Contributed by
Nick Carter
I was impressed with Pynchon's reference to mathematics (particularly statistics, in the beginning, w/ Ned Pointsman and Roger Mexico and calculus when talking about the guidance systems, brennschluss, and the rocket's path being calculable as an integration over time), which were not overbearing or forced, but rather enlightening, almost poetic. It's rare to find a major author of fiction who can write in a modality where mathematics is really a tool for understanding cause and effect. Without being elitist, I think that Pynchon's fluent use of math is one reason that many students of literature find this book is hard to approach; if the classic Victorian novel frames the world as a matrix of social interactions reduceable to sometimes hidden motivations, Gravity's Rainbow at times frames the world as a set of physical interactions reduceable to mathematical relationships. Math in this book is pervasive, and a reader of the work who is familiar with integral calculus will be able to pick up on analogies that I can easily see being lost on the uninitiate.
