Difference between revisions of "Chapter 9"

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'''Thanatoids are injured by "what was done to them."'''<br />
'''Thanatoids are injured by "what was done to them."'''<br />
Here they seem like left-over hippies, Vietnam vets, America's victims. Preterites who want revenge.
Here they seem like left-over hippies, Vietnam vets, America's victims. Preterites who want revenge.
'''"The amount of memory on a chip doubles every year and a half!"'''<br />
Sounds like a variant on Moore's Law, that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law
==Page 175==
==Page 175==

Revision as of 21:03, 12 July 2009

Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.

Page numbers refer to editions with 385 pages, where the story begins on page 3. Not sure if there are other editions with variant pagination. Please let us know otherwise.

Page 130

"Fresson process studio photograph"
Photographic printing process that uses coal to produce paper prints with a unique luminosity and grain. Fresson printing produces an image that is characteristically diffused and subtle, reminiscent of the "pointillism" of Impressionist painting. The image is extremely stable; Fresson printing is considered the most archival of any color procedure in use today.

Page 131

"If you want real ninja product..."
The whole sequence about hiring an assassin is pure cyberpunk schtick.

"The Vibrating Palm"
This may be a subtle reference to the old joke-store "buzzer" or "shocker" -- and resonates nicely with the rubber scampi on the previous page.


Page 133

"legendary in the dopers' community"
Olympic Boulevard, in Los Angeles, is a major arterial road stretching from 4th Street on the western end of Santa Monica to East Los Angeles -- farther than Wilshire Boulevard and most other streets. Why is the gas station toilet legendary? And why would DL care anyway? All she needs to do is change into her disguise.

In his 2009 psychedelic noir novel Inherent Vice, Pynchon mentions another legendary restroom near Los Angeles:

"the notorious Oscar's, right across the border from Tijuana, where the toilets were seething round the clock with junkies new and old who'd just scored in Mexico, put the product inside rubber balloons and swallowed them, then crossed back into the U.S. to vomit them back up again." (p.37)

Because this restroom is right across the border, it's not the "legendary" toilet on Olympic Boulevard.

"baby-blue shadows..."
Nice description — and a precursor to the color of Frenesi's eyes.

Page 134

"beige hose, white underwear..."
Pynchon's description of DL's Clark Kent outfits is surprisingly accurate, especially for a male. It's like giving the O-O (see note, p. 79) to a nice Midwestern girl, circa 1960.

Page 135

"She wasn't sure right away that being sold into white slavery would turn out to be at all beneficial as a career step..."
The kidnap-and-auction sequence is good, fast-moving storytelling: breathless, tense, gripping, light on flashy effects. This is also familiar cyberpunk territory, especially the interview with Wayvone.

Page 136

"older gentlemen with fingertip deficiencies..."
Yakuza who have screwed up, and demonstrated their remorse by cutting off a fingertip.

Page 139

"Ufa, mi tratt' a pesci in faccia..."
Literally, "Oof, you've thrown a fish in my face!" It's an ominous Sicilian warning meaning, "You've insulted me most unpleasantly, treated me in the worst possible way!"

Page 141

"I knew it!"
Prairie breaking into the seamless narrative is almost a Brechtian alienation effect. By now the story is moving so strongly that we've totally forgotten the "as-told-to" frame.

"How could [Frenesi] have ever gone near somebody like this Brock guy?"
Good question. Pynchon never really answers it -- unless we accept the idea of Frenesi embodying America's fatal fascination with authority.

"what-is-reality exercises"
Reminiscent of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

"Ninja Death Touch calculator"
This joke strikes another false note. The entire sub-plot revolving around the Vibrating Palm is broad comedy, of course, but this smart-ass gag is severely out-of-scale.

Page 142

"might as well stay home -- watch a Run Run Shaw movie!"
Hong-Kong-based Run-Run Shaw produced the popular (and violent) Bruce Lee karate flicks, also lots of action-packed swords and sorcery adventures (like the ones that clearly inspired a lot of the DL and Takeshi sub-plot).

"yellow headlamps of the tech squads..."
The scene in the Footprint is reminiscent of the monolith excavation on the moon in 2001. Also, most of the Japanese dialogue is phrased in Pynchon's unique, sounds-just-like-a-movie style.

"...the shadowy world conglomerate Chipco..."
This imaginary entity (an echo, perhaps of the sinister YoYoDyne Corporation in The Crying of Lot 49) is presumably some Intel-like company whose microprocessor chips are sold world wide. No doubt the chips are designed to keep a covert watch on everything, and report back to Chipco -- similar to Byron the Bulb and his fellow gridmates in Gravity's Rainbow.

"gigantic animal footprint"
Godzilla's size is pretty well known, and this (as we shall see) sauroid footprint is too large to be that of the big G. However, Godzilla is a product of Japanese movie model technology of the fifties, so who knows what the eighties might bring?

"Wawazume Life & Non-Life"
Is this a joke? And what kind? Maybe they insure things other than lives. Maybe Thanatoids get "non-life" insurance. Or it could just be a satirically "tactful" Japanese way of referring to death.

Page 143

"By the time...gods of the sky."
Note that this immensely long and complicated sentence takes up more than half the page!

Page 145

"Singapore Sling"
A frivolous cocktail with a pleasant flavor and a lethal punch: the signature drink of the bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, a British colony taken by the Japanese in WWII. Conceivably, Minoru might have been stationed there, and picked up a liking for this tourist syrup.

Page 146

"Chuck, the world's most invisible robot"
Like the fastest draw in the West. Want to see it again?

"some planet-wide struggle had been going on for years"
More Pynchonian paranoia.

"the Himalayan caper"
Story is written in mock Le Carre shorthand. Here (as elsewhere) Pynchon penetrates to the essence of a genre and gives us a few masterly strokes that evoke the same effect as an entire novel by a lesser writer.

For many years, Semtex has been the plastic explosive of choice for sophisticated aircraft bombers and other terrorists.

"pirate ships of the stratosphere"
Presumably, they mount attacks like the one on the Kahuna flight.

Page 147

"We called you — the Kid."
As in, "I never did the Kenosha Kid?" (See Gravity's Rainbow, p. 60.)

"disco music coming out the club doors"
Cyberpunk atmosphere.

Page 148

"The Yak Doc Workshop"
This may be a riff on Doc Yak, a comic book character.

"Takeshi...saw Vond...and thought...it was himself..."
Vond and Takeshi look alike. Does this, as they say, signify? Takeshi as anti-Vond? It's hard to imagine a dark Japanese and a light Caucasian looking alike, but anyway, there's one for each of the tomatoes: an adjuster (insurance or karma, ma'am?) for DL, and a badass for Frenesi.

Japanese for foreigner, stranger, outsider.

Page 149

"Found a cab"
Once again Prairie startles us by breaking into the gripping flashback narrative, but this time the present-tense Takeshi breaks in with her, having just arrived at the SKA retreat. Very cinematic. Takeshi moves instantaneously from past to present, a double-exposure match-dissolve effect.

The first of several references to The Three Stooges, a nothing-if-not-preterite comedy trio specializing in crude, cruel slapstick.

"fingering its smooth rigid contours"
The mock-porno is cute.

Page 151

"I couldn't see shit."
DL mistakes Takeshi for Vond because of her fuzzy contact lenses. This mistaken-identity riff is worthy of Shakespeare at his most far-fetched and funny.

Flash! Pynchon's ear fails! This just isn't as close to the Valspeak expression of disgust as we expect from our boy. The transliteration needs a little more "u" or something.

Page 153

"Fuckin' Vond. He's the Roadrunner."
Yes, he is.

Page 154

"Licensed DOM's"
Doctor of Medicine?

Page 155

"Ninjette Coffee Mess"
Navspeak. In the military, particularly the Navy, coffee mess is a little area where the coffee maker, cups, etc. are kept.

Page 156

"dorai kuriiningu"
"dry cleaner" More Jive Japlish.

A highly toxic chemical often used for cleaning movie film.

Page 157

"Not a bar, Fumimota-san."
Silly joke, nicely placed.

Page 158

The etymology of this new tranquilizer is clearly from the bacchanalian ejaculation (and crossword puzzle word) "evoe!"

Page 159

"Michiko Yomama"
A nasty pun, based on the black insult, "Yo' mama!" Let your guard down for a second, and the guy slips in one of these every time.

Page 160

Orgasm and atomic detonation meet in one of Pynchon's most awful/wonderful puns (nuke = nookey).

Page 161

"technically dead"
Since Takeshi lives without fear, this makes him a perfect samurai, and echoes the idea on p. 29 about how a samurai is always prepared to die.

Page 162

"Just Like a William Powell"
Echoes "Like a Meat Loaf" (p. 363), and, of course, Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues."

Page 163

"Which reminds me, about your PX bill..."
If you had any doubts about the samurai/ninjette subplot being for laughs, this page should convince you.

Page 164

An imaginary therapeutic device whose name suggests an infernal combination of eastern medicine (acupuncture) and high-energy western technology (cyclotron). There's a bit of "punk" in there, too.

"Detractors included...managed to keep."
A silly sentence, written in painful mock-German syntax for no discernible reason.

"Taiwanese Healthy Brain Aerobics"
More foolishness, this time mixed with music. The selection of tapes for Puncutron listening includes The All-Regimental Bagpipes play Prime Time Favorites (the Tube again!), and perhaps Pynchon's best judgmental title: The Chipmunks Sing Marvin Hamlisch.

Page 166

"...men convinced us that we were the natural administrators of this thing 'morality'..."
Sister Rochelle's feminist Eden parable suggests an interesting modern scenario: Frenesi = Eve, DL = Lilith, Vond = Serpent. This would help explain Frenesi/America's irresistible attraction for the authoritarian Vond.

Page 167

"The Ordeal of the Thousand Broadway Show Tunes"
Transcendental malarkey.

"YOUR MAMA EATS, how can we resist?"
Aggro dining.

Page 169

Preterite communications personified.

Page 170

"Like Death, Only Different."
While this is a nice definition of the "oid" suffix, it begs the question of exactly what Thanatoid's are.

"But we watch a lot of Tube"
Thanatoids watch lots of TV, trying to advance further into the condition of death. This makes them Reaganite kids? Couch potatoes? Embittered hippies? Everyone in America? Anyway, advancing further into the condition of death is only a restatement of the law of entropy, which may mean that everyone in the universe is a Thanatoid.

Page 171

"checking the edges of the frame."
Does this mean Takeshi's in a film? Or is Pynchon just grabbing a handy cinema term?

"go the opposite way! Back to life!"
This anti-entropic movement makes Takeshi a great hero, a symbol of intelligence (the only truly anti-entropic entity), the life force.

Page 172

(as in Shade Creek) = ghost.

"thick fluids in flexible containers"
i.e., scumbags

"The Woodbine Motel"
Harks back, perchance, to the 1870's, the Union Pacific railroad scandal, and the Credit Mobilier. When one party was asked, under oath, where the money was, he replied that it had "gone where the woodbine twineth."

"The Zero Inn"
Very thanatoid, preterite and Zoyd-like. Also another zero.

Page 173

Thanatoids are "victims of karmic imbalances — unanswered blows, unredeemed suffering..."
So are the Thanatoids victims of the Seventies? Or another version of the preterites in Gravity's Rainbow? Maybe they're just over-determined ghosts of some sort. This description is similar to the kind of thing that psychics talk about when they're trying to make your poltergeists go away; it's the unresolved baggage that keeps the ghosties on the move, and out of wherever they belong. Remember, too, that Shade Creek is "a psychic jumping-off town" where the Thanatoids wait "for the data necessary to pursue their needs and aims (i.e., ghostlike revenge) among the still living..." (p. 171)

"Although the streets were irregular and steeply pitched..."
The description is an attempt to capture the effect of an M.C. Escher drawing — or perhaps the Expressionist sets in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [1920].

Page 174

Thanatoids are injured by "what was done to them."
Here they seem like left-over hippies, Vietnam vets, America's victims. Preterites who want revenge.

"The amount of memory on a chip doubles every year and a half!"
Sounds like a variant on Moore's Law, that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

Page 175

"Karmic adjustment"
Well, yes, it's a nice progression from insurance adjustment, but what does Takeshi actually do? Prairie is still wondering on page 192, and DL never lets on. In any case, it looks like these Thanatoids are dead California yuppies; a resource to be exploited by preterite tradesmen.

"interesting work with airplanes"
So, during World War II Takeshi was a kamikaze — hence the same Takeshi who's in Gravity's Rainbow! (See Viking edition, page 690) This brings up an interesting, though peripheral issue: As a Kamikaze, Takeshi flew a Zero. A-and there's a reference on page 672 (of GR) to "Zeros bearing comrades away," reminding us of those human lives as binary code in God's PC. As noted, there are lots of other "zero" reverences (that's a pun, not a typo) in Vineland.

Page 176

"Domo komarimashita!"
Japanese for "Thanks a lot!" or "You're welcome."

Page 178

"Interpersonal Programming and the Problem Towee"
Pynchon definitely has an attitude on this kind of California stuff. He also seems to have a grudge against Mercedes drivers.

"Sounds like the team I bet on last week."
Vato gets to make the bad pun this time. This is a great montage of the growing relationship between Vato, Blood, Takeshi, and DL.

Page 179

"Vato wanted it to be a sitcom."
Another example of how deeply TV has invaded our thoughts.

Page 180

"I'm Chip! I'm Dale!"
A sly comparison of chipmunks: Disney's cartoonic Chip 'n Dale v. Bagdasarian's sonic Alvin, Simon, and Theodore ("Alvin and the Chipmunks").

Page 186

86'd = thrown out, usually in reference to a drinking establishment. See also 43'd, p.342...

The native American Yurok tribe lives along the lower 36 miles of the Klamath River, and along the California coast from Wilson Creek to Trinidad Bay. This may provide a clue to the location of Vineland County. Being Indians, the Yuroks are, naturally, preterite in the Pynchon universe. The woge (note lower case) seem to be Yurok thanatoids, therefore ultra-preterite.

Page 187

"Bernard Herrmann"
The famous film composer, whose credits include, among many other great picture soundtracks, Alfred Hitchcock's classics Psycho [1960] and Vertigo [1958.

"A Toyota in the treetops"
Is this a tip of the hat to the boat in the tree in Marquez's famous novel of magic realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude?

"...vanish unaccountably between Shade Creek and the V & B pound, as Thanatoid units...had been known to do..."
Vanishing Thanatoid cars may push the envelope of fantasy a bit too far. And yet, and yet... They wind up in the tops of trees, you see. It's kind of like 'toon cars: 'toons can drive real cars, real people can drive 'toon cars. Plus, it sets up (much later) the disappearance of Vond's ride in Chapter 15.

Page 188

A totally abrupt scene-change to Takeshi's, a literary jump cut.

"Weed Atman"
Another great name. Weed = marijuana. Also perhaps, an echo of Steven Weed, abandoned boyfriend of heiress Patty Hearst, which raises a very faint reverberation of Frenesi as Patty-in-reverse. Atman = Hindu for breath, the principle of life, the World Soul.

"Prairie was hearing this, in her turn, from DL..."
Prairie breaks into the narrative, bouncing us unexpectedly back to the present. These abrupt break-ins by Prairie are fun.

Page 189

"Variety Loaves...not, as once supposed, safely dead but no, only, queerly, sleeping..."
Thanatoid lunch meat!

Page 190

"Me gotta go"
A line from Richard Berry's "Louie Louie, made famous by the Kingsmen."

Page 191

Folding Fin Aircraft Rocket Launcher, a rather nasty device attached to Apache helicopters around about the time Pynchon was writing Vineland.

"Kick Out the Jambs"
Definitely a reference to the the MC 5 tune "Kick Out the Jams." But is "jambs" a typo or a pun?

Chapter 1
pp. 3-13
Chapter 2
pp. 14-21
Chapter 3
pp. 22-34
Chapter 4
pp. 35-55
Chapter 5
pp. 56-67
Chapter 6
pp. 68-91
Chapter 7
pp. 92-106
Chapter 8
pp. 107-129
Chapter 9
pp. 130-191
Chapter 10
pp. 192-203
Chapter 11
pp. 204-217
Chapter 12
pp. 218-267
Chapter 13
pp. 268-293
Chapter 14
pp. 294-322
Chapter 15
pp. 323-385
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