High Magic to low Puns
- . . . .She knew that the sailor had seen worlds no other man had seen if only because there was that high magic to low puns, because DT's must give access to dt's of spectra beyond the known sun, music made purely of Antarctic loneliness and fright . . . .
I suppose the first reasonable question is "What is High Magic?", High Magic being one of those terms we generally assume we already know, the bulk of the readers skimming right past that phrase even though they've never really had the acquaintance of a practioneer, much less participate in a Magick ritual, either high or low. High Magic is magic that seeks contact with the Divine, one could also look at it as a form of Gnosis. "High Magic" is one of the biggest themes in all of Pynchon's books, all aspects of Magic high and low are explored. The number and density of references to magic increase in his output, culminating in the constantly shifting magical realism of Against the Day. But, quite frequently in Thomas Pynchon's output, there's a Home-Grown word Wicca that can be Scryed in the Spells and Twisted Spelllings of the Gnarly Etymological roots he digs up like some Witch Doctor and re-twists into his novels.
The High Magic of Angelic Language must be declaimed---Cried is one way to put it---very carefully, with a great and awful locution. . . .
From an Unsigned article on Enochian calls:
- ". . . .Pronunciation proves a problem for the scholar of Enochian. Since the language was only ever really used by Dee and Kelley in its true and correct form, we have only a vague idea of how it was actually spoken. Aleister Crowley of the Golden Dawn fame, proposed a system of pronunciation which took each individual letter as a single sound. This is explained by Sapere Aude (William Wynn Wescott- also of the Golden dawn):
- In pronouncing the Names, take each letter separately. M is pronounced Em; N is pronounced En (also Nu, since in Hebrew the vowel following the equivalent letter Nun is 'u'); A is Ah; P is Peh; S is Ess; D is Deh.
- NRFM is pronounced En-Ra-Ef-Em or En-Ar-Ef-Em. ZIZA is pronounced Zod-ee-zod-ah. ADRE is Ah-deh-reh or Ah-deh-er-reh. TAAASD is Teh-ah-ah-ah-ess-deh. AIAOAI is Ah-ee-ah-oh-ah-ee. BDOPA is Beh-deh-oh-peh-ah. BANAA is Beh-ah-en-ah-ah. BITOM is Beh-ee-to-em or Beh-ee-teh-oo-em. NANTA is En-ah-en-tah. HCOMA is Heh-co-em-ah. EXARP is Eh-ex-ar-peh.
The Word must be spoken with the greatest imaginable specificity:
- . . . .The second section is my attempt to rewrite the Calls into some sort of standardized, readable phonetic system. One thing became evident in this process: the pronunciation guide given by Donald Laycock in his Complete Enochian Dictionary is the closest thing to Dee's notes I've seen so far. . . .
- . . . .The angels themselves are no help here:
- Dee: I pray you, is Mozod a word of three letters, or of five?
- Nalvage: In wrote three, it is larger extended. [Dee- Z extended is Zod.]
- Dee: Will you pardon me if I ask you another question of this extension?
- Nal.: Say on: Moz in itself signifieth Joy; but Mozod extended, signifieth the Joy of God
- (Causabon, A True and Faithful Relation..., p. 75). . . .
Of course, taking these concepts a touch closer to Terra Firma, or Malkuth if we want to get Technical about it, we note that a glossary for The Crying of Lot 49 should also fold in a pronounciation guide that points out homonyms or sound-alikes in the novella, as this little story is overstuffed with puns, homonyms, mondegreens, acronyms, and near misses of famous or useful names. Take Jesus Arrabal as a fine upstanding example of the word games that Thomas Ruggles Pynchon obsessively plays. We all know the name Jesus, in addition to being our Lord and Savior And All That, is also quite a common Christian Name in predominantly Catholic Latin American countries, such as Mexico, though, as in The Big Lebowski there is a frisson of heresy in recontextualizing the religious figure of Jesus Christ as a low and excluded preterite. Pynchon's family history again applies here. William Pynchon, founder of Springfield and a source of a lot that goes on in Pynchon the younger's books, spoke of Jesus Christ as closer to man, closer to those that the Calvinist Elect saw as excluded from Christ's kingdom. I can't tell you why Our Beloved Author takes up this theme so many times, but it is made explicit in the form of William Slothrop's banned and burned book On Preterition, a fictional book folded into Gravity's Rainbow. Preterition is, of course, one of the most frequently used terms in Pynchon's writing, displaying the author's great depth of knowledge on spiritual topicks including the history of the Calvinists and their impact on America, it is a historical thread that the author will return to again and again.
But the Arrabal part, where did Our Beloved Author find that one and what does it mean? Charles Hollander, in Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49, points out that Arrabal translates from Spanish into Suburb. Alternatively, it can mean the Outlands, in the dance of the tango, it's the Slums, so Jesus Arrabal can also be Jesus of the Slums. If you say it out loud, it sounds like Jesus 'orrible. This is not your run-of-the-mill Jesus here.
Then there's Fernando Arrabal, a figure on view but partially obscured in The Crying of Lot 49 much as the satrist Varo reflects on the visual artist Remedios Varo. According to the Wikipedia article on Fernando Arrabal
- Fernando Arrabal Terán (born August 11, 1932 in Melilla, Spain) is a Spanish playwright, screenwriter, film director, novelist and poet of Spanish origin. He settled in France in 1955. . . .
- . . . .‘’Arrabal’s theatre is a wild, brutal, cacophonous, and joyously provocative world. It is a dramatic carnival in which the carcass of our “advanced” civilizations is barbecued over the spits of a permanent revolution. He is the artistic heir of Kafka’s lucidity and Jarry’s humor; in his violence, Arrabal is related to Sade and Artaud. Yet he is doubtless the only writer to have pushed derision as far as he did. Deeply political and merrily playful, both revolutionary and bohemian, his work is the syndrome of our century of barbed wire and Gulags, a manner of finding a reprieve. . . .’’
This is Jesus the Anarchist, Jesus the Sadist, Jesus of the Preterite, Jesus of the C.I.A. [yet another pun, see a: 119, b: 96 - Conjuración de los Insurgentes Anarquistas above]. He still recieves his copies of the ancient anarcho-syndicalist paper Regeneración Postmarked with a Muted Posthorn.. This is the Jesus of the Theater of the Absurd