Inherent Vice, Chapter 15

PLOT- Doc returns to LA, only to find that Shasta has returned. They meet, and she assures him she’s fine, but nothing really is said. Doc has several meetings with an increasingly emotional/unsettled Bigfoot, who reveals that the LAPD is itself prone to intrigue and paranoia. He warns Doc not to investigate the death of ‘El Drano’ (aka Leonard J. Loosemeat), Coy Harlingen’s heroin dealer (and thus a suspect in Coy’s ‘death’). When Doc talks to Leonard’s partner Pepe, he learns that Adrian Prussia, a major loanshark, may have paid Leonard to off Coy. Bigfoot adds a further twsit by telling Doc that he thinks Prussia is involved with the murder of a detective in the LAPD, which Internal Affairs are trying to hush up. Doc decides he needs to look up Penny…

p. 256

‘Around nightfall Tito let Doc off on Dunecrest, and it was like landing on some other planet.’

This sense of dislocation (**which happens a lot to the reader of Pynchon- he refuses to let you get settled in any time period) mounts, leading Doc to wonder if

Tito had actually dropepd him in some other beach town… and that the bars, eateries and so forth he’d been walking into were ones that happened to be similarly located in this other town

How should we read this? As a fear of homogenity? That the structures of command and control are the same everywhere? That there is a spatial equivalency between different places, in the same way that different historical moments are presented as equivalent (especially on TV).


When Doc runs into Denis, he doesn’t mind if it’s ‘somebody impersonating Denis’- even the appearence, or the fiction of his identity is preferable to nothing.


Even though ARPA (the proto-internet) is in its infancy, the FBI are already monitoring it.


Doc tries to watch the end of I Walked with a Zombie (1943) ‘but somehow despite his best efforts fell asleep in the middle, as so often before’.

There’s a fair few  actions uncompleted in the novel- though most of these, as here, seem unimportant, perhaps Pynchon is arguing that it is symptomatic of a wider tendency. If TV shows, the internet and other forms of mass entertainement (the novel?) are what divert and distract us from an awareness (let alone an active resistance to) to the ills of the present, how badly must we be off if we cannot even attend to these properly? If we are distracted from our distractions?


As if some stereo needle had been lifted and set back down on some other sentimental oldie on the compilation LP of history.

This is a nice metaphor, which on closer inspection makes me wonder about describing history as a ‘compilation LP’. Something that is played over and over. Nothing but a collection of fragments. Things jumbled out of place. Things that may be skipped.


Leonard has a fine paranoid rant about loansharks.

They traffic with agencies of command and control, who will sooner or later betray all agreements they make because among the invisible powers there is no trust and no respect.


This deserves a closer look.

Lost, and not lost, and what Sauncho called lagan, deliberately lost and found again…

Unfortunately there is a mouse in my room which is really distracting me.


I had to go to the Pynchon wiki for this- it helpfully suggests that it can refer to the many disappearances and re-appearances in the novel, plus also Mickey’s conscience, and most of all, innocence and purity themselves (‘deliberately’ is here the key word).


Doc asks Bigfoot what seems almost a philosophical question.

“Can I say something out loud? Is anybody listening?”

Bigfoot’s reply encompasses fear, denial, and nihilism.

“Everybody. Nobody. Does it matter?”


A strong thematic statement about time, perception, and denial.

Yes and who says there can’t be time travel, or that places with real-world addresses can’t be haunted, not only by the dead but by the living as well? It helps to smoke a lot of weed and to do acid off and on, but sometimes even a literal-minded natchmeister like Bigfoot could manage it.

You have to get away from ‘reality’ in order to get closer to it. Man. Eerie connotations of the living being the ones doing the haunting.

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