Chapter 2

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a: 23, b: 13 - Mucho's Mood
As Oedipa leaves him, Mucho is described as enigmatic, sad, but not desperate. He has his hands in his pocket, a distancing body language for someone who is being left behind. Oedipa gives him instructions about the oregano and to ignore Dr. Hilarius, but there is no farewell kiss or hug proffered or described. Has Mucho Maas had 'too much'?

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: 23, b: 13 - a strange mold
The mold on her oregano has probably contracted Powdery Mildew, a fungi that attacks oregano in more humid, damp areas. [2]

a: 24, b: 14 - Sunday
The day of the sun, which is clearly dominating in Pynchon's descriptions. Day of rest, sacred in Christian religion. End of weekend, and not a workday for most people. and lawyers generally. [3]

a: 24, b: 14 - Impala
A Chevy car that came in both coupe and sedan. Chevy Impala. The car is named after the African antelope Impala, and is the only American car named after anything like a deer. This is important when she arrives at Echo Courts.

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 - 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 - whirlwiind
Oedipa imagines "words were being spoken" out of the eye of a whirlwind. In the KJV of the Book of Job, Jehovah speaks to Job out of a whirlwind, pointing out how He, Jehovah, created the universe and all things in it. Jehovah describes behemoth and leviathan here. Job 38-42

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

a: 26, b: 15 - horse

b: 16 - Echo Courts
The story of Echo and Narcissus in Ovid's Metamorphoses involves the mountain nymph Echo, who is punished by Juno for deceiving her, can only repeat what someone says to her. Narcissus, a handsome prince on a hunt follows a deer (Impala?) to the glade where Echo lives. She falls in love with him, but he rejects her. Nemesis punishes Narcissus for rejecting Echo, and he becomes obsessed with his own image in a reflection. He dies staring at his image. [4]

a: 26, b: 16 - Frug
A dance popular in the mid-sixties that vigorously moved to the beat with an individual pattern or repetition. [5] To be too fat to frug would seems ironic since the dance doesn't require any particular movement, just moving to the beat. Today, the frug shows up at weddings and class reunions.

a: 27, 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 pastiche of various Rock & Roll bands struggling in L.A. in the wake of the success of the Beatles.

see The Paranoids

a: 26, b: 17 Payola
Payola initially began as a payment to a DJ to play a song by an artist. Alan Freed is the name most commonly associated with this, but a 1959 Congressional Investigation led to changes that benefited the system, a clear example of "regulatory capture" by the music industry. "Following the investigation, radio DJs were stripped of the authority to make programming decisions and payola became a misdemeanor offense. Programming decisions became the responsibility of station program directors. However, this had the result of simplifying the process of payola: instead of reaching numerous DJs, record labels only had to persuade the station's program director." This also led to the kind of programming that Mucho's boss seeks and Mucho can't believe in. [6]

Miles by describing himself as the Payola Kid implies that he's more than willing to trade sex for airtime.

a: 26-7. b: 17 rabbit-ear antenna
For the cable generation, rabbit-ears is a colloquialism for the tv antenna that sat on top of the television set. They were notoriously poor at getting reception. [7]

a: 27, b: 17 smuggling French Beaujolais
The only smuggling that Metzger would have done would be to not claim the bottle at customs to evade the duty tax established by tariffs on foreign wine of $.37.5 per gal. Quite the "rollicking lawbreaker" as Oedipa asides. 1963-1968 Tariff Schedulepg. 116.

a: 27, b: 18 - Bonanza
Long-running western TV series from 1959-1973. Story of a ranchland owning family, the patriarch siring three sons, each by different mothers (wives). [8]

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 - Cashiered
A military ceremony to degrade and dismiss someone from a position of responsibility. [9] Oedipa makes a pun on the movie relating back to Metzger's claim that his mother tried to kasher him.

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

a: 30, b: 19 - Dardanelles
a strait between European Turkey and Asian Turkey. Gallipoli offers a choke point for the strait. [10]

a: 30, b: 19 - Sea of Marmara
an inland sea that connects the Bosporus with the Dardanelles. Circumscribed by Turkey, this would be enemy territory. [11]

b: 19 - Dodecanese
A group of small Greek islands off the coast of Turkey. [12]

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.

b: 21 - E Class subs
British submarines built and used during WWI. Interesting that Metzger, an American (?), says our subs. Either Metzger is getting back into his role, or here is another way that Metzger's character has questionable backstories. [13] While the US had an E class sub, there were only two, and only one of those ever went on patrols. [14]

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

b: 27 - Serenade
While the Paranoids attempt to imitate the British Invasion, the lyrics to this serenade are similar to a song by the Beach Boys on Surfin' USA, released in 1963. [15]

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