical community after the postmodern turn. Spencer-Brown’s logic of distinctions is detailed in Laws of Form, and constitutes an expanded logic beyond the Aristotelian limitations of Western metaphysics. This project examines the spatial and temporal dimensions to key Derridean concepts, demonstrating how these are accounted for and accommodated by the primary and extended calculus of Spencer-Brown’s logic. Special attention is paid to the deferring, paradoxical nature of the linguistic sign, developing a more accurate complementary relationship between binaries in an previously-considered oppositional pair. The implications of such a complementary relationship are then demonstrated in terms of a key oppositional binary: man/woman. The result of this effort is a logic of deconstruction, a formal mathematical logic that can then be applied to the poststructural, postmodern turn in literature. The connection of deconstruction to the logic of distinctions reveals a logical way by which to engage the postmodern narrative. This study uses the shared epistemologies of deconstruction and the logic of distinctions to explore the first three novels of Thomas Pynchon – V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity’s Rainbow –articulating new and shareable understandings of these postmodern works. The principal outcome of this investigation is that the reader exists in a different relationship to the text than the traditional subject/object relation. Because a form-logical approach is shareable, this study attempts to also demonstrate how critical community after postmodernism might be reengaged.