Against the Day Weblog

December 31, 2006

Meta-text again?

Filed under: Excerpts,General — basileios @ 10:40 am

“Who could have foreseen, any more than the actress who falls in love with her leading man, that the fiction might prove after all more desirable – strangely, more durable – than anything the civilian world had to offer…”

page 701

Linking this with the preface to the book I feel he is talking about the book-writing process and the fictional world here the way he has viewed it through his career. If Orson Welles faced personality problems after doing Citizen Kane can anyone guess what writing Gravitys Rainbow (and Against the Day) has done to Pynchon as a feedback?


December 30, 2006

Pynchon and the Balkans (Whole or Sum of Parts II)

Filed under: Notes,Sources — basileios @ 4:30 pm

About a month ago I talked about how I always felt that Pynchon’s works have to be viewed as a whole and not as individual books, totally separated from one another. Lo and behold here is the man himself talking about the Balkans.

“Best procedure when considering the Balkans” instructed Renfrew “is not to look at components singly – one begins to run about the room screaming after a while – but all together, everything in a single timeless snapshot, the way master chess players are said to regard the board”.

page 689

Another interesting point about this paragraph is the mention of global snapshots for master chess players, something which is not always understood easily by people who think that master chess players work like computers by calculating many moves and possibilities in advance. The truth appears to be that master chess players evaluate patterns on the chessboard and judge their next moves based on the future emerging patterns. The global snapshot picture is absolutely correct here.

I think I remember reading a detailed analysis of this in Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works. Could this be the original source for Pynchon as well?

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — basileios @ 7:59 pm

to everybody!

December 22, 2006


Filed under: Excerpts — basileios @ 10:32 am

…arrived just in time, rising before them like a lime sorbet after a steady diet of roasted ducks and assorted goose products.”

page 662


a Tatzelwurm is only a Tatzelwurm

Filed under: Uncategorized — basileios @ 8:09 am

and a hanger is only a hanger (attributed to Sigmund Freud)

page 655

December 21, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — basileios @ 9:17 am

(page 653)

Kanuni, coming from the greek κανόνας were a series of unwritten very strict laws that were acting as a code of conduct in Albania. The communist regime basically abolished them but since the fall of communism they seemed to have appeared again (especially in rural Albania). I asked my Albanian friends about the aspects of the Kanuni mentioned in the book (especially about the bit about women and children being allowed out in vendetta cases) and apparently it was just like it and even stricter than that (kids stopped being kids at 12).

December 20, 2006

So where is the Unabomber?

Filed under: General,Questions — basileios @ 8:14 am

UnabomberWell lets take these one by one:

  • Theodore Kaczynski was an anarchist… bomber.
  • Theodore Kaczynski was a mathematician – with heavy duty work in complex analysis.
  • Thomas Pynchon was once accused of being the Unabomber
  • Theodore Kaczynski was arrested round the time Pynchon was writing Against the Day
  • Theodore Kaczynski was arrested due to information given by his own family

Sounds as if there are quite a few coincidences going on here. Are there more?

Coal Gas Communication

Filed under: Uncategorized — basileios @ 8:05 am

The secret network of communicating through the gas pipes that were spread round London at the time sounds like an excellent mockery of the Crying of Lot 49. I am glad to see he enjoys taking a piss of his own work.

page 607

Ether Drag

Filed under: Uncategorized — basileios @ 8:02 am

The golf ball-Earth analogy in page 603 was indeed an actual Ether Drag theory that was created to explain the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment.

“And is that a revolver you’re carrying?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — basileios @ 7:54 am

…or are you just happy to see me?

page 589

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