September 7, 2010 § Leave a comment
p. 218 Further criticism of TV’s effects on our sense of time, space and mortality. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is said to inform us that the ‘soul newly in transition’
finds no difference between the weirdness of life and the weirdness of death, an enhancing factor in Takeshi’s opinion being television, which with its history of picking away at the topic with doctor shows, war shows, cop shows, murder shows, had trivialized the big D itself. If mediated lives, he figured, why not mediated deaths?
p. 220 Zoyd describes Holytail, the ‘last refuge for pot growers in North California’ as ‘a community living on borrowed time’.While a reference to the precariousness of their situation, there is also the suggestion of a debt being called in.
p. 223 A paragraph that links childhood in with the ability to find transcendence, thus tying up the metaphors of childhood, naievete, innocence, and escapism that have appeared thus far.
In Van Meter’s tiny house behind the Cucumber Lounge, the kids, perhaps under the influence of the house parrot, Luis, figured out a way to meet, lucidly dreaming, in the same part of the great southern forest. Or so they told Van Meter. They tried to teach him how to do it, but he never got further than the edge of the jungle- if that’s what it was. How cynical would a man have to be not to trust these glowing souls, just in from flying all night at canopy level, all shiny-eyed, open, happy to share it with him? Van Meter had been searching all his life for transcendent chances exactly like this one the kids took for granted, but whenever he got close it was like can’t shit, can’t get a hard on, the more he worried the less likely it was to happen.
Even from the second sentence Van Meter is distrustful (‘Or so they told…), despite the fact that he ‘had been searching all his life for transcendent chances’. As for the question of ‘how cynical would a man have to be not to trust these glowing souls?’, the fact that he is, that we are, despite all we might hope for in the way of release, or escape, could lead us to the idea that the greatest Fall we suffer is from childhood, and that this is what most of us, whether hippies or not, are searching for, but cannot accept even when we find it, or something that at least resembles it.
p. 226 May possibly mirror the cut to an advertising break.
Because Thanatoids relate in a different way to time, there was no compression towards the ends of sentences, which meant they always ended by surprise.
p. 229-230 Rex’s approach to resistance aims for a denial of all forms of pleasure, to transcend all appetites, whose culmination is death.
Rex himself saw the revolution as a kind of progressive abstinence… As the enemies attention grew more concentrated, you gave up your privacy, freedom of movement, access to money, with the looming promise finally of jail and the final forms of abstinence from any life at all free of pain.
p. 232 Rex offers a recapitulation of Weber’s ideas in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
“You’re up against the True Faith here, some heavy dudes, talking crusades, retribution, closed ideological minds passing on the Christian Capitalist Faith intact, mentor to protege, generation to generation, living inside their power, convinced they’re immune to all the history the rest of us have to suffer.
But Pynchon usually undermines most forms of duality- so the fact that they are supposedly evil, is no guarantee of ‘us being good.
“They are bad, bad’s they come, but that still doesn’t make us good, not 100%, Weed.”
p. 236 TV described as a drug, or at least a form of sustenance.
Embarassed, he reached for the Tube, popped it on, fastened himself to the screen and began to feed.
p. 236 Frenesi describes make believe as ‘her dangerous vice’, one of the few moments where a character shows some insight.
Beginning the night she and Rex had publicly hung the snitch jacket on Weed, Frenesi understood that she had taken at least one irreversible step to the side of her life, and that now, as if on some unfamiliar drug, she was walking all around next to herself, haunting herself, attending a movie of it all.
Here Frenesi is trying to distance herself from her own life, with its betrayals, by pretending it is a movie, and thus not real.
If the step was irreversible, then she ought to be all right now, safe in a world-next-to-the-world that not many would know how to get to, where she could kick back and watch the unfolding drama.
On the one hand, this seems problematic- that there isn’t this safe place where she can avoid the consequences of her actions (in her case, betrayal and accessory to murder). But within there is also the possibility of redemption- that the step is not irreversible, that one can go back, at least in memory, and seek some measure of atonement. And arguably this is something Frenesi achieves by the end of the novel.
p. 239 Suggestion that everyone is complicit to some degree with the ills of the system, the abuse of power, the erosion of liberty.
No one, Frenesi was finding out, no matter how honorable their lives so far, could be considered safely above it, wherever “above” was supposed to be.
p. 248 Brock Vond, when talking about the disappearance of many protestors, makes a joke about murder being a form of transcendence.
Taken one by one, after all, given the drop out data and the migratory preferences of the time, each case could be accounted for without appealing to anything more sinister than a desire for safety. At his news conference Brock Vond referred to it humorously as “rapture”.
He goes on to say that they have ‘gone underground’, that they have sought ‘rapture below’.
p. 252-253 DL’s sense of karma while doing the ‘bookkeeping on this caper’.
If the motive itself was tainted, then the acts, no matter how beautifully or successfully executed, were false, untrue to her calling, to herself, and someday there would be a payback.
p.256 Frenesi’s Dream of the Gentle Flood. In this a California beach town is partially, gently submerged, in such a manner that no one dies, and life can regroup on the higher slopes. She dreams of hearing a song about
divers, who would come, not now but soon, and descend into the Flood and bring back up for us “whatever has been taken”, the voice promised, “whatever has been lost….”
Yet another fantasy that dolphins, aliens or some other entity will come and ‘save’ us. Here there is also a temporal displacement, in that the Flood is arguably what she is actually wishing for, but within this future state, there is also her present desire of wanting ‘whatever has been taken’. Perhaps also worth noting the difference between ‘taken’ and ‘lost’ (why else virtually repeat the phrase?). ‘Taken’ makes her sound more like a victim; ‘lost’ allows for her playing a more active role, and perhaps comes closer to the truth.
p. 258 More talk of bookkeeping.
Those framable pieces of the time, which had demanded, when the bookkeeping was done, damn near everything.
p. 259 Repetition of question on p. 29. Frenesi asks DL
So what difference did we make? Who’d we save? The minute the guns came out, all that art-of-the-cinema handjob was over.
But given the context in which she asks this (having just betrayed Weed) her motivations for being skeptical of the achievements of their guerilla film unit are perhaps doubtful. But denigrating it she also lessens the import of her betrayal.
p. 260-261 Repetition of the idea of Frenesi as an angel who has fallen
She waited, guttering with a small meek defiance, standing at the window and trembling, moonlight from a high angle pouring over her naked back, casting on it shadows of her shoulder blades, like healed stumps of wings ritually amputated long ago, for some transgression of the Angel’s Code.
But the fact that the moonlight is coming ‘from a high angle’ should make us, as reader’s (or in a sense, eavesdroppers), wary of the romanticising power of such depictions.
And all this is taking place as oral narration, Prairie hearing it from DL, so when the phone rings, and DL stops talking,
Prairie, reentering non movie space, felt like the basketball after a Lakers game- alive, resilient, still pressurized with spirit yet with a distinct memory of having been, for a few hours, expertly bounced.
Because what a movie, or a novel does, is move you around between different places and times, often without your knowledge. All art being manipulation, the only question to what end.
p. 264 Mention of place of detention that were ‘not fun or sitcom prison camps’- as with death, such places are now trivialised.