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.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Additional Discussion, pp. 156-188

Chumps: Here's where we discuss this week's section (pp. 156-188) as it may relate to other Pynchon novels. Remember, this post is only for discussion of that kind; comments related to this week's section of AtD go in SFMike's post, which will appear tomorrow (Monday, Jan. 29).

13 Comments:

At Monday, January 29, 2007 2:20:00 AM, Blogger René López Villamar said...

""from then on, whenever a dynamite blast went off, even far away out of earshot, something concurrent was triggered somewhere in Lew's consciousness...after a while even if one was only about to go off.""

I guess now would be a good time to start speaking about Tyrone, and Beyond the Zero, and all those GR delightful moments. Do you think we could expect more moments like this?

 
At Monday, January 29, 2007 5:50:00 AM, Anonymous cleek said...

Do you think we could expect more moments like this?

yes.

but i can say no more without giving anything away.

 
At Monday, January 29, 2007 9:08:00 AM, Blogger sfmike said...

Fleetwood Vibe's short Transvaal interlude reminded me of Chapter Nine, "Mondaugen's Story," in "V." which was the most disturbing section of that book, with its outrageously racist white overlords having a sex-and-death orgy during a siege in a country house in South Africa early in the 20th century.

Also, Richard Wagner's Nibelungen, and especially Shaw's anti-capitalist interpretation of the operas in "The Perfect Wagnerite," keeps coming to mind during the mining sequences in "Against The Day."

I never made it through "Gravity's Rainbow," but if I remember correctly, Tyrone would get a hard-on before a (silent) V-2 rocket would explode in London. Do I have that right? And thanks, cleek, for the "no spoiler" comment. I'm only up to page 300.

 
At Monday, January 29, 2007 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Mike P said...

I also keep thinking of Wagner's ring when I read the mining sequences in AtD. Especially that cool part in the music where the tuned anvils are played to represent the descent into the Nibelungens' lair.

 
At Monday, January 29, 2007 12:44:00 PM, Blogger Will Divide said...

Slothrop would have sex across London and keep track of his conquests by putting stars on a grid map of the city in his office. His office mate (was it Roger Mexico? I can't recall) notices that the points coincide with direct hits of V2 rockets, indicating that Slothrop's erections accurately predict those events, something of which Slothrop is unaware.

 
At Monday, January 29, 2007 12:54:00 PM, Blogger Neddie said...

Tyrone would get a hard-on before a (silent) V-2 rocket would explode in London. Do I have that right?

And this reversal of stimulus and response is mirrored in the behavior of the V-2 rocket itself; as a supersonic device, you hear its approach only after it's arrived. If "a screaming comes across the sky," it means the rocket has already arrived and exploded, and you've survived.

 
At Monday, January 29, 2007 12:57:00 PM, Blogger Neddie said...

Please excuse the whopping dangling participle in my previous comment. I can only shake my head in wonder at the marvels wrought by my excellent new buddy Percocet.

 
At Monday, January 29, 2007 6:08:00 PM, Blogger Monstro said...

Mmmm... Are we NOT spoiling GR, because, mmmm, that's not exactly it, right? I mean, Slothrop CALLS the rocket, or at least that's what THEY believe.

But in any case, seems like a combination of Slothrop and Pirate in some ways. Whenever there's an explosion, Lew gets an halucination. Am I reading that right?

 
At Monday, January 29, 2007 9:41:00 PM, Blogger René López Villamar said...

but i can say no more without giving anything away.

Thanks for the advance, cleek. Now a really ominous thought strikes me. Could this be Pynchon's final novel?

 
At Thursday, February 01, 2007 11:06:00 PM, Anonymous foolishmortal said...

Yes, I believe that it is, or at least Pynchon thinks so. I can't remember why I feel that way: about 3/4 of the way through, something like loss hit me, kind of like grief coming before a death. Off the top of my head, reasons to think it might be: Pynchon seems to be reiterating all of the themes from his previous works much more strongly than he does elsewhere ("Single up all lines!") He may be writing "against the day" himself. And I remember the penultimate chapter being uncharacteristically sloppy, as if he might be hastily getting it to press. I know, no specific good reasons there, but still, that's my feeling

 
At Saturday, February 03, 2007 1:15:00 PM, Blogger Monte Davis said...

Kit's "scholarship" at Yale:

"Come to think of it, Slothrop never could quite put the announcements, all through the Depression, of imminent family ruin, together with the comfort he enjoyed at Harvard... I’ve been sold, Jesus Christ I’ve been sold to IG Farben like a side of beef." (GR 286)

Colfax, the friendly aristocratic athlete:

"If anybody could’ve saved that harp, betcha Jack [Kennedy] could. Slothrop admires him from a distance—he’s athletic, and kind,
and one of the most well liked fellows in Slothrop’s class." (58)

Fleetwood and the Kaffir: Mondaugen and Weissmann dispensing death as a choice, a benison, in Sudwest Afrika (both V. and GR)

"Lew had too much trouble even locating jackets on individual cases to be able to stand back and put any of it together, but what he could begin to see was that both sides in this were organized" (177). Now think of Tyrone piecing together the cartel deals beneath the so-called "World War II."

182: "the Kid, or whoever he was, sort of faded into the mobility, and Lew didn’t see him again for a while."

This old precursor of "mob" is used in this sense just a few times in AtD... but surprise! it's just all over Mason & Dixon, innit?

Pynchon likes the double meaning; throughout his work he identifies the powers that be with fixity and stasis, his outsiders with yo-yoing, roaming (Merle and young Dahlia), and generally lighting out for the Territory...

 
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