Illustrated Additions and Corrections to Steven Weisenburgers
A Gravitys Rainbow Companion
Part 3: In the Zone
V280.15 Geli Tripping
Another name taken from Gilbert and Sullivan, this time from HMS Pinafore. When the Female Relations of Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty, board the ship, they sing, "Gaily tripping,/ Lightly skipping,/ Flock the maidens to the shipping."
V281.01-02 die kalte Sophie
"cold wisdom"? Correspondent Morten Peters gives a better explanation!:
"-the allusion may be intended by Pynchon, but originally this is just the German traditional agricolan term for the last day of the "eisheiligen", which are normally the last days in the year that can be really cold."
Igor Zabel also offers the following:
"The days of the three "ice-men" (May 12, 13 and 14) are followed by the day of Sophia, 15 May, called "the cold Sophia" because it is considered to be the conclusion of the cold days in May. The "ice-saints" are believed to be the end of the winter period; they represent a period when, in high spring, it can get quite cold and sometimes snow may fall. It is a dangerous time for peasants since the cold period can endanger or even destroy the harvest. In 1945, these days have passed without damaging the wine grapes. We have the same tradition in Slovenia, the popular name for the "kalte Sophie" is "polulana Zofka" which means the "wet" or "peed Sophy" (since it usually rains on that day)."
V285.37 Jim Fisk style
Before his involvement with gold markets and railroads, Fisk was a Yankee peddler working the Berkshires. There are several references to him in The Berkshire Hills (though his name is misspelled "Fiske").
V294.11 Ge-li, Ge-li, Ge-li
Although often evoked by mimics, Cary Grant never actually said "Ju-dy, Ju-dy, Ju-dy."
*V294.20-21 Thanx for the info, and a tip of the Scuffling hat to ya
Slothrop copies the signoff to Jimmy Hatlos comic strip "Theyll Do It Every Time," which was based on ideas from readers. These contributors were typically acknowledged with the words, "Thanx, and a tip of the Hatlo hat to . . . "
*V297.36 Articles of Immachination
As opposed to Articles of Incorporation
V299.38 Picture the letters SS stretched lengthwise
The tunnels are arranged like a two-dimensional parody of the DNA molecule. The 44 cross-tunnels might suggest the 22 pairs of chromosomes possessed by each individual. Correspondent Debby Katz adds the following comment:
"Cross tunnels suggest often -illustrated base pairings in DNA (adenine-thymine A-T, or cytosine-guanine, C-G) the order of which defines the "sense" of the coded message within the molecule. We human-types possess 23 pairs of chromosomes, not 22. One pair, the X-X or X-Y is, of course, not an identical pairing in the male of the species. But the Y is without a doubt information-holding, as an X-O female ( 45 chromosomes, missing the second X chromosome,) is not a male, but a female with a lot of problems."
Or "hoopla," a big fuss.
*V301.38 1000 yards east of Waterloo Station
Coincidence?: About 1000 yards east (actually east-southeast) of Waterloo Station, off Southwark Bridge Road, near its intersection with Southwark Street, is a little cul-de-sac where the rocket might impact. Its name is America Street.
V310.06 "Gruss Gott"
Glimpf's greeting to Slothrop makes more sense as explained by Igor Zabel:
"'Gruss Gott!' is not 'Great God!' but 'Greet (you) God!' - a very common greeting in Austria, Bavaria and southern Germany, more common, in fact, than 'Good morning'. It should be written with an umlaut (gruess)."
V312.17 white Stetson
Both Marvys dress and speech echo the character of Major Stanley "King" Kong, the bomber pilot played by Slim Pickens in Stanley Kubricks Dr. Strangelove (1964).
V315.08 Steve Edelman
"Edelman" may be from the German for "nobleman," but the name sounds real, as though it might be a reference to a person whom Pynchon actually knew. Coincidentally, there is a Minneapolis talk-show host (who makes a brief cameo appearance in the film Fargo) and TV producer named Steve Edelman as well as a studio musician based in Los Angeles (bass, not harmonica, unfortunately).
An empty song phrase often used by mimics of Bing Crosbys crooning style.
V321.06-07 Siege Perilous
Not Castle Perilous, as Weisenburger has it, but the Perilous Seat at King Arthurs Round Table (which is why the jokers are sneaking Whoopee Cushions on it. The Whoopee Cushion itself emits an embarrassing farting sound when sat on). Only the pure could sit there without being destroyed (hence the "peril"), and in most versions Galahad alone qualified for the place.
V329.26-27 Crazy Sue Dunham
This character is apparently real. Pynchon found out about her from The Berkshire Hills. The description of her in "The Secret Integration" is a close paraphrase of several paragraphs in the book (TBH 256).
V329.28 Snodds Mountain
Although Pynchon undoubtedly wants the reference to be to the Snodd family, the mountain would not be named for the young Grover of "The Secret Integration," as Weisenburger suggests, since Grover himself would not be born until the 1950s.
V329.32 headed for Rhode Island
In addition to fleeing to the relative tolerance found in that colony, Amy Sprues journey has another significance. The Berkshire Hills mentions several times that much of the region was settled by people from Rhode Island. Her journey then is another example of (in this case, literally) arrested hysteron proteron, the device of the reversal of a process mentioned several times by Weisenburger.
*V330.07 depicted as hags
The description of witches fits not just the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. In another passage in The Berkshire Hills, Crazy Sue Dunham, whom some believed to be a witch, is referred to as "the Berkshire wandering hag" (TBH 70).
*V330.29 its the Specter
Another reference gleaned from The Berkshire Hills, where Pynchon very likely first discovered the Brockengespenst: "Of the stories and legends about Old Greylock, the one about the "Specter" is most popular. . . . The phenomenon of a gigantic shadow of an object reflected in a cloud is so well known as to have a German name, Brockengespenst (Specter of the Brocken) from Brocken, the highest peak of the Hartz [sic] Mountains. As Greylockgespenst would be a bit unwieldy for Berkshire, here it is simply called the Specter" (TBH 42). Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts.
*V332.06-07 surely an interlock somewhere with Lyle Bland
Though generally used to mean "an interconnection," the term "interlock" is also used in cinema, especially in reference to a device that keeps sound and visual tracks in synch.
Another comic-book sound, suggesting a noisy sucking in, as of spaghetti through the mouth or mucous through the nose.
*V332.23 nobody bothers a balloon
Dorothy attempts, but fails, to escape from Oz in a balloon. A balloon is also used by W.C. Fields and the dummy Charlie McCarthy in You Cant Cheat an Honest Man (1939).
*V339.17-18 naked Leningrad encounters with the certainty of his death
The 872-day Siege of Leningrad by German forces in World War II was one of the longest battles in the history of warfare and one of the costliest in human lives.
V351.06 Jablochkov candles
Paul Jablochkov (or Pavel Yablochkov, 1847-1894) was a Russian engineer. His "candles" were the first practical electric carbon-arc lamps, hence the connection here with Tchitcherines vision of the carbonized faces of the war dead.
*V360.21-22 cadence being counted by a Negro voiceyo lep, yo lep, yo
lep O right O lep
Syncopated cadence for the march of the American workers: "your left . . . " The work detail is presumably black, since the Armed Services were not integrated until after the war.
Correspondent Stephen Remato offers the following correction to Weisenberger's note:
" SW explains "insigne" (V361.5) as being the latin spelling for a sign or mark. In fact, insigne is the singular form of the more familiar 'insignia', which is the plural form. "That said, the attached B&W photo is of the A4 V3 (version 3) before launch from Test Stand VII on August 16 1942. The photo shows the V3 insigne, a (less than) pretty witch astride a rocket, carrying her obsolete broom. The colour illustration is an artist's impression of the insigne. The inscription means Bon Voyage.
"Both images are from 'V Weapons of the 3rd Reich' by Dieter Holsken (Monogram 1994)"
V365.13 Grosser Stern
Correspondent Igor Zabel explains that this reference is "not a street but a crossing in the Tiergarten."
See note at V752.10.
The comic book hero Rocketman originated (along with Rocketgirl) in Scoop Comics # 1, published by Harry "A" Chesler, in 1941. In 1943, the heroes were featured in Harvey Comics Hello, Pal Comics, beginning with issue # 1. The cover of the 1952 Ajax Rocketman Comics (mentioned by Weisenburger) is reproduced in the 1989 edition of the Comic Buyers Price Guide: the hero depicted on the cover wears a rig that looks more like a diving helmet than a nosecone. See note below at V382.05.
*V366.24-25 a four-color dispensation
In other words, a comic-book scene, printed in color. The four-color printing process (including magenta, cyan, yellow, and black), which allows a full range of colors to be represented, was perfected in the early 1930s. See V69.14
*V370.01 Seaman Bodine
"Pig" Bodine, Pynchons most enduring character, originating in the short story "Lowlands" and continuing in V. An ancestor of Bodines appears in Mason & Dixon.
*V370.37 The Green Hershey Bar
That is, the hashish.
V372.30 Berliner Luft
Correspondent Igor Zabel corrects Weisenburger's translation:
"the 'air of Berlin, not the sky'. It is an often-used phrase, in the sense of the special Berlin atmosphere."
V376.36 Zorro? The Green Hornet?
Douglas Fairbanks starred in The Mark of Zorro in 1920, not 1932, as in Weisenburger. Tyrone (!) Power starred in a sound remake in 1940. As noted below at V752.07, Britt Reid, the secret identity of The Green Hornet, was the son of Dan Reid, the nephew of the Lone Ranger.
V378.16 Jubilee Jim
Slothrops song evokes the pre-industrial peddler Jim Fisk mentioned in The Berkshire Hills.
Compare the radio Supermans words as he is about to fly: "Up, up, and away!"
V382.05 Mickey Rooney
Rooney was in Germany, attached to an Army entertainment unit, at the time of the Potsdam Conference but was unable to go to Potsdam and meet Truman himself. However, there is a more likely, if more obscure, reason for the movie stars presence here: Rocketmans second magazine, Hello, Pal Comics, only lasted for three issues. The Comic Buyers Guide notes, though, that the comic was unusual because it featured a photograph of a movie star on the cover of each issue. The cover of issue # 1 was devoted to Mickey Rooney! Also see my article: "Rooney and the Rocketman" Pynchon Notes n 24-25 (1989): 113-115. See note at V366.14 above.
V385.8 the smell of freshly brewed mate
Correspondent Christine Smallwood notes: "Weisenburger, in note V385.8, attempts to correct Pynchon's reference to 'the smell of freshly brewed mate.' He claims that mate is the gourd of which one drinks yerba, and thus, Pynchon misuses the term mate. The tea is known as "yerba mate," and the expression is "tomar mate" - that is, Pynchon is perfectly accurate and Weisenburger's 'correction' only confuses the issue. He also, in V384.28, refers the reader back to his earlier mistranslation."
V386.21 Gaucho Marx
The pun is obvious enough, but it just might derive from John Frankenheimers The Manchurian Candidate (1961). The main character, the humorless Raymond Shaw (Lawrence Harvey), calls attention to the pun as the first joke hes deliberately made.
V391.19 SPOG, CIOS BAFO, TI
See Weisenberger's glosses on these acronyms. Correspondent Dave Henry reports that BAFO stands for British Air Force of Occupation, formed in 1945 from the 2nd TAF (Territorial Air Force).
*V393.13-16 tenement courtyards . . . Highlights are painted on to the sets
The tenement courtyards can be seen in many German films of the 1920s, especially the "street" films such as Pabsts The Joyless Street as well as in Fritz Langs M (1931). Highlights painted on the sets are a feature of some early German Expressionist films, notably The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
V393.41-394.01 vamp a la Brigitte Helm
Helms first and most famous role is a double one: the saintly Maria and the evil robot who tries to seduce the workers to their own destruction in Langs Metropolis (1927).
*V394.03 the anti-Dietrich
Gretas reference is somewhat anachronistic. If she achieved stardom in the 1920s, Greta would not have been compared to Dietrich until late in her career. Although featured in several German silent films, Dietrich only became famous when she starred in the first German talking film, The Blue Angel, in 1930. The director, Josef von Sternberg, brought her to Hollywood where he made her one of the great stars, playing a "destroyer of men" in such American films as Morocco (1930), Blonde Venus (1932), and The Devil Is a Woman (1935). Note that Pynchon also referred anachronistically to Dietrichs eyebrows in the chapter "Mondaugens Story" in V. Greta's appearance as a faded but deadly silent film star is also (anachronistically) similar to Gloria Swanson's role as Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950).
The last and largest of the castles built by the mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, modeled after Versailles. Also see note at V750.11-13.
V394.23 Ludwig II
Something was "in the air" about Ludwig in the early 1970s. The mad king was the subject of a film by Italian director Luchino Visconti in 1973. The date is too close to the publication of Gravitys Rainbow to be a likely direct influence, but could there have been an indirect connection? The films star, Helmut Berger, also had the lead in Viscontis The Damned (1969), playing the transvestite scion of a German industrialist family. He imitates Marlene Dietrich and is eventually involved in a childs murder. All of this is suggestive in relation to Greta and Blicero.
*V394.24 The rage then was all for Frederick
A reference to the popular series of German films about Frederick the Great that began with Fridericus Rex (1922) and lasted into the Hitler era, all starring Otto Gebuhr. Kracauer notes how these films tended to routinize rebellion by placing it as part of a process leading to submission (From Caligari to Hitler 118).
*V394.31 even on orthochromatic stock
Orthochromatic film stock was standard in the movie industry through most of the silent era. It produced the warm tones alluded to here, but was sensitive only to certain portions of the light spectrum and would not register reds or yellows (one reason for the heavy makeup worn in some silent films). It was replaced in the late 1920s by Panchromatic stock, which is sensitive to all colors in the spectrum.
*V394.33-34 Endless negotiating, natty little men with Nazi lapel pins
One nearly legendary story, retold by Kracauer and others, is how Fritz Lang was called to a bureaucrats office after making his film M, the story of a child murderer played by Peter Lorre. The official, sporting a pin like the ones mentioned here, wanted to know what the film was about, assuming that the working title, Murderer among Us, referred to Hitler. He was reassured to find out the real subject, and the films name was changed. Von Goll may have met the same bureaucrat.
Igor Zabel notes that the word simply means "Kingdom."
*V394.38 delighted Goebbels
But probably only in private. The perverse personal tastes of the Nazi leadership are legendary (in more than one sense), but German films under Hitlers regime and Goebbels supervision always endorsed bourgeois morality and would never have displayed anything close to the decadence of von Golls Good Society. (Hitler is supposed to have claimed that Gone with the Wind was his favorite movie!) The film does echo scenes of decadent parties in earlier German films, such as Dr. Mabuse, Lubitschs Madame DuBarry and The Merry Widow, and Pabsts Diary of a Lost Girl and The Love of Jeanne Ney.
*V398.18-22 dog with the saucer eyes . . . beard of the goat on the bridge . . . the
troll below . . . plastic witch . . . Hansel . . . Gretel
Features at Zwolfkinder, all evoking childrens fairy tales: "The Tinder Box," the Billy Goats Gruff, Hansel and Gretel.
V402.05-06 The Spree
Igor Zabel notes that this is a river running through Berlin, not a canal as such.
*V402.38 who would eat an apple in the street
A phrase of German/Yiddish origin, suggesting a poor person of no breeding.
*V403.20 Zen bow and roll of pressed straw
Archery is a sport often associated with Zen discipline in Japan, where it is known as kyudo. The archer seeks not to hit a target but (according to some sources) to become one with the arrow as it flies, as Fahringer advocates becoming "one with the Rocket." One of the earliest introductions of kyudo in the west was by a German, Eugen Herrigel, who studied Zen and archery in Japan in the 1930s. His Zen in the Art of Archery (1953) remains a classic in its field.
In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is a "Buddhist saint," one who has nearly attained nirvana but delays it in order to aid others.
V405.26 good company at Herr Halligers Inn
Note the echo of the title of von Golls perverse film.
V412.35 "I lost my heart in Heidelbug"
Although Weisenburger asserts that the song derives from Tony Bennets recording "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," there are more likely origins. The title suggests the lyrics to "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen" (see note at V134.27) or "Avalon" ("I found my love in Avalon") by Al Jolson and Vincent Rose. In addition, the lyric suggests Sigmund Rombergs venerable operetta The Student Prince, about the heir to a throne who falls in love with a barmaid in the university town. The show also features the song "Gaudeamus Igitur" (V432.13).
New note!: Igor Zabel offers a more a concrete reference: "I lost my heart in Heidelberg": a popular German song from the twenties: "Ich hab' mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren". You can find the text and translation on the net on several web-sites; one belongs to a musical union from (of all places) Kenosha." I have been unable to locate the Kenosha website so far, but the song was written for a musical of the same name by German composer Fred Raymond. For more information, see: http://www.gema.de/eng/public/n161/raymond.html
V421.32 Juch-heiereasas-sa! O-tempo-tempora!
From the song "Ein lustger Musikante marschierte am Nil" by Emmanuel Geibel (1815-1884). German words and midi music are available at: http://ingeb.org/Lieder/einlustg.html
[Thanks to Igor Zabel for this lead!]
*V422.18-19 love something like the persistence of vision
The phrase "persistence of vision:" has long been misapplied to explanations of how the spectator perceives motion from the sequential flashing of still images on film. The termwhich usually refers to the positive afterimage retained by the retina of the eyehas been rejected by psychologists and students of perception as imprecise and misleading. The illusion of motion is actually a much more complicated process, involving several elements of cognition. A very good synopsis of the problems with the term by Stephen Herbert is available at:
The term "persistence of vision" is still in popular use, though, and fits Pynchons (and Poklers) needs well in this context.
V432.13 "Gaudeumus igitur"
Igor Zabel elaborates further on Weisenburger's note:
"The song is a symbol of the university (as such) and its anthem (e.g., it is sometimes performed at ceremonial occasions). The mentioning here refers to the "feeling of graduation". Gaudeamus igitur is traditionally sung by the students of the final class of Gymnasium (i.e., university students to-be) as they celebrate their graduation."
Igor Zabel notes that the term denotes "a rank in the SS, which corresponds to the Lieutenant Colonel."
V433.32 "Der Feind hoert zu"
Igor Zabel notes: "not 'The listening enemy' but 'The enemy is listening', a warning not to speak carelessly."
Both of the meanings supplied by Weisenburger (a male homosexual and/or a gunslinger) also apply to a likely source for the Pynchons use of the word: the character Wilmer in Dashiell Hammetts The Maltese Falcon and John Hustons 1940 film adaptation, with Elisha Cook, Jr. in the role.
In bullfighting, a matadors move with his cape similar to the one that Slothrop employs here.
*V439.26 a nasal hardon here
Trudis invasion of Slothrops nose is a reversal of male pornographic fantasies of crawling into womens vaginas, etc. The connections between the nose and penis have a long cultural history, including the novel Tristram Shandy and early works by Freud.
*V442.09 They are a Mutt and Jeff routine.
Mutt and Jeff were the tall and short friends featured in the earliest daily comic strip, begun in 1907 by Bud Fisher.
V442.39-40 Irving Berlin medley
Weisenburger has Berlin dying in 1975, but the composer did not die until September 1989 at the age of 101! The medley includes the two songs cited on page V443: "God Bless America" and "This Is the Army, Mr. Jones." The latter song gave its name to a 1943 film starring future California Senator George Murphy and future California Governor and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Berlin composed "God Bless America" for a musical in 1917 but dropped it, then revised it for Kate Smith in 1938, who made the song the "unofficial American anthem." It is sung by Smith in This is the Army; in which Berlin himself also sings, "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning." The film also features the song "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen." See note at V134.27.
*V445.22 Im a Lombard
Although Greta evokes the geographical region, she may also be referring to film star Carole Lombard, the comic actress whose airplane crashed while she was on a war bonds tour during the war. Lombard had glamour as a star, although she is best known for roles in "screwball" comedies like Nothing Sacred (1937) and My Man Godfrey (1936) that undercut that image.
*V445.23 Close enough, sweetheart
Slothrops hard-boiled reply to Greta echoes the cynicism of film characters like those played by Humphrey Bogart.
Igor Zabel adds to Weisenburger: "a popular beach, but also the location of the infamous conference on January 20th, 1942, where the strategy of the 'final solution' of the Jewish question was determined."
V448.23-24 like American cowboy actor Henry Fonda
Contrary to Weisenburger, Fonda did not appear "almost exclusively" in Westerns before The Grapes of Wrath in 1940. He did appear in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936), but that film is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is not a Western as such. He played Frank James in Jesse James (1939) but did not make The Return of Frank James until 1940. Other Fonda roles in the 1930s included crime dramas (You Only Live Once), comedies (The Male Animal, The Lady Eve), historical dramas (Drums along the Mohawk), and biographical films (Young Mr. Lincoln). The description of Albert Speer "leaning akimbo against the wall" bears an anachronistic resemblance to Fonda as Wyatt Earp in some scenes of John Fords My Darling Clementine (1946). (As a side note, both The Return of Frank James and You Only Live Once were directed by Fritz Lang, after he had fled Nazi Germany to America.)
*V449.15 Buf-falo Bayou
Buffalo Bayou is in Houston, Texas. Part of it was dredged and cleared over the years to create the Houston Ship Channel.
*V454.01 in the Pentagon
The worlds largest office building was completed in 1943.
V455.35 Sporri and Hawasch
Doctor Mabuses two assistants in Langs 1922 film.
*V466.06 young Shirley Temple
Compare the following excerpt from a review of Temple's film Wee Willie Winkie written by the novelist Graham Greene, who was then reviewing films for the British magazine Night & Day:
"Miss Shirley Temple's case, though, has peculiar interest: infancy is her disguise, her appeal is more secret and more adult. Already two years ago she was a fancy little piece (real childhood, I think, went out with 'The Littlest Rebel'). In 'Captain January' she wore trousers with the mature suggestiveness of a Dietrich: her neat and well-developed rump twisted in the tap-dance: her eyes had a sidelong searching coquetry. Now in 'Wee Willie Winkie', wearing short kilts, she is completely totsy. Watch her swaggering stride across the Indian barrack-square: hear the gasp of excited expectation from her antique audience when the sergeant's palm is raised: watch the way she measures a man with agile studio eyes, with dimpled depravity. Adult emotions of love and grief glissade across the mask of childhood, a childhood skin-deep. It is clever, but it cannot last. Her admirers -- middle-aged men and clergymen -- respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire."
Greene and the magazine were consequently sued by Twentieth-Century Fox, bankrupting Night
& Day and forcing Greene to hide out in Mexico where he drew the inspiration for
his novel The Power and the Glory. (Ironically, both Wee Willie Winkie
and The Fugitive, an adaptation of The Power and The Glory starring Henry
Fonda, were directed by John Ford.)
The Welsh resort town is supposed to be where Carroll first told young Alice Liddell the stories that would become Alice in Wonderland (although most scholars doubt that Carroll ever was in the town). A statue of the White Rabbit was dedicated by David Lloyd George in 1933.
V470.18 "[ . . . ] out the eye at tower's summit [ . . . ]"
Correspondent Stephen Remato offers the following commentary: "
"This reference "must" be to Rocket 00000, with Gottfried's little window cut into the top of it, according to SW. However, Horst Achtfaden, under interrogation aboard the Rucksichtslos, states that the Schwarzgerat was installed in the tail section. He cannot recall station numbers, which would provide a precise location, but he gives enough information to give us a good idea. "Horst says that the S-gerat was "in the tail section", that it was "asymmetrical about the longitudinal axis. Towards Vane III". This tells us that Gottfried was installed sideways in relation to the skin of the rocket, as opposed to facing outwards, and installed between two of the tail fins with his back to vane III; if he had his back to vane III, he was either between fins II and III facing left, or between fins III and IV facing right. "As a further indication of Gottfried's location as V2 passenger, in the section "Pre-Launch" his limbs are said to "writhe among" (inter alia) live steam lines, compressed air battery, exhaust elbow, decomposer; none of these could be described as being in the nose, or anywhere but the tail section."
A quibble with Weisenburger: Slothrop does not imagine but recalls billboards he had seen in the Berkshires.
V471.30 drowned Becket
Not the Martyr of Canterbury but a town in Massachusetts nearly destroyed by a flood in 1927. This is another reference from The Berkshire Hills (TBH 220).
*V473.05 why is Slothrop drawling this way?
A good question, but the drawl does imitate John Waynes speech patterns.
*V474.39 She got the idea somewhere that she was Jewish
Like Leni (the other end of the movie triangle with Pokler at its apex), Greta is fascinated by the Otherness of the Jews. Leni come to assimilate that Otherness as victim, in Dora; Greta, on the other hand, makes herself embody the antisemitic "blood libels" of child sacrifice. See note at V159.38.
V480.23 the face of a Jonah
According to the Book of Jonah in the Bible, 4:1-17, Jonah attempted to flee from his duty to God, causing a storm to nearly capsize the ship that he was on. Hence, his name has become a slang term for someone who is a jinx, especially on a ship.
*V482.25-28 with crackling-tower and obsidian helix, with drive
belts and rollers, with strange airship passages that thread underneath arches . . . city
Evokes the opening shots of the great city of the future in Langs Metropolis. Also see V674.10.
V489.19-20 Brazilian oilcases . . . Ft. Lamy
A reminder of the air route by which Pirate got his bananas at V5.35-36. The "flotsam" described here suggests that the ships or planes carrying Pirate's organic, life-affirming cargo have been destroyed.
*V494.12 I have this kind of trick ear, youll have to
Evokes (anachronistically) Jimmy Stewart as the half-deaf George Bailey in Frank Capras Its a Wonderful Life (1946). Slothrops habitual "a-and" also seems to echo Stewarts characteristic stutter.
V516.22 Der Mude Tod
There is an interesting sidelight to this film. In order to win her lover back from Death, the heroine must try to save his life in three different times and places. (Death wins each time, natch.) The second episode of the film is set in Renaissance Italy, where a courier is attacked by a group of men dressed in black. Could this episode have inspired "The Couriers Tragedy" and the Tristero of The Crying of Lot 49?
V518.06 Driwelling and Schmeill
The formers name, as pronounced in German, would sound like "drivelling"drooling, talking on in a childish manner.
*V527.34-37 Youd better enjoy it while you can . . . then . . . then . . .
Note von Golls shift from a symbolic, expressionist aesthetic of film to a realist one. His position here echoes the shift in post-war film theory away from valuing the manipulation of the medium through editing and other devices (as in the writings of Rudolf Arnheim and Sergei Eisenstein) and toward a conception of the cinema as a record of reality (as espoused by Andre Bazin and in Kracauers own Theory of Film, and as practiced in postwar Italian "neorealist" cinema). Pynchon undercuts such arguments, though, by exemplifying von Golls musings with a banal travel documentary.
V534.20 S.Z. ("Cuddles") Sakall
The actor played the headwaiter, not (as Weisenburger states) a desk clerk, in Casablanca. Ricks place in the film is a café, not a hotel.
In the films unnerving conclusion, the freaks do not merely beat up Cleopatra, as described by Weisenburger, but chant "One of us!" as they transform her into a human chicken! The final image is one that is still omitted from some prints even after the film was re-released following decades of censorship.
*V535.17 the element of Greed must be worked into the plot
A reference to the mutilated film masterpiece directed by Eric von Stroheim in 1924. An adaptation of Frank Norris McTeague, the film originally ran for 10 hours. At the insistence of MGM producer Irving Thalberg, von Stroheim cut it back to four hours but that too was finally cut by the studio again. The remaining footage was destroyed.
(Episode 3: 24)
*V537.16-17 big as pantechnicons
That is, big as furniture vans. See V19.30.
*V540.34 St.-Just Grossout
"Grossout" is 60s slang for "disgusting," "repulsive." Louis Antoine Leon de Saint-Just was the French radical leader known as the "Conscience of the Revolution" for his egalitarian principles but he was also one of the harshest advocates of the Reign of Terror. Also see note at V713.10.
*V541.21-22 a discredit to his people
A play on the racistly condescending phrase "a credit to his people," usually indicating someone who meets official standards of behavior.
*V542.40 Lucifer Amp
An electrical sort of person. "Lucifer" was the original name of the bright angel who rebelled and was expelled from Heaven to become Satan, but it has also been a name for a kind of match and a brand name for lightbulbs. "Amps" (after French physicist Andre Marie Ampere) are the units that measure the rate of flow of the charge in an electrical circuit. AMP, though, can also stand for adenosine monophosphate, a substance found in all animal cells and that controls the cells electrical activity.
V545.04-05 young Porky Pig holding out the anarchists
Weisenburgers cartoon history is more than a bit off in his note here. Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny would not have been featured in Walt Disneys Comics and Stories because they were Warner Brothers characters. (Woody Woodpecker came from Walter Lantzs studio.) Porky and Bugs were featured in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics, starting with the first issue in 1941. Porky had been one of Warner Brothers most popular cartoon characters since his first appearance in "I Havent Got a Hat" in 1935 (made in 2-strip Technicolor; 3-color Technicolor cartoons with the pig did not appear until the early 1940s). The cartoon alluded to here is quite specific: "The Blow-Out" (1936), directed by Fred "Tex" Avery and animated by Sid Sutherland and Charles "Chuck" Jones. Porkys voice is by Joe Dougherty, who dubbed the pig until he was replaced by the familiar voice of Mel Blanc in the late 1930s. In the cartoon, young Porky is earning money for ice-cream sodas by doing favors for people. Thinking that the shadowy "Mad Bomber" has lost his bomb, Porky keeps returning it until the inevitable explosion. This cartoon, a favorite of Pynchons, was originally mentioned to Oedipa by Mr. Thoth in The Crying of Lot 49 and reoccurs as an image in the "Incident in the Transvestites Toilet" later in Gravitys Rainbow. See note at V586.38-39.
*V553.25 Let that Ludwig find his lemming
Ludwig's own name has several possible connotations: Beethoven, the mad King of Bavaria, and the brand of banjo played by George Formby, among others.
V553.34 One lemming, kid?
The context here is different from those of Crutchfield and Rilke, alluded to by Weisenburger. Slothrop wonders at the improbability of finding just one specific lemming among the many who are rushing to their own destruction. Ursula (who is found later) is representative of the Saving Remnant that Pynchon evokes from time to time. See note at V561.26
V555.29-31 He wrote a long tract . . . burned in Boston.
In addition to Weisenburgers note here, it is worth noting that William Pynchons tract took a position similar to the Arminian "heresy" that also seems to inform Frans van der Groovs tortured encounters with the dodos. See note at V111.07-09.
*556.40-41 foreshortening too fastits wideangle, smalltown space here
The wideangle (short) lens takes in a greater range of area than a normal (medium) focallength lens and contributes to "deep focus" effects (keeping all planes in sharp focus). It does so, though, at the expense of distorting the space represented, including foreshortening effects.
V558.06 old Bloody Chiclitz
Chiclitzs name does derive from Chiclets chewing gum, but only metaphorically. Since the white, candy-coated gum tablets resembled teeth, "bloody chiclets" became slang for "broken teeth," as in the threat, "How would you like a mouth full of bloody chiclets?"
*V561.26 LOOK-IN FAWR A NEEDLE IN A HAAAAY-STACK!
Song written by Con Conrad and Herb Magidson, from the Astaire-Rogers musical The Gay Divorcee (originally titled The Gay Divorce on Broadway), directed by Mark Sandrich in 1934. Guy Holden, played by Astaire, has met Ginger Rogers but not learned her name and sings about the improbability of finding her again. Note the similarity to Ludwig's quest for Ursula the lemming at V553.34, above. Dance critic Arlene Croce writes that this number "first defined the Astaire character on the screen. . . . Everything comes easily to him and we believe in him as in no screen hero since Keaton." See next note below.
V561.30-31 Fred Astaire . . . Ginger Rogers again
Missing the song reference above causes Weisenburger to strain for an interpretation. Astaire and Rogers did team up once again after 1939, for The Barkleys of Broadway (1949). That fact aside, it is certainly stretching a point to say that Astaires career "took a downward turn" after 1939. Among many other films, he continued to be a popular star in such musicals as Youll Never Get Rich (1940), Holiday Inn (1942), You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Yolanda and the Thief (1945), Royal Wedding (1953), The Bandwagon (1953), Daddy Longlegs (1955), Silk Stockings (1957), and Easter Parade (1957), and won respect as a serious actor in On the Beach (1959). He also had two acclaimed television specials and won an Honorary Oscar in 1950 and the American Film Institutes Life Achievement Award in 1981. In the "Looking for a Needle" number, Astaire sings about finding the woman of his dreams whose name he never learned after they had had a "cute meet." (He had torn her dress.) The music continues over a montage sequence of Astaire walking and driving around London watching various women until his car runs into Rogers.
V562.01 --searchin for a (hmm) cellar full of saffron
Not, needless to say, a line from the song, but Slothrop is filling in, trying to remember. This launches him into yet another mindlessly pleasurable pursuit (for lyrics) that threatens to abort his mission.
*V564.37-38 si mi quieres escribir you already know
where Ill be staying
The first words are from a song of the Spanish Civil war, sung by a Loyalist fighter:
See the note at V605.37-38.
If you want to write to me
You know where you can always find me. (Repeat)
On the broad front of Gandesa
The front line of every battle. (Repeat)
V571.31-32 the German Wobbly traditions
"Wobblies" were members of the Industrial (not tautologically "International") Workers of the World, based in the United States.
V578.07-09 Klein-Rogge . . . Metropolis
While Weisenburgers notes on the film, following Kracauer, are accurate, they overlook the importance of Rottwangs role in the movie. Rottwang is the element of the irrational on which the entire rationalized bureaucratic system of the city is based. The mad inventor is responsible for the running of the city but lives in a small, organic-looking cottage, decorated with mystic symbols, and plans to bring down the very structure that he himself helped to create.
V578.31-33 Attila the Hun . . . come west out of the steppes .
See note at V159.19. Pokler, drifting in and out of sleep at the movies, has trouble linking the details of Nibelungen together.
V582.05 the same Pflaumbaum
See V159.37-38. We now learn that the "Jewish wolf" was really a victim, who could never have collected on fire insurance even if he had wanted to, and who wound up in a concentration camp. Note the suggestion that Lyle Bland himself was responsible for the fire.
V584.40 portrait of Michael Faraday
Although Weisenburger does not find a listing for a portrait of Faraday in the 1967 Tate catalogue, there are portraits of the scientist at the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Pictures and daguerreotypes of the older Faraday do seem to convey some of the menace suggested in the narrators description of Tantivys reaction on pages V584-585. Pynchon's (or Tantivy's?) characterization is probably unfair, since Faraday belonged to a small Christian sect that tried to live by the principles of the Sermon on the Mount.
V584.13 forest of Arden
Weisenburger does not see much relevance to the reference to Shakespeares pastoral retreat in As You Like It, but the context does fit here, ironically. The scene of bucolic refuge in the play is now a scene of death after the Battle of the Bulge, where the bodies lie "gangrenous in the snow."
*V586.1-11 All the baggy-pants outfielders . . . Olympic runners
All types of characters seen on pinball scoreboards (as are the can-can dancers at V584.19).
*V586.38-39 Silver-Streaking Bert Fibel
The Silver Streak was a comic book superhero of the early 1940s, published by Lev Gleason. His comic book also featured a racistly-depicted Oriental giant with fangs and long nails, known as The Claw (usually opposed the original Daredevil; The Claw himself was popular enough to become one of the few super-villains with his own comic book). In 1942, the comic was renamed Crime Does Not Pay . See note at V709.15. However, correspondent David Erickson adds the following reference: "I always thought the reference was to Fibel's arriving in a hurry: The Silver Streak was the nickname of the Pioneer Zephyr, a streamlined train built for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad and entered into service in 1934. It set the rail land speed record on May 26, 1934, running from Denver to Chicago in just over 13 hours." The Chicago Museum of Science and industry has a very good website about the train.
*V587.08 General Electric plant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Another reference point initially lifted from The Berkshire Hills. The books authors note that the plant was at the time the leading manufacturer of transformers and specifically mention the "new million-dollar Plastics Department, where finished parts for radios, refrigerators, and oil heating units are manufactured from raw materials . . . " (TBH 80).
V591.18 Buddy left to see The Bride of Frankenstein
Contrary to Weisenburger, Buddy probably did see the film. This is the day of Lyle Blands Transcendence; Buddy goes to see Dracula instead of going to the funeral, which is presumably some days later. See note below at V645.12.
V592.32 an American Bugs Bunny comic book
See note on V545.04-05. Bugs Bunny, like Porky Pig, was a Warner Brothers, not Walt Disney, creation. He was featured in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics beginning with issue # 1 in 1941. He did appear under his own name in issues of Dell's Four Color Comics (which featured characters from several studios, including Disney) under his own name beginning with issue # 3 in 1943.
V594.31 Albert Krypton
Krypton is not only a colorless (not white), odorless, and tasteless inert gas but the home planet of Superman, destroyed in a natural nuclear chain reaction.
*V597.06 Avery Purfle
"Purfle" is an ornamental border or trimming (Websters New World Dictionary).
*V600.0506 the same warm and wonderful organization that was charging fifteen cents
for coffee and doughnuts, at the Battle of the fucking Bulge
Supposedly an actual event, although officers (of course) did not have to pay
*V600.19 "love in bloom"
Title of a song composed by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger for the 1934 film She Loves Me Not, starring Bing Crosby. The song was later better known as Jack Bennys theme song.
"Valencia" was originally a French song with words by Lucienne Boyer and Jacques Charles, written in 1925. The American version was released the following year.
V605.37-38 Ya salimos
These and the following words in Spanish are from "Viva la Quince Brigada" ("Long Live the 15th Brigade"), a song of the American volunteer Lincoln Battalion during the Spanish Civil War. The tune is adapted from an old Spanish folk song and the words refer to the bloody battle of the Jarama Valley, which was the Loyalist battalions first taste of war. The words of the last two verses follow:
En los frentes de Jarama
Rumbala, rumbala, rum-ba-la (repeat)
No tenemos ni aviones
Ni tanques, ni canones, ay Manuela! (repeat)
Ya salimos de Espana
Rumbala, rumbala, rum-ba-la (repeat)
Par luchar en otros frentes
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela!
At Jarama we are standing
Rumbala, rumbala, rum-ba-la
And we have no planes above us
Not a tank, nor any canons, ay Manuela!
We have left the Spanish trenches
Rumbala, rumbala, rum-ba-la
To fight the Fascists where we find them
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela!
V611.33 Molotov isnt telling Vishinsky
Echoes the capitalist slogan, "Macy's doesnt tell Gimbel's," referring to the rival New York department stores.
*V615.06 Sir Marcus Scammony
Scammony refers to the medicinal resins derived from the roots of certain plants, or to the plant itself. The word also suggests "scam," or "trickery," "con job."
*V615.12-13 O-or how about mixing in something that will actually dissolve in
Evokes the 1952 British film The Man in the White Suit in which Alec Guinness plays a scientist who invents a suit that wont soil or wear out. It does, however, dissolve in the rain.
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