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Title: Dreamland Paranoias: Californian Quests for Feminist Order in Thomas Pynchon’s and David Lynch’s Works
Author: Komorowska, Katarzyna
Director/Tutor: Alsina, Cristina
Keywords: Pynchon, Thomas
Lynch, David, 1946-
Issue Date: 27-Jan-2021
Publisher: Universitat de Barcelona
Abstract: [eng] This thesis examines paranoid perception as a tool for the emancipation of women in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Both the novel and the film are set in a California which creates favorable conditions for the development of various obsessions and conspiracy theories. These do not have a negative effect, however. Rather, they allow the female protagonists to “project a world” of their own, detached from the patriarchal narratives created to govern their lives and restrict their freedoms. Paranoia as a mode of thinking, employed both as a means of self-protection against the unbearable notion of chaos governing peoples’ lives, and as an instrument of control by the authorities and an assortment of powerful institutions and organizations, is one of the most important, controlling themes in the works of Pynchon and Lynch. Hence, the opening of the thesis includes a brief description of its clinical manifestations, before delving into an analysis of cultural paranoia throughout US history and politics and then through relevant instances of American literature and art. What follows is an overview of the entire body of Pynchon’s and Lynch’s work, with a focus on the theme of paranoia as well as on the significance of California as a setting for each creator. The description of the dual nature of the Golden State —both bright and full of promise and dark and deceitful— is dealt with in both their “California trilogies” —comprised of The Crying of Lot 49, Vineland and Inherent Vice in the case of Pynchon and of Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire in the case of Lynch. Lynch’s and Pynchon’s characters deal with such duality by adopting paranoid perception, which does not improve their lives significantly, but definitely affords them greater freedom. The mentioned trilogies are read through the lens of Jean Baudrillard’s concept of hyperreality —which the prominent sociologist puts forward in works such as Simulacra and Simulation or America— hypothesized to be one of the main factors contributing to the rise of paranoid perception in the US. In order to provide a context for the detailed analysis of female paranoia in The Crying of Lot 49 and Mulholland Drive the relevant chapters include an outline of the most important aspects of the second, third, and fourth wave of feminism in the US, with focus on the most influential literature, such as Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) or Rebecca Walker’s To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism (1995). These chapters also contain an analysis of Pynchon’s and Lynch’s works in the feminist context and of the significance of the California setting for their female protagonists’ —Oedipa Maas and Diane Selwyn/Betty Elms— paranoid quests for empowerment. In light of this background information, the thesis examines the protagonists’ path towards liberation from the patriarchal order in their respective time periods. Oedipa’s drive towards it results in a gradual deconstruction of her identity as a conventional woman, in self- discovery that leads to greater agency but also possibly ends in a greater level of distress. Diane Selwyn on the other hand, a victim of sexual discrimination and abuse in Hollywood, employs paranoia as a defense mechanism helping her survive the hardships she has to endure and dismantle the Californian illusion of success by means of creating a fantasy of her own. This thesis, in short, compares Pynchon’s presentation of a woman’s path to finding her identity in a “man’s world,” with the aid of paranoid perception, with Lynch’s pessimistic vision of a woman’s near failure to do so more than three decades later.
[spa] Esta tesis analiza la percepción paranoica como herramienta para la emancipación de las mujeres en La subasta del lote 49 de Thomas Pynchon y Mulholland Drive de David Lynch. La novela y la película se desarrollan en California, escenario que crea condiciones específicas y favorables para el desarrollo de varias obsesiones y teorías de la conspiración. Sin embargo, en estos autores, la paranoia no tiene necesariamente una connotación negativa, sino que, más bien, permite a las protagonistas femeninas “proyectar un mundo” propio, desconectado de las narrativas patriarcales creadas para gobernar sus vidas y limitar sus libertades. Estos autores presentan, pues, la paranoia como un modo de pensar y la utilizan como un medio de autoprotección contra la insoportable idea del caos que reina sobre las vidas de sus protagonistas y también como una herramienta de control por parte de las autoridades y las instituciones que ostentan poder. Por lo tanto, esta tesis incluye una descripción de la paranoia cultural a través de la historia y política de los EE.UU. y a través de la literatura y el arte, especialmente de la época posmoderna. A esta contextualización le sigue el análisis en profundidad de la obra completa de Pynchon y Lynch, con el foco en su uso narrativo de la paranoia así como en el significado de California como escenario de sus “trilogías californianas”: La subasta del lote 49, Vineland y Vicio propio de Pynchon y Carretera perdida, Mulholland Drive e Inland Empire de Lynch. Los dos últimos capítulos de la tesis están dedicados ya específicamente a La subasta del lote 49 y Mulholland Drive y al análisis de la busca paranoica de la emancipación de sus protagonistas mujer —Oedipa Maas y Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn. Estos capítulos incluyen también una descripción de la segunda, tercera y cuarta ola del feminismo en los EE.UU., que enmarcan el desarrollo de estos personajes. La tesis cierra con una comparación de las dos maneras de presentar el paranoico camino a la emancipación de las mujeres americanas en las dos obras.
Appears in Collections:Tesis Doctorals - Facultat - Filologia

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