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.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Busted Time Machines And Harmonica Madness

Yippy dippy dippy,
Flippy zippy zippy,
Smippy gdippy gdippy, too!

picture source



(pp. 397-428)


While the Chums are on leave in New York City, a stray remark made by a messenger sent from Chums Hierarchy, a street kid named "Plug" Loafsley, sends them on a quest to find the honest-to-gosh Time Machine.

Meeting Loafsley in an underage underworld dive in the city's raunchy Tenderloin district, where they are beguiled by Angela Grace, a nymphet chanteuse, Darby Suckling and Chick Counterfly bribe Loafsly into taking them to Dr. Zoot, the man with the machine, whose lab is several blocks away, in the West Village.

At the lab, which steals electric power from the Ninth Avenue El, Zoot assumes the two Chums are tourists looking for new kicks and dickers price for a ride in his Time Machine. Seated inside, the boys have visions of vast social disorder and, worse, emptiness, before the machine disintegrates around them. They are pulled from a void by Dr. Zoot wielding a giant performers' hook taken from a Bowery theater.

Dr. Zoot is revealed as a fraud and tells Suckling and Counterfly that he got the machine secondhand at a yearly conference on time travel held at Candlebrow University, institute of higher learning out there in the distant heart of the Republic (405:17) He directs them to a bar there, the Ball in Hand, and one Alonzo Meatman who will, Zoot says, help them get a time machine.

At Candlebrow, an enormous university underwritten by the vast fortune of Gideon Candlebrow, inventor of Smegmo, an all-purpose condiment, and hair product, made from rendered pork, the Time Conference is in full swing (indeed, it has the trappings of an eternal event) and the Chums again meet up with their old pal Prof. Vanderjuice. With him they visit the town dump and there see heaps of scrapped time machines. At the low saloon down by the river, the boys are dismayed when a young patron asks if they're looking for Meatman, then turns color and vanishes. Daunted at this, all leave except Chick Counterfly, who waits for Meatman (for it was he) to reappear.

Alonzo leads Counterfly to an older, gas-lit part of town, explaining he knows a conduit there by which mysterious beings make known certain desires which he is employed to fulfill. In a suite of vacant rooms in a block of vacant buildings, Meatman introduces Chick to "Mr. Ace", who says that he is a refugee from a destitute and broken future, the end of the capitalistic experiment, an emigrant across the forbidden interval of time trying to aid the migration of others.

Mr. Ace tells Chick that the Chums have unwittingly been used to frustrate the entry of these future beings at several points across the globe, and then offers a deal: If the Chums aid the invisible others through the barrier of time, they will compensate the Chums with the secret of eternal youth.

After reporting back to the Chums, who seem interested in the deal, Chick brings Miles Blundell to his next meeting with Mr. Ace, relying on Miles' second sight to suss out the truth of the matter. Miles starts weeping at the first sight of Mr. Ace, intuiting his true intentions and warning (417:19) Assuredly, he does not have our best interests in mind. Miles also sees other beings, through, he tells Chick, something like windows. What's more, they see him too and begin pointing this thing back at him, not exactly a weapon--an enigmatic object, he, kind of, explains.

Indeed, psychic interference by the Trespassers soon causes the Chums to undergo a strange transformation (as does, we're told, the whole Chums of Chance network), becoming without realizing it the Marching Academy Harmonica Band, students of the Harmonica Band Marching Academy, an alternate of Candlebrow U. They hallucinate entering and attending the Academy, a revery which culminates in a hot musical number where all sing and dance about the AWOL 'Zo Meatman.

'Zo, we learn, had met earlier that day with the Commandant of the school, a wrinkled, white-haired, gold-toothed martinet keen on controlling his students' every moment. Alonzo is paid for his work as an informer and, meeting over, leaves the premises, apparently never to be seen again.

Meanwhile the spell on the Chums begins to lift. (It is unclear if it has been in force for hours or weeks.) First they doubt they are harmonica players. Then they wonder if they are really just readers of the Chums of Chance adventure series, left behind on Earth as surrogates for the true Chums. In doing so, they dream of meeting those real Chums, hosting a dinner for them followed by a harmonica recital.

Gradually, after a certain release from longing, they walk to the edge of an unnamed small town and find sky ready, brightwork gleaming [. . .] as if they had never been away, the Inconvenience and Pugnax, barking with unrestrained joy.

No sooner have the Chums returned to themselves then they're visited by that Alonzo Meatman, who brings the Sfinciuno Itinerary and a warning to await orders. These promptly arrive via the Tesla Device, directing them to proceed to Bukhara, in Central Asia, to rendezvous with the Saksal, a British frigate that sails under desert sand, commanded by one Capt. Q. Zane Toadflax.

Needing, of course, under-sand diving suits, the Chums are brought to inventor Roswell Bounce by their mutual friend, Prof. Vanderjuice. Bounce is happy to sell them the needed Hypops units, undercutting the price of those available from the Vibe Corp., including one especially modified for Pugnax.

So supplied, the Inconvenience flies eastward, leaving Candlebrow U. behind, along with the Mysteries of Time to those with enough of that commodity to devote to their proper study.

So ends Iceland Spar. Bilocations dead ahead.

I hope you Chumps will forgive me for saying that I think these are the strangest fucking 30 pages our Mad Lad has put down since the controversial ending of Gravity's Rainbow. Signifiers and subjunctive clauses abound. I noted a nod to Burroughs (William, that is, not Edgar Rice) in Meatman's disappearing stunt at the bar (very Nova Express), the air of Lovecraft in the utterly creepy description of the time-dead rooms (pg 414) where Mr. Ace comes and goes, a feeling for Arnold's Dover Beach (the continuous roar as of the ocean 404:11) in that view from the Time Machine, and something of the end of the Nestor chapter of Ulysses, in which Stephen Dedalus listens to the old school master Deasy in his office, next to an open window, as he natters on about Irish cattle and the Jews. Like 'Zo, Stephen gets paid and walks away. And then there're those worn out Asimov Transeculars seen in the town dump (I love, love, love that!) Less interesting to me is Smegmo, a very sophomoric joke aptly nestled in a collegiate setting.

But only a master can pull this shit off, and I suggest interested parties pay attention to how Pynchon uses the nearly interior narrative voice in the Marching Band passage to arrange events and create a sense of mystery in the reader's mind as to what's going on. As if is a favored construction, used deftly enough to almost disappear, along with Were they, Perhaps even, may really, Had they, and some would. It is a precise use of imprecision, and it casts a strange spell.

Speaking of, note that on the way to Zoot's lab, Darby and Chick pass a memorial landmark of the devastation wrought on New York by the creature of the Vormance expedition, passing through the gate proclaiming THE DOLEFUL CITY, seen first on page 154.

And Mr. Ace? Miles, we are told, cries like a cleric seeing God when he meets him. From this we may infer that Mr. A. has a creative authority over the Chums, though whether he is meant to be the author of the Chums of Chance adventure series, or the author of the whole Against the Day shooting match, I will leave for others to kick around.

26 Comments:

At Monday, April 09, 2007 12:03:00 PM, Blogger sfmike said...

You are forgiven for "these are the strangest fucking 30 pages our Mad Lad has put down since the controversial ending of Gravity's Rainbow." You made a comment a few months ago, in reference to a section I can't remember, that it felt as if the funhouse doors had suddenly been closed and our feet had been kicked out from under us. That's how this section finale read to me, and the opening of "Bilocations" is just as strange.

When I get some time this week, I'll reread the section and see if I can come up with anything halfway intelligible to say, but this really did send me reeling. Your description of all the time-travel madness, however, was simple and lucid. Thanks.

 
At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:15:00 PM, Blogger Decency's Jigsaw said...

Great summation!

Mark Liberman of Language Log has been reading Against the Day, and had quite a lot to say about the phonetics of the first chapter of this week's reading.

(406:16) "Nostalgia and amnesia" -- This struck me as the perfect description of any academic environment.

On a minor (ha!) musical note, Mr Ace's name spells the A minor triad A-C-E, which is the relative minor to C major, a chord that has cropped up before. Significant? Maybe, maybe not, I dunno. Are we looking for a needle? is this even a haystack? Who knows...

(412:4) "Time did not elapse so much as grow less relevant." Though this seems a toss-off line -- coming as it does after the Mu gag and right before Meatman's peekaboo trick -- it seems to me that there's something essential about this line, something fundamental. It could be applicable to any number of other aspects of this book so far -- from (off the top of my head) trying to figure out how contemporary, exactly, Constance Penhallow is to the rest of the action way back when, to Fleetwood's presence at Vibe manor, to (of course) the Chums themselves. And despite the long span of years this book covers (a little over a decade at this point), has it struck anyone else that there is a strange sense of contemporaneousness to all the action?...

 
At Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:17:00 AM, Blogger Ol' Pal D said...

This month's selection underscores virtually all of the reasons I love reading Pynchon.

Radar's up for the idea that ATD is possibly Pynchon's "catch-all" work, an "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" attempt at co-positioning a few disparate idea-seeds into a co-hesive work... and why not? What better challenge for a highly-skilled writer/engineer writing what could possibly be his last work?

Rather than suggesting such an attempt somehow cheapens the work ("hey, this is just a bunch of short-stories hucked together"), I see it as extra value...

ps nice summation - glad I didn't pull that week for mod

 
At Wednesday, April 11, 2007 5:11:00 PM, Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Just thinking out loud here...

Regarding Mr. Ace's dismal view of the future on page 415, can anyone enlighten me as to what the suggested alternative is to capitalism? Is that where this book's heading? And, in what way will that alternative solve the world's problems? Is it Socialism? Is it Communism? Some newly invented brand of statism?

Famine, fuel supplies, poverty... These things, after all, aren't exclusive to a capitalistic political environment. They're medical, technological, and social issues that can and will exist, IMHO, under any type of government. If I'm opening a can of worms, just say the word and I'll be quiet.

 
At Wednesday, April 11, 2007 5:29:00 PM, Blogger Monstro said...

Nice job--

Ginsburg fans will remember that El is used in his poems both as the elevated train and the secret name of God. El standing in for God the all powerful. The chums go to Avenue El and find a part of the city in ruins. Heaven is falling apart.

 
At Wednesday, April 11, 2007 7:05:00 PM, Blogger Neddie said...

They're medical, technological, and social issues that can and will exist, IMHO, under any type of government. If I'm opening a can of worms, just say the word and I'll be quiet.

Oooooh, let's really go carefully here. This could very easily descend into something that's got very little to do with the topic at hand. I'm not kiboshing the topic, but I'm begging that we keep the discussion within the context of Against the Day.

Let's agree to agree that in Thomas Pynchon's weltanschauung, (generously quashing our own for the purposes of discussing this book) a capitalism that operates under the same thermodynamic laws as everything else is subject to the same entropic inevitabilities as any other system when no energy is coming in. That's not capitalism's fault; it's the way Thomas Pynchon's world works.

This reminds me: So far, I haven't seen mentioned (forgive me if it has) the state of science at the time-period we're in now. We're at, what, 1904, nicht wahr? Remember this is exactly the time when Einstein was formulating Special Relativity, and within four years would posit that light is both a wave and a particle. Within ten years he would formulate General Relativity.

At the same time, you've got Joyce squirreling away on the finishing drafts of Ulysses, and Picasso mixing up some Prussian Blue to begin Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

What we're fictively participating in, in fact, is the birth of Modernism, which is characterized as a painful split away from the comfortable received wisdoms of the Medieval world into an altogether less comfortable world where light, human consciousness, and even time and matter themselves are nothing even remotely like what they once seemed. This could get a fella a little crazy.

I can't help but get the impression that this section in particular is a rather carefully couched bit of metafiction from a writer whose relationship with Modernism is never unassociated with the prefix "Post."

 
At Thursday, April 12, 2007 9:28:00 AM, Blogger Monstro said...

Well...Pynchon is kind of the guy--first post modernist. He cites other people, and if we know the subject matter, we can probably cite some too, but in the most convenient lay terminology, Pynchon is the father of post modern fiction. People after him cite him as their inspiration. So, there you go...

But I think it's an incredible mistake to put this scene in an historical context. These characters are mythical. There's something there, but not enough. The similarities between the chump's historical era and the real are interesting, but they're not the same. Time machines named after Asimov seem to be the least of our troubles here. How in the world can we talk about 1904 in a section that galdly accepts time machines and fans of fiction becoming their fictional heroes? There is no 1904 (or it's always 1904, whichever).

Clearly, Pynchon is pointing from a present moment backwards (...and careful there too-- the present moment is just as fictional). The novel suggests that in "a future" relative to the fictional 1904 of the chumps, there will be an environmental disaster that will be unstoppable due to capitalism. That's not editorializing; that's in the book.

What you do with that is, I suppose, up to you. Some people do not see fear of nuclear annhialation as the logical source of Gravity's Rainbow...but some surely do.

I wonder two things: first off what does it mean that the chumps leave behind fake chumps as decoys. What does it mean that the heroic romantic notion of boyhood adventure should sacrifice young boys to the cause?

Second, it seems really amazingly weird that the ship is called the Inconvenience once you realize that there's some manner of environmental disaster looming in the fictional future. Was that a last minute edit? Strange coincidence?

Lastly, (and well beyond my two things), was the monster that came out of the ice a prophesy of the disaster that the future is to bring. After all, it was one of those things that the Chums were supposed to stop, but that they didn't.

 
At Thursday, April 12, 2007 10:16:00 AM, Blogger Neddie said...

But I think it's an incredible mistake to put this scene in an historical context. These characters are mythical. There's something there, but not enough. The similarities between the chump's historical era and the real are interesting, but they're not the same. Time machines named after Asimov seem to be the least of our troubles here. How in the world can we talk about 1904 in a section that galdly accepts time machines and fans of fiction becoming their fictional heroes? There is no 1904 (or it's always 1904, whichever).

All cheerfully conceded -- but then, why 1904 at all? Why not 1776, or 2007? Surely the events of that historical era have some bearing on the events of the fictional 1904.

Put it another way: Yes, of course, the book we're reading contains a fictive 1904 which exists (and only ever existed) inside the head of one quite brilliantly imaginative author, and we're looking at a long string of words that he uses to describe that 1904.

(Somebody's gonna pop in here and point out some detail that I missed that places the action actually in 1906, ya mow-ron...)

But surely you've got to concede that the fact that the historic H.G. Wells wrote "The Time Machine" a few years before this fictive 1904 has at least some bearing on how we're to interpret this stuff, or it's literally meaningless.

I'm venturing into the quicksand of PoMo criticism, something I quite deliberately don't know much about, so I'll shut up....

 
At Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:39:00 PM, Blogger Will Divide said...

It's '04 or '05, as the girls at the Ball in Hand are dancing with pygmies fugitive from the St. Louis Fair.

What's striking about the Marching Band section is how Pynchon does not pause to explain where the Chums bodies were, asleep in the ship, captive in a Candlebrow dorm - whatever, during that unknown period. The psychic tresspass remodeled their let's-call-it universe.

I'm with Ned on the meaning of a specific date. 1904 is halfway between the White City of '93 and August 1914, WWI. A particular Zero Hour, you might say.

 
At Thursday, April 12, 2007 4:08:00 PM, Blogger Neddie said...

Anybody pick up on the "Nooky" joke? (407:27-31)?

Here we are at a Time-Travel Conference. Darby uses a word that will not be invented for another 24 years. From the OED:

1. A woman considered as a sexual object. Usu. considered offensive.

1928 M. BODENHEIM Georgie May I. i. 22 He had a weakness fo' slim nooky with real blonde hair.

Lindsay Noseworth confesses himself unfamiliar with the word. Miles "prophesizes" that he won't know the meaning of the word until "1925 or thereabouts."

It seems to be implied here that Darby and Miles have already traveled forward in time, captured this word, and brought it back. It also implies that Noseworth hasn't.

Isn't it strange that the trophy brought back to 1904 should be a word....

 
At Thursday, April 12, 2007 4:12:00 PM, Blogger Neddie said...

It's '04 or '05, as the girls at the Ball in Hand are dancing with pygmies fugitive from the St. Louis Fair.

Well, yes, there you go. As far as I've been aware, an episode (or whatever we're calling them) hasn't gone by where Our Tom failed to drop some detail in that allows us to identify, with some accuracy, the time in which it occurs.

Why would he do that if he didn't think it was important for us to be able to identify and cogitate on the historical context of the fictive events?

 
At Thursday, April 12, 2007 4:51:00 PM, Blogger sfmike said...

Neddie writes: "Isn't it strange that the trophy brought back to 1904 should be a word...."

That was a great "nookie" catch, and along with a word, another trophy we've spotted is Chick Counterfly's radioactive lighter when he's in Venice earlier (page 252: 14-18.)

And I love the idea of some of the Chums being time-travelers and others not. That's almost implied when Darby and Chick make their first foray with the falling-apart time machine in New York before going off to Candlebrow University with the Chums en masse. We don't know what REALLY happened on that first misguided trip. On page 404:31, "What was that we just saw?" Chick as smoothly as he was able.

"It's different for everybody, but don't bother to tell me. I've heard too much, more than is good for a man, frankly, and it could easily do you some harm as well to even get into the subject."

Well, it certainly seems they got VERY deep into that subject.

 
At Thursday, April 12, 2007 5:11:00 PM, Blogger Axiomatic.Apricot said...

BSUWG -- While TP presents a criticism of capitalism, pointing out the labor, suffering, and inequality that it requires, I'm not fully sure that we're moving toward a Pynchonian proposal on an alternative economic model. Instead, I see a lot of the pathos in the novel generated by a recognition of the inevitable need to "tithe to the day." For what it's worth, Pynchon seems to treat references to markets, which he distinguishes from capitalism, in a fruitful light. Small, local economies and black market appear to be his favorite economic models, I think, as opposed to the giant aggregates that typify transnational capitalism.

Neddie -- I agree with your comment about the advent of Modernism, especially the import of Einstein, who seems to be the pink elephant in the novel. All this light and time symbolism demands an Einsteinean context to make sense fully.

Which also means that I'm casting my lot in with those who feel that the specific time period being discussed is important, tremendously in fact. The sea change of modernism is one of the most dramatic shifts in western culture, and I think much of AtD is an imagined mapping of the inner workings of that historical shift.

Finally, Will, I think you're short shrifting Smegmo. Given the fact that Pynchon has established animal fat as a recurring motif meant to remind us that the gears of our society are kept lubricated by the death of the flesh, Smegmo joins Lube Carnal perhaps even your fav Lew B. as reminders that the machine reality of modernism is born of animal -- and frequently human -- flesh.

 
At Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:37:00 PM, Blogger Neddie said...

I dunno about the rest of youse goise, but I'm getting really fuckin' amused at the name we've chosen for this little group endeavor. (Will's genius, by the way, not mine.)

Know what I'm sayin'? Here's this novel, where all these mindboggling doublings and mirrorings are played out through the Chums of Chance, who both do and don't know that they're fictional characters (and who the hell is the author of the Chums' books, anyway?) -- and outside the cover of this book, here's a bunch of people sitting around reading it -- named the Chumps of Choice. And who's writing our life...?

I think we should start naming posts things like The Chumps of Choice and the Strangest Fuckin' 30 Pages...

 
At Friday, April 13, 2007 4:49:00 AM, Blogger Will Divide said...

Ha! I've been amused by it from Day One. . .

As far as I've been aware, an episode (or whatever we're calling them) hasn't gone by where Our Tom failed to drop some detail in that allows us to identify, with some accuracy, the time in which it occurs.

Ehhh. . . I think the Colorado/Traverse Family passages have a very indistinct chronology, though part of that may be due to the author trying to sneak his characters from the '93 Fair, past the McKinley assassination, by an anarchist, in 1901, to about where we are now.

(As stated earlier, I suspect the Traverse saga was once part of a separate work.)

Of course this may also be an illustration about how time seems to pass differently out West than it does back East. Regarding Frank's transit in Mexico in the previous "chapter", the narrator so much as said that sometimes years will seem like months and months like years.

I may have missed a few clues, but only way I could figure the dates of the Merle Rideout passages, for example, was to assume that Dally was about six or seven in '93 and then estimate forward.

And Apricot, are you saying that when Life gives you smeg, make Smegmo? I'll remember that.

 
At Friday, April 13, 2007 10:33:00 PM, Blogger brooktrout said...

The Chums of Chance In the University of Time

In some ways universities were designed for time travel and to invoke the suspension of time's harsh pressures. But how invasive and terrifying and alein knowledge can seem, how easy to misinterpret, misapply, or just miss. I see Candlebrow U as mostly the too dreamy way some approach education. You go there for a reason and forget what it was, who you were, where you are going. Not alll bad by any means, but there can be a kind of unrooting from our place in time, our place in the earth.

Is Candlebrow just a euphemism for headlight? Smegmo a stand-in for oil.

Why have travelers from the future chosen this time? Are we the travelers from the future?
Does the guy who sent us here know something he didn't say?
"Durn lunatic!"

 
At Saturday, April 14, 2007 2:51:00 PM, Blogger Neddie said...

I'm passing this on from Monte Davis, who's having Blogger problems today...

...only way I could figure the dates of the Merle Rideout passages, for example, was to assume that Dally was about six or seven in '93 and then estimate forward.

A bit younger (p 27):

“Pa!” An attractive little girl of four or five with flaming red hair was running toward them at high speed. “Say, Pa! I need a drink!”

 
At Sunday, April 15, 2007 12:43:00 AM, Blogger brooktrout said...

Notes on the name of Alonzo Meatman
Alonzo Quijano , a character from Miguel de Cervantes' novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha was a poor unknown hidalgo from somewhere in La Mancha in Spain who gained fame by assuming the name of Don Quixote de la Mancha and the persona of a knight-errant. He was inspired by reading countless tales of chivalry.

So Alonzo Qujano is looking for identity, and for meaning, and for hope in the past, in a new identity.. As seem to be the “time travelers”.

Alonzo Church (June 14, 1903 – August 11, 1995) was an American mathematician and logician who was responsible for some of the foundations of theoretical computer science. Born in Washington, DC, he received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1924, completing his Ph.D. there in 1927, under Oswald Veblen. After a postdoc at Göttingen, he taught at Princeton, 1929–1967, and at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1967–1990.
Church is best known for the following accomplishments:
• His proof that Peano arithmetic and first-order logic are undecidable. The latter result is known as Church's theorem.
• His articulation of what has come to be known as Church's thesis.
• He was the founding editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic, editing its reviews section until 1979.
• His creation of the lambda calculus.

Here is a guy who helped lay the groundwork for a whole new kind of communication via binary logic. as Zo Metman is an itermediary between times.

Zo- animal as root of Zoology Greek ζῴον, zoon ("animal")
Zorro-Spanish for Fox. Zorro was created in 1919 by pulp writer Johnston McCulley, and first made his appearance in The Curse of Capistrano, serialized in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly.
Zoro (Persian, Zoroaster) shine, gold aster = star
Zo Zomi is the name of an ethnic group of people that occupy Northwest Burma,...The word "Zo" has many literal meanings such as "win", "respond", "higher altitude", "conquer" etc.
Meat-man, Meet Man, Me Atman- The Atman or Atma (IAST: Ātmā, sanskrit: आत्म‍ ) is a philosophical term used within Hinduism and Vedanta to identify the soul. It is one's true self (hence generally translated into English as 'Self') beyond identification with the phenomenal reality of worldly existence.

More Zo Meatman notes: Dr.(Zo)ot sends them to meet Meatman They meet Meatman in the Ball in Hand Bar where he disappears then reappears. He frequently uses a plural identity. The entire experience with Alonzo Meatman is hallucinatory, paranoid, time-distorting and for a while moves the chums in the opposite psychological direction from which they have been moving. Instead of maturing toward independence, self awareness and questioning, that is away from their fictiveness, they become like members of the German Youth Movement and submit to a juvenile groupthink losing their individuality .When they come to themselves and find the Inconvenience and Pugnax. Meatman soon appears and hands them the map called the Sfinciuno Itinerary.
As to the hallucinatory quality of Meatman and Candlebrow and the Ball in Hand It reminded me of this from psychedelic highbrow headlight researcher Terrance McKenna.
“And then, if you've taken enough DMT (and it has to do entirely with physical capacity: Did you take, did you cross the threshold?) something happens [clap]... for which there are no words. A membrane is rent, and you are propelled into this "place." And language cannot describe it - accurately. Therefore I will inaccurately describe it.
The rest is now lies. When you break into this space, you have several impressions simultaneously that are a kind of gestalt: First of all (and why, I don't know) you have the impression that you are underground - far underground - you can't say why, but there's just this feeling of immense weight above you but you're in a large space, a vaulted dome. People even call it "The DMT dome" I have said, had people say to me, "Have you been under the dome?" and I knew exactly what they meant.
So you burst into this space. It's lit, socketed lighting, some kind of indirect lighting you can't quite locate. But what is astonishing and immediately riveting is that in this place there are entities - there are these things, which I call "self transforming machine elves," I also call them self-dribbling basketballs. They are, but they are none of these things. I mean you have to understand: these are metaphors in the truest sense, meaning they're lies! Uh, it's a jeweled self-transforming basketball, a machine elf. I name them 'Tykes' because tyke is a word that means to me a small child, and I was fascinated by the 54th fragment of Heraclitis, where he says: "The Aeon is a child at play with colored balls" ... and when you burst into the DMT space this is the Aeon - it's a child, and it's at play with colored balls, and I am in eternity, apparently, in the presence of this thing.” Terrance McKenna
To move into a past without a more hopeful future isn’t a very great move. As our own future begins to look like that of the Trespassers the past looks sweeter and progress a sour lie. In some sense we may have to move toward our past to continue . Is that the message from God that brings tears to Miles eyes?

In the end the chums, after meeting themselves in a strange time warped mirror fail both , as Miles says "to "step'sidewise' into the next dimension-into Time-our fate our lord, our destroyer", or as the Tesla machine says to "jeapordize a perfect record of doing as you're told" Sheep can fly, to after all. Can't they?

But how can they? they are characters from a book?

 
At Sunday, April 15, 2007 3:36:00 PM, Blogger sfmike said...

Wow, Brooktrout, that was some awesome analysis, and though it flirted with willy-wagging, I for one found it brilliant stuff.

Speaking of willy-wagging, I googled "smegmo," and the third listing on the front page was none other than "The Chumps of Choice: Less interesting to me is Smegmo, a very sophomoric joke aptly nestled in a collegiate setting. But only a master can pull this shit off, and I suggest..." This is three listings ahead, mind you, of a really stupid, dismissive review of "Against The Day" by James Wood in The New Republic. (He liked the sophomoric joke as did I but that's about all we agreed on.) Go, Chumps!

At the top of the "smegmo" google page, by the way, it asks: "Did you mean: smegma"?

Over at the "Against The Day" Wiki, there's an essay on "smegmo" too that's quite amusing, proferring that the joke is based on a mixture of "smegma" and "Crisco" which was invented in 1911 in Cincinnati, and which was enthusiastically marketed to kosher groups who would finally be able to mix their meat and faux dairy (with no butter) after 4000 years.

 
At Saturday, August 18, 2007 1:42:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Saturday, August 18, 2007 1:44:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

rom Carolyn Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking about Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford UP, 1988), Ch. 5, "Annihilating Space, Time and Difference: Experiments in Cultural Homogenization," pp. 191-231 ...

"An early prophet of transoceanic telegraphic communication, Alonzo Jackman, offered a more explicit cultural vision of the salvation of the world through instantaneous long-distance communication in a 'new era' of evangelism. 'Heathenism would be entombed, and the whole earth would be illuminated with the glorious light of Christianity.'" (p. 192)

Citing ...

Alonzo Jackman, letter to the Editor of the Woodstock (Vermont) Mercury, Aug. 14, 1846, in "Some of the Early History of Telegraph Cable Manufacture," Electrical Review, Nov. 23, 1889, p. 2 (p. 259, n. 2)

http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/?view=usa&ci=0195063414

Cf. ...

"For Case, who'd lived for the bodiless exultation of cyberspace, it was the Fall. In the bars he'd frequented as a cowboy hotshot, the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was MEAT. Case fell into the prison of his own flesh."

[...]

"Seven days and he'd JACK in. If he closed his eyes now, he'd see the matrix."

http://www.lib.ru/GIBSON/neuromancer.txt

Emphases added ...

 
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