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New Revisiting Thomas Pynchon
At this stage in my life, going back to “big” books from my youth can feel like seeing old friends for the last time. There are exceptions: in late May I took in The Magic Mountain for the seventh time since 1971, and assuming I don’t peg out before the end of Trump’s second term, I imagine I’ll revisit it at least once more. But this third reading (I do not count my first attempt, in 1973, when I threw it across the room in frustration after a hundred pages) of Thomas Pynchon’s astonishing maiden effort, V., will likely be my last.

I picked it up anew—same copy; different room—five years after violently rejecting it that first time, and absorbed it in two daylong sittings, entranced. Seems to me that I read once more in the intervening forty years before I took it up again last week. It’s not an easy or an inviting novel. What particularly put me off at twenty-one (and Pynchon himself was just twenty-five when it was first published) was the alternation between the scenes set in 1956, which were initially rendered in broad slapstick, and the alternating historical (or “Stencilized”) chapters set variously in Alexandria and Florence (1898/1899), Paris (1913), South West Africa (1922), and Malta during WWII, the two narrative threads at last meeting and loosely intertwining. An early (favorable) reviewer of the novel admitted frankly that he could not describe it, comparing that undertaking to the attempt to nail a blog of mercury. I concur.

I had to take the thing on faith this time out, remembering that it had impressed me times past, because it’s not an easy novel to love, and indeed it was almost a slog through those first hundred pages or so, and then, at some point during the next hundred, it clicked again, commanding, if not my love (and I have loved many books, in a decent, manly, abstract way), my awed respect.

The Magic Mountain, which I also respect with a great deal more affection, is considered by many a daunting work, but I can readily understand Thomas Mann sitting down to begin it (or at least to take it up anew, since he returned after The Great War to a project he’d started before that conflict) with a pretty good idea of the course on which he was embarking. How Pynchon could possibly have had the whole of V. in mind when he commenced just sends me crosseyed. Perhaps he did not—perhaps the novel came out as a jazz improvisation. Whatever attended its conception and creation, it’s an astonishing work. Not for everyone by any means, but if you give yourself to V., she will stay with you.

(Of course, if you want to get your feet wet first, The Crying of Lot 49 is a much, much shorter book, and will give you a taste of Pynchon, even though he now deprecates the novel, his second, as a work-for-hire. Rereading that one after V. I was reminded by one chapter set in San Francisco at night of the 1996 film The Game, which also gives us a protagonist drenched in paranoia as he moves along the city streets.)

New “Mason & Dixon”
Fifth novel (1997) and, unlike the first three (I have not yet read Vineland), extraordinarily inviting, the faux-XVIII century narrative language notwithstanding. About three-quarters of the way through since taking it up on Tuesday. Enchanted. sample passage:
Does Britannia, when she sleeps, dream? Is America her dream?— in which all that cannot pass in the metropolitan Wakefulness is allow’d Expression away in the restless Slumber of these Provinces, and on West-ward, wherever ’tis not yet mapp’d, nor written down, nor ever, by the majority of Mankind, seen,— serving as a very Rubbish-Tip for subjunctive Hopes, for all that may yet be true,— Earthly Paradise, Fountain of Youth, Realms of Prester John, Christ’s Kingdom, ever behind the sunset, safe til the next Territory to the West be seen and recorded, measur’d and tied in, back into the Net-Work of Points already known, that slowly triangulates its Way into the Continent, changing all from subjunctive to declarative, reducing Possibilities to Simplicities that serve the ends of Governments,— winning away from the realm of the Sacred, its Borderlands one by one, and assuming them unto the bare mortal World that is our home, and our Despair.
(Note to Ashton: this is right up your alley. Copy to arrive before a fortnight elapses).

New Thou sayest: that is the most pellucid example of run-on-Sentences seen
in many a decade..
I. Mean. I *see* the author's theodolite atop the desktop of that virtual/reality stage-set via which the 'triangulation' Shall Free-Us-All© ..from the drudgery of enslaving poor neurons
to Do The Work.. [For Us] of feeling out of sight for the ends of Being and ideal Grace--to coin a phrase.

Thanks oodles: a one must indeed begin with +bias for an author who shares an appreciation of Caps-within! sentences (via whatever Century's perspicuity/relabeled weirdness)
-vs- that lexicographical-sameness addiction, smugly enforced by academe.

PS I did begin the sniffing-arround approach to Pynchon via those gladly-suffering inmates of Lot 49; alone, the artful send-up of So. Cal. places I've 'met' was worth the ticket-to-ride.

PPS In fact, at the institute: Houses there had "alleys" containing a few separate rooms. I was at one time ensconced within Up Your Alley (puns there flowed as the night-the-day, of course.)
Expand Edited by Ashton July 6, 2018, 05:45:08 PM EDT
New and another passage
“To rule forever,” continues the Chinaman, later, “it is necessary only to create, among the people one would rule, what we call...Bad History. Nothing will produce Bad History more directly nor brutally, than drawing a Line, in particular a Right Line, the very Shape of Contempt, through the midst of a People,— to create thus a Distinction betwixt ’em,— ’tis the first stroke.— All else will follow as if predestin’d, unto War and Devastation.”
New Jeez.. verbatim That should be the preface on every decent Congresscritter's spiel re a re-up in Nov
New Further to Pynchon: “Against the Day”
I’m about seven hundred pages into his 2006 novel Against the Day, with almost another four hundred to go, and I’m here to tell you that it’s a fucking hoot! I don’t think that I could at any point so far have provided a coherent account of any given preceding hundred pages—one doesn’t read the thing so much as surf it—but it’s chockfull of hugely entertaining anecdotes and set pieces, and Pynchon by seventy had developed into a prose stylist of no mean gifts. The rap (well, one of the raps) on TP has been that he needs an editor, but so far I wouldn’t have this dazzling yarn a page shorter. Sample:
Life in Göttingen appeared to proceed on its blade-twinkling way, wheelfolks on brand-new bikes crashing into each other or careering out of control and scattering pedestrians, beer-drinkers quarreling and bowing, preoccupied Zetamaniacs forever on the verge of walking off the edge of the Promenade being rescued by companions, a town he had never loved become all at once a place, now he was obliged, it seemed, to leave it, whose most quotidian detail shone with a clarity almost painful, already a place of exile’s memory and no returning, and here just to make that official was the angel, if not of death at least of deep shit, and nobody else seemed to notice…
More anon.

New From “Gravity’s Rainbow”
Overhead, on the molded plaster ceiling, Methodist versions of Christ’s kingdom swarm: lions cuddle with lambs, fruit spills lushly and without pause into the arms and about the feet of gentlemen and ladies, swains and milk maids. No one’s expression is quite right. The wee creatures leer, the fiercer beasts have a drugged or sedated look, and none of the humans have any eye-contact at all. The ceilings of the “White Visitation” aren’t the only erratic things about the place, either. It is a classic “folly,” all right. The buttery was designed as an Arabian harem in miniature, for reasons we can only guess at today, full of silks, fretwork and peepholes. One of the libraries served, for a time, as a wallow, the floor dropped three feet and replaced with mud up to the thresholds for giant Gloucestershire Old Spots to frolic, oink, and cool their summers in, to stare at the shelves of buckram books and wonder if they’d be good eating. Whig eccentricity is carried in this house to most unhealthy extremes. The rooms are triangular, spherical, walled up into mazes. Portraits, studies in genetic curiosity, gape and smirk at you from every vantage. The W.C.s contain frescoes of Clive and his elephants stomping the French at Plassy, fountains that depict Salome with the head of John (water gushing out of ears, nose and mouth), floor mosaics in which are tessellated together different versions of Homo Monstrosus, an interesting preoccupation of the time—cyclops, humanoid giraffe, centaur repeated in all directions. Everywhere are archways, grottoes, plaster floral arrangements, walls hung in threadbare velvet or brocade. Balconies give out at unlikely places, overhung with gargoyles whose fangs have fetched not a few newcomers nasty cuts on the head. Even in the worst rains, the monsters only just manage to drool—the rainpipes feeding them are centuries out of repair, running crazed over slates and beneath eaves, past cracked pilasters, dangling Cupids, terracotta facing on every floor, along with belvederes, rusticated joints, pseudo-Italian columns, looming minarets, leaning crooked chimneys—from a distance no two observers, no matter how close they stand, see quite the same building in that orgy of self-expression, added to by each succeeding owner, until the present War’s requisitioning. Topiary trees line the drive for a distance before giving way to larch and elm: ducks, bottles, snails, angels, and steeplechase riders they dwindle down the metaled road into their fallow silence, into the shadows under the tunnel of sighing trees. The sentry, a dark figure in white webbing, stands port-arms in your masked headlamps, and you must stop for him. The dogs, engineered and lethal, are watching you from the woods. Presently, as evening comes on, a few bitter flakes of snow begin to fall.
New I'd love to see such a place

New But you can read it.
New no prob watch duck dynasty
an a different note was in one of those warehouse liquidation places. Saw cases and cases of what looked like Ron Woods bobble head dolls for a dollar each. Was wondering who the fsck would want a ronnie woods bobblehead doll.

turns out that they were Ms Kay from the duck dynasty show. Looks like that MBA willy had didnt cover failed projections and test marketing.
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" – Richard Feynman
New HEH.. cubed:
Who amongst us has never pondered this 'Eternity' McGuffin so oft bandied about (esp. considering that so many of us'ns are possessed of an attention-span measured only by experts in the flying-insect Phylum, Class etc.)

So then, once ensconced in this Place-with-no-clocks ... ... .... .... ............ w.t.f. does a one or group Do to create the simulacrum of ..surprise!? or of a plot to some contemporary tale of say, intrigue? sans all those embedded referents called , 'late, early, much-later' and so on. And How Does each one? shake the eternal-Boredom of awaiting each non-Day's sounding of trumpets (now That hits home): trumpets as harbinger of.. whatever happens whereby The Dear Leader is again Saluted.

(And what about the 'snow' thing, the beastly desert thing and yess immersion in simple H2O. Rest case), if anyone has one. Ah but.. it seems that T.P. is up to parsing just that Matter.

and I cannot imagine.. How you bring That off. Yet.
New winding up
At the conclusion of the Summer of Pynchon—nine books in nine weeks—I am disposed to assign Gravity’s Rainbow, most of the last 450 pages of which I took in from a folding chair lap-deep in the American River an hour downstream from Lake Tahoe—pride of place. This is not to disparage the other novels: that would be like slamming Sir Edmund Hillary: “Yeah, he climbed Mount Everest. So how come he never scaled a higher peak, huh?”

Gravity’s Rainbow was, just, the Fucking. Greatest. Novel. I’ve. Ever. Reread. Period. Caps. Italic. Bold. Neon. Et cetera. I vaguely understood that forty years ago; am reinforced in the impression now.

You lot, you need to acquire a copy. You need to gear yourselves down and read it. Reach the end, and I fucking guarantee it that you will regard it as a life-changing experience, if you are the kind of human being who is capable of having his life changed by a novel. I was.

New Thanks for this.
I've not read a novel in ages and need to get back into the habit. I'll but this at the top of my list.

     Revisiting Thomas Pynchon - (rcareaga) - (12)
         “Mason & Dixon” - (rcareaga) - (3)
             Thou sayest: that is the most pellucid example of run-on-Sentences seen - (Ashton) - (2)
                 and another passage - (rcareaga) - (1)
                     Jeez.. verbatim That should be the preface on every decent Congresscritter's spiel re a re-up in Nov -NT - (Ashton)
         Further to Pynchon: “Against the Day” - (rcareaga)
         From “Gravity’s Rainbow” - (rcareaga) - (4)
             I'd love to see such a place -NT - (drook) - (2)
                 But you can read it. -NT - (rcareaga)
                 no prob watch duck dynasty - (boxley)
             HEH.. cubed: - (Ashton)
         winding up - (rcareaga) - (1)
             Thanks for this. - (Another Scott)

Gerbils! Gerbils and Peruvian Flake!
94 ms