‘Tis The Season To Be Paranoid…All Year Long

1516 words - 7 pages

Do we really know anything? Most people struggle daily with enduring epistemological questions of truth and how we can distinguish it from false information and shield ourselves from deception. Why this obsessive fixation on constantly making sure that we have the right information- the truth? Well, we feel immobilized otherwise. We cannot move further without having a safe frame of truths that we can act upon and form our identity, values, and perception of the world around us. Paranoia thus may occur. In fact, it seems that especially in the modern world, all people suffer from some mild or more extreme form of paranoia. How could we not? We live in an age where we are always connected, whether we are at home, waiting for someone on a street, in a classroom, at work etc. Sure, technology is what the big deal is nowadays. However, it all stems from this need of constant and reliable communication and information system. Let’s take for instance Facebook. While it provides people with an amazing and free means of communicating with anyone anywhere, it also has changed the way we communicate and perceive the world. Everything is shorter; there are acronyms; emoticons. How can we know for sure what a person actually meant on a Facebook status? In fact, with NSA watching over our backs and the way we have learned that we need to be careful what we say and how we phrase it or else we could lose our reputation, get fired etc, one does not even have to wonder that we have become paranoid over if someone actually meant what they said or it was just written to make them look good. A distorted truth-deception, a lie. I found a great journal article named “What the Hack?: Communication Dysfunction in Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49” that discusses Facebook in the context of the novel The Crying of Lot 49 in a very insightful way. What this article does is it shows how a Facebook profile would work for Oedipa and how dysfunctional communication, truth, deception, and paranoia play into that.
The book Crying of Lot 49 also includes a play within a novella, so I found that awfully similar to the play within a play in Hamlet. This is due to the fact that, while the Courier’s Tragedy mirrors certain aspects, maybe even a conspiracy that Oedipa is trying to figure out, Hamlet uses the play (deception) to arrive to the truth. Then, we have a similar reconstruction of the female’s torturous past through the Doctor’s forced deposition in Death and the Maiden that, while she seems to know is all fake, she keeps on insisting, hoping to get the truth out of him in a “fake trial setting”. All characters here seem to suffer from paranoia as they are all fixed on something that does not let them carry on their lives in a normal, healthy manner. In Hamlet’s case, his father’s death makes him wear black and mourn longer than the others and be depressed to the brink of madness; he concocts a full play to seek the truth and see his uncle’s expression as ‘evidence’; he holds...

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