KodiakSasha's blog

Cross Cultural Big Novels


Can anyone think of any big novels that aren't American? In light of our discussion of future books to read, I've realized that everyone we've discussed is an American. I know one could easily say that Americans who have grown up with all the rhetoric of bigger is better and frontiers might be more naturally drawn to the big novel format, but I have a hard time imagining that one doesn't exist.

I thought briefly about my favorite book, 100 Years of Solitude. I haven't read it in two years or so, but I want to re-read it in the light of the big novel. I don't think that it fits a lot of the criteria for an encyclopedic narrative- that is, it is more of a cross-generational description than a capturing of a particular snapshot in time where the world changed, but at the same time, many aspects of the book are in line with big novels. For instance, magic realism seems like a very useful tool for a big novel, and the end, while somewhat conclusive, is also an unraveling in some ways. I know the book is somewhat a reinterpretation of the bible, but I don't see why that would preclude it from fitting in this role.

CNN story about "comfort women"


Saw this article on CNN and it made me think of the discussion Monday about horniness and soldiers in the war.


Sorry- kind of a tangent!


Orin and the Entertainment

Has anyone else noticed/blogged about Orin having the same defects that we're beginning to see more of in Hal? Or Orin's similarities to the Entertainment?

When Orin is having sex with the non-Swiss spy woman, there's a scene that describes how "Orin can only give, not receive, pleasure." (596), which makes him seem as though he's a wonderful lover to the bajillion girls he's slept with. He's found that he needs these women to feel pleasure and completely in love with him, or under his control (very drug and addict-like, but not the point of this post).

Later in this scene, when the Wheelchair Assassin/survey-taker knocks on the door, Orin feels at his face, and then describes missing sneering at things he loves (p 599). This was especially interesting seeing he was feeling at his face, an action we usually see in Hal to confirm what expression he's currently wearing, paired with the description of an incompatible facial expression/emotion set. As in, "sneering" and "love" just don't generally go together. The passage ends with "Orin's smile wasn't as cool as he thought..." (601).


I found that the term "aphasia" or aphasiac has been used multiple times in the reading (525,588, previously but am too lazy to find). Aphasias are fascinating neurological deficits. Two common ones, Broca's and Wernicke's, deal with language processing. With Wernicke's, for example, you talk nonsensically even if you might understand what people are saying to you. The words coming out of your mouth simply don't align with thoughts.

While I feel that DFW uses some interesting adjectives, the continued references to neurological conditions (Madame Psychosis' radio show scene filled with neuroanatomy, etc) struck me as very interesting.

Lenny Bruce


I was captured by the Lenny Bruce line "We're all gonna die" and its inverse.
I've been reading a few papers recently about the role of the comedian Lenny Bruce in Underworld (woohoo! finally feeling inspired), and switched gears for my paper.

According to Elizabeth Rosen's paper, "Lenny Bruce and His Nuclear Shadow Marvin Lundy: Don DeLillo's Apocalyptists Extraordinaires" (2006), DeLillo's descriptions of Bruce are spot-on stylistically but not historically. Rowan's thesis is that DeLillo has created a 'historically inaccurate' Bruce shouting the line "We're all gonna die!" in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis to support the apocalyptic tone as a prophet figure.

Incongruities with Nick??


Hi all-

I noticed that Nick's character bothered me more and more as I went on through the novel. I feel like I would have been fine with him and his act if it hadn't been for his years in prison and at the Jesuit school, where he seemed legitimately repentant and as if he would mature more softly. After examining his whole arc, as an acting, calloused middle-aged guy and basically and asshole kid, I was confused by what DeLillo intended by his Jesuit years.


Bill Waterson

I've been tossing this name around in my head since it sounded so familiar, so I turned to everyone's best friend, Wikipedia. Bill Watterson (with two T's) was the author of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, as I suspected. He was also born in 1958, so clearly not at the baseball game. I was just trying to think of who it could be and thought I'd share...


It's FINISHED. I guess I still don't really know what to make of it, and nothing was really tied together for me in the end, which I was secretly hoping for but didn't expect. My enjoyment and understanding of the book was very parabola-like: I slogged miserably through the first and last readings, but really enjoyed the middle sections.

One thing that did really bother me was the Gottfreid being launched in the rocket scenes- I had no idea what to make of this, what Gottfried might symbolize in his Impoplex G shroud, etc.

Did anyone have any thoughts on this? I was *SO* confused, but r



I've been noticing that Pynchon has been increasingly using the term "dialectics" throughout Gravity's Rainbow. The OED online dictionary has these definitions to offer:

a. The art of critical examination into the truth of an opinion; the investigation of truth by discussion: in earlier English use, a synonym of LOGIC as applied to formal rhetorical reasoning; logical argumentation or disputation.

As I learned this concept, it had to do with the pendulum like motion between two extreme points, and where these ideas merge, something along the lines of OED's second definition:

In modern Philosophy: Specifically applied by Kant to the criticism which shows the mutually contradictory character of the principles of science, when they are employed to determine objects beyond the limits of experience (i.e. the soul, the world, God); by Hegel (who denies that such contradictions are ultimately irreconcilable) the term is applied (a) to the process of thought by which such contradictions are seen to merge themselves in a higher truth that comprehends them; and (b) to the world-process, which, being in his view but the thought-process on its objective side, develops similarly by a continuous unification of opposites.

Oink Oink

The lengthy descriptions of Slothrop in the pig costume and later Osbie Feel's tattoo (page 651) reminded me of the discussion we had about animals and colonialism on Jan. 31st in class, where Herreros, then the Europeans are animals...

I went back and looked at the text on page 322 to see which animals are referenced, if any. It reads:

"...Oh, no. Colonies are much, much more. Colonies are the outhouses of the European soul, where a fellow can let his pants down and relax, enjoy the smell of his own shit. Where can he fall on his slender prey roaring as loud as he feels like, and guzzle her blood with open joy. Eh? Where he can just WALLOW AND RUT and let himself go in a softness..." (caps mine).

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