Against the Day Weblog

January 30, 2007

He’s an optimist after all…

Filed under: General — basileios @ 2:20 pm
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‘Somebody will get that Deuce Kindred someday, and Mr. Vibe too, it wouldn’t surprise me. People that bad have a way of bringing it to themselves sooner or later.”

page 980

Like chickens coming home to roost maybe?

I talked about what appears to me the most important aspect of Against the Day, the power of history over human society but it appears that Pynchon is more of an optimist than I thought. Or naive?

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January 29, 2007

Sons and daughters

Filed under: General — basileios @ 12:34 pm
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‘Her love for Ljubica being impenetrable and indivisible as a prime number, other loves must be accordingly re-evaluated’

page 973

Would this sentence be possibly written by Pynchon if he did not have a son? There are quite a few personal (i would call them) feelings in Against the Day and not surprisingly some parts of Pynchon were changed by family life.

January 17, 2007

Tsernobyl

Filed under: General — basileios @ 7:43 am
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The Tsernobyl/Wormwood reference in page 784 is another element that gives an aura of the Apocalypse to the whole book. In a sense this eyeopening reference among hundreds similar hints is a key given to us by Pynchon in order to interpret Against the Day as an ‘apocalyptic’ (and rather mystical) book. I dig that.

January 16, 2007

Implosion

Filed under: General — basileios @ 6:09 am

As you can see I am in the last 300 pages. The feeling is of an utmost sadness. This is not a book I want to finish. I wish there is more of it that I haven’t read yet, I wish someone could add pages at the end in the same rate as I am reading. Pynchon has done it again. With Gravity’s Rainbow it managed to spoil in many points the reading experience of other authors. Against the Day has worked on similar ways to remind me that there is only one Pynchon.

The stories are imploding, sex is abundant (everyone is fucking), but this is not the mindless pleasure experienced by the lusty dramatis personae of Gravity’s Rainbow. This is sex in a way that completes the relationship between the characters.

January 3, 2007

Pynchon’s View on History

Filed under: General — basileios @ 10:24 am
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“Who’s to say,” Kit carefully, “we couldn’t get it done quicker by just standing back, letting the forces of History roll on over him”

page 739

I think there is a lot to be said about the Pynchonian view of History as seen through Against the Day (already some discussion about this is in a previous post). In a sense it feels that Pynchon follows a neo-Marxian approach of ultimate paranoia under which History is not changeable by the small individual acts of people (otherwise known as ‘heroes do not exist’ – I would even place the ‘don’t go for the head shot’ paragraphs mentioned earlier in the book under this umbrella). I hereby call this in my humble opinion the core point of Against the Day and the whole underlining of the book an essay on how this applies in the difficult and changing times of the beginning of the 20th century. The book can be analyzed in so many ways based on this idea which came to me rather late (after page 500) that has already made me think that I have missed many points in the early stages of the book. Mental note: second reading (at least), mandatory.

As for the book reviews that keep on popping up about Against the Day, I ‘ve read so many calling it a ‘revenge story’. Calling Against the Day a revenge story is like calling Moby Dick a revenge story.

December 31, 2006

Meta-text again?

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

December 19, 2006

Missing the point

Filed under: General,Notes — basileios @ 10:17 am
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Ok, we have gone this through more times that I want to remember. Against the Day is a novel about change, about the brief moments just before the explosion when everything is in a state of chaos that is ordered by the explosion itself (remember the Proudhon quote Anarchy is Order?).

As is often the case with Pynchon science is used as a means of parallelizing the social political status of the world with elements of science. The time of the book is just perfect for all the changes in the scientific paradigms that brought forward ‘modern physics’ (quantum mechanics and relativity). Yet herein lies the wonderful bit about Pynchon and Against the Day.

Pynchon failed to feel into the trap of entering the cliche of talking about the theory of relativity and Einstein. Yes, special and general relativity are almost everywhere in the book (like the E=mc**2 formula described in page 565) but they do not play the crucial role of change that a medium caliber writer would make them play. Instead Pynchon dives deep in the actual theory, picks out the element that was transformed by the paradigm change (light), something which is often missed by many professional scientists, and uses this as the central metaphor for the whole book.

Frankly, I find this simply brilliant.

December 2, 2006

Explosion / Implosion

Filed under: General — basileios @ 2:46 pm

Another theme that seems to dominate is the explosion and implosion theme which appears not just as an explicit reference to dynamite or the focusing of the rays of light (“in the center of a diamond”). I have the feeling that the multitude of the separate persons and stories are creating a textual explosion in themes references and complicated stories that interwove. I am expecting all these stories to focus into an implosion which should come at the end of the book. Its more like a prediction at this stage than an actual comment.

November 24, 2006

First Impressions

Filed under: General,Notes — basileios @ 7:16 am

Well, this is no Gravity’s Rainbow, thats for sure. After reading the first 25 or so pages the whole setup seems less dense than the bombardment of images synapsed by the first pages of Gravity’s Rainbow. Actually Against the Day reminds me of Vineland more than any other book of Pynchons.

However, there is something rather strange that I noticed in the first chapter. i somehow don’t think it is just a weird coincidence that elements of all the previous books appear within pages 3 to 18. For example there is a small fight (like the bigger fight in the bar in the beginning of V.), there is mention of aeronautical almanacs (designed and first created by Maskelyn of Mason & Dixon fame), there is broken glass (like the broken window by Zoyd Wheeler) and there is mention of the going up-coming down process (in analogy with Gravitys Rainbow, – and guess what? Miles Blundell stutters like Slothrop) and finally in page 18 Penelope ‘Penny’ Black (get it?) appears.

And it somehow felt that the five members of the Chums of Chance each represented a previous Pynchon book (in the loose sense). I was expecting a 6th person to enter, and lo and behold in page 25 we are informed of an extra passenger. Well, isn’t this a bit weird? Is it all a coincidence?

Apart from that the book reads like a Boy’s Book of Adventures and it seems that Pynchon is toying with us in a mockery of the whole book writing and reading process (and this is no screaming against the sky. This is an object full of air exhaling, farting through the sky). The dog that reads the book by Henry James is 100% original Pynchon.

More, more, more….

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