- 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.
"Sylvester and Tweety"
The famous animated cartoon characters (a cat and a canary, natch) are used to described the comic/violent relationship between Zoyd and Zuniga. This also works as effective shorthand to encourage the reader to read the book as a cartoon. At least for now.
Possibly inspired by a NYC radio jingle of the late forties and early fifties that went "Melrose five, five-three-hundred, Melrose five, five-three-hundred...".
"musician Scott Oof"
Another inspired name.
"What I'm really here about..."
This is an old "head" joke. ["Head" = sixties slang for weed-head, or "soft" drug-user.] The cop raps at the door and says "I'm here about drugs," and the doper says, "Thank God! We're all out!" It's right up there with the one where the cop says, "Your papers, please!" and the head whips out his Zig-Zags.
"some grandiose pilot project bankrolled with inexhaustible taxpayer millions"
Typically Pynchonian paranoid reference.
Mid-level US Government job rating. Entry level is GS-4; the President is, like, GS-25.
"hummed a tune..."
Distraction drives Hector to humming "Meet the Flintstones," the second TV theme song so far.
The first we learn of Frenesi's demotion/demolition, her "disappearance from the computer," her figurative conversion from a one to a zero. (See note on Pynchon's central binary metaphor, p. 71, et al..)
"When the State withers away, Hector"
From Friedrich Engels, of course, in whose expectation the State is not abolished, it withers away.
In the style of actor Clint (Dirty Harry) Eastwood.
"I won't aks you to grow up, but...aks yourself, OK, Who was saved? That's all, rill easy..."
Great rap from Hector, demonstrating Pynchon's flawless ear for dialect and accent. "Who was saved?" ties into the preterite theme.
"the samurai condition"
The notion of a samurai "always being prepared to die" will be echoed on page 161 when Takeshi is shown to be technically dead, hence living without fear of death, hence always prepared to die. Which makes him a perfect samurai. Or Thanatoid.
"maybe it goes beyond your ex-old lady..."
Pynchon introduces the paranoid conspiracy element he (and we) love so much. Nothing is what it seems; there's always some mystery behind everything.
As far as we can tell, this is a made-up word. But it's well-made, and means just what it says: The study, or contemplation, of soup or meat broth. Pynchon seems to enjoy making up words. Now and then you run across another "skepsis" word. Two of our advisors spotted "omphaloskepsis" (navel-gazing) in the beginning chapters of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum.
"Nothin' meaner than an old hippie that's gone sour."
"Check's in the mayo"
A brilliant throw-away Feghoot. In the fifties, a science fiction writer named Grendel Briarton wrote a series of short, funny pieces for Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine titled, "Through Time and Space With Ferdinand Feghoot." They all worked the same way: establishing a silly and complicated story line for the sole purpose of setting up a painfully outrageous pun. Pynchon is addicted to the form; one of the best Feghoots ever written is the "Forty million Frenchmen" gag ("for DeMille young Frenchmen...") on page 559 of 559 Gravity's Rainbow.
"National Endowment for Video Education and Rehabilitation"
Dr. Deeply's Tubal detox operation (NEVER) is clearly a gag on Betty Ford's "Just Say No" Drug Abuse Clinic. This is also the first statement of a central theme: America's national addiction isn't to drugs, it's to the Tube.
"Hector...hasn't quite been himself, signed himself in with us for some therapy..."
Another reference to the vicious addictiveness of TV.