beyond the zero

This was originally a comment on rose's entry, but it got pretty lengthy, so I decided to go ahead and make it an entry of its own.

The idea of going "beyond the zero" (the title of the first part), seems to be a major theme, but I don't fully understand what this is supposed to mean. I realize that we've talked about this, but since I still don't feel like I really grasp the concept, I decided to list some of the most important zero references that we have come across so far, with the help of the website roses linked.

The book opens with Pirate's dream: "No, this is not a disentanglement from, but a progressive knotting into--they go under archways...developing through those empty days brilliant and deep, especially at dawn, with blue shadows to seal its passage, to try to bring events to Absolute Zero..."

By opening the book with this mention of Absolute Zero, Pynchon seems to set the stage for the rest of the novel. Bringing events to Absolute Zero is the goal of the characters in many different instances, yet no one seems to achieve this goal-- zero seems to be the unattainable ideal.

page 86, dealing with Slothrop's conditioning: "We cannot therefore judge the degree of extinction only by the magnitude of the reflex or its absence, since there can still be a silent extinction beyond the zero."

page 121, while Slothrop is having sex with Darlene, "Hunting across the zero between waking and sleep, his halfway limp cock still inside her..."

Waking and sleeping seem to be the 1 and -1, with 0 being an ideal state that is impossible to achieve.

page 161, Leni talking to Franz: "She even tried, from what little calculus she'd picked up, to explain it to Franz as t approaching zero, eternally approaching, the slices of time growing thinner..as the pure light of the zero comes nearer..."

Again, this idea of striving for zero, but never achieving it.

page 323, about Zone-Hereros: "...a final zero to a collective history fully lived."

In this instance, the final zero-- mass extinction-- is again the goal of the Zone-Hereros.

The quotes roses included also point to zero being an ideal state or state of purity. What about the typical interpretation of zero-- as nothing? Are we supposed to make some sort of connection about nothing (or death) being the ideal during times of war? And is going "beyond the zero" transcending this "nothing"? Help me out!