Against the Day Weblog

January 20, 2007

Against the Day

Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 7:59 am

“It went on for a month. Those who had taken it for a cosmic sign cringed beneath the sky each nightfall, imagining ever more extravagant disasters. Others, for whom orange did not seem an appropriately apocalyptic shade, sat outdoors on public benches, reading calmly, growing used to the curious pallor. As nights went on and nothing happened and the phenomenon slowly faded to the accustomed deeper violets again, most had difficulty remembering the earlier rise of heart, the sense of overture and possibility, and went back once again to seeking only orgasm, hallucination, stupor, sleep, to fetch them through the night and prepare them against the day.”

Page 805

The Tunguska event is the center, the most crucial event that shapes the book and this paragraph the most crucial (and beautiful) of the whole book. Pynchon is not interested in ‘doom’ and paranoia only. Don’t you find it odd that the passage of Halley’s comet in 1910 and the world paranoia of cyanide poisoning doesn’t even make a cameo appearance in the book? My humble opinion is that Halley’s comet is too much of a matter of fact thing: A cosmic, astronomical object that caused some sort of paranoia in the world due to some false readings of the spectra. But the Tunguska event?

The Tunguska event is at crossroads. Astronomical, mystical, apocalyptic, man made. Whatever your beliefs or your prejudices you are bound to fear the explanation for it. Reader, beware.



  1. Yes i found the non-mention of Halley’s comet in 1910 and more of the Great Daylight Comet in January of that year curious. Also sidestepped were the San Franciscan Earthquake,the sinking of the Titanic and the eclipse of 1919. Perhaps these events were so prominent in the global view that they lost any mysterious connotations whereas little was known of the Tunguska event for many years.

    Comment by al canone — March 20, 2007 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

  2. exactly. Thats more or less what I am talking about as well. Its the mystical, unckown, crossroads essence behind the tunguska event that has made it interesting and a focal point in Against the Day.

    Comment by basileios — March 20, 2007 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

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