Chapter 2

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a: 23, b: 13 - Sick Dick and the Volkswagens
Fictional, but a 1970s New York City punk band adopted the name. [1] "I Want to Kiss Your Feet" no doubt an allusion to the 1963 Beatles hit, "I Want to Hold Your Hand." The 1960s Volkswagens were referred to as "Beetles" because they were similar in shape to the insect.

  • Might this mean that Pynchon was fond of the Beatles but "did not believe in" them? Also, Pynchon explores the foot fetish in greater depth in Against the Day (2006), and especially in Bleeding Edge (2013).

a: 24, b: 14 - printed circuit
Many people have undoubtedly seen civilization from a plane or high place and been reminded of a circuit board, but this description is probably one of, if not the first time it's been set down in American fiction.

a: 25, b: 14 - believe in his job
Echoes the "believe in" language from two pages back. Pynchon is drawing a metaphor between "believing in" a band and "believing in" a job.

"Believing in" here seems to mean something like identifying with; being one with (sorta); not being alienated from. Which seems thematic to the mystery within the story.
also see Voices, Voices

a: 25, b: 14 - religious instant
May be a stretch, but Pynchon's works seem to have many such "religious instants," in which a character experiences a flood of ideas and emotions in just a few moments. Further discussion

a: 25, b: 15 - giants of the aerospace industry
Pynchon worked as a technical writer at Boeing from 1960-62.

a: 26, b: 15 - horse

a: 26, b: 17 - the Paranoids
Some fan has made a mock-up of what a CD by The Paranoids might look like, here.

The Paranoids are a pastische of various Rock & Roll bands struggling in L.A. in the wake of the success of the Beatles.

see The Paranoids

b: 18 - kasher
Generally refers to a process that renders a utensil fit for use ("kosher") by removing material that has been absorbed in it. However, it can also be used (as Metzger does) in reference to the process by which meat is made kosher, which involves soaking the meat in water, salting it, and then rinsing it. This process pulls the excess blood out of the meat and makes it kosher for eating.

a: 30, b: 19 - Gallipoli
The Battle of Gallipoli took place at Gallipoli from April 1915 to December 1915 during the First World War. A joint British and French operation was mounted in an effort to eventually capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (Istanbul). The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides. Wikipedia

b: 19 - Hun
Slang/nickname for Germans. Refers to a speech made by Emperor Wilhelm II in July 1900, wherein he urged his troops to emulate the brutal and merciless conduct of the Huns under Attila.

b: 20 - Fangoso
Spanish: muddy.

a: 31, b: 20 - hierophany
Physical manifestation of the holy or sacred. This manifestation can be in many forms, often in symbols or rituals. An example of a hierophany would be an apparition or image appearing on a window bearing resemblance to the virgin Mary.

a: 31, b: 20 - Book of the Dead
ancient Egyptian funerary text used by the ancient Egyptians as a set of instructions for the afterlife. Not all the spells were used for every burial; some depended on wealth and status. Some spells were gifts to the gods, while other were used so the person could walk, a spell for not dying again in the afterlife, and even a spell 'For preventing a man from going upside down and from eating feces' Wikipedia

Also a reference to the Bardo Thodol, or Tibetan Book of the Dead, a text Timothy Leary:

I was tremendously influenced by Thomas Pynchon whose book, "Gravity’s Rainbow," I think, is the Bible of the information and communication age. Naturally, it’s underestimated and ignored, because it’s so powerful, and because he won’t play the game. . . .

found invaluable in exploring the The Psychedelic Experience. In turn, this rediscovered material from the Tibetan Book of the Dead influenced the Beatles on their first track recorded for the LP Revolver, Tomorrow Never Knows.

a: 31, b: 20 - singling up all lines

Pynchon was in the Navy for a spell and "single up all lines" is a common nautical term. Ships are docked with lines doubled -- that is, with two sets of ropes or chains holding the vessel to the dock. To "single up all lines" is to remove the redundant second lines in preparation to make way.

Pynchon uses this term in almost all his novels, notably as the first sentence of Against the Day. For more, see ATD, page 3.

b: 21 - Jerry
A nickname for German soldiers that was popular among the British.

a: 33, b: 21 - a cash nexus
a phrase of Karl Marx that refers to the way interpersonal relations in a (Capitalist) society are 'reduced' to economic relationships.

a: 33, b: 22 - Manny di Presso
Manic depression?

a: 36, b: 24 - Botticelli
Botticelli is a guessing game which requires the players to have a good knowledge of biographical details of famous people. The game has several variants, but the common theme is that one person or team thinks of a famous person, reveals their initial letter, and then answers yes/no questions to allow other players to guess the identity. Wikipedia

b: 26 - Lord love a duck
An inoffensive expression of surprise of British origin. Another example of Miles' affectation of British mannerisms.

b: 26 - seraglio

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6
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