The World is at Fault

Pynchon wrote a letter to his former Cornell roommate Jules Siegel at some point in the early 1960s. Siegel published a large portion of it in the August 1965 issue of Cavalier magazine. It was republished in Pynchon Notes 15 (available for download at Pynchon Notes). Siegel reported that "Pynchon, hiding out from the world in Mexico City, wrote on blue-line graph paper to a suicidial writer friend":

"When Marilyn Monroe got out of the game, I wrote something like, 'Southern California's special horror notwithstanding, if the world offered nothing, nowhere to support or make bearable whatever her private grief was, then it is that world, and not she, that is at fault.'
"I wrote that in the first few shook-up minutes after hearing the bulletin sandwiched in between Don and Phil Everly and surrounded by all manner of whoops and whistles coming out of an audio signal generator, like you are apt to hear on the provincial radio these days. But I don't think I'd take those words back.
"The world is at fault, not because it is inherently good or bad or anything but what it is, but because it doesn't prepare us in anything but body to get along with.
"Our souls it leaves to whatever obsolescenses, bigotries, theories of education workable and un, parental wisdom or lack of it, happen to get in its more or less Brownian (your phrase) pilgrimage between the cord-cutting ceremony and the time they slide you down the chute into the oven, while the guy on the Wurlitzer plays Aba Daba Honeymoon because you had once told somebody it was the nadir of all American expression; only they didn't know what nadir meant but it must be good because of the vehemence with which you expressed yourself."


"our soul it leaves to whatever... happens to get in its way"
This body/soul dichotomy appears in Against the Day in the first encounter between Foley Walker and Scarsdale Vibe: "Isn't exactly your physical well-being I'm instructed to look after." (101) There, Foley Walker (under instruction of messages in his head, he says) represents precisely what Pynchon in 1965 said was missing from the world: something (in this case, someone) to look after your soul.

Pynchon and Monroe
Siegel later repeated in his article, "Who is Thomas Pynchon... and why did he take off with my wife?" that Pynchon was upset by Marilyn Monroe's death.

Brownian motion describes the random movements of minute particles. Wikipedia entry

Aba Daba Honeymoon
A hit record as recorded by Debbie Reynolds and Carleton Carpenter in August 1950. Listen to a 30 second MP3 sample

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