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Paranoid Shrinks

The Circulation of Cultural Materials in Pynchon and Antunes

Felipe Cammaert, Luc Herman, Bart Vervaeck

Pages 91 - 85

Starting from the work of Stephen Greenblatt and Pierre Bourdieu, this essay studies narrative production and interpretation as an interplay between sociocultural templates and individual dispositions. Such an interplay installs various relations between the objective and the subjective, the general and the individual. Some of these relations are culturally sanctioned, others are invalidated. The present article investigates the thin line between acceptable and unacceptable narrative productions and interpretations by focusing on paranoia narratives. To Umberto Eco, such narratives exaggerate the relations they install between various semantic and sociocultural fields. However, the paranoia narratives written by Thomas Pynchon and António Lobo Antunes show that these so-called exaggerations may be indispensable rhetorical devices (based on metaphorization) to grasp the Real lurking beneath superficial sociocultural presentations and clichés. Both narratives present a critique of these clichés and propose an alternative view on truth, logic, and knowledge.


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