Against the Day Weblog

March 25, 2008

Delay, but Stay Tuned

Filed under: Notes,Personal — basileios @ 12:00 am

Although I mentioned a few times that the second read will begin soon and I will re-start posting and filling in map info you might have noticed a delay here. I simply decided to postpone entries here, give Against the Day a full uninterrupted second read – with possible notes – and then start filling in info on the third read.

In other words this blog will remain dormant for some time longer but I believe the experience will be fuller later on. I do plan the occasional post though…


March 4, 2007

Against the Day, the cover

Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 8:29 am

After reading the whole book, the cover, finally makes sense. When I first had the pleasure of holding the book in my hands I thought that the choice of cover was below my expectations. However, now I feel that it captures the essence of the book in the best possible way.

The letters that drop a series of shadows, against the day, in different fonts implies the ‘different history’ multiverse idea that plays such a central part in the book. The broken (Tibetan) seal is another apocalyptic reference.

But is this the first seal?

February 22, 2007

What It Means To Be An American

Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 7:56 am

‘Jesse brought home an assignment from school “write an essay on What It Means To Be An American”‘

page 1076

This was a theme earlier on in the book and it comes back now with the closing. This is not surprising as Pynchon is searching in more or less all his books the essence of the American psyche. The time period in Against the Day is ideal for dealing with the birth and generation of this so I am not surprised that this is another crucial element in the whole structure of the book.

January 29, 2007

FN motorcycles

Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 12:30 pm

(on page 951).

I had an FN rifle when I was in the Greek army, but had no idea the company used to do motorcycles as well. These are beauties…

January 24, 2007

Anarchism and WWI

Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 8:41 am

‘”Well?” Yashmeen said, “why not let them have their war? Why would any self respecting Anarchist care about any of these governments, with their miserable incestuous stew of kings and Caesars?”‘

page 938

This is, unfortunately, a rather ironic statement. World War I seems to be the catalyst that basically destroyed the Anarchist mode of thinking and turn the tide towards the competing ideas of Communism. Another play on history by Pynchon maybe?


Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 8:33 am

“Frank respected this – who at some point hadn’t come to hate the railroad? It penetrated, itr broke apart cities and wild herds and watersheds, it created economic panics and armies of jobless men and women, and generations of hard, bleak city-dwellers with no principles who ruled with unchecked power, it took away everything indiscriminately, to be sold, to be slaughtered, to be led beyond the reach of love.”

page 930

Railroads appear in quite a few instances in Against the Day as symbols of modernity, as elements of evil. The railway network appears similar to the border in Mason & Dixon as an unnatural violation of nature which has an impact in all human society.

Too bad that I like traveling by train….

January 22, 2007

All Lines Singled Up

Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 8:45 am

The phrase reappears in page 821. This feels like a ‘double start’ for the book here (even though it is not a beginning of a part or something).

January 20, 2007

Child of the Storm II

Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 8:06 pm

When I wrote about this Child of the Storm paragraph sometime ago I could sense somehow that there was something more about this characterization. Today I literally stumbled upon this: Child of Storm by Henry Rider Haggard . I must admit of not knowing much about the guy so I searched a bit only to find that he was a Victorian novelist that wrote adventure novels most of them located in exotic places (i.e. Africa) the most famous of which was Kings Solomon’s Mines.

Apparently Mr Rider Haggard (apart from having a name which would nicely fit into any Pynchon book) influenced Joseph Conrad quite a bit. Conrad author of Heart of Darkness also wrote The Secret Agent, (wikpedia quote): a 1907 novel by Joseph Conrad, a bleak and darkly comic story of spies, terrorists, anarchists and agents provocateurs of an unnamed foreign power plotting and counter-plotting in the back streets of London in the early 20th century. It is considered one of the first modern novels dealing with terrorism and espionage. Hmmmm…….

The Secret Agent was a book which influenced the Unabomber. (double hmmmmmmmm….)

Rider Haggard’s main hero was Allan Quatermain (I must admit I jumped as I read Quaternion in the first page I skimmed) who apparently influenced the shape and character of Hollywood heros like Indiana Jones. In wikipedia Rider Haggard is described as dealing with “the themes of power, life, death, reincarnation, sexuality, and fate.” Rings a bell eh?

Is this whole thing a coincidence?

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.


Filed under: Notes — basileios @ 7:38 am

The dialog in page 795 about bonds and shares reminds me of JR by William Gaddis. Against the Day seems to be in a format of ‘books-in-a-book’. Of course this could be just me…

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