The Crying of Lot 49 Obs

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Novel vs. Story

This seems to be the place to note something Pynchon has written — in Slow Learner, the introduction — about this work. He wrote there, in talking about his early stories that his next story The Crying of Lot 49 was marketed as a novel....

Given Pynchon's care with concepts, this distinction seems worth keeping in mind. Stories meant, usually, to be taken in "all at once", in one reading, novels not. Stories much more focussed on a single theme usually; novels full of many themes.

Pynchon's words have made me think about his lifelong theme of crossing boundaries, of seeing boundaries as artificial, man-made — Mason & Dixon, most thoroughly. Boundaries such as those between story and novel.

As a "story" to get a kind of unitary impression, is how I have seen Harold Bloom's remark on reading The Crying of Lot 49. Read it again immediately, he avers. Its meaning(s) are very mysterious, we might all agree.

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. . . .

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 would point out a lot of sound-alikes in the novella, as this little story is overstuffed with puns, homonyms and near misses. Take Jesus Arrabal as a fine upstanding example of the word games that Thomas Ruggles Pynchon obsessively plays. We all know the name Jesus, quite a common Christian Name in predominantly Catholic Latin American countries, such as Mexico, though, as in The Great 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 very made explicit in the form of Gravity's Rainbow in William Slothrop's banned and burned book On Preterition. Preterition is, of course, on of the most frequently used terms in Pynchon's writing, displaying a great depth of knowledge as regards the history of the Calvinists, it is a history 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 means Suburb. It also 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 just as likley to apply to The Crying of Lot 49 as the satrist Varo is echoed by 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. . . .’’
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