Perhaps bin Laden?
- It strikes me as something more general, surreal, nonspecific... but maybe? Bleakhaus 19:54, 7 January 2007 (PST)
- There is no textual evidence for thinking this image is of bin Laden, even allegorically, I think. Yes, I think it is any general 'religious' type as passed down in history but turned into an 'arc-lit' iconic image... [User: MKOHUT, January 2007]
- I'll concede that it is arguable that it is not bin Laden, but there is textual evidence that it could be. First, the passage at the end of that paragraph refers to the image as "'this Our Protector,' who remained, guardedly, unnamed" This care to avoid naming the image suggests that there is a specific name that could (but must not) be attributed to it. Furthermore,there are two other mentions of somehow venerating or making peace with the author of the Event.In the same sentence, the image is said to "make easier whatever turnings of heart might become necessary in striking a deal with the invader." On 154, the city puts up "propitiatory structures", "as demonstrations of Loyalty to the Destroyer" Foolishmortal 11:27, 9 January 2007 (PST)
- Bin Laden seems like a stretch at first, but then it would seem equally a stretch that an author as historically- and politcally-minded as Pynchon wouldn't throw Bin Laden in somewhere. My guess is, it's not a one-to-one correspondence, but that certain "resonances" to Bin Laden (or other bearded figures in history, Ayatollah, for example) may be intentional. S-Fremin 08:17, 20 January 2007 (PST)
- It does initially "seem a stretch", but rereading the passage has redoubled my conviction that it is,specifically, OBL. Your point on the recurring theme of "things that must not be named" is a good one: I seem to recall another instance of it later in the book. My point about the specificity is this: when Traverse and Rideout are discussing the Anti-Stone, Rideout feels the need to interrupt Webb before he can say the name of the Anti-Stone. This implies that there is a specific name for it that Webb could have uttered had Merle not interrupted him. Similarly, the "guardedness" with which the figure is unnamed implies that it could be named, and this possibility must be guarded against. If you accept that there is a specific name for the figure, then it becomes much more difficult to doubt the bin Laden hypothesis. This chapter is about 9/11: we all agree there, right? In that context, OBL is an obvious candidate for the non-Jesus robed and bearded figure. When you add in the "propitiatory structures" and "Loyalty to the Destroyer" I referenced above, it just seems an open and shut case to me. It might be that I'm wrong: I certainly have no clue what the figure being bin Laden means . But reread that little passage, and if you don't buy my theory, tell me why. Foolishmortal 21:31, 20 January 2007 (PST)
Let me see if I can summarize your points and demonstrate that they are explained by a plain-English reading of the passage:
1) "'this Our Protector,' who remained, guardedly, unnamed" This care to avoid naming the image suggests that there is a specific name that could (but must not) be attributed to it.
As Pynchon says repeatedly, the name that must not be named is Christ. It's projected by "the church," who might later have to deny "Christian allegiance," and is called "Our Protector" by "the Archbishop."
2) Furthermore, there are two other mentions of somehow venerating or making peace with the author of the Event. In the same sentence, the image is said to "make easier whatever turnings of heart might become necessary in striking a deal with the invader." On 154, the city puts up "propitiatory structures", "as demonstrations of Loyalty to the Destroyer"
What do you mean by "author of the Event"? The invader and Destroyer is that other unnamed thing that is taken from the ice and brought to the City (presuambly NYC) by the crew of the Malus. It wreaks havoc on the city which is why the church projects this unnamed Christ in an act of faith. The monster is winning, so the church does not use the name of Christ for fear that if/when the monster wins, the church will be able to ignore its own teachings in striking a deal with such a monster.
3) It's about 9/11.
Yes, it's about 9/11 but also many other things-- Pynchon weaves more concepts into this sequence than any other in the first 300 pages of the novel. I interpret this passage as an example of Pynchon surrealism rather than any kind of strict metaphor or allegory.
Finally, as you say, what would analogizing this to bin Laden even mean? The closest argument is as S-Fremlin says above, that you can interpret certain resonances between the Projected Messiah and bin Laden because they are both major historical/religious figures who wear robes and beard (although note that bin Laden, unless I've been misinformed, does not "emit light"). Bleakhaus 14:26, 22 January 2007 (PST)
- I think analogizing this to Bin Laden does indeed make sense, especially in consideration of the Playboy interview. The city is destroyed by an intangible enemy, and a projection, a personification of that enemy makes it after all possible to cope with this threat. This fits in well with the thought (uttered in the interview) that Bin Laden might not even exist, and might explain the description as a protector and the parallels with Christ.
- Still, I agree with Bleakhouse and S-Fremin that it's not a one-to-one correspondence, but one of many possible readings. This passage is really bursting with allusions; even sorting out all the references to Gravity's Rainbow seems nearly impossible. I think what's really astonishing here is the purposefulness with which Pynchon triggers exactly this discussion we're engaged in here. Although he is "historically- and politcally-minded", he hardly ever gets explicit; yet here he nearly enforces the question whether there is or is not a one-to-one correspondence to 9/11. If we just assume that there is one, we might try to get away too easily.Phidre 07:42, 23 January 2007 (PST)
I'm not trying to assert that the OBL reading is the only one, only that it is a valid one that can be supported by the text. I'll try to explain why I disagree w/ Bleakhaus' points above. First, yes, a "plain-English reading" can make sense, sort of, as much as any Pynchon I guess. But since when does that limit our readings of TP? Anyway, on to the points Bleakhaus summarized (fairly well).
1)Bleakhaus asserts that "Pynchon says repeatedly, the name that must not be named is Christ." I apologise if I'm missing something, but where does he do so even once? The only specific mention of the identity of the image is that it is "not exactly of Christ" Thus, by my reading, Christ is the only figure it couldn't be. How would having an image of Christ help authorities "deny all-out Christian allegiance", or "make much easier turnings of heart"? I just don't see it.
2-3)By "author of the Event" I mean Osama bin Laden. I thought it so clear that this chapter was a deliberate reference to 9/11 that I didn't bother making that case. If one accepts the 9/11 connection, the Destroyer, the invader, and the robed figure become equivalent. Bleakhaus interprets this passage as "Pynchonian surrealism", but in my experience, a good portion of what I have initially taken to be Pynchonian surrealism I have later realized to be portions of the book I hadn't understood yet. As bleakhaus says "it's about 9/11 but also many other things", but I would argue that the Event as a metaphor for 9/11 is the primary and obvious non-standard interpretation.
Which brings me to the last bit of Bleakhaus' post: "what would analogizing this to bin Laden even mean?" I have zero clue, which is why I care enough about this little passage to post so much on it. The OBL interpretation popped out at me on first reading and I just about shit myself. Failing that, I became extremely puzzled. What the hell is Pynchon playing at here? I seem to be the only one on the internets to believe this strange interpretation, but I'd very much like to be convinced it is incorrect: this puzzle would then be resolved. As it is however, I am trying to get others to consider the merit of the OBL interp. in the hope that maybe one of them might be able to offer some insight.
Also, Bleakhaus notes: 'unless I've been misinformed, does not "emit light"'. Well no, he doesn't, but it depends on what you (or Pynchon) mean by "light." That particular metaphor is so prevalent and entangled throughout AtD that I haven't really got a handle on it. Exactly what "light" in AtD means however, is a discussion for another day. Foolishmortal 22:33, 1 February 2007 (PST)
No, not possibly Bin Laden, I argue. This whole passage is too Western historically religious, and religiously satirical for that...explain the 'underground spring" and the Cathedral of the Prefiguration, please...the "church's highest point"---real...with a 'three-dimensional image in full color'---not a part of OBL's cultural beliefs even!...a person emitting 'light' in Pynchon, a natural light is a GOOD thing in ATD..."arc-light" is bad---see the Telluride chapter..."deny Christian allegiance" ???...a "luminous declaration" re
Bin Laden???....that might fail?
This Archbishop with a vampire allusion and a cross for protection is to have his "our Protector' remark taken as meaningful??? Genuinely religious?
Whatever historical meanings are packed into this paragraph it seems also, on its face, to be a righteous almost sarcastic condemnation of turning an Unnamed Divine-like being into an arc-lit icon of Church Hierarchy projection---Yes, The Church literally projects an image "not exactly Christ" how true is that in the Church's history?--and self-protection---"necessary in striking a deal". [User: Mark Kohut, February 3, 2007]
Mark, I'm more than a little bit puzzled by your rebuttal. I've just returned from an absence and am still getting my head around pynchon again, but your post, on first reading, is enigmatic. What exactly do you mean by "Western historically religious?" I see something true in your distinction between arc-light and natural light, but your short assertions fail to show me exactly what it is. I understand that this passage might be interpreted differently outside of an American understanding, but the situation is presented in an American context: that of 9/11 in New York. Pynchon may extend his ruminations elsewhere, but his chosen setting is NY,NY,USA on 9/11, and this choice retains meaning. Foolishmortal 23:29, 20 February 2007 (PST)