the year matters

I'm still re-reading Inherent Vice, but there is one comment I wanted to make.

Some reviews compared it to The Big Lebowski and even The Long Goodbye (the Altman film, not the Chandler book). There are obvious similarities, as I indicated before, but there's also a big difference. Both Elliott Gould's Philip Marlowe and the Dude are men out of their time, out of step with the world around them.

Inherent Vice, however, is about the brief period when a lot of people shared Doc Sportello's ideas and ideals and habits. In fact, it's about the exact moment when that began to change, so in that way it's much more like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

It even has its own version of "the wave speech" (on page 254, where it talks about "...Doc, on the natch, caught in a low-level bummer he couldn't find his way out of, about how the Psychedelic Sixties, this little parenthesis of light, might close after all, and all be lost, taken back into darkness... how a certain hand might reach terribly out of the darkness and reclaim the time, easy as taking a joint from a doper and stubbing it out for good."). And that scene takes place as he's in a motel, with at least one television on, on his way back from (of all places) Las Vegas.

Thompson was writing at his best in the early 1970s, which was very well indeed. But Pynchon, the old paranoid (and with many years of hindsight that Thompson didn't have, since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was written at the tail end of the process in question), is much clearer about the fact that the wave didn't just roll back; there was also somebody pushing.

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