What does the term “entropy” mean and how is this idea presented in Pynchon’s short story? How does the form, characters, setting and narrative of the story advance this theme? How is this story demonstrative of postmodernist technique?

“Entropy,” a concept from physics, refers to the measure of thermal energy per unit temperature within a given system which is not available for useful work. More generally, it means that there is a tendency toward uniformity and energy conservation. In physics, the concept helps explain disorder that seems random. In Pynchon’s short story, this idea is presented to contrast the closed environment in Callisto’s apartment as contrasted to the fluctuating conditions of human interactions.

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The concept of “entropy” comes from physics, where it helps to explain apparent randomness or disorder. Applied to a given system, entropy refers to the measure of thermal energy per unit temperature which is unavailable for useful work. There is an overall tendency toward uniformity of energy, which applies to the exchange of heat between colliding bodies. In the short story, Thomas Pynchon applies this concept to the changes within physical environments and the ways that environments and human beings physically affect each other. He extends the application from the physical into the emotional realm, applying it to the relationships among people.

Entropy pertains to the environment of Callisto’s apartment, which he tries to keep constant by sealing out external fluctuations, such as the temperature outside. In this way, he artificially support the life of the bird and tropical vegetation inside. The concept is also extended to the relationship between Callisto and Aubade. Her rupture of the seal, by breaking the glass, also signals a shift in their relationship. The new equilibrium that will inevitably result will destroy the artificially nurturing environment as well as their relationship.

The concept can be seen in Meatball’s party, as he attempts to maintain a moderately hectic. atmosphere rather than uncontrolled chaos. Although this environment seems distinct from the tight control Callisto attempts to exert, both scenarios show the tendency toward stasis.

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