Thomas Pynchon has, for almost a century, maintained his privacy â€“ successfully dodging The Mediaâ€™s muckraking microphones and cankerous cameras â€“ in this hi-tech era when even the most reclusive of recluses have Twitter accounts where they announce every shit they take and Facebook profiles where they publicize pictures of their puckered lips.Â Even Ted Kaczynski, if he knew that he couldnâ€™t have his cake and eat it too rather than knowing that he couldnâ€™t eat his cake and have it too, would â€“ right now â€“ be actively blogging on the internet in his little Walden inspired cabin about the evils of technology, like the internet, and surrogate activities, like blogging.
One of Kaczynskiâ€™s more recent blog posts would concern Pynchon and how last month, after years of resisting the cold bastards at Penguin Press, he agreed to release all seven of his novels â€“ V (1963), The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), Vineland (1990), Mason & Dixon (1997), Against the Day (2006), and Inherent Vice (2009) â€“ in digitalized, e-book format.Â In this blog post, Kaczynski would write that Pynchon didnâ€™t suddenly change his stance on electronic literature and eagerly allow a flawed bird to tear the many souls of his lifeâ€™s work out from their many well-designed bodies. Kaczynski would call it a conspiracy and argue that the Penguins hired a muscle to visit the writer and make an offer he couldnâ€™t refuse.Â
For saying so I may get blown up by a member of the Freedom Club the next time I open my mail, but I disagree with Kaczynskiâ€™s argument: If The Media hasnâ€™t been able to find the reclusive Pynchon, then how could a muscle, whose travel plans are dependant on the tides of the ocean, find him?Â I guess it could hitch a ride with a turtle or something, but â€“ unless this particular shellfish knows how to reverse entropy â€“ thereâ€™s no offer it could make that Pynchon couldnâ€™t refuse.
That old literary hermit is too smart â€“ and too true.Â Heâ€™s so smart he knows that a muscle isnâ€™t a mussel.Â And heâ€™s so true he planted 200 stickers adorned with that muted horn featured in The Crying of Lot 49 around the country, in an act I believe is some kind of retaliation against the cold-hearted Penguins and their pathetic, unnatural, technology-driven attempts at flying above the financial failures of the Publishing Industry.Â According to my sources, the stickers are scattered throughout New York, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.Â And on each sticker â€“ besides a muted horn â€“ is a URL going. . . I donâ€™t know where.
But I do know where one of the muted horns in San Francisco is: itâ€™s tattooed on my left wrist.Â I had it tattooed on my wrist when I joined the IA â€“ Inamorati Anonymous â€“ a club that uses the muted horn as its symbol.Â An inamorato is somebody in love. Thatâ€™s the worst addiction of all according to the clubâ€™s members.Â I quit the club after I watched The Notebook, but â€“ despite The Girlfriendâ€™s efforts with a razor â€“ I still have my muted horn tattoo.
And my tattoo may or may not allow me entrance to a variety of secret clubs, organizations, cults, and other unknown entities that all use the muted horn as their symbol, which include but are definitely not limited to these: a group that once a month picks a victim among the innocent to abuse sexually and then sacrifice. . . an underground society of inventors that hate having to sign the rights to their creations over to corporations. . . manufacturers of Tyrste Coffee, a high-end coffee out of Los Angeles. . . journalists for the anarcho-syndicalist paper, Regeneracion. . . an underworld of people who all failed in their suicide attempts. . . a band of nameless, faceless assassins dressed in all-black that once, or still do, work for Wells Fargo and the Pony Express. . . rare book collectors that are obsessed with The Courierâ€™s Tragedy, an out-of-print play. . . and, perhaps most importantly, an underground mail service.
Pynchon, in The Crying of Lot 49, suggested that all these mysterious groups that use the muted horn as their symbol all use the underground mail service that also uses the muted horn as its symbol.Â So, based off Pynchonâ€™s suggestion, I made an assumption:Â the 200 stickers he placed across the country and the URL found on them will direct you to a website that provides directions to the underground mail service so that, with our help, he can conjure another world â€“ a world where oneâ€™s soul doesnâ€™t have to be separated from oneâ€™s body, a world like the one the anarchist in The Crying Lot of 49 talks about, â€œwhere revolutions break out spontaneous and leaderless, and the soulâ€™s talent for consensus allows the masses to work together without effort, automatic as the body itself.â€
Carolyn Kellogg, a columnist for the LA Times, provided me with the San Francisco locations of the muted horn stickers: 16th and Mission, Haight and Ashbury, West Portal Station. . . actually, the locations donâ€™t matter because I searched all the spots and didnâ€™t find single muted horn, or even an unmuted horn.Â Pynchonâ€™s stickers have vanished.Â Maybe the Penguins stole them.Â Maybe you stole them.Â Someone stole them.Â And I went to the library in front of City Hall to find out who stole them and why they stole them, what the fucking horn means and where I can find one.
Then, while looking out the third story library window, I saw someone outside etching something on a pillar in the exact location Oedipa, the heroine of The Crying Lot of 49, witnessed two carriers of the underground mail service exchange sacks.Â I ran down to the pillar and found you know what: a muted horn.Â It had the word â€˜DEATHâ€™ written below it.Â Dazed, I wandered the city for the rest of the night â€“ and found the muted horn everywhere I looked: spray painted on a dark window of Chinatown herbalist, drawn in chalk on a sidewalk of Golden Gate Park, stitched on a leather jacket of a Mission gang-banger, tacked to the corkboard of a Fillmore Laundromat, finger painted in the window haze from a little girlâ€™s breath, and burned on the back of a bus seat.
Below the muted horn on the back of the bus seat was, just like the muted horn on the pillar outside the library, the word DEATH.Â But this time it was followed by a sentence: Donâ€™t Ever Antagonize The Horn.Â And because I’m not the projector of the planetarium, I ended my search for the muted horn â€“ that night and forever.