Memory Machines: Exploring Moby-Dick and Gravity's Rainbow Through the History of Film
Spencer, Benjamin Paul
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For close to a decade, I have weighed comparative approaches to â the Great American Novelâ . Progress increased as soon as I resolved on selecting Moby-Dick as the work originally responsible for issuing that slogan. Making this particular selection required the application of a dynamic concept which, appropriately, reflects critiques of knowledge production: â the Archiveâ . Perhaps the most direct references to a conceptual archive appear in Derridaâ s Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, which addresses the dual forces â preservation/destructionâ that influence allegory and mythology. Other critical writers refer to a similar concept through various other terms, ultimately equipping my thesis with a method for studying the relation between myth and allegory. The method draws from each writerâ s focus on the form and content dynamics of artifacts, and how these dynamics reflect the historical conditions that affirm or produce them. Specifically, all the writers I have selected to study, in some way consider the play between the mechanical apparatus and the representation it produces. Thus, I concluded that my literary comparative approach could involve juxtaposing a different, historically concurrent mode of documentation: film media and photography. Gravityâ s Rainbow is often considered, after Moby-Dick, the most universally-recognized â Great American Novelâ . Pynchon spends a lot of time referring to mass-produced films, their effects on the global order emerging with WWII, and to the material occurrence of film technology as it relates to the book as a material artifact. For Pynchon, the backlots built up by such â greatsâ as D.W. Griffith constitute the twentieth-century frontier.
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