Monday, December 16, 2002

"James Wood, the very smart and very grouchy literary critic for The New Republic, has become increasingly exasperated with those enormous, encyclopedic novels like The Corrections that contemporary writers keep churning out. These show-offy books -- all longer than Ulysses and teeming with zany-yet-brilliant characters whose improbably interlocked stories are punctuated by smarty-pants digressions on arcane topics like earthquake detection, Quebecois exceptionalism and the semiotics of hot-dog stands -- are, Wood says, 'perpetual motion machines' that are 'ashamed of silence' and pursue 'vitality at all costs.' He has even coined a damning phrase for the genre: 'hysterical realism.' In hyperdrive novels like David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and Thomas Pynchon's Mason and Dixon, Wood complains, 'the conventions of realism are not being abolished but, on the contrary, exhausted and overworked.' In other words, today's novelists suffer from the literary equivalent of attention-deficit disorder, and it's way past time for the Ritalin. "

Hysterical Realism
by Daniel Zalewski
New York Times, 15 December 2002

Saturday, November 30, 2002

[...] Marshall Mathers raps and sings some songs as
himself: For example, "I'm Sorry Momma." In such
songs, he never uses the "n word." He does use bad
language to describe his family, such as the terms
"faggot father" and "bitch." But is this really any
worse than, say, the hundreds of pages dedicated to
excrement in Thomas Pynchon's much-ballyhooed work of
"literature" "Gravity's Rainbow?" [...]


Is Eminem really any worse than Mark Twain?
by Geoffrey Christopher Rapp
FindLaw Columnist
published at, Friday, November 29, 2002

Hundreds of pages?

Friday, November 22, 2002

Tattoos for the rebellious pig, Pynchon's "one pig that wouldn't die", perhaps...

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

"A growing and increasingly influential movement of philosophers, ethicists, law professors and activists are convinced that the great moral struggle of our time will be for the rights of animals. ... Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig -- an animal easily as intelligent as a dog -- that becomes the Christmas ham."
An Animal's Place
New York Times Magazine, 10 November 2002

"[William Slothrop] and his son John got a pig operation going--used to drive hogs right back down the great escarpment, back over the long pike to Boston, drive them just like sheep or cows. By the time they got to market those hogs were so skinny it was hardly worth it, but William wasn't really in it so much for the money as just for the trip itself. He enjoyed the road [...] --and most of all just being with those pigs. They were good company. Despite the folklore and the injunctions in his own Bible, William came to love their nobility and personal freedom, their gift for finding comfort in the mud on a hot day--pigs out on the road, in company together, were everything Boston wasn't, and you can imagine what the end of the journey, the weighing, slaughter and dreary pigless return back up into the hills must've been like for William. [...] William must've been waiting for the one pig that wouldn't die, that would validate all the ones who'd had to, all his Gadarene swine who'd rushed into extinction like lemmings, possessed not by demons but by trust for men, which the men kept betraying...possessed by innocence they couldn't faith in William as another variety of pig, at home with the Earth, sharing the same gift of life...."
(Gravity's Rainbow, p. 555)

Saturday, November 09, 2002

"The Pentagon is constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists around the globe — including the United States. [...] it will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant. [...] Admiral Poindexter, the former national security adviser in the Reagan administration, has argued that the government needs broad new powers to process, store and mine billions of minute details of electronic life in the United States. Admiral Poindexter, who has described the plan in public documents and speeches but declined to be interviewed, has said that the government needs to "break down the stovepipes" that separate commercial and government databases, allowing teams of intelligence agency analysts to hunt for hidden patterns of activity with powerful computers. [...] "This could be the perfect storm for civil liberties in America," said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington "The vehicle is the Homeland Security Act, the technology is Darpa and the agency is the F.B.I. The outcome is a system of national surveillance of the American public."
New York Times
9 November 2002

"The other day in the street I heard a policeman in a police car, requesting over his loudspeaker that a civilian car blocking his way move aside and let him past, all the while addressing the drive of the car personally, by name. I was amazed at this, though people I tried to share it with only shrugged, assuming that of course the driver's name (along with height, weight and date of birth) had been obtained from the Motor Vehicle Department via satellite, as soon as the offending car's license number had been tapped into the terminal -- so what?Stone Junction was first published in 1989, toward the end of an era still innocent, in its way, of the cyberworld just ahead about to exponentially explode upon it. To be sure, there were already plenty of computers around then, but they were not quite so connected together as they were shortly to become. Data available these days to anybody were accessible then only to the Authorized, who didn't always know what they had or what to do with it. There was still room to wiggle -- the Web was primitive country, inhabited only by a few rugged pioneers, half loco and wise to the smallest details of their terrain. Honor prevailed, laws were unwritten, outlaws, as yet undefinable, were few. The question had only begun to arise of how to avoid, or, preferably, escape altogether, the threat, indeed promise, of control without mercy that lay in wait down the comely vistas of freedom that computer-folk were imagining then -- a question we are still asking. Where can you jump in the rig and head for any more -- who's out there to grant us asylum? If we stay put, what is left to us that is not in some way tainted, coopted, and colonized, by the forces of Control, usually digital in nature?"
Introduction to Jim Dodge's Stone Junction
Thomas Pynchon, 1997

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Todorov re Pynchon:

'GOP' supporters actually Greens

[by] Kerana M. Todorov

A recent mailer sent to voters by a group of "local Republican" supporters of Supervisor Elizabeth Martin included a list of people who supposedly belong to the Grand Old Party. But at least three of the 74 names listed in support of the District 4 candidate are registered Green Party members, the Nevada County Elections Office's electronic database shows, and at least one is nonpartisan.

The names were included at the end of a mailer titled "Local Republicans trust Supervisor Elizabeth 'Izzy' Martin." It is a "partial list," stated the mailer paid for by the Izzy Martin for Supervisor Committee. "That piece was written by Republicans who are working hard on my campaign," Martin said Friday. The group started working on that mailer two months ago, using a database provided by the Elections Office, she said. They all showed the names as Republicans, she said. "I can't really tell you anything more."

One of the registered Green Party members listed in the mailer is William C. Pynchon. Pynchon, a self-described Martin fan, said he does not mind being listed on her mailer. "I'll (lend) may name for anything backing Izzy Martin," said Pynchon, who hasn't seen the mailer. Nonetheless, he questions why party affiliations are mentioned in county supervisor elections. This doesn't make sense to a lot of people, he said. "It's a nonpartisan election."

Pynchon said he switched parties from Republican to Green last fall because he was unimpressed with the Republican or the Democratic presidential candidates. "Just don't tell my dad."

The Union, 2 November 2002

Friday, November 01, 2002

The email discussion group, Pynchon-L, today began a group reading and discussion of Slow Learner plus the story that Pynchon excluded from that collection, "Mortality and Mercy in Vienna."

You can subscribe to Pynchon-L and follow the reading, along with the rest of the always-interesting posts to this high-traffic, high-attitude email list. Or, follow along with a slight time delay in the list archives. Posts marked SLSL ("Slowly Learning Slow Learner", the title conceived by Dave Monroe, who's hosting the first session, focusing on the book's Introduction, through November 25, when discussion of "The Small Rain" begins), beginning November 1, have a high probability of relating to this discussion, although those ornery P-listers may not always mark their Slow Learner-related posts with SLSL.

Quote of the day:

"With the obvious reference to Goethe's 'Lehrjahre' and 'Wanderjahre' of Wilhelm Meister, 'years of learning' and 'years of journeying', I wonder if Pynchon here points to Goethe as a model novelist. I have not been reading Goethe for many years now, but I recall thinking of his narrative style as a true choral one. In other words: a style that allows every voice and every character to speak of its own, giving out as much truth about (human) nature as it has to share. Just a thought."

The discussion has begun on an elevated plane, and most of the participants hope to keep it there. But, tender-hearted souls may wish to carry a fire extinguisher and appropriate protective gear into a discussion arena that, in the past at least, has been the site of many a flame war.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Pudding, in the sixth chamber, then with "Domina Nocturna":

"Now mustard gas comes washing in, into his brain with a fatal buzz as dreams will when we don't want them, or when we are suffocating. [...] His men, his poor sheep, had taken gas that morning." (GR, 232, 233)

Poor sheep, that's us, all of us, including the unfortunate victims of the Moscow theater tragedy (expecting the usual soporific, they get the real thing), as Bush pushes ahead itching to unleash more of his so-called "anti-terrorism" strategies and tactics that have already proven to entail massive civilian deaths in their wake, as Putin ramps up his war against terrorism everywhere (can we assume that he's not really serious about pursuing all terrorists "everywhere"? going after terrorists the US is said to harbor could lead to some nasty business here in our own backyard) with the certainty that even more innocents will suffer in the process ...

"We had to destroy the village in order to save it."

...watching the screen, waiting for that missile to

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Libertarian mag compares Beltway sniper to Pynchon

"My own baseless theory is that the murders were committed by a mad postmodernist. The sniper certainly seems more self-aware than earlier serial killers, and it has been widely suggested that he or she delights in undermining the police theory of the moment with each new target. If you want to foster suspicion of master narratives, you could do no better job than the killer has; he seems eager to do to criminologists what Burroughs and Pynchon did to literary critics. The Saturday slaying fits this there-is-no-pattern pattern, coming after much speculation that the perp avoids crime on weekends. Yet the drive to find patterns persists."

Reason Online, re the Beltway sniper hunt.

Monday, October 14, 2002

"OK, here's our impression of the Monday Morning
Quarterback watching a baseball playoff game: 'and the
count is 2-2 on Shindeldecker. Quasimoto at first,
score tied, top of the fifth. Brunhilde walks off the
mound ...'

Close-up of coach spitting.

Close-up of player spitting.

Close-up of two players spitting sunflower seeds.

Batter steps out of the box, looks to third-base coach
for the sign.

Batter steps back in.

Pitcher looks in for the sign. Shakes it off. Shakes
it off again.

Batter steps out of box, looks at third-base coach.

Close-up of ralley monkeys (towels, bras, T-shirts,

Close-up of coach scratching his crotch.

Close-up of player scratching his crotch.

Pitcher throws to first. Runner is back in time.

Pitcher throws to first again. Runner is back again.

Close-up of manager pulling his ear.

Close-up of old couple in the stands.

Close-up of hitter adjusting his batting gloves.

Hitter steps out of the box.

Pitcher steps off the mound.

Pitcher back on the mound.

Hitter back in the box.

Throw to first. Runner is back in time.

Close-up of three players spitting sunflower seeds.

Ralley monkey falls onto field. Bat-boy runs out to
retrieve ralley monkey.

Pitcher looks in for the sign. Shakes it off.

Close-up of old lady spitting.

Close-up of ralley monkey spitting.

Throw to first. Runner is back in time.

First baseman jogs out for conference with the
pitcher. Jogs back to first.

Close-up of pitcher going to the resin bag.

Hitter adjusts his batting gloves.

Pitcher looks in for the sign. Shakes it off. Gets
another sign. Nods.

(Italics, please) 'And here's the pitch. It's fouled
off into the right-field stands. Count remains
two-and-two. That's pitching coach Pynchon Nabokov,
coming out to talk with Brunhilde ...' (end ital) "

Montreal Gazette, 14 October 2002

"Although [Amiri] Baraka is one of the nation's most reviled poets at the moment, he also is one of the most successful writers New Jersey has produced. He is on a par with poets William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsburg, both of whom became embroiled in their fair share of controversy. Baraka also is one of the foremost jazz essayists in American history and an important playwright who made a name in the vibrant world of off-Broadway theater in the 1960s. Baraka has been a Guggenheim Fellow and won a PEN/Faulkner award, an Obie, (the off-Broadway equivalent of the Tony), the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, and the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry. He has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been the subject of biographies, doctoral dissertations, and academic panels. 'As a contemporary American artist, Baraka must be ranked with the likes of John Coltrane, Ralph Ellison, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, and Thomas Pynchon,' wrote literary critic William J. Harris."

....and he's about to lose his job as New Jersey poet laureate because of his politics., 14 October 2002

Friday, October 11, 2002

"Taking and not giving back, demanding that 'productivity' and 'earnings' keep on increasing with time, the System removing from the rest of the World these vast quantities of energy to keep its own tiny desperate fraction showing a profit: and not only most of humanity-- most of the World, animal, vegetable and mineral, is laid waste in the process."
Gravity's Rainbow p. 412

"I thought of it as dinosaur blood when it dripped on my hand this morning, and it made me wonder how the US war strategy would change if Saddam made a small recalibration in his business practices. Of course, the gasoline that spilled as I refilled my rental car this morning at the DFW airport – and the refined kerosene that will fuel the plane I’ll fly in today – is far more ancient than even the spectacular Tyrannosaurus Rex bones discovered north of here. They vanished around 65 million years ago, but the fossilized plants and bacteria that made my gasoline are 300 to 400 million years old. By the time dinosaurs ruled the Earth, pretty much all of the oil production of the planet was finished. Strange, when you consider it in those terms, that we’d base a nation’s foreign policy on a limited supply of fossils older than the dinosaurs. "
The Dinosaur War – To Protect Corporate Profits

"[...] Perhaps the critics are too generous to suspect merely political gamesmanship or settling a score for dad, for the allies and enemies that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney choose are exactly those of the oil industry they still serve. Iraq crossed western oil corporations 30 years ago, and the oil executives have long memories. In 1972, Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath party nationalized the oil holdings of the Iraq Petroleum Company, which actually was owned by a group of western oil companies including Royal Dutch and American and French firms. The U.S. and Britain launched an embargo of Iraq in an attempt to persuade Hussein to re-privatize oil -- a tactic that succeeded for the U.S. when it embargoed Iran in retaliation for nationalizing its oil industry in 1951. In that case the economic squeeze was topped off with a CIA-assisted coup and "regime change," which instituted the Shah as the new leader in 1953. Obediently, the Shah agreed to let British and American oil companies take over oil production again. But when the U.S. instigated an embargo against Iraq, Hussein simply found a new customer-- the Soviet
Union. [...]"
Bush and Cheney Critics
May Be Too Generous

"The nationalization of the oil industry was considered by the BaÅth leaders to be their greatest achievement. Between 1969 and 1972 several agreements with foreign powers—the Soviet Union and others—were concluded to provide the Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) with the capital and technical skills to exploit the oil fields. In 1972 the operation of the North Rumaylah field, rich in oil, started, and an Iraqi Oil Tankers Company was established to deliver oil to several foreign countries. Also in 1972 the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) was nationalized (with compensation), and a national company, the Iraqi Company for Oil Operations, was established to operate the fields. In 1973, when the fourth Arab-Israeli War broke out, Iraq nationalized U.S. and Dutch companies, and in 1975 it nationalized the remaining foreign interests in the Basra Petroleum Company."
"Iraq" Encyclopædia Britannica
[Accessed October 11, 2002].

"The oil towers stand sentinel, bone-empty, in the dark [....] Time for retrospection here, for refining the recent history that's being pumped up fetid and black from other strata of Earth's mind. . . ."
Gravity's Rainbow, p. 354

"For the first time now it becomes apparent that the 4
and the Father-conspiracy do not entirely fill their
world. Their struggle is not the only or even the
ultimate one. Indeed, not only are there many other
struggles, but there are also spectators, watching,
as spectators will do, hundreds of thousands of them,
sitting around this dingy yellow amphitheatre [...]"
Gravity's Rainbow

[...] One final consideration that might come into
play in the foreign policy realm relates to Bush's
history relevant to his father. The Bush biography
reveals the story of a boy named for his father, sent
to the exclusive private school in the East where his
father's reputation as star athlete and later war hero
were still remembered. The younger George's
achievements were dwarfed in the school's memory of
his father. Athletically he could not achieve his
father's laurels, being smaller and perhaps less
strong. His drinking bouts and lack of intellectual
gifts held him back as well. He was popular and well
liked, however. His military record was mediocre as
compared to his father's as well. Bush entered the
Texas National Guard. What he did there remains
largely a mystery. There are reports of a lot of
barhopping during this period. It would be only
natural that Bush would want to prove himself today,
that he would feel somewhat uncomfortable following,
as before, in his father's footsteps. I mention these
things because when you follow his speeches, Bush
seems bent on a personal crusade. One motive is to
avenge his father. Another seems to be to prove
himself to his father. In fact, Bush seems to be
trying somehow to achieve what his father failed to do
- - to finish the job of the Gulf War, to get the
"evildoer" Saddam.

To summarize, George W. Bush manifests all the classic
patterns of what alcoholics in recovery call "the dry
drunk." His behavior is consistent with barely
noticeable but meaningful brain damage brought on by
years of heavy drinking and possible cocaine use. All
the classic patterns of addictive thinking that are
spelled out in my book are here:

-the tendency to go to extremes (leading America into a
massive 100 billion dollar strike-first war);

-a "kill or be killed mentality;" the tunnel vision;

-"I" as opposed to "we" thinking;

-the black and white polarized thought processes
(good versus evil, all or nothing thinking).

-His drive to finish his father's battles is of no
small significance, psychologically.

If the public (and politicians) could only see what
Fulbright noted as the pathology in the politics. One
day, sadly, they will. [...]

October 11, 2002
Addiction, Brain Damage and the President
"Dry Drunk" Syndrome and George W. Bush

by Katherine vn Wormer

Thursday, October 10, 2002

[...] Thanks to the new discoveries, researchers can now trace how Hollerith numbers assigned to inmates evolved into the horrific tattooed numbers so symbolic of the Nazi era. (Herman Hollerith was the German American who first automated U.S. census information in the late 19th century and founded the company that became IBM. Hollerith's name became synonymous with the machines and the Nazi "departments" that operated them.) In one case, records show, a timber merchant from Bendzin, Poland, arrived at Auschwitz in August 1943 and was assigned a characteristic five-digit IBM Hollerith number, 44673. The number was part of a custom punch-card system devised by IBM to track prisoners in all Nazi concentration camps, including the slave labor at Auschwitz. Later in the summer of 1943, the Polish timber merchant's same five-digit Hollerith number, 44673, was tattooed on his forearm. Eventually, during the summer of 1943, all non-Germans at Auschwitz were similarly tattooed. [...] Central to the Nazi effort was a massive 500-man Hollerith Gruppe, installed in a looming brown building at 24 Murnerstrasse in Krakow, Poland. The Hollerith Gruppe of the Nazi Statistical Office crunched all the numbers of plunder and genocide that allowed the Nazis to systematically starve the Jews, meter them out of the ghettos, and then transport them to either work camps or death camps. The trains running to Auschwitz were tracked by a specially guarded IBM customer site facility at 22 Pawia in Krakow. The millions of punch cards the Nazis in Poland required were obtained exclusively from IBM, including from one company print shop at 6 Rymarska Street across the street from the Warsaw Ghetto. The entire Polish subsidiary was overseen by an IBM administrative facility at 24 Kreuz in Warsaw.

The exact addresses and equipment arrays of the key IBM offices and customer sites in Nazi-occupied Poland had already been uncovered. But no one had ever been able to determine whether there was an IBM facility at, or even near, Auschwitz—until now. Auschwitz chief archivist Piotr Setkiewicz finally pinpointed the first such IBM customer site.

[...[ The newly unearthed IBM customer site was a huge Hollerith Büro. It was situated in the I.G. Farben
factory complex, housed in Barracks 18, next to German Civil Worker Camp 7, about two kilometers from Monowitz. Archivists found the Büro only because it was listed in the I.G. Werk Auschwitz phone book on page 50. The phone extension was 4496. "I was looking for something else," recalls Auschwitz's Setkiewicz, "and there it was."

Many of the long-known paper prisoner forms stamped Hollerith Erfasst, or "registered by Hollerith," indicated the prisoners were from Monowitz. Now Auschwitz archivist Setkiewicz has discovered about 100 Hollerith machine summary printouts of Monowitz prisoner assignments and details generated by the I.G. Farben customer site. Comparison of the new printouts to other typical camp cards shows the Monowitz systems were customized for the specific coding Farben needed to process the thousands of slave workers who labored and died there. The machines were probably also used to manage and develop manufacturing processes and ordinary business applications. The machines almost certainly did not maintain extermination totals, which were calculated as "evacuations" by the Hollerith Gruppe in Krakow. "The Hollerith office at IG Farben in Monowitz used the IBM machines as a system of computerization of civil and slave labor resources," said Setkiewicz. "This gave Farben the opportunity to identify people with certain skills, primarily skills needed for the construction of certain buildings in Monowitz." At press time, the diverse Farben codes and range of machine uses were still being studied. [...]
Village Voice

"By 1945, the factory system -- which, more than any piece of machinery, was the real and major result of the Industrial Revolution -- had been extended to include the Manhattan Project, the German long-range rocket program and the death camps, such as Auschwitz."
Thomas Pynchon

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

He links John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X at one point in Gravity’s Rainbow, “Eventually Jack and Malcolm both got murdered” (688). In another section of Rainbow he creates for us a realm of assassins, a resort, a resting place where they can reduce the terrible stress they live with daily. The characters in this place treat each other kindly, participating in exercises to rid themselves of the guilt, the shame, the self-loathing, the sense of personal responsibility that comes with their professional calling. To sugarcoat the brutality Pynchon uses humor. The resort of assassins is actually a quite funny scene, filled with applications to everyday bureaucratic life, the observations of a Thurberesque voyager in Dante’s Inferno. Pynchon writes:

“The worst part’s the shame,” Sir Stephen tells him. “Getting through that. Then your next step–well, I talk like an old hand, but that’s really only as far as I’ve come, up through the shame. At the moment I’m involved with the ‘Nature of Freedom’ drill you know, wondering if any action of mine is truly my own, or if I always do only what They want me to do [. . . ]’ (541)
“Have I been assigned here?”
“Yes. Are you beginning to see why?”
“‘I’m afraid I am.’ With everything else, these are, after all, people who kill each other […] ‘then I defected for nothing, didn’t I? I mean, if I haven’t really defected at all . . .’ (542)
“[…] No one has ever left the Firm alive, no one in history–and no one ever will.”
“Think of it as a handicap, Prentice, like any other, like missing a limb or having malaria . . . one can still live . . . one learns to get round it, it becomes part of the day– […]
“You don’t, you really don’t trust me?”
“Of course not […] Would you–really–trust any of us?” (543)

Under the black humor, under the parody of manners, Pynchon is evoking a genuine dread that there have been times in history, and the present seems to be one, when cadres of coordinated assassins act in the everyday scheme of things.

...from a must-read article on Pynchon, Pynchon’s Inferno, by Charles Hollander.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

"Perhaps being an ex-delegate from the Committee of Idiopathic Archetypes, and a sucker for that pushing 30 line [463], my first thought was a Virgo from 1915. As if wanting to make matters too easy for me, I immediately noticed in the ephemeris an incredibly suitable chart for September 4, 1915, 6:51 a.m. EST: The Fool, Rocketman, Schwarzvater, avuncular Pig, the Hanged Man upside down etc.; they were all present in this chart. But no, it had to be discarded – too early to be an Infant in 1920 or a Harvard boy in 1939. Nice try, Tom – with that pushing 30 I mean . . . but it is a common colloquialism in the US to say “pushing” after passing the age of 25 (or 35, 45, 55 etc.).

"The second conclusion, September 8, 1919, 7:17 a.m. EWT, was even more difficult to discard – took me over two weeks to shred it. Oh, was it ever a remarkable chart: a bizarre Rocketman syndrome along the royalty/anarchy axis with willing women everywhere, in its overview the unusual sea-saw figure (the main astrological binary figure), Schwarzvater somewhat weakened but Übervater Laszlo Jamf looming hauntingly behind the scenes, drugs/jazz/movies/nature as a keynote, yet still the useless Hanged Man, Fool Tarot. In this chart Venus was also in the Twelfth House, retrograde in Virgo, a position which occurs only every eighth year, fully explaining his amorous ambiguities and inner search for grace!

"What finally caused me to put this chart aside were two major statements in Gravity’s Rainbow – the Roseland Ballroom scene in 1939, where, unless illegally, Slothrop could not have been vomiting beer in the Men’s Room as the drinking age in the US is 21, and in August 1945 those past Slothrops, ten thousand of them. Translated into time, ten thousand Slothrops equals 27 years, 4 months and 16 days! Counting backwards from August 1945, “say averaging one a day,” this would place his birthday around the Spring Equinox of 1918!! However, from his father’s statement [699], we are told Tyrone is a double Virgo and from the narrative that Wernher von Braun and Dr. Livingstone were born around this point – each on their own side of the Equinox, as a matter of fact. So I found myself caught up in just another one of those conjectural chronological confusions so typical in the works of Thomas Pynchon, and this intriguingly fascinating chart ended up in the wastepaper basket.

"After months of trail and error, comparing charts to dates, going through the process of elimination, and seriously hoping to avoid “the-mediocrity-in-the-lives-of-his-chroniclers‘” prophecy of Slothrop’s infamous Tarot [738], I have come to a professional astrological conclusion that Tyrone Slothrop was born on Saturday (the day of Destiny ), August 31, 1918, 7:15 a.m. EWT in Mingeborough, Berkshire County, MA., USA.

The Nativity of Tyrone Slothrop , horoscope chart by fellow pynchonoid, Douglas Kløvedal Lannark. (Thanks to Otto Sell for bringing this to the attention of Pynchon-L and making it available on the Web.)

Friday, September 20, 2002

"Blanke found that electrically stimulating one brain region — the right angular gyrus — repeatedly triggers out-of-body experiences. Blanke and his team were using electrodes to excite the brain of a woman being treated for epilepsy. The right angular gyrus integrates visual information — the sight of your body — and information that creates the mind's representation of your body. This is based on balance and feedback from your limbs about their position in space. 'It makes perfect sense,' agrees Peter Brugger of University Hospital, Zurich, in Switzerland, who studies the phenomenon. 'We have representations of our entire body that can be dissociated from our real body,' he says. But this is an isolated case, he points out."
Electrodes trigger out-of-body experience, Nature, 19 September 2002

--Son, been wondering about this, ah, "screwing in" you kids are doing. This matter of the, shooting electricity into head, ha ha?

--Waves, Pop. Not just raw electricity. That's fer drips!

--Yes, ah, waves. "Keying waves," right? ha-hah. Uh, tell me, son, what's it like? You know I've been something of a doper all m'life, a-and-

--Oh pop. Cripes. It isn't like dope at all.

--Well we got off on some pretty good "vacations" we called them, some pretty "weird" areas they got us into's a matter of fact-

--But you always came back, didn't you?


--I mean, it was always understood that this would still be here when you got back, just the same, exactly the same, right?

--Well ha-ha guess that's why we called 'em vacations, son! Cause you always do come back to old Realityland, don't you?

--You always did.

--Listen Tyrone, you don't know how dangerous that stuff is. Suppose someday you just plug in and go away and never come back. Eh?

--Ho, ho! Don't I wish! What do you think every electrofreak dreams about? You're such an old fuddy duddy! A-and who sez it's a dream, huh? M-maybe it exists. Maybe there is a Machine to take us away, take us completely, suck us out through the electrodes out of the skull 'n' into the Machine and live there forever with all the other souls it's got stored there. It could decide who it would suck out, a-and when. Dope never gave you immortality. You hadda come back, every time, into a dying hunk of smelly meat! But We can live forever, in a clean, honest, purified, Electroworld--

--Shit, that's what I get, havin' a double virgo for a son...
Gravity's Rainbow, 698-699

"....with great pleasure that the Ransom Center announces the acquisition of the corrected typescript to Thomas Pynchon's first novel, V., originally published in 1963. Until now, Pynchon scholarship has largely been limited to critical analyses because of the paucity of primary sources available to scholars. Along with V., the Ransom Center has acquired eight typed letters dating from the early 1960s, from a young Pynchon to two close friends. The letters are witty, agonizing, insightful, imaginative, full of both doubt and bravado, and peppered with expletives. In short, they are a tremendous gauge of a young author's state of mind, and indicative of the brilliance that would follow in novels such as The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity's Rainbow. One letter from Mexico in 1964 details the profound effects of the Kennedy assassination on Pynchon's mental state. A negative review of V. and his self-professed inability to plot have him questioning his worth as a writer, but rejection from Cal-Berkeley's math department tips the balance back in favor of writing. Pynchon also describes his role as best man at the wedding of fellow author Richard Farina, who would die tragically in a motorcycle accident two years later. Following the publication of Gravity's Rainbow in 1973, which is dedicated to Farina, Pynchon published no new novel for sixteen years, before returning to the scene with Vineland in 1989 and Mason & Dixon in 1997. It is estimated that this early typescript of V. contains one hundred pages of scenes ultimately excised from the published novel, as well as a dozen pages reworked almost beyond recognition. The Pynchon material at the Ransom Center should prove of great scholarly value and is a welcome addition to a growing collection of later twentieth-century literary materials."

Thomas Pynchon - A Passion for Secrecy, Ransom News, Spring 2001.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

"Dick Cheney vehemently denies that talk of war, just weeks before the midterm elections, is designed to divert attention from other matters. But in that case he won't object if I point out that the tide of corporate scandal is still rising, and lapping ever closer to his feet....An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal confirmed what some of us have long argued: market manipulation by energy companies — probably the same companies that wrote Mr. Cheney's energy plan, though he has defied a court order to release task force records — played a key role in California's electricity crisis. And new evidence indicates that Mr. Cheney's handpicked Army secretary was a corporate evildoer. Mr. Cheney supposedly chose Thomas White for his business expertise. But when it became apparent that the Enron division he ran was a money-losing fraud, the story changed. We were told that Mr. White was an amiable guy who had no idea what was actually going on, that his colleagues referred to him behind his back as 'Mr. Magoo.' Just the man to run the Army in a two-front Middle Eastern war, right? But he was no Magoo.... By maintaining the illusion of success, insiders like Mr. White were able to sell their stock at good prices to naïve victims...."
New York Times
17 September 2002

"the Grid's big function in this System is iceboxery, freezing back the tumultuous cycles of the day to preserve this odorless small world, this cube of changelessness"
Gravity's Rainbow, p. 678

Sunday, September 15, 2002

"It would be an oversimplification to label the contrast between Line and Mound a contrast between modern and ancient ways of knowing, science and religion. A more accurate way to state the contrast would be between heaven-centered vs. earth-centered forms of knowledge, both ancient and modern. The "star-dictated" (601) absolutes of Mason's astronomy or Zarpazo's Jesuit theology, which thrive on neat geometries and stable hierarchies, are juxtaposed with what Zhang and Dixon call the ambiguities and "inner shapes" of earthly realities, including the sheer difficulty Mason and Dixon have making perfect celestial or magnetic measurements in the field and the myriad ways in which mortal human lives and understandings conflict with truths that science and theology claim are universal. Zhang associates these latter forces with "the true inner shape, or Dragon [Shan], of the Land," while for Dixon they represent Tellurick or earth-centered forces, especially magnetism. In the Indian Mound these forces find their most powerful centering, their most direct contact and conflict with the different energies embodied by the measuring of the Line. For Pynchon, the Indian Mound and the Dragon Shan represent not only ancient world views antithetical to Enlightenment science, but are prophetic of how that same science already contained within it anomalies that could only be resolved with the invention in the twentieth century of quantum physics, fractals, and the sciences of chaos and "complex systems" combining both linear and non-linear iterations. Hence we are meant to see in the Mound's Vortex not a unique or exceptional occurrence but an emblem for the infinite number of narrative Vortices or alternative universes already present in any Linear rendering of either space or time. "
Line, Vortex, and Mound: On First Reading Thomas Pynchon's Mason and Dixon
by Peter Schmidt.

Friday, September 13, 2002

"....Dulcinea and V., of course, are products of very different centuries. Writing in the transition period from the Renaissance to the Baroque, and casting Dulcinea as the supreme embodiment of Don Quijote's chivalric dreams, Cervantes has created a fascinating figure who is the end result of courtly love and Neoplatonist traditions —as well as a parodic reminder of the anachronistic nature of those traditions. The gorgeous green-eyed blonde, physical heir to Melibea, of Don Quijote's fantasy is also a coarse peasant woman of doubtful morality. As Riley has astutely pointed out, Dulcinea's “connection with money is maintained to the end” (Don Quixote 140) through the cave passage, Sancho's paid lashes, and finally the cricket-cage. Dulcinea, like the Orianas and Laureolas of the books of chivalry and the sentimental novels, belongs to the past; Don Diego de Miranda, the bourgeois country gentleman, is more “modern” than Don Quijote. Yet people cherish the ideal in all periods. Thus Dulcinea is very real for Don Quijote, and for the reader, even though we all acknowledge her ethereal nature.

V., on the other hand, is a product of the postmodernist milieu. (But are the two periods so different? According to Ferreras, Cervantes “escribe o recrea un universo donde el desorden, y también el crimen y la sangre, destruyen toda armonía, toda comunión en un solo ideal” [23].)10 While I emphatically agree with Riley that “any detached and overall view of Dulcinea must combine the very disparate images of her presented by Don Quijote, Sancho, other characters and the narrator” (“Symbolism” 73), these images do tend to conform to either the “ideal” Dulcinea or the “anti-Dulcinea.” In one sense, this is also true of V., “The V composing and forestalling the vide” (Redfield 159). The over-abundance of V.-signifiers in Pynchon's novel, however, corresponds well to postmodernism's “commitment to indeterminancy, openness and multiplicity” (Connor 16), its “denying dichotomies, bipolarities, . . . dissolving binary oppositions” (Mellencamp 98).11 V. is more definitely a what (“‘what: what is she?’” [53]) than a who. Perhaps, like Stencil, she is essentially a lack, a lack of order: “Pynchon does not . . . offer us Order, and in that he reflects the postmodernist outlook” (Hume 192). This is for me the greatest difference between his worldview and that of Cervantes. Even with the marked sense of desengaño and sadness found in much of Don Quijote, particularly in Part II, Cervantes always conveys to the reader some sense of order, even though it be a Baroque “orden desordenada” (I 519). Alonso Quijano on his deathbed may repudiate “los detestables libros de las caballerías” and their “disparates” and “embelecos” (foremost among them the overly-idealized Dulcinea) (II 1105), but he dies comforted by the supreme Order of grace, “‘las misericordias . . . que en este instante ha usado Dios conmigo’” (ibid.). Alonso Quijano dies sane, with “juicio . . . libre y claro, sin las sombras caliginosas de la ignorancia” caused by too much reading of the books of chivalry; his mind regains its order. In marked contrast, the final chapter of V. is a flashback to the death at sea of old Stencil, a death caused by a blind natural disorder, a gigantic waterspout (492): “Veronica Manganese had kept him only as long as she had to” (492). This is the reader's final glimpse of V., as she turns old Stencil over to disorder and death.

According to Van Delden, “the problem of how and where to find a principle of order in the modern world” is central to V. (118). The problem is unresolved at the novel's close. In comparison with the tremendous positive development of Sancho Panza, Stencil's luckless companion Benny Profane ends the novel much as he started out. Asked by the girl Brenda in Malta, “‘Haven't you learned?,’” Profane answers simply, “‘I haven't learned a goddam thing’” (454). This sense of emptiness and futility is the essence of the “lady V.” Dulcinea, even when viewed as a comic or threatening figure, never conveys such a negative impression. Enough of the ideal forever clings to her, to soften and to dulcify her image.

Dulcinea and Pynchon's V. by Carole A. Holdsworth; originally published in Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 19.1 (1999): 27-39.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Deep in the heart of Texas...

"The manuscript for an unproduced musical called Minstral Island by Pynchon and Kirkpatrick Sale. Early notes, outlines, and drafts for the 1958 collaboration between Pynchon and Sale which explores the year 1998 when IBM dominates the world and artists (including musicians, sailmakers, and prostitutes) are pariahs who have yet to be assigned roles in the new world order. Pynchon collaborated on the manuscript with Sale in 1958, prior to the publication of Pynchon's first novel, V. Kirkpatrick Sale has written extensively on the political, economic, sociological, and environmental impacts of technology, even going so far as to reconstitute the term Luddite to describe a contemporary movement that is skeptical of uncontrolled technological advance. Pynchon manuscripts are notoriously rare, which makes this unpublished gem particularly exceptional."
Ransom Center Newsletter, Summer 2002

Thanks to fellow Pynchonoid, Rich Romeo of PYNCHON-L for digging this up.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

"When a CNN camera crew caught up with Pynchon in Manhattan recently, he phoned back to strongly request that he not be pointed out to viewers in any videotape (a request which, after much debate, CNN opted to honor). 'Let me be unambiguous,' he said. 'I prefer not to be photographed.' .... Pynchon himself rejects any characterizations of him as a recluse, telling CNN that 'my belief is that recluse is a code word generated by journalists ... meaning, 'doesn't like to talk to reporters.' He has proven himself willing to step out of the shadows from time to time -- but on his own terms. .... Pynchon's enigmatic reputation has created an aura of mystery about him. But the truth turns out to be not quite so exotic, according to Sales. He leads a somewhat conventional life in New York City. 'He shops at neighborhood stores. He lunches with other writers. He spends weekends in the countryside with his family,' she says. Indeed, he is so conventional that you might not know him if you saw him. While CNN agreed not to isolate him and identify him specifically, he does happen to be among the people you will see in street scenes in the movie accompanying this story."
Where's Thomas Pynchon?
CNN tracks down literary world's deliberate enigma
June 5, 1997

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

"One night in early June of 1967, my Pynchon connection phoned me at my apartment on Shattuck Avenue. Pynchon was in town, staying with her and her boyfriend. He'd been living in L.A., flown up to Seattle to visit friends from Boeing, and on his way back to L.A. had stopped off for a day in Berkeley. She said, "Tom wants to meet you." This was like a command audience with the Pope. I kick-started my motorcycle and, I think, made it across town to her place near San Pablo Avenue before she had time to put down the phone. ....Pynchon was evidently a man of few words. I wanted very much to talk with him, to sound him out, at least to get him to laugh, but as we sat on the floor and passed around buzz bombers and grew progressively more zonked, he didn't say much, just listened intently as our hostess and host and I talked. The conversation was disjointed, grass talk consisting of little bits and revelations (Leslie Fiedler had just been busted for possession of marijuana) and silly stoned jokes, like the one about the woman who traded in her menstrual cycle for a Yamaha. I thought of Pynchon as a Van der Graaf machine, one of those generators that keeps building static electricity until a lightning bolt zaps between the terminals. All of a sudden, he pulled out of his pocket a string of firecrackers and asked, 'Where can we set these off?' "

Smoking Dope with Thomas Pynchon: A Sixties Memoir

Sunday, September 08, 2002

"Which brings me to my nomination for the Patron Saint of Warchalkers: Thomas Pynchon. The prescient Mr. Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 described similar cryptic scribbles by members of a secret underground postal system, long before the rise of the net. (Published 3 years before the traditional 1969 birthday of the net.) Alas, I'm not sure if the trystero would work for wifiti, but it certainly would add an air mystery (and literary history) to the endeavor."

Warchalking: Collaboratively creating a hobo-language for free wireless networking.

[Note: url links to the Warchalking quote added by Pynchonoid.--Ed.]

Saturday, September 07, 2002

23 Ways to Tell You've Read Too Much Thomas Pynchon:

1. You sometimes break into the foxtrot, even though you have no clue what the foxtrot is.

2. Every weekend, you jump through windows with a new matching dress/chainsaw ensemble.

3. Secret societies try to off you for your stamp collection.

4. You have a pet octopus and like to have intellectual conversations with him.

5. You have the unshakable feeling that you're being followed by German V-2 missiles.

6. It's normal for you to mistakenly put your mail in the wastebasket.

7. Some days everything tastes good with bananas.

8. You have a trumpet sticker with the letters "D.E.A.T.H." on the bumper of your car.

9. You can be found in the sewer looking for alligators on any given day.

10. You call your friends "The Whole Sick Crew" with a sentimental tear in your eye.

11. You are known to exclaim "Shit and Shinola!" with utter sincerity.

12. You don't trust the Monopoly guy because of his monocle.

13. When your car breaks down, you replace the engine with Maxwell's Demon.

14. Your doctor's office is in a building called The White Visitation.

15. Your anthropology teacher's name is Bongo-Shaftsbury.

16. You are part of the Herero Heritage Foundation.

17. You have moments where think you work for Yoyodyne, Inc.

18. You leave the letter V out of the alphabet because its too dubious for you to think about.

19. You buy drinks for Thanatoids.

20. You have a personal vendetta against the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

21. You find yourself being subliminally influenced by yoyos.

22. You have a perverse interest in auctions.

23. Wha?

by Sara Aronson, from: disinformation

Friday, September 06, 2002

"Who's that winner with the two-ton smile? Why it's famed post-modern author Thomas Pynchon, and now you can dress him any way you please!"

Thursday, September 05, 2002

"pynchon is connected to the following things:

the weather

Thomas Pynchon wrote Gravity's Rainbow

His second book, 'The Crying of Lot 49' is a small, gemlike work about the terror which entropy, in energy and information, holds in our lives.

Like J.D. Salinger, Pynchon shuns photographers, the media, and the public, living and working in secrecy.

roxbury, massachusetts
the town was founded by an ancestor or Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, jr."

DIRK: the fundamental interconnectedness of all things

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

".... According to the catalogue of my works published by Leisure Planet Music, Thomas Pynchon, His Pavane and Galliard was written in 1988. In fact, the Galliard was finished at 7:30 a.m. on February 2, just before my bedtime, but well after sunrise in Punxsutawney. The Pavane was completed at 3:30 a.m. on February 15, very late on Valentine's Day. My first new music ensemble, the Bemidji Alliance, named after the piano player's sister's residence, gave its first performance on Groundhog Day in 1977. 

4. I would naturally be happy to learn information to the contrary. I remember reading Gravity's Rainbow on a United Airlines flight from Omaha to Los Angeles. A stewardess escorted an elderly lady to a seat right next to mine and said, "''m sure this gentleman here would be a very good conversationalist.' I stuck my nose back in the book and didn't say a word to her for the entire flight. Another stewardess saw what I was reading and exclaimed 'Gravity's Rainbow, I'm reading that. What a great book.' I still feel guilty for not talking to the old lady. "

Eight Facts About
Thomas Pynchon, His Pavane and Galliard, A Piece for Cello and Piano

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

"Although Manhattan Beach is known for affluent conservatism, back in the early 70s it harbored a healthy counterculture. It was during this time that Thomas Pynchon wrote his classic "Gravity's Rainbow" in a tiny apartment at 217 33rd Street. ...Pynchon apparently moved to Manhattan in 1969 or 1970, taking up residence in a small bachelor apartment behind a beachfront house before moving to his place on 33rd. Jim Hall, who knew Pynchon at the time, recalls the author being "very intense, really smart ... light years beyond anyone else." Among his few friends, Pynchon displayed much of the paranoia that would mark both his writing and career. But his first landlord in Manhattan recently speculated that his privacy might simply have been due to his difficult stutter. Pynchon the eccentric was known to lock himself up for weeks at a time while working, and he was often seen carrying a yellow plastic pig. His "Vineland," published in 1997, is full of references to Torrance, Hawthorne and Hermosa Beach. The novel also contains a description of a house in the fictional town of Gordita Beach, which could easily double for Manhattan: "But having been put up back during an era of overdesign, it proved to be sturdier than it looked, with its old stucco eaten at to reveal generations of paint jobs in different beach-town pastels, corroded by salt and petrochemical fogs that flowed in the summer up the sand slopes, on up past Sepulveda ..."

The Aesthetic

The date of Vineland's publication date is incorrect (first ed., 1990). That "carrying a yellow plastic pig" seems a tad romantic.

Monday, September 02, 2002


TR: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS.....brought to you by Odessa Vacation Homes and Condos......if you're looking for sunshine and inexpensive real estate, you almost can't do better than West Texas......and now as we rejoin Dusty and Lefty (OUTDOOR AMBIENCE, CA TTLE IN DISTANCE), we find them making camp for the night at Yellow Springs on the Lonesome Trail south of Amarillo....


.... TR: This is the worst song I ever heard in my life. Absolutely the worst. I'd rather listen to sheep than listen to this.


He'd been caught that morning, with a paper shirt and vest,
He wore paper boots and spurs and pants, so they made an arrest,
And charged him with rustling, which apparently he did:
That afternoon they strung him up, the Amarillo Kid.

I can hear the people coming from every neighborhood
And I long to be in Austin when the party's getting good.

TR: I sincerely hope this is the end.


They strung him up, and shot him, and were about to give him poison,
And then one cowboy rose up in his saddle and cried, "Boys, in
All my days on lynch mobs, there was one sure way of lynchin'
That's to lock him in the outhouse with the works of Thomas Pynchon.

So they put the Amarillo Kid in the little house out back
With the works of Thomas Pynchon, a solid four-foot stack.
And he commenced to read The Crying of Lot 49,
And he groaned so loud and mournfully, they knew that he was dyin.

He finally finished that one but on Gravity's Rainbow,
They could hear him sighing and his breath was coming slow.
When they opened up the door, he had passed to his rest,
He had died of suffocation for the book lay on his chest.

He could see the ladies singing, he could smell his long-lost friends,
And his spirit went to Austin where the party never ends.

TR: Is this finally the end now?

GK: All over except for the yodel....

A Prairie Home Companion, Cowboys,Saturday, June 6, 1998

Sunday, September 01, 2002

"Much of Pynchon's personal life remains a mystery.
He has lived in seclusion for many years,
and his academic and military records have been lost. "

FUSIONanomaly, Thomas Pynchon

Saturday, August 31, 2002

"Dear Thomas,
I was encouraged to see your piece in support of Donald Barthelme. Or at least I think it was in support of him. You know how you never can tell with you. Anyway, I was pleased to discover that you thought he was/is underrated too. Hope all is well.

Love Anyways,
            Cold Bacon "

An Open Letter to Thomas Pynchon

Friday, August 30, 2002

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

"These two-faced 'venus' in Mexico are interpreted like 'symbol of a double fruit or the principle of the duality, that represents one of the roots of the mesoamericanan religious philosophy, which comes attributed propiziatory character.' To me, 'propiziatory character' had it also the 'venus' with a single head, otherwise is not understood why they made them! If not, it is thinkable that those two-faced ones have had a 'greater propiziatory character.' [...] The characteristics of the two " venus " and of the mask have many characteristics in common with the wood sculpture of equatorial Africa. Sure, who worked the wood, did not work the stone, but the man always has been able to make all, in every direction. Independently from the doubts on the origin of the two two-faced sculptures (Fig.3 and Fig.4) , we must observ that they join two different cults (true or presumed): 1°) the feminine nude generally is considered connected to the cult of the fecundity, and 2°) the bifrontism, generally, is characterization of a God. "

"The shape of the heads reproduces the shape of the hair, enriched by ornamental patterns , traced with little lines as 'V' present also in the dorsal side. "

A two-faced V. . . . .

Monday, August 26, 2002

"In the name of fire prevention, Bush wants to allow the timber industry to log off more than 2.5 million acres of federal forest over the next ten years. He wants it done quickly and without any interference from pesky statutes such as the Endangered Species Act. Bush called his plan 'the Healthy Forests Initiative.' But it's nothing more than a giveaway to big timber, that comes at a high price to the taxpayer and forest ecosystems.

"Bush's stump speech was a craven bit of political opportunism, rivaled, perhaps, only by Bush's call to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling as a way to help heal the nation after the attacks of September 11. That plan sputtered around for awhile, but didn't go anywhere. But count on it: this one will.

"Bush is exploiting a primal fear of fire that almost overwhelms the crippling anxiety about terrorists. In a one of the great masterstrokes of PR, Americans have been conditioned for the past 60 years that forest fires are bad...bad for forests. It's no accident that Smokey the Bear is the most popular icon in the history of advertising, far outdistancing Tony the Tiger or Capt. Crunch.

"But the forests of North America were born out of fires, not destroyed by them. After Native Americans settled across the continent following the Wisconsin glaciation, fires became an even more regular event, reshaping the ecology of the Ponderosa pine and spruce forests of the Interior West and the mighty Douglas-fir forests of the Pacific Coast.

"Forest fires became stigmatized only when forests began to be viewed as a commercial resource rather than an obstacle to settlement. Fire suppression became an obsession only after the big timber giants laid claim to the vast forests of the Pacific Northwest. Companies like Weyerhaeuser and Georgia-Pacific were loath to see their holdings go up in flames, so they arm-twisted Congress into pour millions of dollars into Forest Service fire-fighting programs. "

Jeffrey St. Clair, in Counterpunch.

"He woke to rain coming down in sheets, the smell of redwood trees in the rain through the open bus windows, tunnels of unbelievably tall straight red trees whose tops could not be seen pressing in to either side. Prairie had been watching them all the time and in a very quiet voice talking to them as they passed one by one. It seemed now and then as if she were responding to something she was hearing, and in rather a matter-of-fact tone of voice for a baby, too, as if this were a return for her to a world behind the world she had known all along."
Vineland p. 315

"Anyone catch the interview with actor Larry Hagman (I Dream of Jeanie,
Dallas) on Entertainment Tonight? Much of the interview related to his
drug use, including his LSD use. He spoke in glowing terms about his LSD
experience(s). He said at first it was like going through the "gates of
hell" and that his guide told him to just go with it and after he let go,
it was one of the most wonderful experiences he's ever had. He said he had
a 'white light' experience on LSD and how he no longer fears death. He
said there are multiple planes of existence and that the next one is based
on love."

-from the MAPS list today.

"No wonder the State panicked. How are they supposed to control a population that knows it'll never die?"
Vineland pp. 313-314

Sunday, August 25, 2002

"The terrible war flower
has left her footprints-
countless petals of separation and death
in white and violet.
Very tenderly, the wound opens itself in the depths of
my heart.
Its color is the color of blood,
its nature the nature of separation. "

The Beauty of Spring Blocks My Way by Thich Nhat Hanh

The nature of separation?

Drawing a Line . . . .

Thursday, August 22, 2002

...from a letter to a fellow pynchonoid today:

Not to boast, but it's a fact, I had the most books checked out on a library card in the history of the Camp Howze library (6 clicks along the MSR from Panmunjom, R.O.K., helping the mechanized infantry roll out on the frontier of freedom, land of the morning calm), stretching back to the '50s (I think, that's the factoid I recall anyway, this foggy Bay evening). Not that there were ever very many customers, so it wasn't much of a competition. It was the only place on base that was air conditioned, which made it a very attractive spot during the warm and humid months (there were many; I was there from early January until nearly Christmas 1973), but that was, apparently, a well-kept secret, or maybe nobody was interested, not hard to understand given that the standard barracks reading fare (Playboy, comic books) had no place in the library. The library was almost always empty, quiet and cool (and this was a base where it was generally pretty easy, and common, to sneak away from work and goof). I managed to get down there everyday, on the pretext of running some errand or other -- I was Company Clerk, plenty of reasons to be cruising around the base. I was a draftee, too, and therefore not expected to take things very seriously from the get-go.

I still kick myself for not stealing the copy of GR I found there. Crisp and new, it appeared on the shelf around mid-summer, late June or July, which meant it was more or less hot off the press, a first edition worth a lot of money now. But who knew? That was my first introduction to Pynchon . So I left it there when I came stateside again. For all I know, it may still be there. I haven't been back.

That summer -- in the heat, dodging mosquitos, flying on cheap weed and O.J.'s, Gravity's Rainbow spoke to me. I had the experience I've heard other Pynchon lovers describe, that peerless voice talking to me in a way that no other author had before (or since), in my time and place, about so many things that seemed real and vital to me. Part of what Pynchon does for me is to capture much of the particular experience of growing up early in the Boomer years, getting across in his books -- Gravity's Rainbow especially -- a lot of the feeling of the late 30s and especially the 40s (when he was a kid) that I got by osmosis ( listening to them talk and their music, and the movies they loved, etc.) with my parents (father born in '22, mother in '33) , then the '50s I know myself from when I was a kid (born in '52), but he puts it through a '60s kaleidoscope that really brings it home to me in a perspective that reverberates with some of my own coming-of-age experiences -- being in the military, especially, peacetime, more or less, Army, and ever-grateful that they stopped sending draftees to Vietnam about the time I was finishing boot camp at Fort Ord, Monterrey, California -- although the day I shipped out to Korea, a crew came through Oakland Army Base where we were waiting for the bus to Travis Air Force Base, looking for clerks, cooks, and carpenters to send to Vietnam that day, so I spent the day hiding in the bathrooms,one step ahead of getting shanghai'd...

...but, that's another story altogether...

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Heard a thought-provoking (fleeting though the thoughts -- triggered by the notes of sadness and creative joy in Mda's voice as he talked about his work and its origins -- prove to have been, washed away in the flood of work on my own, far-less-interesting, unfortunately, book today) interview with Zakes Mda, author of the new novel, The Heart of Redness , on NPR's Morning Edition this morning. Echoes of Heart of Darkness, and Gravity's Rainbow.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Kekulé's nightmare:

A cobra bit a sleeping woman. She sank her teeth into it and threw it away. The snake went limp and died.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Of these cool Pynchon pix, I still like Pynchon the sailorman the best.

"Later on their bones were fished up again and made
into charcoal, and charcoal into ink, which Angelo,
having a dark sense of humor, used in all his subsequent
communications with Faggio, the present document
The Crying of Lot 49

"In January, two investigators from the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights had argued their way into the nearby Sheberghan prison. What they saw shocked them. More than 3,000 Taliban prisoners—who had surrendered to the victorious Northern Alliance forces at the fall of Konduz in late November—were crammed, sick and starving, into a facility with room for only 800. The Northern Alliance commander of the prison acknowledged the charnel-house conditions, but pleaded that he had no money. He begged the PHR to send food and supplies, and to ask the United Nations to dig a well so the prisoners could drink unpolluted water.

But stories of a deeper horror came from the prisoners themselves. However awful their conditions, they were the lucky ones. They were alive. Many hundreds of their comrades, they said, had been killed on the journey to Sheberghan from Konduz by being stuffed into sealed cargo containers and left to asphyxiate. Local aid workers and Afghan officials quietly confirmed that they had heard the same stories. They confirmed, too, persistent reports about the disposal of many of the dead in mass graves at Dasht-e Leili.

[...] How many are buried at Dasht-e Leili? Haglund won’t speculate. “The only thing we know is that it’s a very large site,” says a U.N. official privy to the investigation, and there was “a high density of bodies in the trial trench.” Other sources who have investigated the killings aren’t surprised. “I can say with confidence that more than a thousand people died in the containers,” says Aziz ur Rahman Razekh, director of the Afghan Organization of Human Rights. NEWSWEEK’s extensive inquiries of prisoners, truckdrivers, Afghan militiamen and local villagers—including interviews with survivors who licked and chewed each other’s skin to stay alive—suggest also that many hundreds of people died.

[...] The killings illustrate the problems America will face if it opts to fight wars by proxy, as the United States did in Afghanistan, using small numbers of U.S. Special Forces calling in air power to support local fighters on the ground. It also raises questions about the responsibility Americans have for the conduct of allies who may have no —interest in applying protections of the Geneva Conventions. The benefit in fighting a proxy-style war in Afghanistan was victory on the cheap—cheap, at any rate, in American blood. The cost, NEWSWEEK’s investigation has established, is that American forces were working intimately with “allies” who committed what could well qualify as war crimes."

The Death Convoy of Afghanistan, Newsweek magazine, 26 August 2002

Saturday, August 17, 2002

"[...] I feel obliged to speak the truth to my
contemporaries and I feel ashamed if they take me to
be someone whom I am not. In their opinion, a person
who "had faith" is fortunate. They assume that as a
result of certain inner experiences he was able to
find an answer, while they know only questions. So how
can I make a profession of faith in the presence of my
fellow human beings? After all, I am one of them,
seeking, as they do, the laws of inheritance, and I am
just as confused. [...] But what of death? I would say
that it has made an especially spectacular appearance
in my century and that it is the real heroine of the
literature and art which is contemporary with my
lifetime. Death has always accompanied us, and word,
line, color, sound drew their raison d'Ítre from
opposition to it; it did not, however, always behave
with the same majesty. The danse macabre that appears
in late medieval painting signified the desire to
domesticate death or to become familiar with it
through its ubiquitous presence, a friendly
partnership, as it were. Death was familiar, well
known, took part in feasts, had the right to
citizenship in the citÈ. Scientific-technological
civilization has no place for death, which is such an
embarrassment that it spoils all our calculations, but
it turns out that this is not for the best. For death
intrudes itself into our thoughts the less we wish to
think about it. And so literature and art start
referring to it incessantly, transforming themselves
into an areligious meditation on death and conducting
"pre-casket somatism," to borrow a phrase from
contemporary Polish poetry.

Here, perhaps, is where I part ways with many people
with whom I would like to be in solidarity but cannot
be. To put it very simply and bluntly, I must ask if I
believe that the four Gospels tell the truth. My
answer to this is: "Yes." So I believe in an
absurdity, that Jesus rose from the dead? Just answer
without any of those evasions and artful tricks
employed by theologians: "Yes or no?" I answer: "Yes,"
and by that response I nullify death's omnipotence. If
I am mistaken in my faith, I offer it as a challenge
to the Spirit of the Earth. He is a powerful enemy;
his field is the world as mathematical necessity, and
in the face of earthly powers how weak an act of faith
in the incarnate God seems†to†be.

I must add immediately that when thinking about my own
death or participating with my contemporaries in a
funeral ceremony, I am no different from them and my
imagination is rendered powerless just as theirs is:
it comes up against a blank wall. It is simply
impossible for me to form a spatial conception of
Heaven and Hell, and the images suggested by the world
of art or the poetry of Dante and Milton are of little
help. But the imagination can function only spatially;
without space the imagination is like a child who
wants to build a palace and has no blocks. So what
remains is the covenant, the Word, in which man
trusts. [...]

The child who dwells inside us trusts that there are
wise men somewhere who know the truth. That is the
source of the beauty and passion of intellectual
pursuits -- in philosophical and theological books, in
lecture halls. Various "initiations into mystery" were
also said to satisfy that need, be it through the
alchemist's workshop or acceptance into a lodge (let
us recall Mozart's Magic Flute). As we move from
youthful enthusiasms to the bitterness of maturity, it
becomes ever more difficult to anticipate that we will
discover the center of true wisdom, and then one day,
suddenly, we realize that others expect to hear
dazzling truths from us (literal or figurative)
graybeards. [...] "

If Only This Could Be Said by Czeslaw Milosz

At night down here, very often lately, Enzian will wake for no reason.
Was it really Him, pierced Jesus, who came to lean over you? The white
faggot's-dream body, the slender legs and soft gold European eyes . . .
did you catch a glimpse of olive cock under the ragged loincloth, did you
want to reach to lick at the sweat of his rough, his wooden bondage? Where
is he, what part of our Zone tonight, damn him to the knob of that nervous
imperial staff. . . .
Gravity's Rainbow p. 324

Friday, August 16, 2002

Blicero launching his love object in a blaze of glory
recalls Achilles as he sends his beloved Patroclus off
to die:

"Oh would to god--Father Zeus, Athena and lord Apollo--
not one of all these Trojans could flee his death, not one,
no Argive either, but we could stride from the slaughter
so we could bring Troy's hallowed crown of towers
topping down around us--you and I alone!"
-Iliad (16.115-19, translation by Robert Fagles)

Till the Light that hath brought the Towers low
Find the last poor Pret'rite one . . .
Gravity's Rainbow p. 760

"Learning how to fly took nature millions of years of trial and error - but a winged robot has cracked it in only a few hours, using the same evolutionary principles."
New Scientist

"Well, it's a beginning," she says. "It floats like a Duck,-- it fools other Ducks, who are quite sophisticated in these matters, into believing it a Duck. It's a Basis. Complexity of Character might develop, in time...."
Mason & Dixon, p. 667

Thursday, August 15, 2002

"[...] The crypto-fascist Philip Johnson famously dismissed Wright as the greatest architect of the 19th Century. [Perhaps, architects who build glass houses shouldn't throw stones.] There's a certain grain of truth about this, though not, certainly, in the sense that Johnson, who embodied the worst strains of modernism (and post-modernism), meant to convey.

Wright was a utopian, in the grand romantic tradition. He was grounded in Rousseau and often let slip that his favorite poets were Walt Whitman and the dreamy Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Along with fellow poet (and snitch) Robert Southey, Coleridge cooked up an idea for a utopian community in western Pennsylvania they called, somewhat clumsily for two poets capable of stunning lyricism, the Pantisocracy. They were going to pay for the land on the proceeds of a long poem chronicling the life and death of Robespierre. But the plan ultimately fell apart over violent disagreements between the two on sexual freedom (which Coleridge advocated) and slavery (which Coleridge abhorred). Interestingly, the Pantisocracy, charted out only on maps in Coleridge's house in Keswick, was to have been located not far from where Wright built his most famous house, Fallingwater. [...]

The early half of the 19th century was a time of incredible optimism and radicalism in the United States. In the 1840s, there were 100,000 people living in more than 150 socialist/utopian communities across the country. "Those towns stood for everything eccentric: for abolition, short skirts, whole-wheat bread, hypnotism, phonetic spelling, phrenology, free love and the common ownership of property,'' wrote the journalist Helen Beal Woodward in 1945 article on utopian communities. The Civil War largely put an end to all that, but the utopian spirit continued to thrive after the war, particularly in the prairie states, through the rise of the populist parties and the Wisconsin progressives. [...] the Jacobs House, and the dozens of Usonian designs that would follow, did more than that. It was truly one of the first environmentally-conscious designs, utilizing passive solar heating, natural cooling and lighting with his signature clerestory windows, native materials, radiant floor heating, and L-shaped floorplan that anchored the house around a garden terrace. [...] Why are we left only with the barest elements of the design, the cookie-cutter ranch houses that came to dominate the lots of suburban America?

There's no simple explanation. But one thing is clear. Wright's plans to revolutionize the American residential living space ran afoul of interests of the federal government. Think about this: in his 70-year career Wright didn't win one contract for a federal building. Not even during the heyday of the New Deal.

It all came down to politics. Wright's politics were vastly more complicated and honorable than that embodied by Howard Roark, Ayn Rand's self-serving portrait of Wright in her novel The Fountainhead. Sure there was a libertarian strain to Wright, which Rand seized on and distorted to her own perverse ends. But he also was drawn to the prairie populism espoused by the likes of the great Ignatius Donnelly. It's this version of Wright that makes an appearance in John dos Passos' USA trilogy.

Wright was a pacifist and his i outright opposition to war cost him government commissions, the great lifeline of the professional architect, especially during the Depression and World War II. [...] John Sergeant, in his excellent book on Wright's Usonian houses, argues that there's a mutual admiration between Wright and the noted anarchist, Peter Kropotkin. In 1899, Kropotkin moved to Chicago, living in the Hull House commune, set up by radical social reformer Jane Addams, where Wright often lectured, including a reading of his famous essay the Arts and Crafts Machine.

But, in those crucial decades of the 20s and 30s, Wright's political views seemed to align most snugly with Wisconsin progressives, as personified by the LaFollettes. In fact, Philip LaFollette served as Wright's attorney and sat on the board of Wright's corporation.

None of this escaped the attention of the authorities. From World War I to his final days, Wright found himself the subject of a campaign of surveillance, harassment and intimidation by the federal government. In 1941, 26 members of Wright's Taliesin fellowship signed a petition objecting to the draft and calling the war effort futile and immoral. The draft board sent the letter to the FBI, where it immediately came to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover, who already loathed Wright.

Twice Hoover himself demanded that the Justice Department bring sedition charges against Wright. He was rebuffed both times by the attorney general, but, typically, that only drove Hoover to expand the surveillance and harassment by his goons.

But, as a review of Wright's FBI file reveals, the Fed's interest in the architect extended far beyond his pacifism. Hoover's men recorded his dalliances with the Wobblies, his continuing attempts to combat the US government's dehumanization of the Japanese during and after the war, his rabble-rousing speeches on college campuses, his work for international socialists and third world governments, including Iraq, and his rather unorthodox views on sexual relations (the Feds noted that Wright seemed to have a particular obsession with Marlene Dietrich). [...]

Usonian Utopias: Frank Lloyd Wright, Working Class Housing and the FBI
by Jeffrey St. Clair

....Vineland echoes... not the WWW, the IWW....

"At least 30 al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay US naval base in Cuba have tried to commit suicide,doctors at the detention centre say."

"The Falun Gong says about 500 members have died in police custody in the past three years and tens of thousands more have been thrown in prison or sent to labor camps."

Repeat after me: "Vineland is only fiction."

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

... on that world-as-text tip:

"We need to recall the angel aspect of the word, recognizing words as independent carriers of soul between people. We need to recall that we do not make words up or learn them in school, or ever have them fully under control. Words, like angels, are powers which have invisible power over us. They are personal presences which have whole mythologies, genders, genealogies, (etymologies concerning origins and creations), histories and vogues; and their own guarding, blaspheming, creating, and annhilating effects. For words are pursuers. This aspect of the word transcends their nominalistic definitions and contexts and evokes in our souls a universal resonance. Without the inherence of soul in words, speech would not move us, word would not provide forms for carrying our lives and giving sense to our deaths."

-James Hillman
Re-Visioning Psychology

"Finally somebody has begun to talk out loud about what must change, and what must be left behind, if we are to navigate the perilous turn of this millennium and survive."
--Thomas Pynchon
(in his support quote for We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World's Getting Worse by James Hillman and Michael Ventura)

"a screaming comes across the sky"

"[...] Writing in The New York Times, just over a month
after the terrorist attack, Putnam found a nation
“achingly familiar” to the America that had been
stunned by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. He
went on to depict the vast government-backed
grass-roots effort that “taught ‘the greatest
generation’ an enduring lesson in civic
involvement”—an effort that included everything from
the Civil Defense Corps to the Red Cross, from victory
gardens to Boy Scouts collecting scrap and selling war

“All Americans felt they had to do their share,
thereby enhancing each American’s sense that her
commitment and contribution mattered,” he wrote. “As
one said later in an oral history of the home front:
‘You just felt that the stranger sitting next to you
in a restaurant, or someplace, felt the same way you
did about the basic issues.’”
Overall, Americans have kept on a remarkably even
keel, compared with what happened in past wars.

Dr. Putnam is no doubt well-meaning, but his
characterization of the home front in World War II is
also an object lesson in just how careful one has to
be in making the future over in the image of the past.
The war effort at home was undoubtedly one of the
proudest episodes—and possibly the most important
episode—in our history, perhaps even more vital than
the great sacrifices made by our men at the front. It
was U.S. production that sustained not only our own
forces but those of all our allies and that brought
victory around the world. This was not merely a
victory of quantity, either, but one accomplished
while preserving almost all the rights and privileges
of a free people. The war proved that a democracy
could triumph over any modern totalitarian ideology,
something that had seemed very much in doubt just a
few years earlier.

The triumph was incontrovertible, but it did not come
out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The America of the
Second World War was a turbulent and often frightening
place, characterized by immense social upheaval and
dislocation. It might well have been true that the
stranger sitting next to you in a restaurant felt the
same way about things—unless, that is, he or she
happened to be of a different race. Inasmuch as color
was the deepest fissure in American society, it is not
surprising that during the war we fractured most often
along this line.

The most infamous case, of course, was the forced
detention of some 110,000 Japanese-Americans in barren
desert camps while their property was sold off for a
pittance—and their sons formed some of the most
decorated fighting units of the war. But racial
hysteria was hardly restricted to Asian-Americans. In
1943 alone there were 242 race riots in 47 cities as
the war sparked an epic migration of both poor
Southern blacks and whites into urban ports and
industrial centers. The worst was in Detroit, in 1943,
where white mobs ended up roaming through the city’s
downtown, shouting, “Here’s some fresh meat!” while
they beat and shot any African-Americans they
found—often with the help of the local police. Before
it was all over, 34 people died, and pictures of the
riot were gleefully plastered across the pages of
Signal, Germany’s leading picture magazine, as proof
that a “mongrel” country could not win the war.

Discrimination remained routine in all industries,
with blacks making less money than whites for the same
jobs, and with whites frequently refusing to work with
them anyway. The great black labor leader A. Philip
Randolph had to threaten to lead a massive protest
march in Washington, D.C., before the Roosevelt
administration would commit to equal pay for equal
work on war projects.

Elsewhere, protests were not so availing. Mob assaults
on black civilians and even soldiers continued
throughout the Deep South, and the sad fact remains
that the greatest generation was also the last
lynching generation. [...]

The business of the war was sometimes just as sordid.
Harry Truman’s Senate committee turned up one case
after another of war profiteering, and at least 20
percent of Americans surveyed admitted that they
viewed the black market as a legitimate means of
procuring consumer goods.[...] "

continues at:
September 11 vs. December 7 Did Americans behave better back then? by Kevin Baker

Vineland echo...

"Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps
for U.S. citizens he deems to be "enemy combatants"
has moved him from merely being a political
embarrassment to being a constitutional menace.

"Ashcroft's plan, disclosed last week but little
publicized, would allow him to order the indefinite
incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip
them of their constitutional rights and access to the
courts by declaring them enemy combatants.

"The proposed camp plan should trigger immediate
congressional hearings and reconsideration of
Ashcroft's fitness for this important office. Whereas
Al Qaeda is a threat to the lives of our citizens,
Ashcroft has become a clear and present threat to our

"The camp plan was forged at an optimistic time for
Ashcroft's small inner circle, which has been
carefully watching two test cases to see whether this
vision could become a reality. The cases of Jose
Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi will determine whether
U.S. citizens can be held without charges and subject
to the arbitrary and unchecked authority of the
government. [...] "

...continues at
Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision
Attorney general shows himself as a menace to liberty. by Jonathan Turley

(originally published on Wednesday, August 14, 2002 in the Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

...World-as-Text, OK, so let's inscribe a Line on the
world, lots of Lines, divide it up, measure
everything, experiment, slice and dice, analyze,
control, oops, "Control" turns out to be an illusion,
the world resists, the green resurrection miraculously
prevails until vertical Lines (drilling through
horizontal strata to suck out the beyond-the-zero Thanatoid
ghost life of dead dinosaurs; "they paved Paradise and
they put up a parking lot" -- the Mall that follows
the Line as history converges to Italian opera --
quoting a 60's songwriter Pynchon is said to have quoted
in an early draft of GR) suck the very life out of
the living Earth, until the final light flashes as we
bring the Towers and everything else crashing down
around us, in that last delta-t of the World-Is-Text
ex/im/ploding, that carefully-calculated atom bomb
coming back to bite us on the ass bigger and badder
than any Frankenstein's monster, but that Duck can
continue to cut through glowing clouds, impervious,
faithfully following the Line, its world shrunk down
to a single inscribed Line, billing and cooing with
Werner von Braun on the other side where nothing ever
really dies...

...and now for something not quite completely different, thanks to Dave Monroe:

Saturday, August 10, 2002

"The list would grow to nearly a dozen in the space of four nerve-jangling months. [...] What joined these men was their proximity to the world of bioterror and germ warfare. Que, the one who was car-jacked, was a researcher at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Wiley, the most famous, knew as much as anyone about how the immune system responds to attacks from viruses like Ebola. Pasechnik was Russian, and before he defected, he helped the Soviets transform cruise missiles into biological weapons. The chain of deaths -- these three men and eight others like them -- began last fall, back when emergency teams in moonsuits were scouring the Capitol, when postal workers were dying, when news agencies were on high alert and the entire nation was afraid to open its mail. In more ordinary times, this cluster of deaths might not have been noticed, but these are not ordinary times. Neighbors report neighbors to the F.B.I.; passengers are escorted off planes because they make other passengers nervous; medical journals debate what to publish, for fear the articles will be read by evil eyes. Now we are spooked and startled by stories like these -- all these scientists dying within months of one another, at the precise moment when tiny organisms loom as a gargantuan threat. The stories of these dozen or so deaths started out as a curiosity and were transformed rumor by rumor into the specter of conspiracy as they circulated first on the Internet and then in the mainstream media. What are the odds, after all? What are the odds, indeed? For this is not about conspiracy but about coincidence -- unexpected connections that are both riveting and rattling. Much religious faith is based on the idea that almost nothing is coincidence; science is an exercise in eliminating the taint of coincidence; police work is often a feint and parry between those trying to prove coincidence and those trying to prove complicity."
New York Times, 11 August 2002

"Like other sorts of paranoia, it is nothing less than the onset, the leading edge, of the discovery that everything is connected, everything in the Creation, a secondary illumination--not yet blindingly One, but at least connected, and perhaps a route In for those like Tchitcherine who are held at the edge. . . ."
(Gravity's Rainbow, 703)