“The point is that the very roots of the electoral system—the news people see, the events they think happened, the information they digest—had been destabilized.”

— Alexis Madrigal, “What Facebook Did To American Democracy

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Pynchonopolis

In Pynchon’s view, modernity’s systems of liberation and enlightenment — railway and post, the Internet, etc. — perpetually collapse into capitalism’s Black Iron Prison of enclosure, monopoly and surveillance. The rolling frontier (or bleeding edge) of this collapse is where we persistently and helplessly live. His characters take sustenance on what scraps of freedom fall from the conveyor belt of this ruthless conversion machine, like the house cat at home in the butcher’s shop. In Joyce’s formulation, history is a nightmare from which we are trying to awake. For Pynchon, history is a nightmare within which we must become lucid dreamers.

Jonathan Lethem, reviewing Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge (2013)

The Enemy’s An Age

Even the very emotional, very illogical lunatic fringe: they’re not the enemy. The enemy’s an age—a nuclear age. It happens to have killed man’s faith in his ability to influence what happens to him. And out of this comes a sickness, and out of sickness a frustration, a feeling of impotence, helplessness, weakness. And from this, this desperation, we look for a champion in red, white, and blue. Every now and then a man on a white horse rides by, and we appoint him to be our personal god for the duration. For some men it was a Senator McCarthy, for others it was a General Walker, and now it’s a Donald Trump.

— John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (1964), which might as well become Seven Months in A Presidential Campaign (2015)