Archive for the ‘against the day’ Category

Children of Paradise: Pynchon’s Against the Day

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

For a book that travels so far and wide, the traveling itself is strangely told. Places are not separated by the distances, at least not distances crossed. Vehicles, whose retinue includes airships, navy destroyers disguised as passenger ships, manned torpedoes that buzz Venetian canals like vespas sawing through water on two-stroke fashion engines (Ciao! Ciao!), camels, horses, eagles (is that Mordor down below, Frodo? What is it you carry and that weighs upon your heart, so, Frodo?), not to mention time machines, are too imaginary to provide reliable transportation. What is the reader to make of all this?

I have intentionally avoided reading any reviews of the book, so as to plough through it on whatever strange connections my own head is capable of (a Rube Goldberg design, useful for traveing far as long as getting anywhere is not of any real consequence). And though I still believe that our characters are playing cards (I believe each family has four members in its suit, but those of you earlier in the book, help me) I’ve not yet checked out the Tarot deck to see if our characters’ descriptions match those of Tarot cards.

But there’s another realization creeping up on me (and ain’t this the distinct pleasure of reading a Pynchon novel? Those sneaking moments when you’re not sure whose reading whom, when author and reader seem to suddenly occupy the same head-space? Pynchon has a gift for engaging the reader to such a degree that the space between the novel and reader collapses into some strange zone of indeterminibility, the reading and the thinking now being one and the same, reader propelled forward by the sheer proximity of his own thoughts to the author’s fantastic prose…), and it’s that we’re still at the Chicago World’s Fair… Never left it folks.

By means I’m not certain of, we are making our way from pavilion to pavilion, as if in some weird Toy Story-Lord of the Rings odyssey set in a theme park featuring carnival rides, shooting galleries, Tarot readings, ferris wheels, balloon rides, Venetian gondolas, a hall of mirrors, Western saloons, bucket rides along cables and powered scooters and bicycles? A fantastic cartoon-like pursuit whose narratives bubble and froth with mythic as well as mystic force, but are enacted by a hapless and hopeless cast of marionnette dolls whose personalities include Darth Vader, Bilbo Baggins, Alice in Wonderland, Little Nemo, Houdini, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, Willy Wonka, the Wizard of Oz, Gandalf, and lord only knows who else…

Against the Day is at times incredibly unstable and uncertain, as if the book itself is a heaving, shaking, wheezing, and sputtering compendium of yarns unravelling, a Gargantuan rip-roaring roller coaster of a ride through frollicking revelries and reveries hoist on a petard un-tethered to the taut matrix of paranoia that structures Pynchon’s earlier efforts, manic and modern, fantastically filled with illusion and trickery, and simply howling with the pleasures of children given over to games and gibberish.

People, what have we done to ourselves?!

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Did Thomas Pynchon write Against the Day by playing Solitaire?

Thursday, January 18th, 2007


I’ve been posting details at our Pynchon blog on a weird reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day as a card game, or set of card games, in which the book’s characters are unaware that they’re playing cards. At 700 pages in I’m beginning to think the book might be a single card game, and not several, and I’m suspecting that it’s Solitaire, though I don’t play the game myself, so I’m out on a limb.

The possibility being that Thomas Pynchon might have written out his characters, given them plot lines, and then played a game of cards, inventing the connections as required by his need to create four of a kind, arrangements by suit, numerical order, etc. As if he had taken the challenge of post-modernism to heart, to unwrite the writing of the book, and to realize the “thrown-ness” of being by bringing his characters to life as he turns cards over and places them with others. If this were the case, the book’s writing was “in the cards,” arbitrary but fated, a world of possible books, but in which the one we are given is the one that was necessary. If we just tender this proposition, that Thomas Pynchon wished to write a book that could be written by chance, that might be about Life and Ideas in the abstract and general but that would take specific form not through authorial authority alone, he might have written it by playing cards with his own book It’s entirely possible. To write as God and the universe, but to include an element of blind luck or fate in the writing itself, but throwing down card upon card and thus allowing narrative construction to fall out of the game play. There’s still a third of the book to go, but for now I’m thrilled to bits with this possibility.

If you’re reading the book, page and thematic references are over that our Emanating Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon blog.

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I wager a key to Thomas Pynchon’s "Against the Day"

Monday, January 15th, 2007

I’m willing to bet that Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon, is a multi-faceted card game, in which a deck of cards is taken out for play, by people in different places and times, playing different games (each with its own rules). And that our main characters only come into the light when they are played. Two layers of agency are involved, the characters, who try to get find each other, and who think they have the freedom of will to do so. And the players, who try to play winning hands by getting rid of their cards, and who have various strategies of cheating at the game. Consequently we have a proliferation of fourth dimensional patterns or logics (four of a kind, suits, face cards); we have a deuce who is high or low; we have those trying to separate colors; those trying to get a run (numerical sequence), and so on. Our little characters are thrown in to Being, but as beings, are always becoming other by virtue of the different rules among games in which they are played (and which include Tarot and magic, hence invisibility). It is possible that the cards experience their lives as an eternal return. It is possible Pynchon offers this hope to us. Aces high folks, but correct me if I’m wrong!

The Pynchon blog is picking up speed, as we all discover tha this is no ordinary book at all. I’ve created a number of thematic series pages, and a section for page by page references, as well as a section of secrets. Join us at:

Emanating Against the Day blog

Planes and Lines in Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Against the Day is organized like A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. It is constructed of planes and surfaces, each a continuum of either space or time. These planes intersect, as do the novel’s subplots and concepts, through a series of dots or plot points connected by narrative arcs, each a line of flight, each borne on the wing and whimsy of Pynchon’s mad characters and historical doubles, and drawn by the invisible hand of an agency whose intrinsic logic is algorithmic, artistic, atomist, ballistic, bled, blown, buried, chemical, conjured, counter-transferred, detonated, differential, disappearing, dug, energized, explosive, forensic, forlorn, found, hallucinated, harmonized, illuminating, impregnated, internalized, literary, lived, logarithmic, lost, loved, melodic, modal, orphaned, passional, painted, played, plotted, political, projected, probabilistic, pursued, pursuing, quantum, recollecting, reflecting, refracting, scientific, screened, screwed, shuffled, spun, strummed, strung, subjective, telegraphed, transferred, vector-based, wired, wirelessly transmitted, or blown by trade wind or un-ticketed time-travel (the two primary modes, and two shadows produced on the book’s jacket cover). Each of Thomas Pynchon’s works has featured both structures favoring death and the lines of flight that escape them, for he recognizes that a structure is defined by that which escapes it. This book is nothing less than the production and reproduction of subjectivity itself–which is an organization of perceptions, affects, and actions. For Pynchon, I believe, subjectivity emerges within the given, not outside it. The deeply Spinozist and Bergsonian ground on which this narrative unfolds provides opportunity for the synthesis of space and time, in the subjective mind, on the basis of images and transformations. Light, here, is connected with matter, and Einstein’s theory of relativity is set against the atomist’s and empiricist’s conviction that the real is concrete. Either space and matter, or time, provide the rule of transformation for any particular line of flight and plane or surface of narrative and event. Points are connected either by the travels of balloonists in space, or time travelers. They meet in a strangely doubled (bi-located) and refracted four dimensional world. The key to live, or death, is in the hands of competing forces seeking to unlock time, light, or matter, each of which are distributed according to a co-ordinal logic of number-location or a logic of movement-time. Whether those who travel by location/position or those who travel by history/time will win remains to be seen, as I’m only half way through. Happy trails fellow readers!

These series will be developed further at our Pynchon blog

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Thomas Pynchon Against the Day: the play of surfaces

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

I’ve decided to read Against the Day as a multi-dimensional inter-narrative of coinciding realities in differentiated time and space. There are simply too many references to the Big Bang, to altered states of consciousness, alternate realities, to versions of history that could have been, to the inaccuracies, refractions, distortions, and bias introdcced by instruments of mediation, observation, recording, and communication. The tales told are themselves shadowed by events but in light refracted so that we can see them as multiplications and complexifications. Shadows and light, shadows of light.

There is a deep “anthropic principle” behind the cosmology of Pynchon’s Against the Day, a presence of ghosts and memories, a tracing of some kind of weak subjectivity (a post-modern position if there ever was one) whose agency is as erroneous, silly, and misguided as it is also passion-bound to defend liberty and freedom, if not also joy. There is, to cite Deleuze, “A Life” lived, as if behind the backs of our characters. A Reality realized, an Agency actualized, and a Virtual whose vectors suggest that for Pynchon, what could have or might have been are as compelling as what was. Though nothing matters in the end, there’s nothing the matter in the matter that matters to us, so what is the matter with us, since we’re all what matters and what matters to us is the matter of it all?

Constructed out of conceptual, political, social, literary, scientific, and historical plateaus, each a field of research and discovery (indeed, light, crystals, tarot, ghosts, gunpowder, flight, and the earth herself are all planes on which concepts are extended, Beings becoming), connected by lines drawn by families, as threads of a narrative, arcs of a plot, or roped together like the drum kit badly beaten by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin (himself a balloonist and ungainly Chum of Chance whose Chance was ended when he choked on his own chum), Against the Day itself blurs the line between fact and fiction. To Zeppelin’s lead balloon, it’s a Spinal Tap, a mockudocumentary of a work as much pictured in the style of color-by-numbers as written in series of connecting dots and ellipses….

There are many ways to play with surfaces, as there are ways to plumb depths. There is the conventional and proven fact that our ability to perceive reality depends on the reflection (minus absorption) of light off a surface. Without light as a medium (read: Mcluhan, for whom the lightbulb was a medium, and Pynchon, for whom Byron the bulb stole the limelight in a well-lit and lengthy but ultimately finite filmament in Gravity’s Regenbogen), we could not see anything. But if an author is to shed light on history, and if his interest involves the play of surface and depth (a theme of post modernism as well as of linguistics, semiotics, and hermeneutics), he may disassemble his own sight, may use his peripheral vision to catch things seen only when looked at from askance, might employ a prism and separate his light into its component colors. But Pynchon is an artist of the gonzo and it can be hard to tell a kaleidoscope from a prism when you’re looking at it from the other side. Clarity arrives when you set the book down.

Each of the plateaus on which Pynchon has written Against the Day has its own internal consistency. The planes intersect as the novel’s characters pass through them, across them, drift over them, break through them or become lost beneath them. It might be that our balloonists, the Chums of Chance, are like Super Mario and his pals in some strange Rube Goldberg-esque time machine video game, bouncing from level to level and gathering or chucking lives like ballast from a dirigible, their passage around the globe threading its way through the skies, but fading more like the contrails of a modern airplane marking where it has been, than projecting its destiny forward as if threading the eye of a needle whose very point could seal its fate. Pop.

Culture and art, literature, psychology, philosophy, music, and science are the perspectives from which Pynchon sees his subject as well as his craft. If one dominates, it might in fact be film, for Pynchon’s versions are much like visions. Pynchon sees, as Proust smells, and where readers might suffer his editorial style, it is an editing as montage, not as the drifting and lapsing of consciousness it might suggest. I read Against the Day sometimes with the feeling that I’m looking through a Viewmaster, each click bringing a new scene into view, and each seemingly unrelated to the next but for the round circle of time to which they all belong: a surface of infinite depths. For each is a perspective, and in each, we see what we are looking for. And I for one am looking forward to the rest of it!

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Channeling Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Burning Man, and the Matrix

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

There has been enough on Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon, to indicate the extreme likelihood that his latest work can be read in more ways than one. There is a debate, if a Wiki entry may be called a debate, a monolog, or hypothesis, or heck, a wiki entry, concerning the shadows dropped behind the title of the book (which was apparently released in two versions, and whose graphic translates: “The Tibetan Government Commerce Chamber”, an allusion, if an allusion can be performed visually, perhaps to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which deals I am sure with doubling, though I say so with absolutely nothing to go on but the obvious doubling that concerns the living and the dead, which is to say, I go by gut instinct that this work of historical fiction is also a work concerning the writing of a fictional accounting of fact, Pynchon being meta and all of that…)

There has been enough said to beg the question, What other tale may be buried herein? We know that Mr Pynchon is a fan of technology, is a fan of narrative arcs and of the rocket’s line of flight, as parable or parabola of life’s own arcing story, and arc also being that which bridges the gap between poles, two poles also suggesting bipolarity, the earth’s poles, or the anti-node from which our Chums of Chance sought to measure the electric communication of Dr. Tesla’s own arcing narrative.

To wit and a pro pole I couldn’t help but find myself aroused to a meta reading last night of the pages leading up to and around chapter two, Icelandic Spar, which seemed to me (and of lucid mind I must insist, I was) to suggest Don De Lillo, William Gibson, The Matrix, Hunter S. Thompson, and, and here is where it gets wonderfully sketchy, Burning Man.

To wit I submit a Chan-nelling of said authors and references, and solicit herewith fellow contributions.

And in all seriesnous, I must add, I do believe this to be a work of several arcs, each of which may be traced through points defined by the operation of differential and differentiating equation…. A work of several series, each a statement, a discursive curve, a Foucauldian diagram (See Deleuze on Foucault, the “new archivist” and the “new cartographer”) by which to map the Real….

From Wikipedia:
Doubling
“Pynchon makes much of a variety of calcite called Iceland spar, valued for its optical quality of double refraction; in Pynchonland, a magician can use it to split one person into two, who then wander off to lead their own lives”, Seligman writes. [16]

Sam Leith identifies the same theme:
“The book is shot through with doubling, or surrogacy. There are the palindromic rival scientists Renfrew and Werfner. [...] Events on one side of the world have an occult influence on those on the other. ‘Double refraction’ through a particular sort of crystal allows you to turn silver into gold. Mirrors are to be regarded with, at least, suspicion. It gets more complicated, and sillier. We’re introduced to the notion of ‘bilocation’ — where characters appear in two places at once — and, later, to that of ‘co-consciousness’, where someone’s own mind somehow bifurcates. ‘He wondered if he could be his own ghost,’ Pynchon writes of one character.”[19]

Reviewer Tom Leclair notes light in various flashy appearances: “God said, ‘Let there be light’; Against the Day collects ways our ancestors attempted to track light back to its source and replaced religion with alternative lights. There is the light of relativity, the odd light of electromagnetic storms, the light of the mysterious Tunguska event of 1908, when a meteorite struck Siberia or God announced a coming apocalypse. [...] the dynamite flash, the diffracted light of Iceland spar, the reflected light of magicians’ mirrors, the ‘light writing’ of photography and movies, the cities’ new electric lighting that makes the heavens invisible at night”.

Channeling now….

From Against the Day
Ref: More signs that the fair was Burning Man
“Rolling into city after city, St. Louis, Wichita, Denver, she caught herself each time hoping that somewhere in it, some neighborhood down the end of some electric line, it’d be there waiting for her, the real White City again, list up all spectral and cool at night and shimmering by day in the bright humidity of its webwork of canals, the electric launches moving silently through the waterways with their parasoled ladies and straw-hatted men and little kids with Cracker Jack pieces stuck in their hair.” p. 70, (boldface is mine)

From Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), by Hunter S. Thompson
“What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create … a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody — or at least some force — is tending that Light at the end of the tunnel.”

From Against the Day
At first she begged Merle, tearfully as she knew how, to please bring back, please, and he never quite found the way to tell her that the fairground was most of it surely burned down by now, pulled to pieces, taken away to salvage yards, sold off, crumbled away, staff and scantlings at the mercy of the elements, of the man-made bad times that had come upon Chicago and the nation…
p. 70

What is not burnt at the end of Burning man is disassembled and all of it taken away…

From Against the Day
“Planted rows went turning past like giant spokes one by one as they ranged the roads.” p. 70, (boldface is mine)

From Against the Day
“They pushed out into morning fields that went rolling all the way to every horizon, the Inner American Sea, where the chickens schooled like herring, and the hogs and heifers foraged and browsed like groupers and codfish, and the sharks tended to operate out of Chicago or Kansas City…” p. 71, (boldface is mine)

From Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Vintage, 1971), pp 66-68 by Hunter S. Thompson
It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. …. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning…. And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

From Against the Day
“Foley was ordinary-enough looking, not having yet taken on the more menacing aspect that the years in their peculiar mercy would provide him—what might’ve been exceptional was his idea of social or phatic conversation. “Took a Reb bullet for you, sir…” p. 100

…here now a description of Prince Polecat from Shelby Foote
“Later, a Union prisoner described Polignac’s Confederates as “charging demons,” moving forward “like a cyclone” as they bellowed their Rebel yells, and scorned every minie ball that whined around them……..” footnoted as from Shelby Foote, The Civil War, A Narrative: Red River To Appomattox, p. 44

…And if Foley Walker isn’t Shelby Foote, who died in 2005, it should have been….Listen to Foote’s phatic style, in perfect mason-dixon relief to that of his northern interviewer, Terry Gross, on Fresh Air.

[At 5:20 into the interview, Foote discusses the rifle and musket technologies of the time. The Minie Ball was made of lead, and did not find a place to rest in the human anatomy until after some amount of dul-headed back and forth.]

I now interrupt this exegesis to include this for comic relief…

IF GRANT HAD BEEN DRINKING AT APPOMATTOX -James Thurber

“General Lee will be here any minute now,” said the Corporal firmly, swinging the hammock again.
“Will you cut that out?” roared Grant. “D’ya want to make me sick, or what?” Shultz clicked his heels and saluted. “What’s he coming here for?” asked the General.
“This is the day of surrender, sir,” said Shultz. Grant grunted bitterly.
“Three hundred and fifty generals in the Northern armies,” said Grant, “and he has to come to me about this. What time is it?”. “You’re the Commander-in-Chief, that’s why,” said Corporal Shultz. “It’s eleven twenty, sir.”
“Don’t be crazy,” said Grant. “Lincoln is the Commander-in-Chief. Nobody in the history of the world ever surrendered before lunch. Doesn’t he know that an army surrenders on its stomach?” He pulled a blanket up over his head and settled himself again.
“The generals of the Confederacy will be here any minute now,” said the Corporal. “You really ought to be up, sir.” Grant stretched his arms above his head and yawned. “All right, all right,” he said. He rose to a sitting position and stared about the room. “This place looks awful,” he growled. “You must have had quite a time of it last night, sir,” ventured Shultz. “Yeh,” said General Grant, looking around for his clothes. “I was wrassling some general. Some general with a beard.”
Shultz helped the commander of the Northern armies in the field to find his clothes. “Where’s my other sock?” demanded Grant. Shultz began to look around for it. The General walked uncertainly to a table and poured a drink from a bottle. “I don’t think it wise to drink, sir,” said Shultz. Nev’ mind about me,” said Grant, helping himself to a second, “I can take it or let it alone. Didn’ ya ever hear the story about the fella went to. Lincoln to complain about me drinking too much? ‘So-and-So says Grant drinks too much,’ this fella said. ‘So-and-So is a fool,’ said Lincoln. So this fella went to What’s-His-Name and told him what Lincoln said and he came roarin’ to Lincoln about it. ‘Did you tell So-and-So was a fool?’ he said. ‘No,’ said Lincoln, ‘I thought he knew it.’” The’General smiled, reminiscently, and had another drink. “”That’s how I stand with Lincoln,” he said, proudly,
The soft thudding sound of horses’ hooves came through the open window. Shultz hurriedly walked over and looked out. “Hoof steps,” said Grant, with a curious chortle. “It is General Lee and his staff,” said Shultz. “Show him in,” said the General, taking another drink. “And see what the boys in the back room will have.” Shultz walked smartly over to the door, opened it, saluted, and stood aside.
General Lee, dignified against the blue of the April sky, magnificent in his dress uniform, stood for a moment framed in the doorway. He walked in, followed by his staff. They bowed, and stood silent. General Grant stared at them. He only had one boot on and his jacket was unbuttoned.
“I know who you are,” said Grant.’You’re Robert Browning, the poet.” “This is General Robert E. Lee,” said one of his staff, coldly. “Oh,” said Grant. “I thought he was Robert Browning. He certainly looks like Robert Browning. There was a poet for you. Lee: Browning. Did ya ever read ‘How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix’? ‘Up Derek, to saddle, up Derek, away; up Dunder, up Blitzen, up, Prancer, up Dancer, up Bouncer, up Vixen, up -’”.
“Shall we proceed at once to the matter in hand?” asked General Lee, his eyes disdainfully taking in the disordered room. “Some of the boys was wrassling here last night,” explained Grant. “I threw Sherman, or some general a whole lot like Sherman. It was pretty dark.” He handed a bottle of Scotch to the commanding officer of the Southern armies, who stood holding it, in amazement and discomfiture. “Get a glass, somebody,” said Grant, .looking straight at General Longstreet. “Didn’t I meet you at Cold Harbor?” he asked. General Longstreet did not answer.
“I should like to have this over with as soon as possible,” said Lee. Grant looked vaguely at Shultz, who walked up close to him , frowning. “The surrender, sir, the surrender,” said Corporal Shultz in a whisper. “Oh sure, sure,” said Grant. He took another drink. “All right,” he said. “Here we go.” Slowly, sadly, he unbuckled his sword. Then he handed it to the astonished Lee. “There you are. General,” said Grant. “We dam’ near licked you. If I’d been feeling better we would of licked you.”

…And now to return, on the blue pill (or is it the red pill), the hallucinatory series, in which Thomas Pynchon shrooms on the playa in Black Rock, Nevada, during the week of Burning Man, and, tripping, encounters Doctor Megavolt with his bipolar Tesla coil performance on a bus, sees visions of green pixellated screens rendered in the Matrix, pixels (quaternions) being a lossy way of storing the image when compared to vector-based flash files, De Lillo’s postcard section in White Noise now coming to mind, Webb Traverse now sounding a lot like Web TV, a Finnish street on webcam being a memorable point in that author’s dialog with memory, recollection, the image, and the real, a hyper-reality of Baudrillardian proportions now threatening to map the surface before there’s anything on it, Pynchon traversing the flat earth, pencil in hand, with a burning need to record, to write, to get it down as it is, the whole lossy storage of image now more than a matter of mere dithering…

From Against the Day
“Later in the shack, Kit came upon Telsa, frowning at a pencil sketch. “Oh. Sorry, I was looking for—”
“This toroid is the wrong shape,” said Tesla. “Come, look at this a moment.”
Kit had a look. “Maybe there’s a vector solution.”
How’s that”
“We know what we want the field to look like at each point, don’t we. Well maybe we can generate a surface shape that’ll give us that field”. p. 104

…Vector graphics are of course the faster, better way to draw a screen, store an image, and avoid the loss and artifacting of pixel-based file formats. Now a clearer image might solve that problem with the image we get in the Matrix, all green running-down pixels, wouldn’t you say? …

From Against the Day
“…in the sea’s reasserted emptiness, they had raised the volcano, dark and ruinous, which was their destination.” p.109

“Pallets and nails from opened crates soon littered the area.” p. 109

“Explosion without an objective is politics in its purest form” p. 111

….And does not Burning Man resonate, a boom to concuss the open mind across twelve square miles of inland sea, lakebedded flatland, if even as a raved-up historical after thought to the more explosive, surely more political, July Fourth trestle-blasting celebrations of the American Fin de Siecle?….

From Against the Day
“what does this suggest to you about the trajectories of your own lives?” p. 112

From Against the Day
“Electrodes sputtered and flared, and giant transformer coils droned afflictedly, almost in human accents, fed by electrical generators whose steam was being supplied by the local hot springs.” p. 112

….Well if that doesn’t sound like dr megavolt performing on the playa, call me mudd, or deaf, mudd, and blind. And of course, there are hot springs next to the black rock desert playa ….

From Against the Day
“mushrooms unknown… with new properties of visionary enhancement.” p. 115

From Against the Day
….Miles picks up communication from the tesla coil…. “There is traffic on the Tesla device” p. 117

From Against the Day
…the Chums of Chance are at the center of the earth now, picking up a call for help on the Tesla line “They are calling for help…” p. 116

….I picture Thomas Pynchon on the playa, the sky falling as if black rock city were now curtained by the northern lights themselves, imagining Morpheus, Trinity, Neo and the whole lot trying to find a landline by means of which to exit the Matrix…

From Against the Day
“They claim to be under attack by a horde or hostile gnomes, and have set out red signal lamps, arranged in concentric circles” p. 118

…At this point our author has clearly turned from the perimeter fence and made a bee-line to the Man, a light-seeking moth of a human, clod-hopping his flat-footed self across the playa, a mad jabber-jawing post-modernist packing genius, his hand in a bag of gibberish, propelled as if by the great thruster of Life itself on a vector for the center of the many-spoked wheel, only to stall in mid-flight Brenschluss as he comes upon what must have, surely was, Ishtar and it’s calamitous operatic unfolding, a pell-mell of half-clad fire dancers adrift in lurid imprecision as the orchestra tunes to two measures of loop and the whole gathering at large waits for Pepe, an E major, and the damn thing to please begin already….

From Against the Day
117: “the Chums swept through the interior of the Earth and at last out her Northern portal, which they beheld as a tiny circle of brightness far ahead..” 116

From Against the Day
Quaternions. “one who cannot come to terms with the one, one must say sinister unknowability of Light, projects an Aether, real in every way, except for its being detectable.” “Fairies under mushrooms…” p. 132-3

…pixels, pixies….

From Against the Day
“Earlier members of the Expedition had visited the great Library of Iceland behind the translucent green walls facing the sunlit sea. Some of these spaces were workshops or mess-halls some centers of operation…” p. 133

…yes, definitely in the Nebucadnezzar, Dozer at the helm, surrounded by green screens all dripping a pixellated view of the Matrix…

From Against the Day
“the subsctructure off reality. The doubling of the Creation, each image clear and believable….” p. 133 which “makes it possible for them to move through the world that thinks of itself as real…” p. 134

From Against the Day
134: Down where the the ‘Hidden People’ live, inside their private rock dwellings, where humans who visit them can be closed in and never find a way out again.” p. 134

….poor Zion…

Against the Day
“The sun came up a baleful smear in the sky….A silver-gray, odorless, silent exit from the upper world…. The sun might be visible from time to time, with or without clouds, but the sky was more neutral density gray than blue.” p. 134

and finally…
Neuromancer by William Gibson
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” opening line….

Chums of Chance, Lines of Flight, Thomas Pynchon

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Reading Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon…

“Structures are defined by that which escapes them…” V2, hyperbolic narrative arc traced across the sky, its silent and unannounced arrival among the humble homes of wartime wine-jelly-feasting Londoners known only by the anticipation manifest by Slothrop prescient anatomy… An arc drawn out by Brenschluss, motivation on the launch pad is matched by motivation at the landing site, that is, a hard on for culture and women… Arcs are drawn also by Altman and Paul Thomas Anderson, each of whom permits himself a little divine intervention: earthquakes, frogs, and an operatic moment to bind coincidental relationships with song. Vineland, a mad defenestrator has worked out that it takes but one annual performance to obtain government funds… Structures are defined by who escapes them… And a Line of Flight, yes, no doubt now that Deleuze and Guattari’s Book of Italian Wedding Cakes contains some useful recipes, is drawn by the Chums of Chance (again, chance in the V2, chance in altman/anderson) as the Inconvenience drops from the sky to mark points on the map of the world. Distributed according to Poisson, Deleuze, or God himself, points on a line are described by our man Pynchon’s narrathmatical and aerognostical operation…

“The new archivist proclaims that henceforth he will deal only with statements. He will not concern himself with what pervious archivists have treated in a thousand different ways: propositions and phrases. He will ignore both the vertical hierarchy of propositions which are stacked on top of one another, and the horizontal relationship established between phrases in which each seems to respond to another. Instead he will remain mobile, skimming along in a kind of diagonal line that allows him to read what could not be apprehended before, namely statements. Is this perhaps an atonal logic?….
“But in the space of two chapters Foucault rigorously demonstrates that contradictions between statements can be measured only by calculating the concrete distance between them within this space of rarity. Comparisons between statements are therefore linked to a mobile diagonal line that allows us, within this space, to make a direct study of the same set at different levels, as well as to choose some sets on the same level while disregarding others (which in turn might presuppose another diagonal line.) It is precisely the rarefied nature off this space which creates these unusual movements and bursts of passion that cut space up into new dimensions. To our amazement, this ‘incomplete, fragmented form’ shows, when it comes to statements, how not only few things are said, but ‘few things can be said.’ What consequences from this transportation of logic will find their way into that element of rarity or dispersion which has nothing to do with negativity, but which on the contrary forms that ‘positivity’ which is unique to statements?
“Foucault also tries to reassure us, though: if it is true that statements are essentially rare, no originality is needed to produce them. A statement always represents a transformation of particular elements distributed in a corresponding space. As we shall see, the formations and transformations of these spaces themselves pose topological problems that cannot be adequately be described in terms of creation, beginning or foundation. When studying a particular space, it matters even less whether a statement has taken place for the first time, or whether it involves repetition or reproduction. What counts is the regularity of the statement: it represents not the average but the whole statistical curve. In effect the statement is to be associated not with the transmission of particular elements presupposed by it but with the shape of the whole curve to which they are related, and more generally with the rules governing the particular field in which they are distributed and reproduced.”
Foucault, by Gilles Deleuze pp 1-4