Of rockets, the Fourth, Kim Jong Il, the Taepodong tumble and Beckham’s arc


I’ve long admired the hyperbolic and parabolic arc that is the narrative of both Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and the line of flight traced across the sky, screamingly (famously), from Peenemunde in Prussian Germany, across the Channel’s choppy waters, the whiteness of Dover, to land, long after Brenn-schluss and with a smack that arrives only later, in London, east side.

Lately, Saturday, another hyperbolic arc was not delivered by one David Beckham, to return, across the channel’s still-choppy waters, on yet another channel (ESPN2, or was it ABC?), one line of flight bowing to another, and did not dispatch the Portugese from their cup contention but did the English.

Not so silently did another rocket dispatch itself from the Floridian shoreline and at a migraine-inducing speed leave the earth’s atmosphere to puncture the firmament and let the air out of a lovely July Fourth celebration, US democracy such as it is now requiring us to spend 50% of the planet’s military to sustain power and might for the right to project either, globally…

And as a twin-engine Qassam rocket buzzed its way from Gaza deeper into sovereign Israel than the 6 miles normally achieved by Qassam rockets, fired as usual by Hamas, an organization that refuses to officlally recognize Israel’s sovereignty and whose own sovereignty now clings precariously to life (under the tank treads of the occupier/displacer, or more accurately, the arms sold by those who support them)…

A Taepodong Two tumbled into the ocean 40 or so short seconds after lifting off the northern Korean peninsula. Kim Jong Il, no smarter than the dummy that played him in Team America (the animation by the creators of South Park, which sounds Korean but isnt) brought 5 extra and proven missiles along to shoot off to provide facial protection from an embarassment (they say in Asia it’s shame) sure to come, the Taepong not being known to stay up for long (as a US ambassador put it)…

…and reflecting on the best moment in 13 days in October, that lengthy film about the Cuban Missile Crisis in which the actor playing Robert McNamara castigates a Navy general for firing a warning shot across the bow of a Soviet tanker, declaiming, proclaiming and exclaiming that “this was a communication system” and that Kennedy was trying to communicate to Khruschev and thus please dont fire another shot unless told to do so by me…

“This is not a blockade. This is language. A new vocabulary, the likes of which the world has never seen! This is President Kennedy communicating with Secretary Khrushchev!”

and knowing that Slothrop (Gravity’s Rainbow’s protagonist, who gets an erection every time a V2 lands in London, and who is thus the only means by which to predict where the rockets might fall, though as it turns out has an impressive number of one-night stands in London and spies following his nocturnal she-nanigans might easily be misled) would at this point be getting a hard on…

I wondered, where, really, international affairs had gone wrong for so many rockets to go off when there is so little intercourse in the intercourse of nations, and whether, possibly, there might be another way to escape the negentropic destiny of distrusting sovereigns, goons, and their bureaucrats, and whether they might come up with something to say besides “Do you see me?” and “Look at me” “Mine’s bigger” and could there possibly be a cheaper way to obtain a line of flight out of this structure (facing death, as Pychon observers) this side of Beckham’s salary, a flight-worthy Taepodong-2, Qassam, or Discovery. Might the message of the missile be written on paper, and not in the dirt?

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