ATD 429-459

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


Page 431

metaphorical way and lateral resurrection
Cf. page 418, where metaphor and lateral are also used in quick succession.

"Turkish Corner"
The coin turquois or Turkish corner was an interior decorating fad (second half of 19th century). Well-to-do householders had the English furniture removed from a space and put in low tables, divans, cushions, ceiling hangings, nargilehs and so forth.

Bactrian
Camel. Even-toed ungulate, two-humped (twin-peaked) as compared with the one-humped dromedary.

Cameling
Seems to mean riding on a camel, contextually.

light might be a secret determinant of history
One of the overarching themes of the book, it seems. Natural light vs. artificial. A-and in this section the line must be more closely linked to the Manichaeans and Light [p. 437] and Chick and Darby's remarks on 438. Light as 'Divine' light....... Determinant also has an obvious mathematical meaning: a scalar invariant of a matrix which corresponding to its scale factor when the matrix is interpreted as a linear mapping. The determinant is non-obvious and its computation is of order n^3; hence, secret.

The Dictionary of the History of Ideas has a clear, readable essay on causation in history, well worth a look given that we are concerned with "determinants" and the nature of time/sequence/cause-and-effect.

Page 432

fatal word
"Wife".

C.A.C.A.
Caca; Spanish for "shit". The Chums have already begun to suspect the "shit", i.e. the malevolent organization that lies behind their boys' book heroics; the reader is now made aware of a large organization (see B.I.N., below) standing behind the massive airships and their crews. We all know what about the dynamics of large organizations, and the percentage of the time they spend in serving their purported purposes. Reminiscent of Van Vogt's Law: "90% of everything is shit (caca)".

Not just Spanish; most western European languages. French (or Spanish) speaking Viennese could hear the word "caca" in K-K (Kaiserlich und Königlich, see Max Khäutsch and Franz Ferdinand episodes).

Medicine Hat, Alberta
A real city with a population about 56,000. It is located in the southeastern part of the province of Alberta, Canada.

Gamomania
"Gamos" is Greek for "marriage," and mania means "mania" or "madness."

H.M.S.F.
His Majesty's Subdesertine Frigate (p425).

Balaam's ass
refers to Num. 22:21-34 - Balaam rides out with the princes of Moab, but the Lord sends an angel to prevent him. Balaam does not see the angel but his ass does and will not go further. Balaam smites the ass three times, to no avail, until "the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said to Balaam: What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?" Balaam's ass and the serpent (in the Garden of Eden) are the only speaking animals in the bible.

reported as long ago as Marco Polo
From Marco Polo's The Travels of Marco Polo (1298-99):

". . . When a man is riding by night through this desert and something happens to make him loiter and lose touch with his companions . . . and afterwards he wants to rejoin them, then he hears spirit talking in such a way that they seem to be his companions. Sometimes, indeed, they even hail him by name. Often these voices make him stray from the path, so that he never finds it again. And in this way many travelers have been lost and have perished. And sometimes in the night they are conscious of a noise like the clatter of a great cavalcade of riders away from the road; and, believing that these are some of their own company, they go where they hear the noise and, when day breaks, find they are victims of an illusion and in an awkward plight. . . Yes, and even by daylight men hear these spirit voices, and often you fancy you are listening to the strains of many instruments, especially drums, and the clash of arms. . . . ."
(page 67, The Travels of Marco Polo, The Folio Society 1968 edition.)

For Marco Polo's bio and more see Cf. page 247 and Marco Polo and His Travels.

Page 433

mutatis mutandis
Medieval Latin. A direct translation from Latin of mutatis mutandis would read, 'with those things having been changed which need to be changed'. More colloquially, it can be interpreted as 'the necessary changes having been made,' where "the necessary changes" are usually implied by a prior statement assumed to be understood by the reader. It carries the connotation that the reader should pay attention to the corresponding differences between the current statement and a previous one, although they are analogous. This term is used frequently in economics and in law, to parameterize a statement with a new term, or note the application of an implied, mutually understood set of changes. Wikipedia entry.

This suggests we should view communication from the camel with the same skepticism with which we view the voices, or possibly view this communication as we would that from Balaam's ass.

Another interpretation (that I find funny) is that we should 'make the necessary changes' in order to translate the camel's notion of skepticism (and even how a camel would do the skeptical eye-roll move) to our own.

polygamy
Cf. Lake's conversion to (de facto) polyandry in Colorado Springs, p. 268. In both cases aquifers are the scene of the activity.

pan-spectral fields
Well, pan means universal. As in panorama, Pan-Am. Another suggestion of possible worlds.

World-Island
The phrase was coined by English geographer and geo-politician Sir Halford John Mackinder who formulated Heartland Theory (1904) in his address to the Royal Geographic Society, "The Geographical Pivot of History." "World-Island" refers not to the Earth, but to the continuous landmass of Eurasia measuring more than 21 million square miles (54 million km²). This landmass contains no waterways to the ocean and is contained by the Arctic ice cap and drainage to the north, the monsoon lands along the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, the Near East or land of the Five Seas, and Europe. This landmass is remote and inaccessible to its periphery. Mackinder argued in his address that this was the strategic region of the foremost importance in the World. The Heartland theory hypothesized the possibility for a huge empire being brought into existence in the Heartland, which wouldn't need to use coastal or transoceanic transport to supply its military industrial complex but would instead use railways, and that this empire couldn't be defeated by all the rest of the world against it; See also Geopolitics in Wikipedia

"Euphrates" poplars
One of the five classes of Poplars: turanga. Its scientific name is populus euphratica, a subtropical poplar found usually in Southwest Asia.

aryq
Most likely variant of Arrack (OED): name applied in Eastern countries to any liquour of native manufacture, usually distilled coconut palm sap. - Or rather arak, the Middle Eastern equivalent of ouzo, Pernod, etc., which, according to Wikipedia, should not be confused with southeast Asian arrack.

B.I.N.
Biometric Institute of Neuropathy, see p. 432.

As in "Loony bin".

seventeen-syllable
Haiku - japanese poems consisting of 17 syllables, classically arranged in three lines of 5 - 7 - 5 syllables each

Brilliant!
Still at it, Suckling?
Insufferable little
Prick, I'll break your neck!

Page 434

Eta/Nu Transformators
Probably an imaginary scientific device. Eta is most likely a reference to the metric tensor of (four dimensional) Minkowski space. Nu sometimes symbolizes frequency.

Alternate view
In classical electromagnetism, Eta is the wave impedance and Nu is the velocity of the wave; both are related to the material parameters of the medium the wave is traveling in. Specifically, Eta determines how a wave moves between different media (reflection, refraction, and transmission), while the velocity is related to the frequency and wavelength of the wave. Thus, the device probably allows the ships inhabitants to see while in the sand.

pari passu
on an equal footing

Deep Blavatsky
Named for Madame Helena Blavatsky (Helena Petrovna Hahn), founder of the Theosophical Society [1]. Cf. page 219.

Page 435

Gurkhas
Nepalese forces that have fought alongside British troops.

German professors
Likely a double allusion, first to Professor Werfner of Göttingen, referenced on p. 226, and also to Heinrich Schliemann, the German treasure hunter (not actually a professor) who first established the true historical location of Troy, the site of the Trojan War. His accomplishments are sadly underscored by his extremely amateurish excavation technique which destroyed as much as it extracted from the site.

"who keep waltzing out here by the wagonload, can dig till they're too blistered to dig any more, and they still won't ever find it, not without the right equipment - the map you fellows brought, plus our ship's Paramorphoscope"
Could also be a nod to Steven Spielberg's 1981 film Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark.

General Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest, rebel leader in U.S. Civil War. Although he pioneered high-mobility tactics, he may never have uttered the famous quotation; see Wikipedia entry.

Also, recognized as founder of the KKK -- see earlier episode in Colorado.

archiepiscopal
Pertaining to an archbishop.

jewel-studded Victoria Crosses
The VC is the highest medal for valo(u)r in the British military, about on a par with the Medal of Honor in the U.S. Created at the time of Crimean War, the VC was not awarded posthumously until 1907. Adding jewels to the award is pure fantasy.

Fabergé
Russian jeweler. Wikipedia entry.

"appealing though they be or, shall I say, as they are"
Captain Toadflax's corrects his grammatical mistake, an error that is partially obscured by the inverted construction he employs. If one straightens out his words into a more conventional form, e.g., "though they [secular pleasures] be appealing," the error is clearer: they, the third person plural pronoun, requires are as a verb, i.e. pleasures are rather than pleasures be. The OED lists many examples of be taking the place of are in similar contexts, but notes that this usage is either dialectal or archaic.

Why Toadflax commits this error is less clear than what the error itself is. One possibility is that Pynchon is making an allusion to Captains Bildad and Peleg of Moby-Dick, who speak in an archaic vernacular typical of New England Puritans.
For more information, see the OED, "be, v.," sub-entry, A.I.h.¶.
It isn't an error! Toadflax first correctly uses the subjunctive, "appealing though they be"; the choice of mood says he is making a speculative statement, something like "however appealing they are imagined to be." Then he rephrases—changing the meaning of his statement—to the indicative mood, "appealing as they are," saying that the pleasures definitely, factually are appealing. The contrast of subjunctive and indicative is becoming archaic now, but it wasn't archaic or even odd coming from an educated speaker in the early 20th century.

subarenaceous
arenaceous - Having the appearance or consistency of sand; sandy; largely composed of sand or quartz grains. [1]

Hence subarenaceous 'means under the sand.'

Page 436

limen
The limit below which a given stimulus ceases to be perceptible; the minimum amount of stimulus or nerve-excitation required to produce a sensation. Also called a threshold.[2]

transmundane
Beyond the mundane, beyond the world

lamaseries
Domiciles of Buddhist lamas (as in "monasteries").

Torriform Inclusion
A made-up condition from Torus==Arch.: a large convex molding, semicircular in cross section, located at the base of a classical column? From the American Heritage Dictionary. St. Cosmo has just seen, he thinks, a "watchtower". 'Watchtower'-Cf. the name of the magazine (and building in Brooklyn) that the Jehovah's Witnesses use. 'distinguishing man-made from God-made'...

More likely from turris (Latin), torre (Spanish&Italian) or similar meaning "tower."

Urban terrain
(But only cities unwisely built on sand.)

Stilton Gaspereaux
Stilton is type of blue cheese from England.
Gaspereaux are alewives, a freshwater fish. [Alewives or "Gaspereaux" are caught fresh as the fish moves upstream our cold Canadian rivers. www.botsfordfisheries.com/products]

Sven Hedin
Swedish explorer, especially of the Asian countries, and excavator of ruins of ancient cities. wikipedia
Hedin crossed Taklamakan desert in 1895 and found ruins of the sunken city Dandan Oilik. Today he is a controversial figure because of his complicated relations to naziism. Hitler was an admirer of his work.

That suggests another angle for reading ATD as a novel about the genesis of the 20th century, considering the Nazi obsession with Tibet. There is also an alleged subterranean Shambhala connection; the sources are dubious but the legend does exist.

Aurel Stein
Sir Marc Aurel Stein. Hungarian-born explorer later knighted as a British citizen. Credited with the discovery, and arguably the exploitation, of the Mogao Grottoes in China. A rock-carved repository of ancient Buddhist texts and murals, the grottoes are known collectively as 'The Cave of a Thousand Buddhas' and protected a copy of the Mahayana Diamond sutra, acknowledged as the world's oldest dated printed text. Wikipedia entry.

first known maps
None of Ptolemy's maps has survived the classical period. They were, however, reconstructed in manuscript and engraved on copper or carved in wood for editions of the Ptolemy atlas. In 1482, the first woodcut edition, containing the first map of the world to include contemporary discoveries, was published in Ulm, Germany. It contains a brightly handcolored map of the Holy Land....

Allusion to the Map/Territory relation—the relationship between symbol and object. Coined by Alfred Korzybski, “The map is not the territory” is a related expression meaning that an abstraction derived from something, or a reaction to it, is not the thing itself, e.g., the pain from a stone falling on your foot is not the stone; one's opinion of a politician, favorable or unfavorable, is not that person; a metaphorical representation of a concept is not the concept itself; and so on. [2]Here, the (abstract) map itself could be a guide to a spritual quest or to conquest.

Page 437

Nernst lamps
An electric lamp consisting of a short, slender rod of zirconium oxide (ceramic) in open air, heated to brilliant white incandescence by electrical current. It was developed by the German physicist and chemist Walther Nernst (1864-1941) in 1897 at Goettingen University. In 1905 he formulated the third law of thermodynamics, and in 1920 he received the Nobel Prize in chemistry. For a picture of the lamp [Nernst lamp] and Nernst's bio [Nernst.]

range-finder
Cf. 'range', passim

level of encryption
(Cf Heisenberg?)Does not seem to allude to Heisenberg and his Uncertainty Principle so much as buried layers of meaning that can hide to invisibility.

Mount Kailash
A mountain located in the Chinese Himalayas with great religious significance in Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hinduism, it is seen as the residence of Shiva, God of destruction and regeneration. The mountain is visited every year by many religious pilgrims. In Buddhism, the mountain was believed to be the location of a battle between two ancient sorcerers: Milarepa (Tantric Buddhism) and Naro-Bonchung (Tibetan Bön religion). Pynchon is perhaps alluding to the population dividing nature of religions. wikipedia.

Shiva
Shiva is the formless, timeless and spaceless Supreme God in Shaivism, one of the major branches of Hinduism practiced in India. Shiva means "One who purifies everyone by the utterance of His name" or "The Pure One". The name Shiva is the Holiest of Holy names. See [Shiva].

polarize light... in time
Thematic.

Manichaeans
A gnostic sect that followed the third century Persian prophet Mani (Cf page 439). Their main theological belief was in a stark divide between Good and Evil, Light and Darkness.

Basic to Manichaeism's doctrine was the conflicting dualism between the realm of God, represented by light and by spiritual enlightenment, and the realm of Satan, symbolized by darkness and by the world of material things. To account for the existence of evil in a world created by God, Mani posited a primal struggle in which the forces of Satan separated from God; humanity, composed of matter, that which belongs to Satan, but infused with a modicum of godly light, was a product of this struggle, and was a paradigm of the eternal war between the forces of light and those of darkness. Christ, the ideal, light-clad soul, could redeem for each person that portion of light God had allotted. Light and dark were seen to be commingled in our present age as good and evil, but in the last days each would return to its proper, separate realm, as they were in the beginning. The Christian notion of the Fall and of personal sin was repugnent to the Manichaeans; they felt that the soul suffered not from a weak and corrupt will but from contact with matter. Evil was a physical, not a moral thing; a person's misfortunes were miseries, not sins. (taken from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-2005, [Manichaean].)

Very relevant here in ADT: one could call their theology, BINARY.

Page 438

expanded sense... Maxwell... Hertz
All forms of electromagnetic radiation form a spectrum, of which visible light is a small part; all such radiation shares fundamental physical properties. Cf. range as spectrum.

Let us quote more fully — the light we see as well as the expanded sense of it prophesied by Maxwell, confirmed by Hertz — it means the expanded understanding of the nature of the visible light (the sense of it). In 1865 Maxwell prophesied that, base on his field equations, "light itself is an electromagnetic disturbance in the form of waves propagated through the electromagnetic field according to electromagnetic laws." (Cf page 58.) In 1877 Hertz experimentally discovered that light behaves exactly as an electromagnetic wave described by the Maxwell Field Equations and is part of the full electromagnetic spectrum. Therefore, Hertz confirmed what Maxwell predicted about the nature of light. (Cf page 318.)
Regardless of how the scientific understanding of the nature of light has been expanded and changed, the Manichaean's view of light as invariant will remain, they will worship light to eternity. All other forms of matter are considered 'darkness'.
Of course it is impossible for the Manichaens to know the dualism, light/darkness, of their theology has the reflection in the dualism of light. Light is a wave (electromagnetic wave) and simultaneously consists of particles (photons).

'Perfects'
Perfects are the priests of the Cathar, a pantheistic manicheistic sect from the middle ages.

Since Gaspereaux (and Pynchon) are still talking about Manichaean, let's just talk about it.
Strict virtue for the Manichaean involved necessarily withdrawal from the world. The community was accordingly divided into two groups; the Elect or the "Perfects", the Primates Manichaeorum, who embraced a rigourous rule, and the Hearers, the auditores,who led a more normal life and supported the Elect both by works and alms.

A-and we know Pynchon's view of The Elect.

Mysteries
The Book of Secrets (or The Book of Mysteries). The sacred Manichaean text by Mani. Cf page 439.

Graeco-Buddhist
Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 800 years in Central Asia in the area corresponding to modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the 4th century BCE and the 5th century CE. Wikipedia

Italo-Islamic style(s)
A result of the Islamic Conquest of Sicily and parts of southern Italy Wikipedia on the Emirate of Sicily 2 A primary locus of the Italo-Islamic style is also Malta, a setting of TRP's novel V.

Page 439

Nuovo Rialto
Seems like Pynchon creating a "New Rialto" city under these sands as many cities take the name of an older city and add New....

From Wikipedia: Rialto is an area of the San Polo sestiere of Venice, known for its markets and for the Rialto Bridge.

The area was settled by the ninth century, when a small area in the middle of the Realtine Islands either side of the Rio Businiacus was known as the Rivoaltus. Soon, the Businiacus became known as the Grand Canal, and the district became the Rialto, referring to only the area on the left bank.

The Rialto became an important district in 1097, when Venice's market moved there, and in the following century a boat bridge was set up across the Grand Canal providing access to it. This was soon replaced by the Rialto Bridge.

Pynchon seems to love Venice so Nuovo Rialto is very ironically intended given this scene.

Not so ironic. The Rialto was a district dedicated to commerce and profit, not spiritual quests.

Mani
Mani (216-276), founder of religion Manichaeism. He was born in the province Babylon which was then under Persian rule. His family was Persian, bu this name is Aramaic. Mani had probably originally belonged to a Christian sect, now called Elkhasitts. Between the age of 12 and 24, Mani had visions where an angel told him that he would be the prophet of a last divine revelation. Around AD 240, at the Persian court of King Shapur 1, Mani established his own religious philosophy. He and his followers (Manichaeans) regarded the world as irreconcilably divided into the kingdoms of light and darkness, good and evil. They practiced extreme asceticism in their struggle toward the light. At 26 he started on a long journey as the "Ambassador of Light" travelling through the Persian Empire and reaching as far as India, where he came under the influence of Buddhism. As Mani's teaching gained ground he came in opposition to the Zoroastrian priests and the Emperor Bahram 1. From 274 Mani lost the emperor's protection, and he either died in prison or was executed. His death was retold as an incident similar to the crucifixion of Jesus.

the Oxus
The Oxus River of the Greeks. Its present-day name is the Amu Darya (or Amu river). It is the longest river in Central Asia. For more and map location see [the Oxus].

Jenghiz Khan
Jenghiz (or Genghis) Khan (1162-1227), born as Temujin, a son of a Mongol chief. At thirteen he was called to succeed his father, and for years to struggle hard against hostile tribes. His ambition awakening with his continued success. He spent six years in subjugating the Naimans, between Lake Balkhash (in Southeastern Kazakhstan) and the Irtish (an enormous river in Western Siberia) , and in conquering Tangut, south of Gobi desert. In 1206 he started to use the name Jenghiz Khan — "Very Mighty Ruler". In 1211 he overran the empire of North China, and in 1217 conquered and annexed the Kara-Chitai empire from Lake Balkhash to Tibet. In 1218 he attacked the powerful empire of Kharezm, bounded by the Jazartes, Indus, Persian Gulf and Caspian, took Bokhara, Smarkand, Kharezm and other chief cities and returned home in 1225. His lieutenants continued to expand Jenghiz Khan's empire further and further. Jenghiz Khan died on August 18, 1227. He was not only a warrior and conqueror, but a skillful administrator and ruler; he not only conquered empires stretching from the Black Sea to the Pacific, but organized them into states which outlasted the short span that usually measures the life of Asiatic sovereignties. (from Chambers Biographical Dictionary, 1984 edition.)

—Pynchon seems to have changed his mind on Genghis's spelling (cf. The Crying of Lot 49)!

crystallography of the silica medium
Computer-base [silicon] allusion!?

No! The most common constituent of sand, in inland continental or non-tropical coastal settings, is silicon dioxide (silica) usually in the form of quartz which is very resistant to weathering.
And computer chips are made with silicon metal, not silica.

clearly a thousand years more recent than they ought to have been
That is, the Manichean shrines date from the fourteenth Century, not the fourth Century when Mani, the founder, started Manicheanism. Pynchon dating 'when it went bad' in history?

Passing of the Remarks
Sounds like a humorous reification of what gets said between sailors. Modeled after Changing of the Guard?

Talk about battered caravanserais!

Stanza XVII of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:

 Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
 Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
 How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
 Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.

A caravanserai is a rest station or an inn on a caravan route.

Steeplechase Park
Steeplechase Park, located at Coney Island, was an amusement park and collection of rides, funhouses and the like. As a child I used to visit in the late 50's.

The Book of Secrets
The Book of Secrets, (Safar al–Asrar), Manichaean sacred text by Mani. It was also called The Book of Mysteries, and Titus just called it simply Mysteries. It was characterized as "polemical and dogmatic." In eighteen chapters it was written to refute the false doctrines of the established sects and creeds in the world, including the sect of Bardesain or Bardesan. The book evidently dealt with the esoteric life of Jesus. The nature of Soul and Body was defined. And it also described reincarnation. A portion of the book was in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and his apostles. [Mani's writitngs].

Page 440

screaming...with blood
Screaming motif.

chong pir
Presumably Uyghur for "big lice."

Uyghur
Member of an ethnic group in western China. It is sometimes claimed that the Uyghurs are Indo-European in one sense or another.

Pulex
Flea.

voiced interdental fricative
The th sound, as in "the" or "with." (Bad example—many if not most speakers use the unvoiced sound in "with." Try "then, other, father.") Basically, the lice lisp. This could be meant to suggest that their speech contains static or noise.

skeleton rig
The skeleton rig is a shoulder holster for carrying a concealed handgun. They were developed in the 1890s. A very nice looking one, as well as a description thereof, can be purchased at First American Ordnance website, which also just so happens to be my source for the above info.

andante
Literally "going". An Italian word typically seen in notation for classical music. It denotes a moderately slow pace.

Sandman Saloon
Tavern for the 'sandmen', without those great tavern names in the above-ground world. Negative associations to this saloon, it seems, unlike the usual saloons in TRP's world. A Neil Gaiman allusion?

Page 441

Leonard and Lyle
Google comes up with mentioning Sir Leonard Lyle 1, sugar-magnate and heir to Abram Lyle 2 and "Lyle‘s Golden Syrup" 3. Thats one interesting logo, what with the dead lion/bees and the tibetan stamp on ATD, btw. Golden Syrup = oil?

Baku
Cf page 168: Baku.

teke
From this glossary on greek rembetiko music: "teke (pl. tekedhes): A club where one could buy hashish and the use of a narghile in which to smoke it"

An American fraternity or a member thereof. Tau Kappa Epsilon. Founded in the 1890s; has had a reputation for being a bit wilder than many fraternities.

Spindletop
From wikipedia: Spindletop is a salt dome oil field located in south Beaumont, Texas (approx. 30.02 -94.07) in the United States. On January 10, 1901, the well "Lucas 1" came in at Spindletop, marking the birthdate of the modern petroleum industry. At 100,000 barrels of oil a day, the gusher tripled U.S. oil production overnight, ensuring the second industrial revolution would be fueled not by wood and coal but by oil and its byproducts. Some of the companies chartered to exploit the wealth of Spindletop are some of today's largest and well known corporations such as ExxonMobil, and Texaco.

Groznyi
Grozny or Groznyy (Russian: Гро́зный; Chechen: Соьлж-ГIала, Syolzh-Ghaala) is the capital of the Chechen Republic in Russia. The city lies on the Sunzha River....As most of the residents there were Terek Cossacks, the town grew slowly until the development of Oil reserves in the early 20th century. This spiralled development of industry and petrochemical production. In addition to the oil drilled in the city itself, the city became a geographical centre of Russia's network of oil fields, and also in 1893 became part of the Transcaucasia - Russia Proper railway. From wikipedia

calyx bits
Bits used for taking core samples in oil exploration. Rods are screwed together to make up the "drill string," with the bit at the bottom end. After exploration, the calyx bit is replaced with a rock bit; the borehole is stabilized with a "casing string" made of pipe (tubing) a little bigger than the bit.

Presumably some kind of mining drill-related equipment. "The mining operations were unusual in that much of the mining was done through large diameter holes drilled with calyx bits." [3]

adults
Chums not adults, then? No,they do not age, it seems.

ässalamu äläykum
A muslim greeting. Translates to "Peace be with you." This is the Turkic spelling.

anticline
An underground rock structure with a shape resembling a ridge on the surface. Oil exploration focuses on "domes" (like salt domes, see Spindletop entry above) and anticlines, because either of these provides a volume where oil—ascending because it's lighter than rock or water—can collect to make a "pool" that can be exploited.

Page 442

Had it not (p440) ....someones hidden plans
This whole conversation implies a coming war over oil, being sold as a holy mission... why does that sound familiar? Of course, once again, "No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred."

equine altitude
High horse.

allure of Veneto-Uyghur women
Veneti Veneto Uyghurs Long distance trade (like wars and tourism in general) is very likely to enforce the intermingling of different Gene Pools, which, more often than not, results in particularily beautiful specimens of the kinds involved. Travels of mediterrenean merchants along the various branches of the Silk Road seem to have been pretty common from at least 14th century on - see Pegelotti‘s Merchant Handbook (ca. 1340) which partially reads like a Lonely Planet Guide of back then. During the Renaissance most of the merchants (from Florence/Venice/Geneva) set out from Tana/Tanais which some sources put as a trade-post if not colony of the "West".

2 percent . . . most of them
Implies at least 150 in crew.

Marco Querini
An oasis named after Marco Querini? i.e. Oasi Marco Querini. In January 1571, Venetians under Marco Querini defeated Turks near Famagusta, Cyprus.

Terrenascondite
Italian: terre (pl. of terra) = lands; ascondito, an archaic form of the past participle of the verb nascondere (archaic: ascondere)= to hide. Translation is undoubtedly "hidden lands".

Pozzo San Vito
Italian: Pozzo means well; San Vito is a Saint. Well of San Vito. Oasi Pozzo San Vito. San Vito, according to this site, died by being boiled in oil, other sources say it was lead - a hint to the subterranean resources here? Cfr. Italian: "Ballo di San Vito", that is, Saint Vitus' Dance, a syndrome having as a consequence tics or jerks. It may be an allusion to involuntary movements or disconntected behaviour(?).

Page 443

peterman option
A 'peterman' is a slang term for a safe-blower.

Consommé Imperial
A gingered chicken broth with julienne of carrots and leeks.

Timbales de Suprêmes de Volailles
Chicken Supreme Pudding ? Um, Suprêmes de Volailles means the white meat of chicken prepared with a fortified white sauce. To make timbales, the meat is chopped and placed in individual molds, a little grated Gruyère cheese on top, and baked in a water bath (just like some puddings).

Gigot Grillé a la Sauce Piquante
A 'gigot' is a leg of lamb or haunch of veal. 'Sauce Piquante' is a spicy sauce.

aubergines à la Sauce Mousseline
Eggplants with mussel sauce. -No, the French for mussels is moules, not moussel. A Sauce Mousseline is Hollandaise lightened with a bit of whipped cream. An odd choice perhaps for eggplant, but then Sauce Piquante is more for pork or boiled beef (pot-au-feu) than lamb.

I've never seen a dog eat eggplant, but it sounds like something one wouldn't want to miss. Only thing is, it has to be somebody else's dog.

Pouilly-Fuissé
A white Burgundy made from the Chardonnay grape.

Graves
Wine from the Graves district of France, a subregion of Bordeaux. Wines can be either red or white. Red Graves are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Whites are blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.

Miles...extra-temporal excursions
Miles is like a Trespasser.

all that incarnation and slaughter will transpire in silence
Calls to mind the silent battle scene in Akira Kurosawa's samurai retelling of King Lear, titled Ran, which translates roughly to "chaos."

Page 444

Oasi
Oases is the plural of oasis. Here, Oasi is the Italian word for oasis!

cataplexy
Sudden loss of muscle power following a strong emotional stimulus.

Nobel brothers
Robert and Ludvig Nobel, brothers of Alfred Nobel of dynamite and prize fame, co-founders of Branobel, an important early oil company that controlled a large amount of Russian output. Wikipedia entry.

shaft-alley
Somebody check this: the channel, running fore-and-aft deep in the ship's hull, where the propeller shafts are located.

the balloon is up
British metaphor: The action has started. A phrase also used in V.

F.O.
Foreign Office

Daily Mail
London tabloid, staunch early supporters of Adolf Hitler. Today specialises in stirring up hatred of immigrants and other minorities.

Inspector Sands
A code word used in London to alert authorities without causing panic amongst the general public. Generally the alert is raised by the fire alarm. Wikipedia entry.

"Sands of Inner Asia"
Captain, now Inspector Sands, seems to be being compared for his achievements to "Lawrence of Arabia" parodistically.

Taklamakan
The Taklamakan (also Taklimakan) is a desert of Central Asia, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. It is known as the largest sand-only desert in the world. Some references fancifully state that Taklamakan means "if you go in, you won't come out"; others state that it means "Desert of Death" or "Place of No Return".

Page 445

Kashgar to Urumchi
Two cities currently on the far western border of China. Presumably in this context they were two points inside the general area within which the 'Great Powers' competed to try and find Shambhala.

fell into the hands of
An analogy with the present-day situation in Central Asia in particular. Throughout the book, there are references to Anarchist/Terrorists, to the spread of dynamite and other kinds of phenomena. These are all technologies that allow, or cause, power to flow into the hands of the powerless to use for their own purposes.

World-Island
See entry at page 433

those Powers . . . still competing for it
And to complete the analogy, the countries/peoples who have exercised power for centuries and are now baffled to see it flow into the hands of the powerless.

discreet summons
Eg "paging Dr Blue". It doesn't seem to me to be a phrase that needs a gloss: a discreet summons is simply what it says and made be made in any number of ways.

far wicket
A 'wicket' may simply be a gate; but in the context of a novel and the bomber at Headingly cricket ground and Fenners, the Cambridge cricket ground, a 'wicket' is the three stumps at one end of a cricket pitch. ("The Gentleman Bomber of Headingly" - see p.236.)

That isn't the context here; we are in a government building where supplicants have to pass through gates—wickets—and face bureaucrats through grilles—more wickets.

wog
Chiefly British. An ethnic slur used for any dark-skinned peoples. Alleged to stand for "Western Oriental Gentleman", but mainly applied to Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, and other brown-skinned Asians. I have heard it comes from 'wily oriental gentleman'; but the Oxford English Dictionary states that the origin is uncertain and defines a 'wog' as someone especially of Arab extraction. Eric Partridge, in A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (8th ed., 1984), suggests that the term derives from "golliwog," the name of a black male doll character with frizzy hair popularized in Bertha Upton's children's story, The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls--and a 'Golliwog' (1895).

Vic removal
"removing Vic" defined by Partridge (Dictionary of the Underworld, 1949) as robbing a stamp office. From the image of Queen Victoria on British postal stamps.

eating an explosive
Cf Lew's Cyclomite.

Page 446

St Martin le Grand
A street in the City of London.

Angel Street
Another street in the City which meets St Martin le Grand at right-angles.

G.P.O. West
G.P.O - General Post Office

pneumatic dispatches
An extensive 'pneumatic dispatch' system existed on London during the Victorian era, started in 1851 and carrying on at least into the 1930's. By 1886 London had 94 telegram tubes totaling 34 1/2 miles and around 4.5 million telegraph messages were carried in cylinders at around 20mph. At its height the network extended some 57 miles connecting 67 branch offices via a central sorting office. See [4] and [5] (with illustrations).

drill suits
Drill is a durable cotton fabric; khaki drill is used for uniforms.

chars
Charwomen. Maids, cleaners.

Hundreds of telegraphers
The scene described, including the pneumatic dispatches and the ostensible concern about terrorism, is very similar to one in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."

clicks and rests
Presumably the clicks of a telegraphic system and the rests or silences in between. Another binarism.

Northern Temple of Connexion
It's in the north of the City; and the phrase suggests the religious intensity of the need to connect or communicate as well as mildly satirising it.

marblework
Such buildings would have used quantities of marble; hence the image of a 'temple' above.

Bloggins
An archetypal ordinary man; an everyman figure.

allegro vivatchy
phonetic of 'allegro vivace' - a musical term for a quick tempo. If the policeman had been manhandling an English suspect, he would have said "All right then, quick march." An early instance of cultural sensitivity. . . .

Page 447

grease-paint
'Grease-paint' refers to old-fashioned stage make-up.

cylinder of gutta-percha
Pneumatic dispatches were carried in cylinders of Gutta-Percha -- an inelastic latex made from the sap of the Gutta-Percha tree -- covered in felt. See [6]. Gutta-percha crops up a number of times in ATD, possibly enough to suggest some sort of motif or connection?

Gutta percha per se is a Victorian equivalent to rubber, or rather hard rubber (they knew to use soft latex for erasers, "gum boots" and such). Discovery of the vulcanization process led to replacement of gutta-percha in many applications.

its "D" box
The receiving mechanism on the end of pneumatic dispatch pipe.

"The somewhat complicated pattern of double sluice valve originally used at the central stations has been superseded by a simpler form, known as the D box, so named Despatching from the shape of its cross section. This box is of and cast iron, and is provided with a close-fitting, Receiving brass-framed, sliding lid with a glass panel. This Apparatus, lid fits air-tight, and closes the box after a carrier has been inserted into the mouth of the tube; the latter enters at one end of the box and is there bell-mouthed. A supply pipe, to which is connected a 3-way cock, is joined on to the box and allows communication at will with either the pressure or vacuum mains, so that the apparatus becomes available for either sending (by pressure) or receiving (by vacuum) a carrier. Automatic working, by which the air supply is automatically turned on on the introduction of the carrier into a tube and on closing of the D box, and is cut off when the carrier arrives, was introduced in 1909." From the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry on Pneumatic Dispatch, cited at [7]

Holborn
Holborn is between the Strand (at the northern end of Waterloo Bridge) and Bloomsbury.

Saffron Hill
is in the City, an area named Farringdon, east of Holborn.

tantum dic verbo isn't it
Might be derived from that part of the Mass where it's said: "Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea" ("Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my soul shall be healed")

Sands seems to be telling Gaspereaux to "just say the word".

intact
(Did I miss this?)

Page 448

because I'm mad
Gaspereaux brings news, in overheard fragments, of Shambala intact, able to hold sand away from itself.....which "deranged utterance" [Sands] ....succumbs to a dim local until he, Gaspereaux, can no longer imagine anything clearly beyond Dover.
A 'mad' vision becomes local and quotidian.

half-sovereign case
A sovereign is old English money for one pound, i.e 20 shillings. A half-sovereign is ten shillings old money.

Mr. Campbell-Bannerman
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836-1908) was a Liberal MP and then Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1905 to 1908. I'm not sure when he was knighted; but he's not the only character in the novel connected with Trinity College, Cambridge.

Page 449

Clarabella
Clarabelle=name of the clown on The Howdy Doody Show [TV] in the fifties.

Audacity, Iowa
Seemingly a joking oxymoron?

Page 450

DREAMTIME MOVY
Misspelling is dreamlike? Or, more possibly, the spelling hadn't yet been standardized.

The OED an cites an occurance of this spelling as late as 1919.

log... waterfall
This passage anticipates a scene in D. W. Griffith's 1920 film Way Down East in which Lillian Gish, stranded on an ice-floe, rushes toward a potential demise over the edge of the falls. More specifically, Pynchon is here positing this (fictional) collision between the film (i.e., the diegetic world of the film) and the breaking projector (the non-diegetic world of the film!) as the origin of the... (wait for it) -- CLIFFHANGER.

What does diegetic mean, please?
Here.

lens-brother
As the Chums refer to other aeronauts as 'sky-brothers', Merle, a photographer and mechanical enthusiast calls the movie projectionist 'lens-brother.' Implies peerage among a set of people. (I may refer to you as 'wiki-brother.') (Like masonic sign?)(Also reminiscent of the lens (the K/kid/d) carries in Delaney's Dhalgren)

Powers movement
Around 1897, Nicholas Power improved the "Maltese Cross" used in the Geneva movement; his company sold projectors including the "Peerless" and the popular No. 5. The Power or Power[']s movement could not be adapted to sound projection.

Geneva
A watch movement also used in film projection. "The Geneva movement is so called because of its use in Geneva watches as a stop wind. The projection on the driving disk acts as the pawl drive, and the concave projections on the lower disc act as stop pawls. This is used at the present time in motion picture machines for moving the film in front of the lens and is known as the intermittent movement."

Wilt Flambo
Flambeau = torch (French).

acetylene
When the flammable gas was used for illumination, it was often generated on the spot by dripping water onto lumps of calcium carbide.

Page 451

nitro in the film
Cellulose nitrate was the predecessor to modern photographic films. The nitrate material might be coated with collodion, which served as the substrate to the chemistry that made the image. Nitrate film was/is notoriously flammable.

the tip
The audience. Pynchon uses the word many times in AtD.

strange relation
Cf GR on calculus.

dark perplexity
Cf Gen X?

dilapidated portals
See p.406: the West Gate's "two flanking towers of rusticated stone and Gothical aspect... an aspect of terrible antiquity..."

queen-of-the-prairie
Meadowsweet, Filipendula rubra, wild flower with clusters of pink blooms in midsummer.

Geneva
See annotation to p. 450.

Picnickers brought with them [...] ukuleles
In the days before portable recorded music playback, if you wanted to hear a song you learned how to play it, preferably on something reasonably easy to carry around, such as a ukulele or harmonica. References to ukuleles and Hawaii and its culture abound in Pynchon's novels Vineland and Gravity's Rainbow. More on Hawaii & ukulele references in Against the Day...

Page 452

Sempitern
An archaic term meaning 'eternal', a poetic but appropriate name for a river? Echoing "Serpentine," the lake in London's Hyde Park.

Sicilians with equal apprehensions for the principle of the vendetta
If the vendetta began when A killed B, couldn't B's son short-circuit the whole thing by going back in time and killing A first? And then who would be responsible for killing the son? Possible application to the Traverse/Vibe/Deuce relationship, too.

siegecraft of Time
Cf Paris Commune siege, p.19.

to see in its vortex the fundamental structure of everything
A reference to the Yeatsian conception of the gyre as the primary or fundamental form. "'The mind, whether expressed in history or in the individual life, has a precise movement, which can be quickened or slackened but cannot be fundamentally altered, and this movement can be expressed by a mathematical form’ and this form is the gyre." [8]

More from wikipedia: "The theory of history articulated in A Vision centers on a diagram composed of two conical spirals, one situated inside the other, so that the widest part of one cone occupies the same plane as the tip of the other cone, and vice versa. Around these cones he imagined a set of spirals. Yeats claimed that this image (he called the spirals "gyres") captured contrary motions inherent within the process of history, and he divided each gyre into different regions that represented particular kinds of historical periods (and could also represent the psychological phases of an individual's development). Yeats believed that in 1921 the world was on the threshold of an apocalyptic moment, as history reached the end of the outer gyre (to speak roughly) and began moving along the inner gyre." [9]
Cf. the remark, "history is a step-function" in V.. Is the above an evolution of that remark/vision? http://v.pynchonwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Chapter_11

between Cleveland and Denver
Merle's idiosyncratic choice of endpoints? This helps define where Candlebrow is, though.

automorphic functions
Auto= self; same as in autogamy. American Heritage Dict. -morph = Form, structure, function. Self-forming, self-structuring-- or self-organizing as Pynchon says elsewhere in ADT.

The phrase has a specific meaning in mathematics, referring to a generalization of periodic functions.

Page 453

We thus enter the whirlwind
God is sometimes referred to this way. Often Capitalized, but here the speaker is using it literally, but Pynchon maybe metaphorically?

Lobatchevskian
of Nikolai Lobachevsky (1793-1856), a Russian Mathematician, co-founder, with Hungarian mathematician János Bolyai, of non-Euclidean geometry. Born at Nizhny Novgorod and a professor at Kazan University from 1814. In 1829 he published his non-Euclidean geometry paper, the first account of that subject in print.

Abbreviated Lob Lob bowling: not related but as it is a cricket thing...

Automorphic Dispensation
Self-forming, self-organizing, recurring or periodic dispensation.
On the meaning of "dispensation" see annotations to p. 128.

distressing regularity
Explains dilapidation?

Thorvald
Scandinavian name from the Old Norse name Þórvaldr. It combines the name "Thor" (thunder) and scandinavian word "valdr" (ruler), to create the meaning "thunder ruler" or "ruler of the thunder". Either would be apt, in this case.

The persisting storm also occurs in Mason & Dixon, in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Wyrd Sisters and in Walter Moers‘ "13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear".

thresher dinners
Hearty communal midday meals for men taking part in harvest. Here a sacrifice to Thorvald.

Page 454

"gaff"
A deceptive feature like the rabbit-concealing false bottom in a magician's top hat.

Giant Airships of 1896 and '7
An early UFO sensation. From November 1896 to the summer of '97, newspapers reported numerous sightings of a large cigar-shaped airship. The first reports came from Sacramento; the "ship" (or ships) moved from west to east, with a big concentration in Illinois. "Contacts" with the people on board the craft all proved to be hoaxes, and the speed of the ship's travel was a pretty good match for the speed of propagation of phony newspaper stories from town to town.

In the context of AtD we have to ask: In a world where airships were common by 1893, operated by a sizable community of aeronautics clubs like the Chums of Chance, why would another airship create a sensation in 1896? Who would consider it mysterious?

And were airships common by 1893? This brief account of the technology in our historical context says that trials date back to mid-century, but practical airships appeared only in 1898.

This artist's conception is no less imaginative than sketches that appeared in the media in 1896-97.

I'm guessing airships weren't as common as balloons...

Chick
First Chum to appear in non-Chums chapter? Chick is the Chum we know, besides Pugnax if we count him, to have come aboard The Inconvenience from the real world. Another meaning to Counterfly? More earthbound?

Page 455

Cleveland... trial... Bounce v. Vibe
See p67 & 426

Somble, Strool, and Fleshway
See annotations to page 34.

'paranoia querulans'... P.Q.
Described in the page so titled.

Hercules
Allusion to Hercules Powder Company, major manufacturer of black powder and other explosives.

blasting agent
Just a casual reference to the Hercules product. In a more technical context "blasting agents" are distinguished from "shattering explosives." A blasting agent releases its energy more slowly and produces a heaving action.

detonans
That which is detonated - cod latin. Detonans is a present participle, roughly meaning "that detonates" or "detonating".

"I'm just another nutty inventor"
Roswell has been discussing his plans to dynamite the Vibe Corp. which has used its power to harrass him. Throughout his work, esp. Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon has dealt with themes involving the split between elect and preterite, or to use a more simplified phrase, winners and losers. Dynamite offers the small and powerless, the "long-shot opponents of the mills of Capital" referred to earlier in the page, an expression of power of their own. In this way it is like the AK-47 today which has made it far more difficult for powers (e.g. the United States in Iraq) to exert control over populations.

Page 456

aigrette
Literally an egret or aigrette (or Lesser White Heron); hence a tuft of feathers such as an egret has and hence a spray of gems worn on the head and finally luminous rays seen emerging from the moon in solar eclipses or, to quote the OED, "at the ends of electrified bodies" (see annotation to p. 405.)

Pencil
To mathematicians, a pencil is a family of geometric objects sharing a common property, such as a collection of lines that pass through a common point. (Of course, constipated mathematicians also find pencils useful for working out logs).

In Romance languages, a mathematic "pencil" is a "bundle" (ESP haz, CAT feix, IT fascio) and a "pencilist" a "feixista" (CAT) or "fascista" (ESP/IT). Merle is playing with something which reminds of Falange Española symbol. A intralinguistic pun or is Merle an underground fascist?

equivalent of a shrug
Nice anthropomorphism.

I want to know light...take some in my hands...and bring it back
More light-infatuation, but this sounds particularly Promethean to me. Everybody knows Prometheus is famous for stealing fire from the Gods and bringing it to man in his unburnable fennel, but for Pynchoniacs, Zeus' reaction to this is quite interesting. Imaginably, Zeus is pretty pissed, so "to punish Prometheus for this hubris (and all of mankind in the process), Zeus devised 'such evil for them that they shall desire death rather than life'". Wiki Then he sends Prometheus "to Mount Caucasus, where an eagle (often shown as a vulture) by the name of Ethon (offspring of the monsters Typhon and Echidna) would pick at his liver; it would grow back each day and the eagle would eat it again." Talk about Eternal Return.

Finally "[t]o punish man for the offenses of Prometheus, Zeus told Hephaestus to "mingle together all things loveliest, sweetest, and best, but look that you also mingle therewith the opposites of each." So Hephaestus took gold and dross, wax and flint, pure snow and mud of the highways, honey and gall; he took the bloom of the rose and the toad's venom, the voice of laughing water and the peacocks squall; he took the sea's beauty and its treachery, the dog's fidelity and the wind's inconstancy, and the mother bird's heart of love and the cruelty of the tiger. All these, and other contraries past number, he blended cunningly into one substance and this he molded into the shape that Zeus had described to him. She was as beautiful as a goddess and Zeus named her Pandora which meant "all gifted"." And a little later on Pandora opens her eponymic box and "all suffering and despair" is unleashed upon mankind.

Some judicious readers may remember we've already been to the Pandora Works back on p.297, and we all know what those light-worshiping Alchemists will do with the metals they remove from mines just like it.

machinery . . . more complicated than it needs to be
Merle and Roswell, as alchemists, suspect the problem of "moving pictures" may have a solution with fewer moving parts.

Merle and Roswell, as devotees of light (i.e. electromagnetic waves), are hinting at a method for displaying moving images that uses no moving parts and is well known to modern readers.

lost mines
(Factual?) One of the classic "crazy old galoot" figures in Westerns is the deranged sourdough who can't stop talking about the incredibly rich lode he and his partner found and then lost.

Page 457

tourbillon
A tourbillon is a type of mechanical clock or watch escapement invented in 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet that is designed to counter the effects of gravity and other perturbing forces that can affect the accuracy of a chronometer. Wikipedia

Tourbillon is French for "whirlwind" - Thorvald‘s tiny chronometer-cousin.

make time impervious to gravity
Thematic to this book and GR?

Yes! The desire to escape from history, mortality ("birth to death"), the flow of time is a major theme of this book. It is also a theme in Vineland, where Brock Vond corrupts Frenesi by exploiting her desire to transcend ordinary life.

patent pencils
Mechanical or (British) propelling pencils. "Patent" as in patent medicine, patent leather: innovative, gimmicky, making claims of uniqueness. (But the mechanical pencil was invented by a Japanese, HAYAKAWA Tokuji, in 1915, so that these "patent pencils" cannot be mechanical pencils, or this is an anachronism.)

Ebenezer Wood "constructed the first hexagon- and octagon-shaped pencil cases that we have today. Ebenezer did not patent his invention and shared his techniques with whoever asked." from Wikipedia.

zephyr gingham
From this site: gingham: A cotton fabric in checks or stripes nearly alike on both sides. zephyr: Anything light and airy. We have zephyr yarns, zephyr gingham, zephyr tissues.

lawn
a thin or sheer linen or cotton fabric, either plain or printed.

pongee
silk of a slightly uneven weave made from filaments of wild silk woven in natural tan color or its cotton imitation.

Page 458

professors... engineers
Theory vs practice.

Latinate token of prestige
PhD (Philosophiae Doctor), summa cum laude, etc.

suspicious of night horizons
(sunsets?)Absence of light horizons? You can't see the horizon at night unless something is flashing and flaring over beyond it. Townsfolk are traditionally suspicious of strange flickerings in the sky. Fireworks specialists give you a way out: "Oh, Luigi was just trying out a new star shell."

current... purity
Free of noise?

Minkowski
Hermann Minkowski was a German mathematician who made useful contributions in the development of relativity, amongst other things. Cf page 324 and [10]
Developed the 4 dimensional non Euclidean geometry [11] used in special relativity. In a very crude simplification it says that time and space are the same thing. It all depends on the velocity of the observer, how space and time are mixed. This influenced most of later science fiction on time travels!!! (Like in "Back to the future", where the DeLorean has to reach a certain speed to jump in time.)

Three times ten... minus one seconds
Three times ten to the fifth refers to the speed of light. The square root of minus 1 Wikipedia is also known as the Imaginary Unit or i. i is sometimes also expressed as the square root of -1, as here. Complex numbers Wikipedia can be expressed as a + bi where a is the real part of the complex number and b is the imaginary part. Complex numbers were an important element of the work of both Minkowski and Einstein. Also, for imaginary number Cf page 133 and complex number Cf page 132.
The use of complex numbers to describe the relativistic space-time metric is somewhat out of fashion in modern physics, it is merely used to make the metric tensor (i.e. "that other expression") symmetrical in all 4 dimensions. So in a way one might see time as an imaginary space axis, but the modern aproach uses an symmetrical metric tensor, which makes the non-Euclidean nature of our space-time more clear.
Against the Day takes place at the time when Newtonian physics were being supplanted, at least in theory, by physics based on Relativity. This equation touches on that. But also, the use of a real and an imaginary number returns to the theme of duality that arises throughout the book. The spacetime measured by imaginary or complex numbers would seem to be something different though co-existent with 'our' spacetime.

Minkowski's lecture at Candlebrow is clearly a version of the lecture in which he first set out his interpretation of Special Relativity in terms of four-dimensional geometry, given in Cologne on 21st September, 1908. Pynchon has taken this equation, and Minkowski's description of it as 'pregnant' and 'mystic', directly from the published text of the lecture. The transcription also makes it clear that Minkowksi did indeed use blackboard and chalk. It's in a volume called The Principle of Relativity by Einstein, Lorentz, Weyl and Minkowski.SdeB

other expression
Contextually, Roswell seems to be refering to the other side of the above equation...'that other expression 'over there'...they are at a slate "blackboard."

he called the equation "pregnant"
Minkowski used the German word prägnant, which doesn't mean "pregnant." It means concise, precise, penetrating, important.

astronomical distance
Small-scale astronomy then: 3x105 km is about two-thirds of the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

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:
Bilocations

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

1063-1085

  1. Oxford English Dictionary 2nd. ed. 1989.
  2. Oxford English Dictionary 2nd. ed. 1989.
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