Crazy Masters


I'm sure you all have noticed this but there seems to be a recurring master and servant motif throughout GR. Blicero and Gottfried, Domina Nocturna and Pudding, Etzel Olsch and his Gnome workers etc...

But these motifs are more than just master and servant. In each instance, the master is very twisted if not outright mentally insane. First and foremost, crazy masters isn't a precondition to having a master and servant relationship. Dominating relationships can be benevolent (Aladdin and Genie... yeah i couldn't think of a better one at this hour), or harsh like the black slaves and their southern masters. But in either case, the masters didn't necessarily have to be insane or twisted (although you might feel inclined to say a slave owner is indeed twisted, let's assume that something more is required to become so mentally defiled). In two cases, the master displays a certain sexual depravity while in the case of Olsch, he demonstrates a certain egotism and aloofness, as if oblivious to reality.

Passed over part deux

Having read kettledrum's post, I'd like to add a bit.

Being passed over removes one from the world, so that he can stand removed and indifferent, but to what extent does this constitute a negative alienation from society contrary to man's social nature?

This reminds me of p353 near the bottom where it talks about the search for the drug to "kill intense pain without causing addiction." "There is nearly complete parallelism between analgesia and addiction. The more pain it takes away, the more we desire it." While removal from the world at large takes away its painful realities, removal from it strips a person of the social character which defines them in the same way that drugs dull the pain while turning their user into a dependent who can no longer focus on anything but the next dose.



Even though I still find Pynchon to be incredibly convoluted, there are places in the text that I think are beautiful, that make the next page or so easier to read. "What I can do for the Schwarzkommando I can do for your dream of pampas and sky....I can take down your fences and your labyrinth walls, I can lead you back to the Garden you hardly remember...."(394).

This section dealing with the U-boat exiles and Springer's cinematic ambition seemed more transparent in conveying its themes than other parts of the novel, something I was more than slightly thankful for. I thought Pynchon took the hopeless/battered Argentine cause to illustrate the obvious futility of inaction and facade.

Schwarzkommando and the Zero

During my reading, I've found that the Schwarzkommando seem to exist between the one and zero of existence; they seem to be in a netherworld between existence and non-existence. At PISCES, the Schwarzkommando's existence is accredited to a summoning through the creating of the Schwarzkommando movie: "it is widely believed that the Schwarzkommando have been summoned, in the way demons may be gathered in, called up to the light of day and earth by the now defunct Operation Black Wing." Enzian isn't even sure of their existence, on page 367: "Our chances of being right here right now are only a little better than even - the slightest shift in the probabilities and we're gone - schnapp! like that." In being "passed over," they were granted a new lease on life, but not a normal one.

SS, "passed over"

The passage about the elongated S-shaped tunnels seemed to highlight the contrast between the scientific and softer, human aspects of the characters, especially Slothrop. On one hand the tunnels could be interpreted as a double integral sign-- the text goes on to explain this more in depth with lots of scientific jargon. "That is one meaning of the shape of the tunnels down here in the Mittelwerke. Another may be the ancient rune that stands for the yew tree, or Death" (306). The companion explains that "the rune SS signified a tree symbolizing strife" (190). Honestly, I didn't fully understand that one. My favorite interpretation, however, is the final one:

Imipolex G

I still don't understand what the Imipolex G is and what it's connection is to Slothrop's life. In the companion (page 147) it says that Slothrop is piecing together the information he knows abotu this plastic, the rocket, and his conditioning as a child... I'm not sure I'm piecing it together. Anyone got any ideas?

Reverse Patterns-- Backwardness of Germany


I have been spotting many examples of the reverse order descriptions Professor Fitzpatrick talked about since one of the first days we started reading. However, I feel like this tool of describing things backwards or in reverse order really came into play on pg 379 when Pinchot describes Germany. He talks of how "inside is outside", "but outside has been brought inside and that kind of Sunday lasts all week long", and "Earth has turned over in its sleep, and the tropics are reversed". I thought this was such a creative way of describing broken down, crumbling Germany. This figurative language is simply emphasizing the backwardness of Hitler's regime and seems to be saying, in a disheartened way, that Germany has fallen.


While finishing up this last section, I came across a few lines that made me pause for a moment over them. One page 396, Pynchon writes, "It's sad, though. Tchitcherine likes Slothrop. He feels that, in any normal period of history, they could easily be friends. People who dress up in bizarre costumes have a savoir-vivre--not to mention the personality disorder--that he admires."

I think the most interesting aspect of these lines was Pynchon's use of the word "normal." A normal period of history. At first, I focused too much on the word "normal" alone, asking all those typical questions like "what does normal really mean?" and "who is Pynchon to decide what's normal and not?" (Although I suppose, as the author, he has every right to do so. But oh well.) But then I focused more on the "normal period of history," thinking of the absolute craziness that all these characters have been encountering in what Pynchon seems to classify as a "not-normal period of history." And, while I started out as indignant at the classifying of history based on the word "normal," I finally realized that Pynchon makes a pretty good case for it with the rest of his novel.

SPANISH! yay!!

I was very amused when I read the section with the Argentinians. I thought the "Gaucho Marx" comment was hilarious and the name U.S.S. John E. Badass sated my desire for some cheap humor.

I loved use of Spanish. Previously, when Pynchon used German and Russian, I felt lost (especially because I don't have that companion book). Finally, I am relieved that I at least can understand SOME of the foreign language represented in GR. I really appreciate Pynchon's knowledge of languages now; he describes the Argentine Spanish both descriptively accurately and artistically: "The conversation i


I loved how Etzel Olsch describes the parabola as "the most contemporary thing he'd ever seen" (303) because a parabola is really just an arch, a prominent element of many ancient and space-age architectural styles, but mainly associated with the ancient (Roman aquaducts and coliseums, etc.). Using a mathematical term, "parabola," in lieu of the arts-associated "arch," the narrator manages to detach the aesthetic from architectural design and emphasizes the sterility and clinical nature of the rocket factory and the people that get dragged into the war machine. While its tragic that Olsch can't recognize an arch in a "sports stadium" he can't even summon up enthusiasm when he finds out that rockets are launched in parabolic paths, responding with "Oh, that's nice." I think an absence of cultural and right-brain sensitivity is apparent in almost all of the other characters too, implying perhaps that in wartime, everyone is lost to these types of indifference.

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