Thursday, July 22, 2004

the joy of reading Pynchon

"Kids that can't read don't ever get the opportunity to: (a) See subtitled Chow Yun-Fat movies, (b) Read their own Bazooka Joe comics, (c) Start but never finish a Thomas Pynchon novel and (d) Find out what happened between the randy tennis pro and the eager students in the July 1988 edition of Penthouse Forum," reports the Las Vegas Mercury. The newspaper urges readers to volunteer to help children learn to enjoy reading.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

new article on Mason & Dixon

...from pynchon-l:

A Patch of England, at a three-thousand mile off-set"? Representing America in Mason & Dixon
by Stacey Olster, 1 July 2004, Modern Fiction Studies 283, Volume 50; Issue 2
Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon ends with the death of Charles Mason in 1786 and the decision of his two eldest children to stay in Philadelphia and "be Americans." As to what constitutes that nationality, however, Pychon remains silent, writes Olster. Here, she discusses the literary representation of America in relation to the colonial England in Pynchon's novel.

Monday, July 19, 2004

shooting electricity

A holy man in northern India says drugs don't cut it, he has to touch live electricity wires every day to get his fix, Ananova reports:
Sadhu Mangal Das alias 'Current Baba', touches a naked wire at least three times every day to become 'intoxicated'. It's reported he brushed against a live wire sometime ago and found the sensation to be so good he can no longer do without his daily dose. The man from Bahorisar in Uttar Pradesh said he tried the electricity wires because drugs failed to excite him, says The Hindustan Times. The 54-year-old also tried getting bitten by snakes and scorpions. He also tried drinking potions made from poisonous seeds. Dr Amit Chaturvedi of the Lalitpur Civil Hospital said: "The human body can absorb currents up to 12 volts. In this case however, repeated exposure to electricity seems to have built up his body's tolerance levels to as much as 16 volts."
Gravity's Rainbow, p. 698:
Son, been wondering about this, ah, "screwing in" you kids are doing. This matter of the, shooting electricity into head, ha-ha?
Mason & Dixon, p. 286:
"A childhood Misadventure with a Torpedo," Dixon, with a brief move of his toward Mason, confides,"--thus his Sensitivity at all References to the," -- whispering,-- "electrickal!"
V., p. 78:
Bongo-Shaftsbury smiled. He rolled up the shirt cuff and thrust the naked underside of his arm at the girl. Shiny and black, sewn into the flesh, was a miniature electric switch. Single-pole, double-throw. Waldetar recoiled and stood blinking. Thin silver wires ran from its terminals up the arm, disappearing under the sleeve.
"You see, Mildred. These wires run into my brain. When the switch is closed like this I act the way I do now. When it is thrown the other--"
"Papa!" the girl cried.
"Everything works by electricity. Simple and clean."

"Why did Bush knock down the towers?"

Jadakiss asks.

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

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Germany avoids Herero reparations

Germany has rejected calls to pay compensation for the killing of thousands of Namibia's ethnic Hereros during the colonial era. The German ambassador to Botswana told a gathering of Hereros in northern Botswana that Germany deeply regretted what he called "this unfortunate past". However, he said it was not prepared to offer reparations.

Some 1,000 Hereros were there to mark the killing of their ancestors who rebelled against German rule in 1904. They used the meeting to renew demands for $4bn in compensation, to be paid by the German government and by companies who they say benefited from slavery and exploitation under German rule.

But Ambassador Hans-Dietrich von Bothmer said German development aid was intended to benefit all Namibians, not just one ethnic group. Correspondents say Mr von Bothmer's speech was virtually identical to one delivered by his counterpart in Namibia, Wolfgang Massing, at a previous ceremony in January.

Between 35,000 and 105,000 of the Hereros living in Namibia lost their lives in the 12 January 1904 massacre, while thousands of others fled to neighbouring Botswana.

the hacker we call God

Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds, p. 560:
...Calvin had shared all that he had felt, or that for a moment their thoughts--and more--had liquified and flowed indivisibly, along with a trillion others. And that he understood perfectly what had happened, because in the moment of shared wisdom, all his questions had been answered.
"We were read weren't we? .... For a moment I think we were linked to every other piece of information ever known; every thought ever thought, or at least ever captured by the light."
"A computer," Calvin said...."That's what Hades is. A computer made out of nuclear matter, the mass of a star devoted to processing information, storing it. And this light is an aperture into it; a way to enter the computational matrix.
Vineland, pp. 90-91:
If patterns of ones and zeros were "like" patterns of human lives and deaths, if everything about an individual could be represented in a computer record by a long string of ones and zeros, then what kind of creature would be represented by a long string of lives and deaths? It would have to be up one level at least - an angel, a minor god, something in a UFO. It would take eight human lives and deaths just to form one character in this being's name - its complete dossier might take up a considerable piece of the history of the world. We are digits in God's computer, she not so much thought as hummed to herself to a sort of standard gospel tune. And the only thing we're good for, to be dead or to be living, is the only thing He sees. What we cry, what we contend for, in our world of toil and blood, it all lies beneath the notice of the hacker we call God.
Gravity's Rainbow, pp. 650-651:
Anyone shows us the meanest hope of transcending and the Committee on Incandescent Anomalies comes in and takes him away. Some do protest, maybe, here and there, but it's only information, glow-modulated, harmless, nothing close to the explosions in the faces of the powerful that Byron once envisioned back there in his Baby ward, in his innocence.