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

Ivy League Exploration and Cowboy Anarchists

Pages 156-188

After last week's deeply disturbing Northern Saga that morphed into a Horror Show, it was a relief to start page 156 with a lighthearted scene of Ivy League merriment in the Taft Hotel where the annual Yale-Harvard football game is being celebrated by "young men in striped mufflers knitted by sweethearts who had dutifully included rows of flask-size pockets." Our young hero Kit Travers finally meets his benefactor, Scarsdale Vibe, who relates a funny aphorism about Harvard being like a Tibetan prayer wheel, then slanders his own children as "the crockful of cucumbers I have sired," before offering Kit "a hefty trust fund, inheriting uncounted millions when I'm dead." Kit defends one of Vibe's sons, Colfax, a sweetly honest jock who is his Yale roommate, and rejects Vibe's offer of an inherited fortune. "Apologies, but with no idea how you've gone about earning it, I couldn't add much to it -- more likely be spending the rest of my life in courtrooms fighting off the turkey buzzards, not how I was fixing to occupy my adult years, exactly."

Kit is enthralled with "vectorism," which I don't understand even remotely no matter how many Wikipedia articles I read. The only reason Kit enjoys Yale is because of "the kindness and genius of [Professor Josiah] Willard Gibbs," who is an absolutely fascinating historical figure, the seventh in a long line of distinguished Yale scholars (his father was the "Amistad" Gibbs), and the founder of what is known as "vector calculus." There's a great quote attributed to him: "A mathematician may say anything he pleases, but a physicist must be at least partially sane." (photo of Gibbs below)

In a quick segue of time and place (bottom of page 159), Colfax Vibe invites Kit out to "the Long Island cottage" in the early spring, said cottage being "four stories tall, square, unadorned, dark stone facing ... Despite its aspect of abandonment, an uneasy tenancy was still pursued within, perhaps by some collateral branch of was unclear." The second floor is where the unnamed ghosts hang out, along with Fleetwood Vibe, who we met last week on page 138 through his diary during the ill-fated Vormance Expedition.

But before Fleetwood is seriously reintroduced, there is a soft-porn S/M scene between Kit and Colfax's Cousin Dittany in the horse stables. This is followed by a description of the unconventional family arrangements between Scarsdale Vibe, his wife Edwina (nee Beef) who has become a Thespian in Greenwich Village while living next door to Scarsdale's scandalous brother R. Wilshire Vibe, who also dabbles in the theatrical arts. We could almost be reading early Evelyn Waugh circa "Vile Bodies."

On page 164, Kit takes a walk on the estate with Fleetwood Vibe who may be alive or may be a ghost, it's not particularly clear. "They [the Vibe clan] don't actually know I'm here," he confided to Kit. "If they do, it's only in the way some can detect ghosts -- though you may have noticed already these are not the most spiritual of people." Their ensuing conversation about vectors and portals into other worlds is mystical, and contrasts with the banality of most explorations as described by Fleetwood: "all my colleagues care about is finding waterfalls. The more spectacular the falls, the better the chance for an expensive hotel."

He continues with a story about one of the "queer characters" he encountered while exploring in Eastern Africa, one Yitzhak Zilberfeld, "out traveling in the world scouting possibilities for a Jewish homeland." A discussion of Home and Zionism devolves into a Borscht Belt comedy routine when they're charged by an elephant and Fleetwood delivers the "Depends upon how much he's charging -- try to talk him down a little?" punchline while Yitzhak cries "Anti-Semitic!" All ends well, however, with a local paper trumpeting the news, "SAVES JEW FROM INSANE ELEPHANT." Zilberfeld tells Fleetwood that South Africa is the place to make a fortune. "There's fifty-thousand Chinese coolies all lined up, sleeping on the docks from Tientsin to Hong Kong, waiting to be shipped into the Transvaal the minute the shooting [from the Boer War] stops..." This leads to an offstage outburst from Scarsdale Vibe who is "mouth-foaming" because "This money is coming from nowhere."

On page 168, the backstory continues with the ghostly Fleetwood reviewing his African adventures which eventually find him in the Transvaal, murdering a laborer who has possibly stolen a diamond by giving him a choice between being shot or throwing himself down a mine shaft. The African chooses the latter, which comes to haunt Fleetwood's dreams and his soul, "warning that there was some grave imbalance in the structure of the world, which would have to be corrected. Then each time Fleetwood would be not so much overcome by remorse as bedazzled at having been shown the secret backlands of wealth, and how sooner or later it depended on some act of murder, seldom limited to once." Feeling like a cursed man, he joins the Vormance Expedition to get away north to "the purity, the geometry, the cold," and as we already know, that doesn't work out so well.

On page 171, the narrative takes us back in time and space to Colorado, where our Accidental Detective, Lew Basnight, has been exiled from Chicago by White City Investigations. His main investigative focus is on a legendary anarchist bomber, the Kieselguhr Kid, and Lew roams the mountains and trails of Colorado trying to pick up info on the Kid and other enemies of the mining owners. However, Lew finds his political sympathies shifting from a "convenient insulation...from too much sympathy for either victim or perpetrator" to outright sympathy with the workers. He muses about slinging "a frozen pile of the next silk hat he saw serenely borne along in the street, the next mounted policeman beating on an unprotected striker." Lew also realizes that the struggle in Colorado isn't "just unconnected skirmishing, a dynamite blast here and there, a few shots from ambush -- it was a war between two full-scale armies."

Lew soldiers on out of his baroquely messy office in Denver, with its stacks of files on all the various characters in Colorado, and notices "the really odd thing...was that the names of owners' operatives were also turning up among his files on the mine workers." In other words, he begins to suspect that there are plenty of false-flag anarchist bombings actually perpetrated by the owners and the strikebreaking vigilantes.

On page 179, after an unspecified number of years at this task, Lew's boss Nate Privett arrives in Denver for his annual tour of inspection, and when Lew complains that the Kieselguhr Kid case "is a bitch, and growing more difficult every day," Nate gives him a song-and-dance about how "we are only as good as our credibility, which is what Regional Operative-in-Charge Lew Basnight's been giving us here, what with the kind of respect you enjoy in the business--" to which Lew replies, "Oh, your mother's ass, Nate. Your own, for that matter. No hard feelings." On page 181, Lew gets drunk at Walker's saloon and the Anarchist's saloon, where he decides to switch sides, though "now it could be too late, already past the point where anybody stood a chance against the juggernaut that had rolled down the country and flat stolen it."

On page 182, Lew begins his Shameful Habit. When "handling explosives," he gets his hand on "cyclopropane plus dynamite" from "the widely-respected mad scientist Dr. Oyswharf" and handling the combination sends him into a psychedelic trance that ends with his communing with a steak on his plate, "not the animal origins a fellow might reasonably expect so much as the further realms of crystallography," and subsequently thrown into jail for unspecified bad behavior. When Lew returns to Dr. Oyswharf the next day, the doctor understandingly gives him more "Cyclomite" and warns Lew to "have your ticker looked at now and then" because "there's a strange chemical relation between these nitro explosives and the human heart.". Indeed, "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."

Soon after "Lew had brought up with Nate Privett his doubts about the Kieselguhr Kid--in effect quitting the case--that's just when whatever it was decided to have a crack at him." Whatever it was throws dynamite at Lew in a small arroyo in the mountains, and with instinctive timing, "Lew knew the carnival theory, which was to throw yourself into the middle of the blast the second it went off, so that the shock-wave would already be outside of and heading away from you, leaving you safe inside the vaccum at the center -- maybe knocked out for a little, but all in one piece." I assume that this is the eye of the hurricane theory, and have no idea if it's actually true.

Lew comes back to consciousness while being tended to by a pair of upper-class English twits named Nigel and Neville who are roaming the West, having been inspired by Oscar Wilde's 1882 American Excursion. They essentially adopt Lew and take him to New Mexico where they board a train with "a strangely luxurious string of oversize parlor, dining, and club cars." When they arrive in Galveston, Nigel and Neville realize they haven't brought any Wild West souvenirs for their friends, "like an actual scalp or something," so they decide to take Lew back to England as a souvenir instead.

Lew is stowed away inside a steamer trunk in the cargo hold where he's sick most of the time from bad weather, which turns out to be on account of "the disastrous hurricane that had struck Galveston the day after they left -- 135-mile-per-hour winds, the city underwater, six thousand dead." This is an actual historical event that occurred on September 8-9, 1900. When Lewis is struck "neurasthenic" by the news, they ask him "whatever is the matter?" and Lew's reply is "Six thousand people to begin with." The final two lines are worth repeating: "Happens out in India all the time," said Nigel. "It is the world, after all." "Yes, Lewis, wherever could you have been living, before that frightful bomb brought you to us?"


At Monday, January 29, 2007 5:16:00 AM, Blogger Will Divide said...

I took the good Dr. Oyswharf to be a goof on Owsley Stanley, the amateur chemist who mass produced LSD in the 60s. And that scene in the restaurant with the "food" and the Beavers of the Brain was hilarious, if a little too close for comfort (if you catch my drift.)

Anyone else besides me decide that Vibe is a better father than Webb Traverse? The kids seem better adjusted anyway (much to Vibe's dismay), but maybe that is just one more advantage money can bring.

Notions of Plutonic powers (176:12) are now making regular appearances, and the legions of gnomes underground mining gold in Colorado here are surely the "real world" coefficient of the Legions of Gnomes the Chums went after on pg. 117.

Some say that ours is a Plutonian Age. The discovery of the planet Pluto was roughly contemporary with the discovery of plutonium, the element which has, with gold, dictated terms ever since. Symbolically, Pluto rules the dead and the underworld, money and shit. It holds the ultimate distroying power of the universe and, as such, the primal regenerator.

Editorial comment: The Plutonian aspects of contemporary American culture are pretty clear, from the insane fetishizing of wealth, to the ubiquitous iconography of death (all those flaming heavy metal skulls & corpses) even to the current porn fad for anal sex. Allen Ginsberg called it in '78. The nation has reached some sort of psychic dead zone.

Oh, and the Galveston hurricane was 9/8/00.

At Monday, January 29, 2007 6:09:00 AM, Blogger Monstro D. Whale said...

The gnomish denizens of Telluride are commenly known as Tommy Knockers.

There's even a micro brew named after them (as well as a Stephen King novel).

At Monday, January 29, 2007 8:48:00 PM, Blogger Boldly Serving Up Wheat Grass said...

Just a little thinking out loud... Have we discussed yet, in general, the overall theme of movement and what that might mean?

This has been sort of a theme, or at least a motif, since the first line, really, when we're commanded to "single up all lines" (i.e., told to get ready to go).

Of course, we know going in that the book's going to visit a considerable number of places -- but often the traveling itself has been central (by which I mean given particular attention by Pynchon). The whole time, things are in motion.

For example, we don't just jump out west with Merle and Dally; we go along for the extended trip. Also true of the Chums and their travels (to Chicago, through the Earth, to Iceland, etc.), or Merle & Dally, or Lew Basnight's wandering aimlessly, or Hunter Penhallow's "escape" from the city.

I don't know... In a book this large, perhaps you're bound to find any theme or motif you look for. But, one could easily expand on this idea (e.g., with the world itself being in motion or in a state of flux -- changing times, modernization, society, science, etc.).

I mean, when you take themes/concepts like entropy or anarchy, for example, those words are nouns by definition, but they describe and imply action/motion -- which makes the nonlinear nature of the book pehaps even more opportune and meaningful.

Not sure where I'm going with this yet, but I'll kick it around a little more & see if anything materializes. Thoughts?

At Monday, January 29, 2007 8:51:00 PM, Blogger Boldly Serving Up Wheat Grass said...

"...which makes the nonlinear nature of the book pehaps even more opportune and meaningful."

(...because the reader is "in motion" as well, transitioning from one location to another as the book progresses.)

Sorry, forgot to add that.

At Monday, January 29, 2007 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Civic Center said...

blowing shit up is right. Everyone is on the move almost continuously in this book.

And Mr. Divide, I once took psychedelics that were too strong while working as a dishwasher at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park back in the early 1970s. My Vietnam Vet fellow dishwasher thought it might be a good idea one Sunday morning, and we had a startlingly similar encounter with a steak at lunch. Though we weren't arrested like Lew, it came mighty close, particularly when the vet started throwing water glasses at the gnomes he saw crawling across the kitchen later in the afternoon.

At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:00:00 AM, Blogger Will Divide said...

By George, BSUWG, I think you are on to something. Stephen Leacock, an early 20th cent. Canadian humorist, (he was contemporary with the events in ATD, and fills that lit. space between Twain and Robt. Benchley) once wrote in his, I think, Frenzied Fiction of a character who "jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions." I think we have a similar case here.

If we posit something like a starting point in Chicago in 1893, ATD, so far, has followed certain narrative trails spyraling outward from there, each moving at individual and various rates of speed.

This explains my low-grade exasperation trying to connect the chronology of, say, the Basnight story with that of the Vibe/Traverses. It's a fool's errand. They connect somehow, if only at their collective appearances at the '93 Fair. Any further mergings are a matter of some conjecture (was it Webb who tossed the TNT at Lew?) and may or may not, in fact, be germane to their individual narrative fates as the novel progresses and, presumably, comes to an end.

Far fucking out. . .

At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:09:00 AM, Blogger Will Divide said...

Ah HA! Should have looked closer at the Leacock Wiki entry. . .

"Lord Ronald ... flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions." -- Nonsense Novels, "Gertrude the Governess", 1911

At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 9:03:00 AM, Blogger Monstro D. Whale said...

The difference between a vector and a scaler is direction. I know this because I used to have a summer job with a guy who was majoring in Vector calculus. I know little more, but why should that stop me? Ahem... You have a degree of magnitude: scaler, and a direction intended for that magnitude: vector. What you lack is a definition: a magnitude of what? What is directed? In math, the "what" is sort of immaterial. In physics, it is, all important.

Now I know that I'm either A.--flat out wrong, or B.--only telling part of the story, but I think I remember that one of you chumps out there does something with math, so since we're now talking about motion in a section which deals with vector calculus, is there any one out there who might have something to add?

At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 12:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


while i'm not familiar with the history of mathematics, but i get the impression that Pynchon's "vectorism" is the idea that someone accepts the existence and utility of "imaginary" numbers and hopes to find something beyond the real numbers out there on the imaginary plane. by the late 1800's, though i doubt there was much mysticism left about imaginary numbers themselves - though maybe when applied to a real-world but mysterious phenomenon like electricity, it crept back.

such numbers are called "imaginary" is because they represent the square roots of negative numbers - something that's impossible, with "real" numbers. still, they do tend to appear in calculations, especially when you're talking about waves (ex. AC current, frequencies, etc)..

they were so named by Descartes, in 1637 (see Wiki, below). and Descartes gets us back to the great grid that we started out with, in the very first few pages.

here's an interesting quote from the Wiki article on complex numbers:

"The words "real" and "imaginary" were meaningful when complex numbers were used mainly as an aid in manipulating "real" numbers, with only the "real" part directly describing the world. Later applications, and especially the discovery of quantum mechanics, showed that nature has no preference for "real" numbers and its most real descriptions often require complex numbers, the "imaginary" part being just as physical as the "real" part."

today, there's an art movement called "vectorism" (probably due to use of vector-based computer drawing tools like Illustrator), which is defined by strong outlines and lots of solid color - a look which will be instantly familiar to anyone who's seen a TV commercial in the past 24 months... example

At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 1:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hopes to find something beyond the real numbers out there on the imaginary plane

and by "something", i mean "something mystical" or "something otherworldly"

At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 7:05:00 PM, Blogger H. Rumbold, Master Barber said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 7:25:00 PM, Blogger H. Rumbold, Master Barber said...

Monstro has it right. A vector is just a number with a direction, like 30 miles northeast. So if you walk 30 miles northeast then 20 miles northwest, you can solve the triangle to figure how far you've gone as the crow flies. Or you can add wind and current to calculate forces acting on a sailboat.

Complex numbers are just a+bi plotted on a grid where the vertical axis units are sqrt(-1). Over a then up b and Bob's your uncle.

This convention allows for a narrative that is bilocalized - it has a "real" part and an "imaginary" part. I consider the Chums at the Fair to be closer to the real axis and the journey through the hollow earth to be closer to the imaginary. But we should probably also consider a z-axis of time.

H. Rumbold, Master Barber

At Wednesday, January 31, 2007 6:03:00 PM, Blogger Will Divide said...

Before we go galloping off to the next section, I was wondering if anyone else saw the passage from 173:13 to 174:24 as Pynchon's comment on the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

"The voice in these letters [...] suggests instead an hombre who knows full well that something has happened to him, but for the life of him he just can't figure what[...] and he's tryin to work 'at through, here on paper, how it was done to him, and better yet who did it. But by damn, look at his targets. You notice he always identifies them by name and address[...]"

Are they even talking about the Kieselguhr Kid? This is the first we've been told of letters the bomber sends.

"[...] got us a man of principle here. Somewhat removed from the workaday world. . . not to mention lack of exposure to the fair sex


The conflict was explicit, between the State and one's blood loyalties. [...]
"Buddy, he's your own brother."
"They're going to catch him and shoot him down, don't you know by now what those got-damn people are like?"

At Wednesday, January 31, 2007 6:12:00 PM, Blogger Axiomatic.Apricot said...

Hey all--

First things first, will divide, I've got to agree with the Dr.O. I.D., and also the interest in all things Plutonic.

And Blowing, this is certainly the most mobile novel I've encountered in a long time. I agree that this is probably meant to evoke a sense of constant change or flux, but I also think that it may serve a specific historical purpose, that of capturing the world's shift into globalization, a concept much ballyhooed in our contemporary era, but already well underway by the turn of the 20th century. The constant shifting of ethnic groups, often at the behest of capital, is typified by the "fifty thousand coolies" waiting to work in S.Africa as described by Yitzhak on 167.

Speaking of the dark continent, I found the story of Fleetwood's unforgivable sin quite moving, from the ease with which the the Black/Chinese laborer proceeds (into "the dark womb," and therefore back in time?) of death (169-70) to his own "sickbed of rememberance" (168). A little ambiguity, btw, regarding the race of the laborer, who the narrator here refers to as a Kaffir, i.e., a native S.African, but whom F.V. refers to as Chinese (147).

This passage seemed to me particularly interesting because it allows us to see a concrete example of the sort of sin that has haunts so many of the characters in the novel. This contingent example also gives some hints as to the sort of structural conditions that bring about or even require sin in the novel, specifically, the existence of "secret backlands of wealth, and how sooner or later it depended on some act of murder" (170).

At the same time, I like Will's observation that wealth is not without its moral boons. Scarsdale may not be the greatest guy, but he does seem to be a better father than Webb, and certainly Pynchon seems unwilling to wholly dismiss the sorts of upperclass revelry that typify the scenes at Yale, for example, as not representing a positive end in themselves, though with the caveat that they are always enjoyed at a certain price (negotiated from the day?).

Hell, Tom was a child of privilege and by all accounts he seems to have enjoyed his days at a prestigious, overfunded college. One wonders if the desire for atonement that Lew, Fleetwood, et al. feel might also be shared by their author.

But now I'm veering into that dangerous realm of biographical criticism, which means that the grande glass of petite sirah I just finished off is starting to work a little too well.

And so, g'night all.

At Thursday, February 01, 2007 2:35:00 AM, Blogger Axiomatic.Apricot said...

Side bar: why does Fleetwood remember his sin while Lew does not? It kinda seems like Lew's got the better set-up. They're both haunted, but the young Mr. Vibe's wasting away. Could it be related to his elephantine advice, which leads to Yitzhak's salvation?

At Thursday, February 01, 2007 4:57:00 AM, Blogger Will Divide said...

Lew seems to lose contact with his body at certain crucial points.

Whatever he did which led the people in the restaurant to head for the exits in the Beavers of the Brain episode is never detailed. (It is a great old-fashioned blackout gag.) And we are led to believe that Lew awoke in jail with no idea himself. Clearly, he is used to such things happening.

At Friday, February 02, 2007 10:21:00 AM, Blogger Joseph said...

The argument that Vibe is a better Father than W.Traverse is weak in my opinion. First, there are many factors beside the role of a Father at play in anyone's life. Good people can have lousy Fathers, and good Fathers can have children who turn out badly. Already we know that Fleetwood killed a chinese worker for looking at him funny, which moves him out of the well adjusted category.. Also, having been warned of dire consequences for exhuming the creature from the ice by the Chums, the eskimos, and the Mystic Magyakhan he does nothing to stop it.

Colfax's humanity seems more an expression of resistance to Vibe's influence than a measure of S. Vibe’s success and for his effort he is being disinherited.

Webb has serious failures, but the biggest difference between the 2 is that Webb is aware of his flaws., where Vibe sees his flaws as his greatest strengths. I like Webb's kids. They are curious and resourceful and willing to fight for what they believe. Kit is looking for a way into another social world but he his also very defensive of his core moral compass.

In defense of Webb for example, it is easy to say he should not have gotten married but should no soldier get married? Also how does he share a hidden life, the very knowledge of which will endanger his family? How much better off would Mayva have been without Webb? How many can be passive or pacifistic in the face of violence against the weak, and is that another kind of neglect and betrayal? From the outside we can see that Webb is fucking up and taking more on himself than he can handle or than he would ask others to handle; the buried anger comes out in his home, but I have a hard time judging him too harshly.

At Saturday, February 03, 2007 7:42:00 AM, Blogger Monte Davis said...

"But, one could easily expand on this idea (e.g., with the world itself being in motion or in a state of flux -- changing times, modernization, society, science, etc.)"

Or one could eschew the expansion and narrow it down to: was there anything going on in the early 1900s that connects

(1) light
(2) Grassmann's and Riemann's math
(3) the Michelson-Morley experiment
(4) the nonlinear effects of rapid motion
(5) Swiss trains going faster through Tatzelwurm-holes?

It's a puzzlement. Anybody know a patent clerk in Bern we could ask?

At Saturday, February 03, 2007 9:45:00 AM, Blogger Civic Center said...

That was very well put, brooktrout, and having just read to page 327, it turns out that everything you write about the two families and their patriarchal heads turns out to be quite true. And since that is getting into spoiler territory, I'll leave it at that.

At Sunday, February 04, 2007 3:30:00 PM, Blogger Axiomatic.Apricot said...

I think that, re: weighing the patriarchs, that the difference lies in where each man puts his ultimate loyalty. With Webb, his loyalty seems finally to be with the anarchist movement. He sees -- perhaps rightly -- that his concerns as a father are parochial and local when compared to the larger struggle. This is, of course, the rough argument that revolutionaries since at least the French revolution have used to justify atrocities directed at, or at the very least disregard for, individuals are them. Vibe, by contrast, seems more or less interested in his kids' happiness, though almost utterly unconcerned with his ethical role as a citizen of the world.

Pynchon, to my mind, is making a point about how the blind bourgeois concern for family can sometimes cause one to ignore the larger socio-economic situation and, vice versa, how a fixation on the family can cause one to ignore the larger picture. Local vs. Global, Global vs. Local.

[For those unoffended by name-dropping: I'm reminded of some of Jurgen Habermas's analyses of the relation between public and private spheres of action. Apologies for the wankering.]

I think Pynchon means to show both fathers as having distinct and possibly antithetical failures.

At Tuesday, March 27, 2007 4:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

-There was a real (...), historical scientific dispute about which of vectors or quaternions describe better physical reality. Despite Hamilton's efforts (who invented quaternions) vectors prevailed. So "vectorism" and "quaternionism" were real(...) scientific movements and not simply pynchonian words.

-Note that a relativistic spacetime (4-dimensioned) vector looks like a quaternion.

-The critical characteristic of a vector is independence of a coordinate system. Generalizing vectors we have tensors, the main mathematical tools in relativity theories.

-Real and imaginary numbers form complex numbers. Any complex number can be represented by a 2d vector having the real and the imaginary part as coordinates. But the "length" of a complex number is always real.

Interconnect and symbolize freely.

In all his books Pynchon follows Feyerabend's views on history of science.

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At Saturday, July 16, 2011 11:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess cyclomite might well be
RDX, one rather uncommon name of which is "cyclonite".
It consists of 3 methylen groups, like cyclopropane, and 3 nitrogroups, like nitroglycerine the explosive in dynamite.
cyclonite causes convulsions
in a similar way to strychnine,
and note it wass also invented in 1898.

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