Inherent Vice, Chapter 12


Doc pays a visit to the Chryskylodon ‘laughing academy’, where he runs into (again) Coy Harlingen, who expresses doubts that he can ever ‘get out’ of his involvement with various powers. Wolfman’s missing tie, with the nude of Shasta, is seen on an orderly. Denis’ flat gets trashed, and not even by him. Doc pays a home visit to one of the volunteer police force who were involved in the battle in chapter… 2?3? And then there is a dream in which Doc is a child and does not understand death.

p.188 Ominous talk at Chrskylodon of their ‘Noncompliant Cases Unit’, ‘not quite operational but soon to be the Institute’s pride and joy.’

Also, a spatial distortion where Doc has a feeling that Sloane is close by, but ‘in some weird indeterminate space whose residents weren’t sure where they were, inside or out the frame.’

p.190 Further pessimism about the direction of things:

The world had just been disassembled, anybody here could be working any hustle you could think of, and it was long past time to be, as Shaggy would say, like gettin out of here, Scoob.

p. 194 ‘Back in junior college, professors had pointed out to Doc the ussful notion that the word is not the thing, the map is not the territory.’

The whole signs and signification thing. Not sure whether this is meant as giant reminder of the unreality of the text.

p.195 Small joke about use of the ARPA (the proto-internet) being like ‘surfin the wave of the future’. Then it is said to be ‘like acid, a whole ‘nother strange world- time, space and all that shit’. Down the rabbit hole of this sentence there is a big (though possibly trivial) debate about what globalisation and the internet have allegedly done to our sense of time (and in particular, sense of history) and space. Believe me, I know. I just wrote 3,000 words on it. Postmodernism and Time and Narrative and…

p.205 A short, but disquieting dream sequence, in which Doc is with a kid who resembles his brother, but is not, and a woman who resembles his mother, but is not. They are in a diner and the young Doc asks when a waitress named Shannon is coming back.

“Didn’t you hear what the girl said? Shannon’s dead.”

“That’s only in stories. The real Shannon will come back.”

“Hell she will.”

“She will, Mom.”

“You really believe that stuff.”

“Well what do you think happens to you when you die?”

“You’re dead.”

Why would he, or anyone else, think that people only die in stories?

I’m not sure if the following (on p.206) helps, or just makes it both sadder and more mysterious.

And now grown-up Doc feels his life surrounded by dead people who do and don’t come back, or who never went, and meantime everybody else understands which is which, but there is something so clear and simple that Doc is failing to see, will alwyas manage not to grasp.

It’s almost a lapse in the main genre register of the book, which so far hasn’t really been interested in a richer set of emotions for Doc (though it would be less distinctive in Against the Day or Mason & Dixon). If I had already finished the book (as would have been sensible, rather than this chapter by chapter, twice, approach) I would know whether it marked a shift in emotional tenor, as Doc realises that the 60s (whatever they were) are definitely over.

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