Friday, September 10, 2004

Grabar redux

From a PYNCHON-L post by Pynchon scholar, Prof. John M. Krafft today:
....But what I really wanted to say is, can you believe that Grabar wrote a dissertation called "Analogies between Nazi culture and American Culture" (2003) on Pynchon, Percy and DeLillo? Only in light of this week's propaganda piece might a reader of her dissertation's abstract suspect some skepticism or other reservation in her use of phrases like "Pynchon promotes the thesis" and "Percy likewise implies." So, did she betray her life-long patriotism in writing her dissertation just to get past a nasty committee of America-hating bullies, or has she recently betrayed her scholarly self for reasons I won't speculate about?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

add slick-talkin' Pynchon to the hate-America crew, froths Mary Grabar

And so while my colleagues in smooth, even tones criticized Senator Zell Miller's speech at the Republican National Convention for its "zeal" and "mean-spiritedness," I saw a like-minded citizen outraged at what had happened to this country, for I too was outraged first by the attack from the outside on 9/11 and then by the attack from the very building where I worked on 9/12 and after. The time and situation demanded outrage, and Zell Miller through his words and his unflinching steely gazed delivery presented that much needed message. It was a message and form of delivery so true that no one, not even the President, had dared to express it in such a way. There was, thankfully, no moderation to Senator Miller's address. Miller blazed forth and dared to call evil by its name and shake his fist at those who refused to recognize it, much less fight it. He was like the prophet who came down from the mountain, and his case, from one in North Georgia. There is a blight on the land; someone needed to say it.

Rightly, he criticized those who blame conflicts on American "clumsy and misguided foreign" policy. Senator Miller may be unaware of it, but the "slick talkers" with tenure would have responded in the expected way to any kind of attack on the United States. In fact, there was a certain schadenfreude expressed in their editorials and e-mail messages after 9/11. Many protested sending troops to Afghanistan after 9/11 and were critical of the way that campaign was conducted.           

But this anti-Americanism did not begin with the war in Iraq. In the mid-nineties I had the opportunity to experience first-hand the promotion of such a view in a class on the modern novel, in which the major text was Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Indeed, Senator Miller, had he had known about it, would have been outraged back then to hear a popular professor promote the idea that agreed with Pynchon's claim that, rather than being liberators of the Nazi concentration camps, the U.S. was a major player in the regime's inception. The novel, after a string of descriptions of sado-masochistic acts involving children (connected, of course, with the West/U.S./Nazi regime), ends with the indictment of the latest in what Pynchon presents as a long line of fascist presidents, Richard Nixon. Pynchon's book is nothing but a long, hallucinatory propaganda piece that in a disjointed post-modernist style distorts history in order to equate Nazism with Western civilization.
...from: Zell and the Converts by Mary Grabar

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

a screaming comes across the sky

V2 launching from Pennemuende

John Clarke was six years old when the first V-2 rocket to hit London landed outside his house in Chiswick in the west of the capital. "The best way of describing it is television with the sound off. You're deafened, that's what it boils down to. Seeing an airing cupboard crumple in front of you without a sound is an eerie experience," he says. John's sister, Rosemary Ann, was killed that Friday in 1944. She was three. "There wasn't a mark on Rosemary. The blast goes up and comes down in a mushroom or umbrella shape," Mr Clarke explains. "But in the process of that, my sister's lungs collapsed. She was deprived of air." Rosemary had been in the front upstairs bedroom of the Clarke family residence at 1, Staveley Road, when the explosion ripped their house apart. John was in the bathroom, upstairs at the rear of the house. "I got a piece of the bomb casing in the back of my hand which has created a scar. But I still have full use of my hand - I was very fortunate. The bathroom upstairs didn't collapse. But one of the bedrooms next to it did, which I found very strange as a boy."

....In all, over 1,300 V-2s were fired at England, killing 2,724 people. Germany struck Antwerp in Belgium with 1,265 V-2s and Paris with hundreds more. An accurate count of casualties on the continent is not available.
...from: V-2: Hitler's last weapon of terror, a BBC News story about the V2 attacks on London 60 years ago this week.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

never another u, always another V

...ideas of a secret theocracy in the East were supplemented by the spiritual power of vril in the "Nazi Mysteries." In his novel The Coming Race (1871), Sir Edward Eulwer-Lytton had attributed this power to a subterranean race of men, the Vril-ya, psychically far in advance of the human species. The powers of vril (most likely derived from the Latin virile) included telepathy and telekinesis....Willy Ley, who emigrated to the United States in 1935 after a short career as a rocket engineer in Germany, wrote a short account of the pseudo-scientific ideas that had found some official acceptance during the Third Reich. Besides Horbiger's World Ice Theory and a Hollow Earth Doctrine, both of which found leading Nazi patrons, Ley recalled a Berlin sect that had engaged in meditation exercises focusing on a bisected apple, in order to penetrate the secret of vril.
...from Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, p. 113

Mason & Dixon, p. 548:
"A complete, largely unsens'd World, held within our own [...] waiting for some Summons to Light" .