Pynchon

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Pynchon

Post by surfer »

from GR:

There is no graceful way out of this now. Darlene has brought a couple-three more candy jars down off the shelf, and now he goes plunging, like a journey to the center of some small, hostile planet, into an enormous bonbon chomp through the mantle of chocolate to a strongly eucalyptus -flavored fondant, finally into a core of some very tough grape gum arabic. He fingernails a piece of this out from between his teeth and stares at it for awhile. It is purple in color.

"Now you're getting the idea!" Mrs Quoad waving at him a marbled conglomerate of ginger root, butterscotch, and aniseed, "you see, you also have to enjoy the way it looks. Why are Americans so impulsive?"
"Oh try this," hollers Darlene, clutching her throat and swaying against him.
"Gosh it must really be something, " doubtfully taking this nasty-looking brownish novelty, an exact quarter-scale replica of a Mills-type hand grenade, lever, pin and everything, one of a series of patriotic candies put out before sugar was quite so scarce, also including, he notices, peering into the jar, a .455 Webley cartridge of green and pink striped taffy, a six-ton earthquake bomb of some silver-flecked blue gelatin, and a licorice bazooka.`
"Go on then," Darlene actually taking his hand with the candy in it and trying to shove it into his mouth.
"Was just, you know, looking at it, the way Mrs. Quoad suggested."
"And no fair squeezing it, Tyrone."

Under its tamarind glaze, the Mills bomb turns out to be a luscious pepsin-flavored nougat, chock-full of tangy candied cubeb berries, and a chewy camphor-gum center. It is unspeakably awful. Slothrop's head begins to reel with camphor fume, his eyes are running, his tongue's a hopeless holocaust. Cubeb? He used to smoke that stuff. "Poisoned . . ." he is able to croak.
"Show a little backbone, " advises Mrs. Quoad.
"Yes, " Darlene through tongue-softened sheets of caramel, "dont you know there's a war going on? Here now love, open your mouth."
Through the tears he can't see it too well, but he can hear Mrs. Quoad across the table going "Yum, yum, yum," and Darlene giggling. It is enormous and soft, like a marshmallow, but somehow - unless something is now seriously wrong with his brain - it tastes like gin. "Wha's is" he inquires thickly.
"A gin marshmellow," sez Mrs. Quoad.
"Awww . . . ."
"Oh that's nothing, have one of these- " his teeth, in some perverse reflex, crunching now through a hard sour gooseberry shell into a wet spurting unpleasantness of, he hopes it's tapioca, a little glutinous chunks of something all saturated with powered cloves.

"More tea?" Darlene suggests. Slothrop is coughing violently, having inhaled some of that clove filling.
"Nasty cough," Mrs. Quoad offering a tin of that least believable of English coughdrops, the Meggezone. "Darlene, the tea is lovely, I can feel my scurvy going away, really I can."

The Meggezone is like being belted in the head with a Swiss Alp. Menthol icicles immediately begin growing from the roof of Slothrop's mouth. It hurts his teeth too much to breathe, even through his nose, even, necktie loosened, with his nose down inside the neck of his olive drab T-shirt. Benzoin vapers seep into his brain. His head floats in a halo of ice.

Even an hour later, the Meggezone still lingers, a mint ghost in the air. Slothrop lies with Darlene, the Disgusting English Candy Drill a thing of the past, his groin now against her warm bottom. The one candy he did not get to taste - one Mrs. Quaod withheld - was the Fire of Paradise, that famous confection of high price and protean taste - "salted plum" to one, "artificial cherry" to another . . ."sugared violets" . . "Worchestershire sauce" . . . "spiced treacle" . . any number of like descriptions, positive, terse - never exceeding two words in length - resembling the descriptions of poison and debilitating gases found in training manuals, "sweet and sour eggplant" being perhaps the lengthiest to date. The Fire of Paradise today is operationally extinct, and in 1945 can hardly be found: certainly nowhere among the sunlit shops and polished windows of Bond Street or waste Belgravia. But every now and then one will surface, in places which deal usually other merchandise than sweets: at rest, back inside big glass jars clouded by the days, along with objects like itself , sometimes only one candy to a whole jar, nearly hidden in the ambient tourmalines in German gold, carved ebony finger finger-stalls from the last century, pegs, valve-pieces, threaded hardware from obscure musical instruments, electronic components of resin and copper that the War, in its glutton, ever-nibbling intake, has not yet found and licked back into its darkness . . . . Places where the motors never come close enough to be loud, and there are trees outside along the street. Inner rooms and older faces developing under light falling through a skylight, yellower, later in the year.

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Re: Pynchon

Post by mudd »

hooray for the disgusting english candy drill!

m

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Re: Pynchon

Post by Dan Warburton »

That, and the infamous orgy scene on the boat, is my favourite passage in Gravity's Rainbow. Along with the scene in the motel room with Oedipa and Metzger playing strip botticelli in Lot 49 it's the only time I actually really fell off my chair laughing. Well, the only time I did that because of something I read anyway. Ha.
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Re: Pynchon

Post by billygomberg »

one of my favorite sequences from GR.

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Re: Pynchon

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Dan Warburton wrote:That, and the infamous orgy scene on the boat, is my favourite passage in Gravity's Rainbow. Along with the scene in the motel room with Oedipa and Metzger playing strip botticelli in Lot 49 it's the only time I actually really fell off my chair laughing. Well, the only time I did that because of something I read anyway. Ha.
Totally agreed. Cashiered! starring Baby Igor!

'Gainst the Hun and the Turk,
never once do -we shirk,
My daddy, my doggie and me.

shown in the wrong order, tequila, and as the climax, the hairspray bomb going off. I mentioned somewhere else that I thought the English Candy Drill (its a little longer than what I quoted) is the funniest in all of literature.

I cant understand people not liking Lot 49, it has such beautiful scenes and monologues all over:
"But our beauty lies," explained Metzger, "in this extended capacity for convolution. A lawyer in a courtroom, in front of any jury, becomes an actor, right? Raymond Burr is an actor, impersonating a lawyer, who in front of a jury becomes an actor. Me, I'm a former actor who became a lawyer. They've done the pilot film of a TV series, in fact, based loosely on my career, starring my friend Manny Di Presso, a one-time lawyer who quit his firm to become an actor. Who in this pilot plays me, an actor become a lawyer reverting periodically to being an actor. The film is in an air-conditioned vault at one of the Hollywood studios, light can't fatigue it, it can be repeated endlessly."
You all are just lucky I didnt post the White Visitation coprophagia scene with Kadja, the single most disgusting scene in all of literature (the reason the Pulitzer committee called it "obscene"). I read it again last night and it literally engages my gag reflex.

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Re: Pynchon

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surfer wrote:
You all are just lucky I didnt post the White Visitation coprophagia scene with Kadja, the single most disgusting scene in all of literature (the reason the Pulitzer committee called it "obscene"). I read it again last night and it literally engages my gag reflex.
have you read much de Sade? b/c that made the above scene, uh, go down much easier.

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Re: Pynchon

Post by surfer »

billygomberg wrote:
have you read much de Sade?
God, no.

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Re: Pynchon

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surfer wrote:
billygomberg wrote:
have you read much de Sade?
God, no.
well. then yr doing just fine! stick w/Pynchon, rly. advice to all readers, young & old!

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Re: Pynchon

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From V:

Outside the V-Note a number of bums stood around the front windows looking inside, fogging the glass with their breath. From time to time a collegiate-looking type, usually with a date, would emerge from the swinging doors and they would ask him, one by one in a line down that short section of Bowery sidewalk, for a cigarette, subway fare, the price of a beer. All night the February wind would come barreling down the wide keyway of Third Avenue, moving right over them all: the shavings, cutting oil, sludge of New York's lathe.

Inside McClintic Sphere was swinging his ass off. His skin was hard, as if it were part of the skull: every vein and whisker on that head stood out sharp and clear under the green baby spot: you could see the twin lines running down from either side of his lower lip, etched in by the force of his embouchure, looking like extensions of his mustache.

He blew a hand-carved ivory alto saxophone with a 4-1/2 reed and the sound was like nothing any of them had heard before. The usual divisions prevailed: collegians did not dig, and left after an average of 1-1/2 sets. Personnel from other groups, either with a night off or taking a long break from somewhere crosstown or uptown, listened hard, trying to dig. "I am still thinking," they would say if you asked. People at the bar all looked as if they did dig in the sense of understand, approve of, empathize with: but this was probably only because people who prefer to stand at the bar have, universally, an inscrutable look.

At the end of the bar in the V-Note is a table which is normally used by customers to put empty beer bottles and glasses on, but if somebody grabs it early enough nobody minds and the bartenders are usually too busy anyway to yell at them to get off. At the moment the table was occupied by Winsome, Charisma and Fu. Paola had gone to the ladies' room. None of them were saying anything.

The group on the stand had no piano: it was bass, drums, McClintic and a boy he had found in the Ozarks who blew a natural horn in F. The drummer was a group man who avoided pyrotechnics, which may have irritated the college crowd. The bass was small and evil-looking and his eyes were yellow with pinpoints in the center. He talked to his instrument. It was taller than he was and didn't seem to be listening.

Horn and alto together favored sixths and minor fourths and when this happened it was like a knife fight or tug of war: the sound was consonant but as if cross-purposes were in the air. The solos of McClintic Sphere were something else. There were people around, mostly those who wrote for Downbeat magazine or the liners of LP records, who seemed to feel he played disregarding chord changes completely. They talked a great deal about soul and the anti-intellectual and the rising rhythms of African nationalism. It was a new conception, they said, and some of them said: Bird Lives.

Since the soul of Charlie Parker had dissolved away into a hostile March wind nearly a year before, a great deal of nonsense had been spoken and written about him. Much more was to come, some is still being written today. He was the greatest alto on the postwar scene and when he left it some curious negative will - a reluctance and refusal to believe in the final, cold fact - possessed the lunatic fringe to scrawl in every subway station, on sidewalks, in pissoirs, the denial: Bird Lives. So that among the people in the V-Note that night were, at a conservative estimate, a dreamy 10 per cent who had not got the word, and saw in McClintic Sphere a kind of reincarnation.

"He plays all the notes Bird missed," somebody whispered in front of Fu. Fu went silently through the motions of breaking a beer bottle on the edge of the table, jamming it into the speaker's back and twisting.

It was near closing time, the last set.

"It's nearly time to go," Charisma said. "Where is Paola."

"Here she comes," said Winsome.

Outside the wind had its own permanent gig. And was still blowing.

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Re: Pynchon

Post by billygomberg »

mmmm I haven't read V in ages/ages. didn't really strike me when I did. time for a revisit?

was just talking about brilliant and amazing Against The Day is just this evening. wouldn't even know where to begin punching in great passages tho.

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Re: Pynchon

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billygomberg wrote:mmmm I haven't read V in ages/ages. didn't really strike me when I did. time for a revisit?
Yeah. Really good. M&D's my top draft pick, though.
You, of all people, should understand

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Re: Pynchon

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From GR:

Gustav is a composer. For months he has been carrying on a raging debate
with Säure over who is better, Beethoven or Rossini. Säure is for Rossini. “I’m
not so much for Beethoven qua Beethoven,” Gustav argues, “but as he represents
the German dialectic, the incorporation of more and more notes into the scale,
culminating with dodecaphonic democracy, where all notes get an equal hearing.
Beethoven was one of the architects of musical freedom—he submitted to the
demands of history, despite his deafness. While Rossini was retiring at the age
of 36, womanizing and getting fat, Beethoven was living a life filled with tragedy
and grandeur.”

“So?” is Säure’s customary answer to that one. “Which would you rather
do? The point is,” cutting off Gustav’s usually indignant scream, “a person feels
good listening to Rossini. All you feel like listening to Beethoven is going out and
invading Poland. Ode to Joy indeed. The man didn’t even have a sense of humor.
I tell you,” shaking his skinny old fist, “there is more of the Sublime in the snaredrum
part to La Gazza Ladra than in the whole Ninth Symphony. With Rossini,
the whole point is that lovers always get together, isolation is overcome, and like
it or not that is the one great centripetal movement of the World. Through the
machineries of greed, pettiness, and the abuse of power, love occurs. All the shit is
transmuted to gold. The walls are breached, the balconies are scaled—listen!” It
was a night in early May, and the final bombardment of Berlin was in progress.
Säure had to shout his head off. “The Italian girl is in Algiers, the Barber’s in
the crockery, the magpie’s stealing everything in sight! The World is rushing
together. . . .”

This rainy morning, in the quiet, it seems that Gustav’s German Dialectic
has come to its end. He has just had the word, all the way from Vienna along
some musicians’ grapevine, that Anton Webern is dead. “Shot in May, by the
Americans. Senseless, accidental if you believe in accidents—some mess cook
from North Carolina, some late draftee with a .45 he hardly knew how to use, too
late for WWII, but not for Webern. The excuse for raiding the house was that
Webern’s brother was in the black market. Who isn’t? Do you know what kind
of myth that’s going to make in a thousand years? The young barbarians coming
in to murder the Last European, standing at the far end of what’d been going on
since Bach, an expansion of music’s polymorphous perversity till all notes were
truly equal at last. . . . Where was there to go after Webern? It was the moment
of maximum freedom. It all had to come down. Another Götterdämmerung—”
“Young fool,” Säure now comes cackling in from out in Berlin, trailing a
pillowcase full of flowering tops just in from that North Africa. He’s a mess—reddrenched
eyes, fatbaby arms completely hairless, fly open and half the buttons
gone, white hair and blue shirt both streaked with some green horrible scum.
“Fell in a shell-hole. Here, quick, roll up some of this.”
“What do you mean, ‘young fool,’ “ inquires Gustav.
“I mean you and your musical mainstreams,” cries Säure. “Is it finally over?
Or do we have to start da capo with Carl Orff ?”
“I never thought of that,” sez Gustav, and for a moment it is clear that Säure
has heard about Webern too, and trying in his underhanded way to cheer Gustav
up.
“What’s wrong with Rossini?” hollers Säure, lighting up. “Eh?”

“Ugh,” screams Gustav, “ugh, ugh, Rossini,” and they’re at it again, “you
wretched antique. Why doesn’t anybody go to concerts any more? You think
it’s because of the war? Oh no, /’// tell you why, old man—because the halls are
full of people like you! Stuffed full! Half asleep, nodding and smiling, farting
through their dentures, hawking and spitting into paper bags, dreaming up ever
more ingenious plots against their children—not just their own, but other people’s
children too! just sitting around, at the concert with all these other snow-topped
old rascals, just a nice background murmur of wheezing, belching, intestinal
gurgles, scratching, sucking, croaking, an entire opera house crammed full of
them right up to standing room, they’re doddering in the aisles, hanging off the
tops of the highest balconies, and you know what they’re all listening to, Säure?
eh? They’re all listening to Rossini! Sitting there drooling away to some medley
of predictable little tunes, leaning forward elbows on knees muttering, ‘C’mon,
c’mon then Rossini, let’s get all this pretentious fanfare stuff out of the way,
let’s get on to the real good tunes!’ Behavior as shameless as eating a whole jar of
peanut butter at one sitting. On comes the sprightly Tancredi tarantella, and they
stamp their feet in delight, they pop their teeth and pound their canes—’Ah, ah!
that’s more like it!”

“It’s a great tune,” yells Säure back. “Smoke another one of these and I’ll just
play it for you here on the Bosendorfer.”

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Re: Pynchon

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billygomberg wrote:
was just talking about brilliant and amazing Against The Day is just this evening. wouldn't even know where to begin punching in great passages tho.
Sorry only Pynchon I havent read. I dont even own it! :oops:

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Re: Pynchon

Post by Dan Warburton »

Where are you posting all these passsages from, Surf'? Is the entire TP oeuvre online somewhere? Re Sade (see Roland Barthes's superb essay on him btw), the reading experience is, as the man behind the organ would say, something completely different.The 120 Days of Sodom is as dry and mechanical as an instruction manual. Elicits a cool, pornographic response, not the gag reflex (agreed, Billy) of Brigadier Pudding's "taste of Passchendale".
Other fun Pynchon passages for me are Takeshi's Winter Wonderland fridge description and the death of Brock Vond in Vineland. And about a zillion others. Must reread Against The Day too.
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Re: Pynchon

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billygomberg wrote:
surfer wrote:
billygomberg wrote:
have you read much de Sade?
God, no.
well. then yr doing just fine! stick w/Pynchon, rly. advice to all readers, young & old!
Except that Justine is actually a pretty great book, at least the first version (he tampered with it later on not to the best effect). It's a wickedly funny satire (if you've read some enlightenment literature) on culture and morals, its philosophy (yes, it has one) is maybe not sound but much more modern in many aspects than that of his contemporaries, and none of the perversities are gratuitous. Recommended reading (and I have a weak stomach).

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Re: Pynchon

Post by billygomberg »

surfer wrote:
billygomberg wrote:
was just talking about brilliant and amazing Against The Day is just this evening. wouldn't even know where to begin punching in great passages tho.
Sorry only Pynchon I havent read. I dont even own it! :oops:
well it is an 1100 pg commitment. to amazing literary adventure! it's a book, it won't go bad, but I definitely had to block out time for it - well worth the effort of course.

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Re: Pynchon

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Wombatz wrote:
billygomberg wrote:
have you read much de Sade?
Except that Justine is actually a pretty great book, at least the first version (he tampered with it later on not to the best effect). It's a wickedly funny satire (if you've read some enlightenment literature) on culture and morals, its philosophy (yes, it has one) is maybe not sound but much more modern in many aspects than that of his contemporaries, and none of the perversities are gratuitous. Recommended reading (and I have a weak stomach).
which is why I qualified my comment above w/ "much de Sade" - yes, Justine is more traditionally a satire, and easily his most readable (and thus probably the most worth reading, especially given the Enlightment angle). it gets raunchier, much raunchier, for sure (120 Days is particularly...hard to descibe...in ways that make the notorious passage from GR seem like children's lit).

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Re: Pynchon

Post by surfer »

Dan Warburton wrote:Where are you posting all these passsages from, Surf'? Is the entire TP oeuvre online somewhere?
Sorry Dan, I should have posted these links after those passages:

full text of V: http://fortunaty.net/text/textz/textz/p ... omas_v.txt

full text of Lot 49: http://www.innternet.de/~peter.patti/th ... flot49.htm

dl GR pdf: http://rapidshare.com/files/282885859/P ... ainbow.pdf

(this guy http://nrsl.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/my ... ollection/ has a ton of e-books for download as pdfs)

full pdf of Slow Learner: http://74.53.109.2/~dwcom/ds/politicas/ ... earner.pdf

full text of Vineland here: http://www.en8848.com.cn/fiction/Fictio ... 58941.html

Looked briefly for a Mason & Dixon source last night, couldnt find it, but I'm sure its out there. I didnt look very hard.
Last edited by surfer on Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pynchon

Post by surfer »

billygomberg wrote:
surfer wrote:
billygomberg wrote:
was just talking about brilliant and amazing Against The Day is just this evening. wouldn't even know where to begin punching in great passages tho.
Sorry only Pynchon I havent read. I dont even own it! :oops:
well it is an 1100 pg commitment. to amazing literary adventure! it's a book, it won't go bad, but I definitely had to block out time for it - well worth the effort of course.
Thanks Billy, I'll get to it eventually, I plan on living a long time. First I need to find a used copy.

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Re: Pynchon

Post by surfer »

surfer wrote: “Smoke another one of these and I’ll just
play it for you here on the Bosendorfer.”
Is it true that Cecil Taylor refuses to play on anything but a Bosendorfer?