Pynchon's own glyphic encodings, more than a century after Poe and Hawthorne, reflect inherited concerns with epistemological conundrums. Hawthorne's confrontation of public and private American responsibilities, and Poe's confrontation with the cultural origins of western epistemological certainties both loom large in Pynchon's texts. This inheritance, however, is often obscured by one of the most obvious differences between Pynchon and these forbears - his use of language. This is not to say that Hawthorne and Poe are not distinct prose stylists. On the contrary. While Hawthorne seems to take his language to be more or less transparent, focusing his whole attention on the construction of symbols and scenes, Poe's diction is more self-conscious. Poe undermines faith in the tone and tenor of rationalism, systematically debunking a familiar authoritative dialect. But Pynchon is in a category all by himself, even when viewed among more contemporary authors. While Hawthorne and Poe both write in the rarified voice of enlightenment rationalism, Pynchon's narrators speak a fragmented slang - part hep cat, part political junkie, part army brat, part scientist. The list could go on. Pynchon is constantly integrating bits and pieces of professional jargon and of languages other than the "King's English". And he does this without batting an eyelash, as if his narrator was completely comfortable weaving between these idioms, and as if the reader were just as comfortable doing so.
However, the reader is not comfortable. Just the opposite. What Poe achieved with narrative frames and contradictory statements, Pynchon achieves to more extreme effect by means of diction. There is no stable epistemological ground in Pynchon's novels, even at the most basic level - the idiom in which he delivers the story. While Poe invites the reader to accept the testament Pym gives as valid and objective observation, only to repeatedly undermine that acceptance, Pynchon gives the reader no space at all to even begin accepting the narrative testimony. There are no discursive, idiomatic, or epistemological footholds in V and The Crying of Lot 49, and the reader is acutely aware of this from the outset.
It should be made clear that Pynchon's distinctive idiom(s) is not merely the trace of a century's distance between himself and these other authors. While it is true that Pynchon's linguistic sources were available to him all over America (as well as America's global political domain) in the 1960s, and that they were not available to Hawthorne and Poe, Pynchon consciously brings all of these dialects into an tense and unusual proximity. In other words, Pynchon negates the effect of America's physically and culturally vast landscape, putting pieces of slang from far flung regions of the country and from entirely distinct discursive spaces into a single paragraph. The reader's frustration is mirrored by Oedipa Mass during the recalled scene of a phonecall, ostensibly from her estranged boyfriend, Pierce Inverarity:
Note that Pierce does not simply speak to Oedipa in different accents, but that each voice represents a caricature from an American cultural perspective. Each voice is an inside joke, a jab of the elbow. Either the reader "gets" it or she doesn't. Pierce does not simply become a slav; he becomes Count Dracula. Pierce is not simply a german; he is the stereotypical Nazi officer. He is not simply a latino; he is a hostile, vulgar "Pachuco". Pynchon's peculiar details indicate, in layer upon layer of encoded allusion, the multiple renderings of language in America, and the fragmentation of discursive spaces. The use of the word "Pachuco" is a classic example of this layered encoding. The word itself is slang, extracted from a hybrid space between English and Spanish, and used to refer to a young Mexican-American with flashy clothes and a penchant for gang jargon. Pynchon cleverly uses jargon to point to jargon use. But more broadly, Pynchon demonstrates that Americans share a series of allusive frameworks that structure the way they see other cultures, and ultimately the way they see themselves. These allusions do not necessarily have literary referents. Rather, their referents are as diverse as America itself. They can be movies, television shows, the fields of medicine, psychology, or law. They can be historical events, or even more localized community events and characters. These allusive frameworks of signification have no boundaries, and despite the fact that they may originate from an ostensibly discrete idiomatic space, these frameworks cannot help but overlap and weave within one another.