From Mindful Pleasures: Essays on Thomas Pynchon, Scott Sanders writes:
In Calvinist theology -- and subsequently in Puritanism -- everyone is held to be either elect or preterite. If elect, one's life is filled with meaning, because one is incorporated into God's scheme of things. If preterite, one's life is meaningless, not so much damned as simply void, because one is excluded from God's plan. There are exactly the binary possibilities imagined by Pynchon... To be passed over, to drop out of all plots, is to lose one's identity. Isolated from external schemes, character dissolves. Pynchon formulates this view in Mondaugenn's Law [in Gravity's Rainbow] which states that character is a function of historical awareness: "The more you dwell in the past and in the future... the more solid your persona. But the narrower your sense of Now, the more tenuous you are."