All right, so we're not gonna start discussing the book until Monday. That doesn't mean we can't admire the packaging, right?
I've found out a couple of interesting things about the cover and front matter of the Tome. I'm going to split them into two posts, so we get two threads of conversation going. (Still feeling our way, here, foax!)
An intrepid poster over at Pynchon-L (the listserv dedicated to Our Artificer, an anarchic and fascinating, if bruising, place -- take it from someone who knows) got curious about the red seal that appears on the cover -- that squiggly thing that we've oh-so-imaginatively appropriated for our own bug at the top of the right column over there. One Ya Sam took a flyer at it, and had this to report:
I contacted the Tibetan Cultural Centre with the request to translate the mysterious legend on the AtD seal. They were kind enough to forward my request to the Tibetan translator Tenzin Namgyal to whose generosity we owe the solution of one more AtD related mystery.I have absolutely no idea what to make of this, but I can say from dire experience that it cracks my ass right up. As Sandy Belth, Ya Sam's correspondent at the Tibetan Cultural Center quite sensibly suggests, "Why Pynchon has chosen to place this on the cover of his book is anyone's guess.... Perhaps after one has read it?" Sister, you said a mouthful.
It is the Tibetan language, alright, and it means ...... Tibetan Government Chamber of Commerce.
This brings to mind an incident from your correspondent's own experience, years and years ago. Early in my own brash days at Pynchon-L, during the preliminary warmups and stretching before the Main Event -- a group reading of Mason & Dixon -- there arose the topic of the ampersand prominently displayed on the front cover of the very newly published book. I noted the mellifluous name of Raquel Jaramillo listed as the designer of the book's jacket. Being young and fearless (and having once been in the book-design game myself for a few years), I looked up Henry Holt in the phonebook, dialed 'em up:
"Henry Holt, publishers."
"Hi, may I speak with Raquel Jaramillo, please?"
"Certainly, sir, please hold."
"Hello, Raquel speaking."
Wow. Easy as that.
"Hi, I'm Neddie Jingo. I'm an Internet Creep." (I may not actually have phrased it quite like that, but it sure sounded that way coming out of my mouth.)
Having won her trust with my honeyed words, I extracted from her a fascinating tale about that ampersand. Pynchon had worked closely with her on the design of the jacket, being very fussy about the look of the type, which had been scanned from period documents and manipulated in Photoshop to appear just so. But he was not happy with any of the ampersands in her collection -- either scanned from old papers or ginned up from her type catalog.
Then one day, he appeared triumphantly in her studio with just the right ampersand, which he'd found in a previously overlooked document from his research. Raquel scanned it, ran a few filters, and presto. There it was.
So you can be absolutely certain that that Tibetan Government Chamber of Commerce seal means something. It ain't there by accident.
Let's take that one as an Action Item, eh?
And wouldn't that make a great tattoo for the other arm, eh, Will?
Tomorrow: That Thelonious Monk Quote.