This is a blind item, boys and girls. Points to anyone who can tell me what famous postmodern novel this is from. Cash money prizes to anyone who knows why I think it's so telling that this author cited Zipf (and what insight it might give us into said author).
"Roger says that now you'll count up all those words you copied down and graph them or something," brightly to head off any comment on the dart incident, which she'd rather avoid. "Do you only do it for seances?"
"Automatic texts," girl-nervous Gloaming frowns, nods, "one or two Ouija board episodes, yes yes... we-we're trying to develop a vocabulary of curves--certain pathologies, certain characteristic shapes you see--"
"I'm not sure that I--"
"Well. Recall Zipf's principle of Least Effort: if we plot the frequency of word P sub n against its rank-order n on logarithmic axes," babbling into her silence, even her bewilderment graceful, "we should of course get something like a straight line... however we've data that suggest the curves for certain--conditions, well they're actually quite different--schizophrenics for example tend to run a bit flatter in the upper part then progressively steeper--a sort of bow shape... I think with this chap, this Roland, that we're on to a classical paranoiac--"
"Ha." That's a word she knows. "Thought I saw you brighten up there when he said 'turned against.'"
"'Against,' 'opposite,' yes you'd be amazed at the frequency with this one."
"What's the most frequent word," asks Jessica. "Your number one."
"The same as it's always been at these affairs," replies the statistician, as if everyone knew: "death."