- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
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a: 47, b: 34 - Yoyodyne
The company also appears in V., where the power (dynamis in Greek, cf. dynamo, dynamite, dynasty) and physics of the yo-yo's motion is meditated upon. Yoyodyne is said to be 'modeled"--given Pynchon's sea-changing mind--on the Boeing Company where Pynchon worked in the early sixties.
a: 47, b: 34 - oscilloscope... Lissajous figures
An oscilloscope is a piece of electronic test equipment that allows signal voltages to be viewed, usually as a two-dimensional graph. Wikipedia Lissajous curves (Lissajous figures or Bowditch curves) are the graph of the system of parametric equations which describes complex harmonic motion, and are displayed on oscilloscope monitors. Wikipedia
a: 47, b: 34 - Stockhausen
Karlheinz Stockhausen (b. 1928, d. 2007) was a German composer, and one of the most important and controversial composers of the 20th century. He is best known for his ground-breaking work in electronic music and controlled chance in serial composition. The Beatles, among other rock musicians, claimed him as an influence:
- . . . .So taken were the Beatles by Stockhausen's music, they asked permission to use his photo on the cover of the 1967 LP Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. He appears fifth from the left in the back row.
Stockhausen's Hymnen, composed in 1966/1967 is an obvious primary inspriation for John Lennon's experiment in Musique Concrète, Revolution # 9.
a: 48, b: 34 - Mike Fallopian
Obviously, Fallopian tubes are two very fine tubes leading from the ovaries of female mammals into the uterus.
The -ian ending of his name indicates that Mike is a member of California's vigorous Armenian-American community.
a: 49, b: 35 - Disgruntled
Pynchon's fictional navy includes the USS Scaffold and the Susanna Squaducci (V.), the John E. Badass (GR), and the Inconvenience (ATD).
a: 49, b: 35 - Bogatir... Gaidamak
The bogatyr was a medieval Russian heroic warrior, comparable to the Western European knight errant. Wikipedia The parallel with Charlemagne's "paladins" may be even closer.
At the time of the U.S. Civil War, gaidamak or haydamak denoted an 18th century Ukrainian fighter for national independence. The name is sometimes translated as "Ukrainian Cossack," perhaps in part because it was extended to Cossack anti-Bolshevik troops after the 1917 revolution.
a: 50, b: 36 - Birch Society
The John Birch Society is an Americanist organization founded in 1958 to fight what it saw as growing threats to the Constitution of the United States, especially a suspected communist infiltration of the United States government, and to support free enterprise. It was named after John Birch, a United States military intelligence officer and Baptist missionary in World War II who was killed in 1945 by armed supporters of the Communist Party of China, and whom the JBS describes as "the first American victim of the Cold War." Wikipedia
"Our left-leaning friends in the Birch society" is a joke as the Birch Society was right-wing, although of course Fallopian is being serious. The PPS is beyond far right in this sense.
a: 51, b: 37 - Marxism... Industrial anything
Some critics have interpreted this to mean that the Pinguid Society is so anti-communist that it even opposed capitalism... because it led inevitably to communism! While funny, this seems to miss the point. The guiding philosophy of the Pinguid Society is not anti-communism. It opposes "industrial anything", which indicates a belief in another philosophy Pynchon has written much on, Ludditisim. See Wikipedia entry on Luddite; the 1984 essay, Is it OK to be a Luddite? by Pynchon; and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Luddite, an essay on Minstral Island, the aborted sci-fi musical written by Pynchon and future leading Luddite, Kirkpatrick Sale.
a: 52, b: 38 - Get in touch with Kirby through WASTE only. . . .
First apperance of the W.A.S.T.E. Postal system.
see Understanding W.A.S.T.E.
a: 52, b: 38 - Muted Posthorn/Sigil
The visual design of the Symbol of the W.A.S.T.E. postal system appears to be an improvised Magical Sigil. Note that a number of these sigils can be found in A. E. Waite's Book of Black Magic, a work referenced in Geli Tripping's love spell in the author's next work, Gravity's Rainbow. The Seal of Amduscias [found on page 218 of Weiser's 1972 reprint] appears to be the likely inspiration. Miles Davis is another probable inspiration. See a: 63, b: 48 - The Courier's Tragedy, below.
a: 53, b: 39 - Washington and Dallas chapters
For readers in 1966, singling out Washington and Dallas might bring to mind the recent assassination of President Kennedy.
- Charles Hollander sees CoL49 as a big coded commentary on the assassination. Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49
a: 56, b: 41 - reconstruction of some European pleasure-casino
Perhaps the Casino Hermann Goering from Gravity's Rainbow?
a: 57, b: 42 - trimaran
A multihull boat consisting of a main hull and two smaller outrigger hulls, attached to the main hull with lateral struts.
a: 57, b: 42 - Godzilla II
There seems to be some kind of joke from somewhere that Pynchon was rumored to be writing a novel about Godzilla and Mothra at some point... More??? In a letter to his editor in the sixties, Cork Smith, as he was writing Gravity's Rainbow, he spoke of also working on two other books. One was about the two men who created the Mason/Dixon line, an easy one for us, the other was said to be inspired by Pynchon's love of the Godzilla movies and was about a monster which came from under the ice. [Spoiler for another work]: That, if not a put-on, which TRP did not seem to do with Cork Smith, seems to be a small but real part of what became Against the Day.
In this context it is important to remember the origins of the Godzilla story.
a: 58, b: 43 - sfacim
Italian slang, literally "semen" but also used as an insult roughly equivalent to "son of a bitch."
a: 58, b: 43 - Darrowlike
Clarence Seward Darrow (1857 - 1938) was a famous American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, best known for defending teenaged thrill killers and defending John T. Scopes in the so-called "Monkey" Trial. Wikipedia
- Hollander interprets the mention of Darrow as proof of his theory that the Russian naval encounter described by Fallopian is a reference to the purchase of Alaska from Russia, "Seward's folly."
a: 59, b: 43 - XKE
The Jaguar XKE was a famous sportscar, later selected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York as the 'world's most beautiful automobile.' Some connection with mafioso Tony Jaguar?
a: 61, b: 46 - Lago di Pietà
An actual historical event?
a: 63, b: 48 - The Courier's Tragedy
Bonjour Tristesse!!! An anonymous black-clad femme is the first to mention the play, though she does so without actually naming it:
- "You know, blokes," remarked one of the girls, a long-waisted, brown-haired lovely in a black knit leotard and pointed sneakers, "this all has a most bizarre resemblance to that ill, ill Jacobean revenge play we went to last week."
So, some stylish young beatnik is the one who points at the play, firmly positioning everything in reference to the Beats. Remember that this is still 1964, the Hippies where just over the pass, revelation was in progress all around her and just about to catch up with Mr. & Mrs. Maas. But not quite yet, it’s all about the Beatniks here. So a work like Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan would be the most probable point of reference for the web or network that grows out of Tristesse.
The key words, offering up the crucial points of reference are Jacobean Revenge Play:
- The revenge play or revenge tragedy is a form of tragedy which was extremely popular in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. The best-known of these are Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy and William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
It's Musician Miles who gets to declaim the name of the play. If you were to have an LP by a Miles back in '64, most likely it would be Kind of Blue, that modal masterpiece whose title can also be in reference to Melancholy or, if you prefer the French, Tristesse. And please note the Harmon Mute plugged into Miles Davis' trumpet.
Addition points of reference are given when Oedipa hunts down Plays of Ford, Webster, Tourneur and Wharfinger, see a: 101, b: 81.
See Making sense of The Courier's Tragedy
a: 65, b: 49 - civil war
The English Civil War consisted of a series of armed conflicts and political machinations that took place between Parliamentarians (known as Roundheads) and Royalists (known as Cavaliers) between 1642 and 1651. Wikipedia
a: 66, b: 50 - Maenad roar of nitre's song
In Greek mythology, Maenads were female worshippers of Dionysus, the Greek god of mystery, wine and intoxication, and the Roman god Bacchus. The word literally translates as "raving ones". They were known as wild, insane women who could not be reasoned with. Wikipedia In Euripides' Bacchae, some of the women are voluntary worshippers of the god, strike the earth for milk, wine, and honey, hunt and tear apart wild animals, eating the flesh raw (sparagmos); the women of Thebes are driven mad as a punishment, however, for not giving the god (from Thebes itself originally, his mother being a Theban princess) full respect. The boy-king Pentheus' own mother tears him apart in a grotesque distortion of the "real" maenads' practice of "sparagmos". Dionysus himself is torn apart (and reborn) in some versions of the story.
Niter or nitre is the mineral form of potassium nitrate, KNO3, also known as saltpeter, an essential ingredient of gunpowder.
a: 66, b: 50 - cantus firmus
In music, a cantus firmus ("fixed song") is a pre-existing melody forming the basis of a polyphonic composition, often set apart by being played in long notes. Wikipedia
a: 66, b: 50 - Thurn und Taxis
The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis (German: Das Fürstenhaus Thurn und Taxis) is a German family that was a key player in the postal (mail) services in Europe in the 16th century and is well known as owners of breweries and builders of countless castles. Wikipedia
Also noteworthy is Rainer Maria Rilke's dedication of Duineser Elegien to Princess Maria von Thurn in whose castle Rilke wrote the elegies. Excerpts from the elegies appear in GR.
a: 67, b: 51 - aqua regia
Aqua regia (Latin for "royal water") is a highly corrosive mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid. It is one of the few reagents that dissolves gold and platinum. It was so named because it can dissolve the so-called royal, or noble metals. Wikipedia
a: 73, b: 57 - blank verse
Blank verse is a type of poetry, distinguished by having a regular meter, but no rhyme. In English, the meter most commonly used with blank verse has been iambic pentameter. Wikipedia
a: 75, b: 59 - picket the V.A.
Veteran's Administration, probably.
a: 76, b: 59 - Young Republican
Young Republicans is the name of an organization for members of the Republican Party of the United States between the ages of 18 and 40. Wikipedia
a: 76, b: 59 - Hap Harrigan comics
Hap Harrigan was a character in the 1931 film, The Hot Heiress (IMDB), but Weisenburger and Grant believe that Pynchon may have meant Hop Harrigan, a comic strip and radio character from the 1940s.
a: 79, b: 62 - I'm the projector of the planetarium
This reference to creation recalls the Remedios Varo painting in Chapter 1, in which the girls in the tower weave the world. Cf. "Shall I project a world?" from this novel.
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