ATD 318-335

Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.

Page 318

Tengo que get el fuck out of aquí
"I have to get the fuck out of here." Just a literal translation of the English phrase. The Spanish equivalent could be "Tengo que salir cagando de aquí" ("I have to go shitting out of here").

Yale... how little the place was about studying and learning
Pynchon's sustained attack on Yale follows his treatment of Harvard in GR -- "'Harvard's there for other reasons. The "educating" part of it is just sort of a front'" (GR 193).

I wonder if Pynchon's skewering of the Ivies is tied to both his admiration for The Education of Henry Adams (Adams said that at Harvard, he got little from his professors and less from his classmates) and Pynchon's autodidacticism. Bleakhaus 20:55, 10 May 2007 (PDT)
Not to mention that Pynchon went to Cornell.

Jewish mysticism. Wikipedia. Also see p.227: 'Kabbalist Tree of Life' tattooed 'below Madame Eskimoff's bared nape.'

latent in the Maxwell Field Equations years before Hertz found them
Physics lore says that Maxwell's Equations, written to illuminate processes in fairly slow systems, were at first regarded as having fantastical solutions that predicted undetectable waves in the æther. No one until Hertz connected the equations with observed electromagnetic vibrations (and ultimately with light waves).

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857-94), German physicist, born at Hamburg, studied under Kirchhoff and Helmholtz, and ultimately became professor at Bonn in 1899. In 1887 he realized Maxwell's predictions, by his fundamental discovery of electromagnetic waves, which, excepting wavelength, behave like light waves. The wave frequency unit, hertz, cycle per second, was named after him in 1930. A crater at the far side of the Moon, just behind the eastern rim, was named in his honor. [Hertz].

Shunkichi Kimura
Shunkichi Kimura is mentioned in this article on Tesla's relationship with Japan. Cf page 29.

war with Russia
Started 10 February 1904. Wikipedia.

Gibbs had died
28 April 1903. Wikipedia Pynchon's interest in Gibbs may stem from Gibbs's work in thermodynamics, particularly entropy, a theme that pervades Pynchon's work.

High-hat is an adjective in this context and so means snobbish; haughty.

Page 319

"he [would later ask] why did I want that so much?"
Similar to a comment by Siegel in his Playboy article: (to paraphrase from memory) Pynchon was disappointed that he was not admitted to a fraternity at Cornell, but he lacked the crude sociability for that.

eyes in leafy ambuscade
eyes behind a bush (with leaves) waiting in ambush, (a bit of a pun) in the sense of the hiding place used for the surprise attack (no surprise attack in this context).

Page 320

Kit dreamed
Chumps of Choice sez, "Just like Reef and Frank before him, now Kit has a conversation with his father -- though unlike the others, he does not yet know that Webb is dead."

In British universities, a housekeeper/valet. At Yale too?

Latin; means nearest, closest, next. It also is the name of, among many other things, a computer code performing a non-orthogonal matrix transform based on recursive partitioning of a data set.

May refer to Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star, part of the Alpha Centauri star system and the nearest star to the Sun at a distance of 4.22 light-years. As the name suggests, it is located in the constellation of Centaurus.

Georg Hermann Quincke (1834-1924) was a German physicist. He was a physics professor at the Univeristy of Berlin between 1865 and 1872. As from 1875 he was the professor of physics at the University of Heidelberg until he retired in 1907. One of his many research works was to investigate experimentally the reflection of light, especially from the metallic surfaces. (Not sure whether this was done at Berlin or Heidelberg.) Wikipedia.

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Page 322

The unofficial Yale club, founded circa 1861, nicknamed Mory's, incorporated into the "Whiffenpoof Song" about 1909. The "Louie" in the song is Louis Linder, not to be confused with next entry.

Louis Lassen
Founder of Louis' Lunch in New Haven, CT, still in operation today. Founded in 1895 and claims to have served the first hamburger in the US. Website.

West Rock
One of two prominent natural features near New Haven, CT. Reported to have been the location of a cave where officials who presided over the execution of Charles I took refuge when the Restoration reversed their political fortunes. West Rock is also the subject of a well known painting by Frederick Church and sits over today's Wilbur Cross Parkway.

trusswork tower

Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower (1901 – 1917) also known as the Tesla Tower, was an early wireless telecommunications aerial tower intended for commercial wireless trans-Atlantic telephony, broadcasting, and to demonstrate the transmission of power without interconnecting wires. The core facility was never fully operational and was not completed due to economic problems. Wikipedia

ten years before
The meeting between Vibe and Vanderjuice in Chicago in 1892.


Page 323

A style of pizza common in New Haven, CT, distinguished by its white sauce and clams. Wikipedia entry

The turning of an organism, or a part of one, in a particular direction (either in the way of growth, bending, or locomotion) in response to some special external stimulus, as that of light (phototropism, heliotropism), heat (thermotropism), gravity (geotropism), etc. [1]

at the far edges of his visual field, a glimmering winged object
Unusual imagery.

Possibly a reference to Yeats. Yeats: "I began to imagine [around 1904], as always at my left side just out of the range of sight, a brazen winged beast which I associated with laughing, ecstatic destruction", noting that the beast was "Afterwards described in my poem 'The Second Coming'". [1]
Or the word 'glimmering' may be key in understanding that the peripheral winged object is none other than the famous firefly of the song "Glow little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer" written circa 1908 and re-recorded by Pynchon's beloved Spike Jones in 1946. In addition to the glow-worm being a glimmering winged object, the song makes multiple references to electricity and lightning, all very much in context with this section in particular and the novel in general. Lyrics
Both of these seem a stretch. Bleakhaus
Pynchon is being sarcastic; Vanderjuice is not actually seeing visions. At the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893 (pgs. 31-35) Vanderjuice sold-out to Vibe (metaphorically sold his soul to the Devil) and agreed to sabotage Tesla. Vanderjuice never finished the work and Vibe never required it. Vanderjuice has realized his moral error and his "soul" and conscience are returning; metaphorically he is finally seeing his "soul', AWOL since 1893. He advises Kit against Vibe. Good souls are traditionally depicted as glimmering and flying to heaven. In the choice between the Angel on one shoulder and the Devil on the other, Vanderjuice chooses the Angel.

Page 324

P.G. Tait on Quaternions
Peter Guthrie Tait, a Scottish physicist and mathematician, wrote two books on Quaternions, "An Elementary Treatise on Quaternions" and "Introduction to Quaternions"

'lamp' this
"Look at this" ; "Check this out".

Grassman's Ausdehnungslehre
A treatise on the foundations of linear algebra (including vector spaces) by Hermann Grassmann.

Literally, Ausdehnungslehre means Theory of Extension.

But in context, the statement that "Grassmann's Ausdehnungslehre can be extended to any number of dimensions you like" indicates that we are talking about a mathematical theory, not a book. The word Ausdehnungslehre has actually been borrowed in English, but the subject is more often referred to as "exterior algebra" or "algebra of the exterior product." It relates to an antisymmetric operator that acts on "differential forms." It is definitely a Vectorist pursuit.

a ukulele of some dark exotic wood
Ukulele — and Hawaiian — references abound in Pynchon's novels Vineland and Gravity's Rainbow. More on Hawaiian references in Against the Day...

That Göttingen Rag
Reminiscent of The Vatican Rag by American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician Tom Lehrer.

Dr. Hilbert
David Hilbert (1862-1943), German mathematician. Hilbert's work in integral equations in about 1909 led directly to 20th-century research in functional analysis (the branch of mathematics in which functions are studied collectively). This work also established the basis for his work on infinite-dimensional space, later called Hilbert space, a concept that is useful in mathematical analysis and quantum mechanics.
He studied mathematics at the University of Königsber and received his doctorate in 1885. One of Hilbert's friends was Minkowski who also was a doctoral student at Königsberg. He became professor at Königsberg (1893-1895) and Göttingen (1895 to retirement), made important contributions to the theory of numbers, the theory of invariants and the application of integral equation to physical problems. His work in geometry had the greatest influence in that area after Euclid.

Hermann Minkowski (1864-1909), German mathematician. He was born near Kovna, Russia (now Kaunas, Lithuania) to German parents. When Minkowski was eight the family returned to Germany and settled in Königsberg. He entered the University of Königsberg at 1880 and became close friend with Hilbert. He received his doctorate in 1885. He was professor at Bonn, Königsberg, Zürich (where Einstein was his student), and Göttengen. He wrote on the theory of numbers and on space and time (1909). Minkowski developed a new view of space and time, and laid the mathematical foundation of Einstein's the Theory of Relativity.

Spectral Theory
Introduced by Hilbert. In mathematics, Spectral Theory is an inclusive term for theories extending the eigenvector and eigenvalue theory of a single square matrix.

infinite dimensions
Hilbert space can be of infinite dimensions. In Pynchon's paramorphoscope, the physics of 1900 (the mathematics revealed multiple dimensions beyond the 4 of space and time) is concerned with the same issues as the physics of 2000 (in which string theory requires multiple dimensions). The relation of physics and mathematics to centers of political and economic power are echoes as well, here drawn together in Kit's life.

A term used in some of David Hilbert's mathematical and logical systems, it appears to have several disputed meanings, including something like "peculiarities" or "unique values or characterizations" (eigenheiten) [2].

But Eigenheit also means :"Own-ness" or "Self-Ownership" [3], a concept of the German individualist-anarchist Max Stirner (Johann Caspar Schmidt)[4], an issue of real concern to Kit, both in his immediate situation vis a vis Scarsdale Vibe, and perhaps also because of Stirner's radical individualist concept of trade union activity.

Hamburg Amerika Line
Transatlantic shipping company established in Hamburg, Germany in 1847 Wikipedia. By 1872 the company was making weekly passages to New York from Hamburg via Southampton.

Felix Klein
Another professor of mathematics at Göttingen and a contemporary of Hilbert, Minkowski and company (see wikipedia). His major contribution to mathematics was as the father of the Erlangen Program, wherein he proposed to classify all non-Euclidean geometries by the transformations to which the geometry is invariant, i.e. their symmetry groups. See also the Klein bottle.

Page 325

A set of physics problems to be worked out as homework.

th' Four-Color Problem's just a Stu-dent prank
How many colors are necessary to color a map so that no adjacent regions have the same color? The theorem was first stated as a conjecture in the mid-1800s; a number of faulty or incomplete proofs were published around the turn of the century. The Wikipedia entry gives an account of the 1976 proof and the controversy surrounding it.
The conjecture, now theorem, is that you can color any map in a plane with four colors. Regions are adjacent if they share a boundary but not if they share a single point. The Four Corners is familiar in AtD, so paint New Mexico red, Arizona green, and Utah beige. What color does Colorado have to be? Green works (no boundary with Arizona), so this map takes only three colors. But imagine the state of New Colozontah, a one-mile circle centered at the Corners; no matter how you assign the first three colors, now you have to have a fourth. And you can't draw a map that takes five, not without cheating (e.g., folding the paper).

wanted to trust 'Fax
Suggests that he also wanted to trust "facts."
'Fax also suggests a copy [of his father]?

good skate
A good guy.

Page 326

all but careened
The boat is nearly turned on its side by the force of the wind. You careen a boat on purpose (on dry land) for cleaning, caulking, or repairing areas well below the waterline.

McKim, Mead, and White
Architectural firm established by Charles McKim, William Mead, and Stanford White. Introducing the Roman and Italian Renaissance style to public architecture and urban planning on the east coast around 1900. Asscociated with the "American Renaissance", "Beaux Arts" and the "City Beautiful" movement Wiki.

In various Slavic languages: boundary.

In vector calculus, curl is a vector operator that shows a vector field's rate of rotation.

In mathematics, Laplacian, or Laplace operator, is a differential operator. It is widely used in areas of wave propagation, heat flow, electrostatics, quatum mechanic, etc. It is named after French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827). (Laplace.)

A ridge near the Adriatic coastline of Croatia. The terrain is limestone karst, characterized by eroded cavities and channels.

Page 327

one day

from Parthia, 'an ancient country corresponding to modern northeast Iran,however, Parthian also means "delivered in or as if in retreat", according to the American Heritage Dictionary. The use cited comes from Bret Harte, American writer about the West of this book's time: "a Parthian volley of expletives from Uncle Billy".

The full expression "Parthian Shot" comes from the Parthian cavalryman's ability to fire arrows over their shoulders while retreating.

It is a hand game played for points by two people. Both players show either one or two fingers and simultaneously call out loud the number of fingers the other player will show. A correct call wins the number of points. morra.

Page 328

'North Hempstead Turnpike'
New York State Route 25A.

'North River jibes'
In sailing, to jibe is to shift a fore-and-aft sail from one side of a vessel to the other while sailing before the wind so as to sail on the opposite tack. This means the boom, a long spar extending from the mast to hold or extend the foot of the sail, shifts from one side of the vessel to the other, since the sail is attached to it. One does not want to get hit with the boom during a jibe (kind of like getting hit by a big baseball bat): it will hurt, if not kill, you and most likely knock you out if the boat. Apparently, 'Fax jibes a lot in the North River.

Sunny Jim "[..] was a cartoon character created in 1902 in the United States by writer Minnie Maud Hanff and artist Dorothy Ficken for an advertising campaign designed to promote Force cereal, the first commercially successful wheat flake." Link

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Page 330

??? Speculation: A fungo, baseball jargon (origin unknown), is a fly ball hit for fielding practice by a player who tosses the ball up and hits it on its way down with a long, thin, light bat, called a fungo bat. This is the only use of the word so possibly neofungoline is more Pynchon inventiveness and cleverness.
I read this as a spoof of an anti-fungal or anti-biotic product like Neosporin (as "Smegmo" is a spoof on Crisco).

have that long
Vibe is about 60 years old.

trying not to speak too carefully
Cf phony Yale posing.

Page 331

forward of the stacks
Preferred cabins located upwind of soot and smuts from the ship's funnels.

So back in '63 had he paid not to have to go and fight
Vibe had paid a civil war deferment to buy his way out of the army. Vibe was in good company:
"men purchased army deferments and used the war years to amass tremendous personal wealth. On the Confederate side, men who owned 50 or more slaves were exempted from serving in the army, whereas wealthy Northern men were able to purchase deferments from the Union for the sum of $300. Among those who purchased deferments and went on to become millionaires as a result of war profiteering were John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J Pierpont Morgan, Philip Armour, James Mellon, and Jay Gould." Rothenberg, _Race, class, and gender in the United States_

one of those negative results with resonance far beyond itself
Like the Michelson-Morley experiment.

Grand Central Station
This was called Grand Central Terminal until the "new" Grand Central Station opened in 1912, which was after this episode occurs. History of Grand Central Station

Page 332

how mighty are the wings we shelter beneath
Wings of God, thinks Vibe. There have been hints this is not so.
Compare p. 211, where the Rev. Lube Carnal says, "We like to think of Jeshimon as being under God's wing," to which Reef protests, "But wait a minute, God doesn't have wings—" And Carnal replies, "The God you're thinking of, maybe not. But out here, the one who looks after us, it's a kind of winged God, you see."
Maybe wings of power?

the bloodline of my enemy
Interesting phrase. Not the blood of his enemy. Vibe says his own seed is cursed, and he is seeking by adoption to make the Traverse bloodline his own. See also "it was desire," p. 158.

Page 333

I didn't have my war then
Vibe saying his time to fight was not 1862 but in the 1890s.
And note: above, Vibe bought a deferment out of civil war.

My civil war was yet to come ... Invasion of Chicago, battles of Homestead, Coeur d'Alene, San Juans...communards ... labor syndicates ...
Vibe's battle is not the civil war between north and south, but rather civil war between workers and owners, labor and capital.

Chigago Invasion: Haymarket bomb and following action? 1885 / 1886. Labor action beginning in Chicago
battle of Homestead: 1892, seminal lockout and strike at Carnegie-owned steel plant in PA. wikipedia article
Coeur d'Alene, San Juans: 1892, 1899, miners strikes, union activitiy, etc. wikipedia on Coeur d'Alene

These three early strikes involved anarcho-syndicalist activities. The Haymarket incident resulted in the execution of anarchists, an event which served as a political awakening for Emma Goldman. The Homestead Strike of course was famous for the thwarted attempt on the life mine owner Henry Clay Frick by Goldman's longtime companion Alexander Berkman. The San Juan strikes, while less memorable, did include anti-anarchist propaganda and Pinkerton intervention.

An Eclectic List of Events in U.S. Labor History
timeline: 1877 - 1899.

headquarters in Pearl Street
In Manhattan's financial district; on this street map it runs northeast from the ferry terminals. Fraunces Tavern (built 1719) stands at the corner of Pearl and Broad Streets.

The Edison Illuminating Company built America's first central power station at 255-57 Pearl Street. It began generating on September 4, 1882, powering 400 lamps. Scarsdale Vibe may have been a [fictional] investor, giving him motive for sabotaging the efforts of rival Nicola Tesla. He certainly opposed Tesla's efforts to develop broadcast [free] power on economic grounds.

a ruler isolated in self-resonant fantasy
Perhaps speaking to the furniture and hearing the echo agree with him. "No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred."

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the moderate American tradition of Massachusetts Bay or Utah
Benign, homegrown theocracy contrasted with deranged foreign theocracy. The Puritan Salem Witch Trials and the Mormon Mountain Meadows Massacre are the two most memorable instances of theological difference and religious intolerance in American history.

Cooper Square
Cooper Square where Fourth and Third Avenue merge into the Bowery in New York City.

This boy Christopher, for one thing
above (pg 332), Vibe wants to adopt webb family, Kit in particular. Here he indicates attraction to Kit. Wants to be molesting father?

Foley was no innocent
Prior to the publication of Whitman's Leaves of Grass in 1855 and the US lecture tour of Oscar Wilde, homosexuality was a taboo unmentioned topic that was viewed purely as biological misuse of the sexual devices. Whitman publicized the 'love of comrades' and his 'adhesiveness' to them, especially in his Calmus section. The Wilde obscenity trials were the first instance of someone publicly defending themselves for being homosexual. Though the journalism of the time was slanted against it due to 'public morality', the reporters of the day described in vivid detail the under ground gay culture of Victorian England, the first time that such a life style was publicly exposed. In many ways, these two instances were the rudimentary foundations of gay liberation, it presented the inclination towards the 'Sin of Sodom' as a point to unite around for mutual benefit. The fact that this is the locale of Manhattan in which Emma Goldman blossomed as a new immigrant from Russia, and also where Goldman as an anarchist formally embraced open homosexuals in the movement, unlike Marx whose homophobia at the First International was a useful tool for exiling Bakunin and the anarchists, increases the historical significance. Foley, son of the most ardent of capitalists, finds himself drawn by his sexuality to a communal center of revolutionary and counter-cultural ideas which are the pure anathema of his father.

In the resorts where men danced with each other
Early New York gay bars. Initially the world of LGBT culture had an undercurrent similar to a carnival sideshow, something that was not necessarily unintentional. Many transgender people found refuge and a way to live as openly trans by taking roles in various venues that needed cross-dressing acts, such as the Bearded Lady in a Sideshow or a seemingly-female rodeo clown. Vaudeville farces also functioned in a dual role, both as a seemingly-benign heterosexual entertainments and homosexual environs where gays could talk openly with one another.

A district of vice in New York City (American Heritage Dictionary). The West Side from about 27th Street to about 62nd Street. Gave its name to a very funny musical (1960; music by Jerry Bock, book by George Abbott and Jerome Weidman, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick). Historically a gay enclave akin to the later Greenwich Village which birthed the Beats, the Stonewall riots, and the modern LGBT rights movement. Name derived from the area's major economic contribution, meat packaging (the amount of irony to derive from this is up to the reader, it was not lost on the residents of NYC in that era). 1

Nellie Noonan or Anna Held
Anna Held was a popular stage performer of the 1890s and 1900s wikipedia. Nellie Noonan may be a reference to the title character in Little Nellie Kelly, a George M. Cohan musical made into a film starring Judy Garland in 1940 (imdb), but Cohan wrote the musical in 1922. Foley is hanging out in early drag bars.

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the Wilderness
A Civil War battle in May 1864, just before the battle of Cold Harbor. Wikipedia

Cold Harbor
Where Foley Walker, acting as Civil War Substitute, "took a Reb bullet" for Scarsdale Vibe - see p.100/101.

Annotation Index

Part One:
The Light Over the Ranges

1-25, 26-56, 57-80, 81-96, 97-118

Part Two:
Iceland Spar

119-148, 149-170, 171-198, 199-218, 219-242, 243-272, 273-295, 296-317, 318-335, 336-357, 358-373, 374-396, 397-428

Part Three:

429-459, 460-488, 489-524, 525-556, 557-587, 588-614, 615-643, 644-677, 678-694

Part Four:
Against the Day

695-723, 724-747, 748-767, 768-791, 792-820, 821-848, 849-863, 864-891, 892-918, 919-945, 946-975, 976-999, 1000-1017, 1018-1039, 1040-1062

Part Five:
Rue du Départ


  1. Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Ed. 1989
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