The Chumps of Choice

A Congenial Spot for the Discussion of Against the Day, by Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Cornell '59, and Any Other Damned Thing That Comes Into Our Heads. Warning: Grad Students and Willie-Wavers will be mocked.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Inevitable, isn't it? Though our mission here is to present Against the Day to those who are unfamiliar, indeed wary, of the woiks of T.R. Pynchon (Cornell '59), commentators have already slipped into the slopstream of casting ahead in the work in question (spoilers are verboten here), as well as adding considerations of the other novels.

Like I said, Inevitable. So rather than be a constant scold, I propose a section for Pynchon Pickers Only, called, Ha-ha!, The House of Seven Babblers (a very dumb lit. ref. which Pynchon pimps will tumble to in a trice) for all matters pertaining to the collected works which, let me emphasize, Have No Application In Our Reading Of Against the Day. (And NB, even there, ATD spoilers will be ruled very harshly indeed.)

Certainly it is helpful to point out favored themes of Mr. P's as we encounter them in the new novel, but let's leave it at that in general comments and save all hermetic discussions (which newbies are here warned away from) for The House.

As I am up for the next section, I'll post an entry for The House immediately before I send the main rundown, so as it will sit beneath it and not otherwise trouble the innocent or unwary.



At Wednesday, December 13, 2006 10:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I've mentioned other Pynchon novels twice. One mention was to point out a theme which runs through a lot of his work, but the other was just irrelevant in-jokery and I promise not to do it any more.

At Wednesday, December 13, 2006 12:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm a little torn...

on one hand, not mentioning other Pynchon books (of which i've only read 1) is polite to people who haven't read any. on the other hand, Pynchon's books are jam-packed full of references to all kinds of things i (and many other people, i'm sure) have never seen, heard or read.

obviously, if nobody mentioned any of that other non-Pynchon stuff while trying to analyze AtD, there would be nothing to say.

so, the issue for me is: is Pynchon referencing his other books the way he's referencing all that other stuff, or is he just reusing themes and imagery without intending anyone to make connections to his other stuff ?

and, if we think he is referencing his other stuff, am i missing out, having not read those books, if nobody talks about it ?

damn, i wish my job was busy today...

At Wednesday, December 13, 2006 1:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drift's okay with this newbie. I'm a born digressor and I file away all the references to other works for future reference. But I understand your logic and am happy to be carried by the current.

At Wednesday, December 13, 2006 1:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would be "future use". After a certain number of sleepless nights, the brain turns to scrambled eggs and word choice suffers.

At Wednesday, December 13, 2006 1:41:00 PM, Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

As a newbie, I have no problem with references across the Pynchon oeuvre if it elucidates his themes and obsessions, makes me interested in the other books, and otherwise keeps the conversation interesting.

Just so long as we don't get entirely sidetracked from ATD.

At Thursday, December 14, 2006 12:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read Neddie's original injunction against the invocation of the Pynchon canon as necessitated by a particular type of reader (one who is often, and unfortunately, found in the halls of academe): the kind of person who likes to use knowledge to intimidate and silence others.

To me, links to other works (be they books by Pynchon or others) are fine, so long as they are proffered in a generous spirit and meant to elucidate the current text. Posters should take particular care, when they discuss other works, to make sure that they aren't assuming that others share their knowledge.

At Thursday, December 14, 2006 9:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, at least re: linking thoughts to another of the author's works, within the boundaries suggested. I'm very much more wary of the spoiler, or the spoiler-in-disguise ("keep your eyes open for..."). I feel strongly this is a trail to be hiked alone, allowing the joy of discovery intended by the author to be experienced by the hiker/reader. Our conversation here can be enjoyed in a retrospective manner, a round-the-campfire meeting at the end of a long hiking day, discussing and comparing our individual experiences, to painfully extend an awkward, shallow metaphor.

My opinion, yours?

At Friday, December 15, 2006 12:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Pynchon newbie, I don't mind the references to other books so long as they're clearly flagged as such.

Just so I'm not reading the comments thinking 'WTF?'

The 'beyond the zero' explanation was very useful though.

Thus far I'm liking the whole boys own thing. I loved all the Willard Price novels when I was a kid but had totally forgotten them until now.

I'm also vaguely recollecting that putting "modern" words into quote marks is a hallmark of some adventure stories written in the 50s. However I'm sure that there are other levels that you won't be shy about explaining.

I'm enjoying it all so far...

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