- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
All Europe sweltered
A possible jump in time of the action. I can't find year-by-year weather records going back to the 1910s, though.
Perhaps more a reference (paramorphic mirroring) of present-day Europe's heat waves, attributed to climate change.
- If not for the point made in the next paragraph of this annotation, I might protest that AtD has been respectful of such historical "anchors" as weather, wars and expositions. A major heat wave in the book, I expect to find reflecting a historical one. Still . . . .
The great daylight comet of january 1910 and Halley's in April pass by with no noticeable effect on the world's weather nor our impressionable characters.
Mountains of the Moon
A small mountain range in central Africa between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, long though falsely supposed to be the source of the Nile. Today called the Ruwenzori Range. Wikipedia
the well-known Tour d'Argent in Paris
Wikipedia says the establishment is over 400 years old.
Wine bottle with a capacity of 12 liters, which equals 16 standard bottles.
Not long before, Pugnax had convinced her to come aboard
So the action here is set before Kseniya's encounter with Ljubica?
Or possibly some re-writing has taken place and the two passages no longer match up. Two reasons for this analysis. The description here "fiercely beautiful" does not seem to match the one on p.969 "something like a shaggy brown and blond bear with a kindly enough face". Also, despite saying that Pugnax and Kseniya only recently met, it seems that the action here is set after Kseniya's encounter with Ljubica, by which time Pugnax and Kseniya were already a steady item. We have a pretty much unbroken narrative time-line with the CoC from here until after the war, with no mention of watching over Reef, Yashmeen and Ljubica during this time.
I don't see a problem with the timeline. Pugnax and Ksenija haven't met "recently" but "not long before", simply meaning before p. 969, where she has a "task... to steer everyone to safety without appearing to." i.e. she is doing so at the behest of the CoC, whom she presumably had previously joined aboard the Inconvenience. As for the discrepancy in description, I'd point out that the narrative is focalized through Reef's viewpoint on p.969, and despite his penchant for Papillons, the fact that his description of Ksenija is somewhat less glowing than the description from Pugnax's viewpoint here shouldn't be that surprising. Pomopaulrevere 01:32, 26 August 2007 (PDT)
A female Balkan sheepdog also appears in Lot 49: The crew of the midget submarine "Justine" in the movie "Cashiered" is comprised of Baby Igor, his father, and Murray the St Bernard. On shore ("should there be a happy ending") are a woman for each "and even a female sheepdog with eyes for Murray the St Bernard" (Lippincott edition P. 31-32, Bantam paperback P. 18-19).
Form of barometer invented in 1818, says the 1911 Britannica.
first Inconvenience after the little-known Battle of Desconocido
Another allusion to naval customs, an item claimed from a ship and carried aboard her namesake. Desconocido is Spanish: unknown.
Pythagorean or Counter-Earth . . . Antichthon . . . the Sun is always between us
Fictional device also used in Nabokov's Ada (though not in such a powerful way). People from one Earth can visit the other, speak the language, recognize the topography, but see differences in history and customs; neither planet can ever be aware of the other in the normal course of things.
The Counter-Earth resolves the problem of Sirius rising in the summer (annotations to page 901). When one Earth is at January in its orbit, the other is at July.
Cf Antichthon. Is Antichthon related to Anti-stone? If you say "Antichthon" in a manner similar to Reef's forays into Italian, French, etc., you can almost hear "anti-stone."
Chick lives up to his name and finally "counterflies" to "counter-earth"!
Philolaus of Tarentum
Excellent article at Philolaus. A leading Pythogorean, a century after Pythagoras and a senior contemporary to Socrates. Plato mentions meeting him in Italy, and Aristotle gets his information on the akousmata and beans from him.
Previously mentioned on page 588.
American Republic . . . passed so irrevocably into the control of the evil and moronic
We're using Pynchon's ball, so we'll play by his rules. The Chums have journeyed from the other Earth to this one, not the other way around.
H.L. Mencken famously referred to the United States as "The Moronic Inferno." He also (Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920) wrote: "As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." This was in the midst of the Harding campaign, but Time is becoming increasingly confused here, and no one is bragging about George W. Bush's intellect either.
Wow, that Mencken quote is prophetic...
The Star Trek Prime Directive again; see annotations to page 8 for its first occurrence.
Possibly a pun: "backlash chan" -- the land of backlashes.
Has resonance with Baluchistan palteau found in the area of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Or can refer to a backlash as in a reactionary political/social movement?
Dromedary vs. Bactrian: the mnemonic says count the humps in the first letter. Bactrian, two humps. One could say, a "bi-cameral" camel -- the "bi" motiff appears again. Also, this is the second mention of the bactrian camel. The first is on p. 431.
Assuming this scene takes place on the same planet we are on now, the first full moon of the early autumn of 1914 took place at exactly, 5:59 am. (UT/GMT) on October 4th. Since the moon is almost full here, this scene probably took place on the night of Oct. 2 or 3rd. I have not found any event of note correlating with these dates -- though Jack Whiteside Parsons, occultist and JPL co-founder was born on October 2nd, 1914. And if you read his bio, this guy belongs in a Pynchon novel.
See annotation at page 433
Name of Lviv (Lvov, L'vov) at times when it was under Polish rule.
the High Tatra
Tatra mountain range in Slovakia.
Eastern coastal part of Libya, bordering Egypt on its east.
baleful mists above West Flanders
Much of the horror of the World War was centered here (Ypres, Menin, Passchendaele). The "mists" could also come from the use of poison gas, alluded to earlier.
The horrific fighting that went down West Flanders holds special significance in Canada. Each year, Remembrance day (equivalent to Memorial Day in the US of A) is commemorated by wearing a poppy flower. The use of poppies comes from In Flanders Fields, a poem written written by Major John McCrae, who was a doctor in the Canadian Armed Forces. Here it is:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
Also found this lovely quote from a Canadian schoolbook used in grade 6 (11 year old kids):
"The close conditions in trenches (here filled with Belgian soldiers) led to infestations of lice and the spread of disease. Snow and rain filled the trenches and had no place to go. Therefore, men often spent days standing in knee-high, filthy water. This led to a condition called 'trench foot', where the skin rotted from the bone. Frostbite led to amputation. For a young man used to the open skies of the English fields or North American prairies, the confinements of the trenches could lead to severe claustrophobia."
Pomne o Golodayushchiki
Russian: Remember the Starving. Incorrect. Should be: Pomni o Golodayushchikh.
Tsar-Bell of Moscow
Famous bell that proved too heavy for the tower it was intended for; it was displayed on the ground for centuries (and may still be). See Tsar Kolokol & its picture.
Kvass, traditional Russian beverage made by fermenting a mash of stale rye bread. It can be flavored with, among other things, cranberries.
since a great influenza epidemic
The epidemic had gone on for several years before it burst out at the end of the World War and killed millions.
See The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 of Stanford Website.
Russian (from German): staff, support center, headquarters.
the English Slander of Women Act of 1891
"As late as the 18th century in England, only imputation of crime or social disease and casting aspersions on professional competence constituted slander, and no offenses were added until the Slander of Women Act in 1891 made imputation of unchastity illegal."
— from Britannica Concise Encyclopedia.
Mount Blanc, with a height of 15,800 ft at its summit, is the highest mountain in Western Europe. It is situated at the French/Italian border with each country claims the summit as her own. Mount Blanc is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
On November 7, 1917, the Russian Bolsheviks overthrew Alexander Kerensky's democratic Provisional Government in Petrograd (St Petersburg) in a virtually bloodless coup. See November Revolution.
In music, ostinato refers to a short phrase that is repeated several times. The 2-note bass pattern from "Jaws" is an ostinato, as is the opening bass part to "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith and the bass part to Pachelbel's Canon. Any repeated riff in a rock song is an ostinato, from the opening guitar riff of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones to the voiced "Take a Chance"s by ABBA. Staccato is a direction in music meaning that the notes should be performed in an abrupt, sharp, clear-cut manner. It certainly pertains to machine-gun fire and Pynchon has the ostinati and the staccato "scored", which is also a musical term meaning the wriiten form of a musical composition.
Russian: of course.
Japanese-American expeditionary force
Of 1919, sent to Vladivostok and environs against the Bolsheviks.
- Why Japanese-American ?
Wished to take adantage of the Russian turmoil after the November Revolution of 1917 and to seize and annex the Russian maritime provinces, the Japanese landed their first troops in the Russian Far East in the spring of 1918. By late 1918 they had 70,000 troops in Eastern Siberia to establish a regular occupation regime. Siberia east of Lake Baikal was Japanese territory until they withdrew in October 1922.
Contrary to Japanese clear objective, the United States had no well-defined policy toward Russia. In August 1918 the United States dispatched from the Philippines to Siberia an expeditionary force that ultimately numbered 7,000 with the intructions to help rebuild the anti-German front but to refrain from any intervention in internal Russian affairs. The Bolsheviks treated the Americans as hostile interventionists and the Whites regarded them as Bolshevik sympathizers. Until the spring of 1919, American troops in Siberia carried out ordinary garrison duties and assumed responsibility for the operations of the Tran-Siberian Railroad. The American Expeditionary Force left Siberia in April 1920.
- —— from Richard Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime (1993)
According to George Kennan's July 1976 article in Foreign Affair:
The United States' sending troops was not "motivated by an intention that these forces should be employed with a view to unseating the Soviet government . . . the decision ha[s] been taken . . . in conjunction with the World War then in progress, and for the purposes related primarily to the prosecution of that war."
relocation of Admiral Kolchak's government from Omsk
A. V. Kolchak (1873-1920), an organizer of the White counterrevolutionary movement in the Russian Civil War, dictator of a realm in Siberia, the Urals and the Far East. In our history he was captured and shot.
Shortly after the 1917 November Revolution (in January, 1918), the Socialist Revolutionary Party (Cf page 720) and its allies declared Siberia independent and, in July, formed a government in Omsk. Admiral Alexander Kolchak joined the Omsk government as Minister of War in October, and in December he staged a coup that made him its leader. Kolchak's campaign against the Bolsheviks reached its zenith in mid April 1919, when he pushed the Reds west of the Perm-Orenburg-Caspian-Sea line back beyond the Ural Mountaines and advanced to the Volga. His fortune changed for the worse after May, 1919, however, and on November 14, 1919, his government retreated from Omsk to Irkutsk (Cf page 764: Irkutsk) .
- This happened after the event on page 1028; ie. one full year after the World War I armistice
Feast day of St. Martin of Tours, November 11.
The agreement between the Germans and the Allies to end World War I on November 11, 1918.
Consequences may never end
They certainly haven't. The Balkans remain a powderkeg, and the Iraq War is a direct consequence of the destruction and partition of the Ottoman Empire in World war I. But the consequences of any act never really end...
Russian: sky-comrade. A grammatically incorrect compound. It comes out as if the sky is the comrade. Should be something like tovarishch po nebu or nebesnyi tovarishch.
repeating great vertical circles
Like hot-air balloons (nondirigibles) in the "box" outside Albuquerque, New Mexico.
standard cubic feet
Measure of quantity of gas: number of cubic feet that would be occupied if the gas were at "standard conditions," i.e., 60 degrees Fahrenheit (usually) and 1 atmosphere or 14.7 pounds per square inch.
Sodality of Ætheronauts
A sodality is a society; the ætheronauts use the æther as their medium of flight
- Recalls Cyprian Latewood's Brides of Night.
The word can have a religious connotation, reminding us of the idea of the Chums as the "compassionate ones," and of their and the Russians' aid during World War I.
Fuel suitable for use in a compression-ignition engine.
Their names were Heartsease and Primula, Glee, Blaze, and Viridian
- Heartsease is a flower - Viola tricolor - which has the medicinal quality of lifting the spirits, i.e., "Mends a broken heart"
- Viridian, from the Latin for "green," and she's definitely "green", as demonstrated by this scolding of Chick Counterfly: "Fumes are not the future," declared Viridian. "Burning dead dinosaurs and whatever they ate ain't the answer, Crankshaft Boy." (p. 1031)
each had found her way to this Ætherist sorority through the mysteries of inconvenience...
The members of the Sodality have backstories reminiscent of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. Also reminiscent of the Floundering Four in Gravity's Rainbow:
- "Each of the FF is, in fact, gifted while at the same time flawed by his gift unfit by it for human living."
mysteries of inconvenience
Might as well capitalize it. The Inconvenience and her crew do indeed work by making small alterations in Time and History, one of many forces doing so, and those forces are multiplying rapidly. There are several references to such minor "inconveniences" throughout the book; here such "inconveniences" create yet more forces (The Sodality) able to create yet more alterations...
or as Pacific waves are said to carry the surfers of Hawaii
Hawaii references are prevalent in two of Pynchon's other novels, Vineland and Gravity's Rainbow. More on Hawaiian references in Against the Day...
list of variables . . . Reynolds Number
Quantities describing the æther as if it were a real medium like air.
In fluid dynamics, the Reynolds Number (Re), named after the British engineer Osborne Reynods (1842-1912), is a ratio of inertial forces to viscous forces. At low Reynolds number where viscous forces are dominant the flow is laminar; at high Reynolds number inertial forces dominant the flow is turbulent. Typical values of Reynolds Number: blood flow in brain ~ 100; blood flow in aorta ~ 1,000; major league baseball pitch (air over the ball) ~ 200,000; air over a cruising aircraft ~ 10,000,000.
boundary layer . . . the boundary-layer thickness
The boundary layer is a thin layer of flowing gas or liquid in contact with a solid surface due to the fluid viscous effect. The fluid in the boundary layer is subjected to shear forces, and the fluid velocity varies from zero at the surface to a maximum nearly the same as the free stream velocity. The location of the maximum velocity in the boundary layer defines its thickness from the solid surface. In other words, the boundary-layer thickness is the distance required for the fluid velocity rising from zero to approach its free stream value. In one of many mathematical expressions, the boundary-layer thickness can be expressed as proportional to the square root of the product of kinematic viscosity and time.
- Since the boundary-layer thickness is not proportional to the kinematic viscosity (unit: cm²/s) alone, so one can NOT say the boundary-layer thickness is inversely proportional to time (unit: s). The product of kinematic viscosity and time will have — cm²/s • s → cm² as its unit, the square root of it will give cm, the proper unit for boundary layer thickness.
Dynamics, the branch of the science of mechanics that studies the motion of objects, is in turn sudivided into two fields: kinetics, which studies the forces that produce or change motion; and kinematics, which studies the motion of objects independently of their productive forces.
Like Sidney and Beatrice Webb around here
Cf page 602: Sidney . . . Kensington Sid.
Sidney James Webb, 1st Baron Passfield PC (13 July 1859 – 13 October 1947): British socialist, economist and reformer, normally referred to in the same breath as his wife, Beatrice Webb. They early members of the Fabian Society in 1884, along with G. Bernard Shaw, turning it into the pre-eminent political-intellectual society in England in the Edwardian era and beyond. In H.G. Wells's The New Machiavelli (1911), the Webbs, as 'the Baileys', are unmercifully lampooned as short-sighted, bourgeois manipulators. , 
City of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels
Los Angeles was founded in 1781 as "Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles."
"the boys expressed wonder at how much more infected with light the night-time terrains passing below them had become [...] they felt themselves in uneasy witness to some final conquest, a triumph over night whose motive none could quite grasp"
Compare: "...within the daylit and obvious and taken-for-granted has always lain, as if in wait, the dark itinerary, the corrupted pilgrim's guide, the nameless Station before the first, in the lightless uncreated, where salvation does not yet exist." (p. 566), "daylit America . . . its steadfast denial of night" (page 732), and AtD epigraph, Thelonious Monk's "It's always night, or we wouldn't need light."
Also: "we make our journies out there in the low light of the future, and return to the bourgeois day and its mass delusion of safety" (p. 942)
This passage to me is the most revealing one to the title.
subjunctive mood . . . two-word vulgarism
In an expression like "Screw you," the verb is not in the imperative mood but in the subjunctive. I think. (Yes, because it's not factual but hypothetical). And the two-word vulgarism may be rather similar to that phrase, too. (The subjunctive mood is a mood that represents an act or state (not as a fact but) as contingent or possible. It is a grammatical form of verbs implying hypothetical action or condition. Subjunctives are italicized in these sentences: “If Mr. Stafford were (not “was”) fluent in French, he could communicate with his employees more effectively”; “If Sheila had been here, she would have helped us with our math.”)
- Lindsay has been a pedant right from the start, and he takes offence at Darby's implied criticism of his ridiculously contorted sentence ("a corporate system any of whose trivial shortcomings with which you still find yourself obliged to quibble"), perhaps hinting that he should have used a subjunctive ("with which you still found yourself"?). Darby shows that he understands the subjunctive ("Long live capitalism"). In languages that use the subjunctive consistently, the third person singular of the subjunctive functions as a kind of imperative (Fiat lux - let there be light). So "Fuck you" is a kind of subjunctive. More generally, it's referring to the subjunctive/indicative contrast that runs through the book (hypothetical worlds v. real world).
huge piece of machinery . . . since 1884
The Nipkow scanner works just as described in the text; it is the basis for development work that is still in progress, though not for television. See this site:  for details. Picture with clear explanation: 
what looked like . . . hat he was wearing
They are picking up transmissions from . . . the future? another world? In any case, this one's a rerun.
See p. 195 and annotations for another allusion to this pair.
Oxone . . . Blattnerphone components
This list, all by itself, has drawn attention from a book reviewer and a blogger, both of whom regard it as "typical" of AtD. Oxone is an oxidizer in solid form, used today for swimming pool treatment. Thalofide describes a kind of photoelectric cell or electric eye. Aeolight is a brand of discharge lamp. The Blattnerphone was a wire recorder.
Lee De Forest added that grid electrode to the Fleming valve
The Fleming valve--named for British electrical engineer Sir John Ambrose Fleming (1849–1945)--was an early form of diode (a vacuum tube in which electrons flow in one direction, from a heated filament to a plate). In 1907, De Forest (AtD, p. 29) created the triode out of the diode by inserting a curved mesh grid, whose voltage could be varied, between the filament and the plate.
output . . . can be the indefinite integral of any signal
- Long discussion mostly removed to the Discussion page on Jan. 23, 2008
This is in fact an elegant mathematical, or, better, 'pataphysical, expression of the phenomenon of looking at a single photograph and imagining it as part of a movie (which is after all just a sequence of still photographs), or of many possible movies--the movie is the integral of the photograph. This is techno-mathematical nonsense of a very particular kind: an example of 'Pataphysics , which its originator, the absurdist novelist and playwright Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) defined as "The science of imaginary solutions". His fictional creation Dr. Faustroll explains that 'Pataphysics deals with "the laws which govern exceptions and will explain the universe supplementary to this one". One can imagine any number of possible "movies" or world-lines, for the subject of a photograph, any number of alternate histories and supplementary universes.
Misspelling of querulans. This page describes the disorder.
So is this what becomes of the "crystal about the size of a human eyeball" (p. 565) that was at the heart of the Q-weapon which is sold by Edouard Gevaert to Piet Woevre, who gladly hands it over to Kit Traverse, who gives it to Quaternionist Umeki Tsurigane, who (probably?) gives it to Auberon Halfcourt in Constantinople, but more likely takes it with her to Japan (p. 906) where Baz Zaharoff is headed to purchase it ("something [the Japanese] came in possession of a few years ago"). And someone brings it out of Macedonia (perhaps Kit, Reef or Yashmeen?), and Photographer Merle Rideout ends up with it, using its power to reanimate photographs and unlock Time. You remember Merle showing Frank Traverse some Icelandic spar:
- “This is the stuff itself, argentaurum, about a fifty-fifty mix. And this” into the other hand sprang a blurry crystal about the size of a pocket Bible but thin as a nymph’s mirror “this is calcite, known in this particular format to some of the visiting labor as Schieferspath [ slate-spar (German Schieferspath) - crystals of tabular habit, and sometimes as thin as paper ] (see also annotations to page 305), a good pure specimen I happened to obtain one night back in Creede—yes, night does return now and then to Creede—off of a superstitious Scotchman holding a perfectly good nine of diamonds he couldn’t bring himself to hang on to. Think of this piece of spar here as the kitchen window, and just take a look through.” pp.305-306
Lorandite is a thallium arsenic sulfosalt with formula: TlAsS2. It was first discovered at Alshar, Republic of Macedonia in 1894 and named after Loránd Eötvös, physicist at the University of Budapest.
Thallium is highly toxic and is used in rat poisons and insecticides but since it might also cause cancer, this use has been cut back or eliminated in many countries. It has even been used in some murders, earning the nicknames "The Poisoner's Poison" and "Inheritance powder" (alongside arsenic). Thallium sulfide's electrical conductivity changes with exposure to infrared light therefore making this compound useful in photocells, and thallium oxide has been used to manufacture glasses that have a high index of refraction.
Iron arsenosulfide is the most common ore of arsenic. It is found in Mexico (Mapimí), Sweden (Tunaberg) and the U.S. (Montana).
According to Risto Karajkov writing in "World Press":
The lorandite is thought to have the potential to unravel the so-called "neutrino puzzle." By serving as a geochemical detector of the neuron, the lorandite could validate or disprove the theory of the standard solar system, say physicists. In simple terms—it would let us understand the work of the Sun.
A gaffer in the motion picture industry is the head of the electrical department, responsible for the execution (and sometimes the design) of the lighting plan for a production. In British English the term gaffer is long established as meaning an old man, or the foreman of a squad of workmen. (In U.S. English, similarly, "Pappy" is a nickname for the leader of such a group—like Pappy Hod in V..)
The term was also used to describe men who adjusted lighting in English theatre and men who tended street lamps, after the "gaff" they used, a pole with a hook on its end .
One seller of gaffer's tape (used in theater and film) says the "gaff" story is incorrect, but it isn't clear this is correct, because long poles called "hi-tech focusing aids" are definitely still used in theater.
The "old man" meaning comes from a dialectal pronunciation of "grandfather." I love the idea that Roswell and Merle are gaffers (electricians) claiming to be gaffers (old men).
The Light Over the Ranges
Against the Day
Rue du Départ