'No hallowed skein of stars': The Terror of the Void, the Allure of Solipsism, and the Search for Meaning in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49

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Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature


Scott Richardson


The Crying of Lot 49 follows the quest of Oedipa Maas, and through her quest Thomas Pynchon critiques the human search for meaning. Oedipa Maas is a character torn between creating a solipsistic world or refusing to consider meaning at all in order to dodge the concept of a meaningless void. Either method creates a closed system of thought that limits itself to eventual stagnation while instigating violence on anything lying outside that system. Oedipa Maas shows that relying on solipsism or becoming paralyzed by the idea of a void will only hinder finding any universal meaning. The only viable option appears to be a continual struggle of sorting and evaluating beliefs and belief systems, skepticism without despair.