Radius of annihilation
a radius of annhilation that, if it could not include the ones who deserved it, might as well include himself '
Hair-raising to see Pynchon point to the political bombers (i.e., terrorists) in the US tradition; the effect is also to make them (the suicide bombers over there somewhere - Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) a bit less foreign, and to make ourselves, good US citizens, appear foreign to ourselves: how could we, civilized Americans interested only in democracy and freedom for all, have such feelings and desires as Reef expresses here? Especially not to be expressed in a post=September 11, 2001 America that can barely admit the existence of armed militias inside US boundaries and dedicated to the violent overthrow of the US government
September 11, 2001 and its consequences seem obvious on this novel, at least in these first 95 pages.
After this note first appeared on pynchonwiki, at least one ATD reader, in a post on Pynchon-l, said he did not agree that this passage refers to contemporary suicde bombers.
But, arguably, Pynchon gets to have his cake and eat it too. By writing about a remote historical period, in a sometimes fantasitc mode, he's removed himself a considerable authorial distance, but he also gets the benefit of resonance with current events by choosing which facts to highlight from the period, by choosing the diction with which to present them, all building on the reverberations inherent in the subject matter. Strict constructionists may point to the text and say, There's no mention of September 11, 2001, or President Bush, or suicide bombers in Afghanistan specifically on the page here, such an interpretation can't be supported by the text & etc. - and that's a reasonable point to make.
The result is, so far in ATD, the frequent evocation of US post-September 11 in terms that will be difficult to nail down, but which are, at the same time, obvious to most readers if not all. Nothing new in Pynchon, of course, this sort of displacement makes his texts notoriously slippery.