Inherent Vice, Chapter 8


PLOT – Doc meets up with his parents; Nixon’s face appears a lot (on banknotes, and TV); Coy Harlingen, pretending to be someone else, disrupts a Nixon rally.

p.113 The parking regulations at Gordita are said to have been devised ‘by fiendish anarchists to infuriate drivers into one day forming a mob and attacking the office of town government’.

If only it were so… I suppose this might be construed as the idea that technology will enslave us, and control us, far more than even the forces of order might have bargained for.


After Doc’s parents get a random phone call, threatening them, Doc reflects that

in the business, paranoia was a tool of the trade, it pointed you in directions you might not have seen to go.

As Michael Wood said in his NYRB review, being crazy can, in a circuitous manner, lead one back to insight.

p. 118 Further parallels between domestic and foreign US policy, with Nixon’s face being found in banknotes, in the same way he was put on bills in Vietnam.

p.122 Coy Harlingen turns out to be a police informant, something that Doc has already been approached about. He is here identified as Ric Doppel, which means ‘double’ in German and might refer here to the ‘doppelganger’-motif or shifting identities in a more general way. The theme seems to be prominent in this chapter. The films mentioned on p.115 belong in this context, for example. In Black Narcissus, Kathleen Byron’s character, Sister Ruth, can be seen as the dark double of Deborah Kerr’s Sister Clodagh. In Robert Wiene’s Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, the somnambulist Cesare commits crimes when he is under the hypnotic spell of the title figure; Caligari himself may be director of a circus attraction or of a psychiatric hospital. In Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a character called Maria is replaced by a robot.

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