Talk:Main Page

Contributed "Entries" to Alpha and Page by Page

I see a lot of entries that are just items people are dumping in but not adding any real content, or just the name and a link to Wikipedia. I think it's fine to link to Wikipedia -- don't get me wrong -- but I for one would like to see folks go more for quality than quantity, perhaps adding some information/speculations rather than just sending the user off to another website. As I see it, one major purpose of this site is to make it a valuable resource, rather than a bunch of question marks. Take a look at my early entries for the alpha nav; even if I just copied the first few sentences of Wikipedia before sending the user off, at least there's some info there.

To me, it just looks lazy. I'd say if you're going to contribute something, then contribute something. Same with images. Rather than just linking to an image, make the extra effort to get the image, make sure its size is optimized and inline it to the entries. If you're not sure how to do this, and the existing instructions seem opaque to you, let me know and I'll help out.

I've put an enormous amount of effort into this, and so have many of the other contributors, and I'd just say make the effort or don't do anything at all, rather than leave a mess for someone else to clean up. There. I *said* it!

WikiAdmin 15:45, 13 December 2006 (PST)

I agree that just posting a link is not enough and people should at least post a sentence or two but I also have two comments: 1) I learned from creating the Queen Loana wiki the lesson that contributors are more willing to fill in blanks than add entries. So, placing an entry and nothing but a question mark will often prompt people to jump in and explain something that baffled you. 2) mess cleaning is part and parcel of the wiki process and has some positives: a newbie may make a mistake but after either being contacted or simply seeing their mistake corrected can become valuable contributors. Bleakhaus 17:31, 13 December 2006 (PST)
Good points. WikiAdmin 17:41, 13 December 2006 (PST)

Changed all Alpha Nav pages from, eg, "ATD-A" to "A"

So all alpha nav edits can be done on the plain alpha letter. Because of the way I'm structuring the multiple-novel wikis, there won't be conflicts if, say, GR and ATD both have individual alpha pages. Just doing some housecleaning... WikiAdmin 00:08, 12 December 2006 (PST)

Insert special characters extension just added

When you edit a page, look further down the edit page and you'll see a bunch of symbols, letters from different alphabets, common wiki markup code, and other stuff. Just click on one of them and it will appear wherever your cursor is in the editing field. This should help out with page editing ⅞ (couldn't resist :).

WikiAdmin 16:18, 11 December 2006 (PST)

great addition, Tim. Next time I'll have no excuse for spelling Fariña as Farina. Bleakhaus 19:25, 11 December 2006 (PST)

Added Annotation by Page

Hey, I've started to add a different type of annotation that the Alphabetical Index. I like this method because it gives the reader all the references on the page, as he reads, in a non-spoilerish fashion. No idea if this will take off aside from my contributions, and also no idea how to integrate it with the Alphabetical Index, but these problems I leave to future Pynchonwiki contributors as well as my future self.

I also have not followed the naming guidelines on the main page, for the simple reason that I don't know how...! These pages can be renamed and moved by whoever knows how to do so.

Bleakhaus 08:51, 22 November 2006 (PST)

I would name the page-by-page pages eg: ATD 1-25, etc. Ultimately, all Pynchon's works will be in the Wiki, so it's important to establish this convention. I have moved the three pages you created to reflect this naming.
I changed the page number headers to a 2nd level from a 1st level, to reflect semantically their heirarchy on the page (they appeared at the same level as "Pages 1-25"; thus, for example, I changed
=Page 1=
I would suggest that eventually we have a link to the ToC for the page-by-page, as it will be a very long ToC!
Tim November 22, 2006
good call! I'll handle that ToC soon. Bleakhaus 12:26, 23 November 2006 (PST)

I think the page-by-page (can we now call that the PbP?) is a lot more fun to edit, since it follows the way I am reading the book. --Fblau 09:03, 25 November 2006 (PST)

PbP Annotations added to sidebar - 11/30/06

This should make things a bit easier, nav-wise. I set up a template that can be accessed by entering in the search box "Template:ATD PbP" - so that's where all the edits get made.

WikiAdmin 18:22, 30 November 2006 (PST)

What can the Pynchonwiki do better than full text search?

I note that's full text search of Pynchon's novels does exactly the same thing as one function of's previous guides: giving the page numbers where a given character or thing is mentioned. That said, I think we need to articulate what the guides and Pynchon wiki do in addition to justify all the human labor involved, and then communicate that to potential wiki contributors. (also, Amazon doesn't do this for AtD yet, but since it's available for all his other works, I assume it's just a matter of time). Thoughts? Bleakhaus 12:26, 23 November 2006 (PST)

Change of logo/cover image

Shouldn't we change the cover image/logo for Pynchon wiki (upper left corner) to the final version of the cover? And, for accuracy's sake, shouldn't we include the white border around the cover? Torerye 01:21, 24 November 2006 (PST)

agreed-- Tim will have to take care of that, though. Bleakhaus 14:17, 24 November 2006 (PST)

Tim sez:
This brings up the general branding of this site. I would like to have Wikis for all the works, and use the Category namespace to separate them. Having them all in this wiki means that a user can search in all the novels.

So, I'm thinking I just create a "logo" image that's general, for "Pynchon Wiki".

I'd surely love to hear anyone's thoughts on this so we can brainstorm the best decision. Email me directly at tim (at) hyperarts (dot com).

--WikiAdmin 15:00, 24 November 2006 (PST)

Missing caption?

Um, was the picture caption removed as a spoiler, or what? Bleakhaus 22:49, 27 November 2006 (PST)

No, I just took it off to free up the image, jettisoning signifiers. As I looked at it, I just thought it worked better if the reader just sort of recognizes it as that Chums of Chance bit without being too literal.
WikiAdmin 23:28, 27 November 2006 (PST)

The impending anarchist miracle

The following is copied from A. A.'s message on PYNCHON-L.

Jasper Fidget <jasper.fidget@[omitted]> wrote:

> [...]  I anticipate the wiki turning into a junkyard full of people's 
> half-baked opinions and
> Kinbote-esque commentary (i.e. worse than useless).

In reply to which, pynchonoid <pynchonoid@[omitted]> wrote:

> That's Pynchon-l you're describing, certainly.
> I think you're wrong about the potential for
>  So far, it is nothing like
> your description and is instead a useful resource that
> will grow more so as more people contribute useful
> information.

And in reply to the above, I say:

First of all, Kinbote's commentary isn't "worse than useless". His digressions on Zembla have blasted little to do with John Shade's Appalachia, but leaving aside the value of the Forward (which gives the reader their first brush with Shade and, in some respects, a more complete visual impression), the Commentary and Index provide a counterpart and complement to the 999 lines of the poem itself. The book in its entirety is an artifice, deceptive and illuminating; if produces anything like Pale Fire, its authors would have every right to be proud.

"Ha ha, only serious."

Second, the pynchonwiki has the potential to become something I wished Wikipedia could provide: a place to provide factual material of scholarly use, backed up with pointers to papers and books, plus the opportunity to generate new literary talk with kindred folks. You can't do that over at WP. Even applying the bread-and-butter methods of lit-crit one learns in the undergraduate years is a sin, or in the argot, Original Research. In WP territory, you can't discuss a new book, even with old methods, only report what other people have said about old books. This is appropriate for an encyclopedia, but it can't constitute the whole of discourse.

Human behavior implies some basic facts about wiki life. Foremost is the under-acknowledged issue that in any situation where the wiki grows by people contributing their free time, the majority of edits will be minor ones, affecting (and affected by) only their immediate environment. Lists can grow item by item, for example, much more easily than entire articles can be overhauled. Thus, even in cases where a page contains all the facts one needs, the organization will often be poor. Also, ensuring coordination among multiple pages can be difficult and tiresome to achieve.

These societal traits make wikis a good repository for things like lists of typos, catalogs of character names and so forth. In these cases, small edits can build a workable and useful whole by incremental additions. However, there is an unhappy flipside. Most of the really good articles on WP (say, those listed in "Featured Articles") are the work of one person or a small group, say a couple-three editors, who assemble a clear and thorough exposition of a topic which interests them. Remarkably often, such people can do a really terrific job. They push the article up to Featured status (I did this five times — all it takes is energy and care), where it can sit and bask in the glory. . . . And attract a stream of well-meaning editors who come along, adding their favorite tidbit of information, little drops of this or that which may well be completely accurate but which don't fit into the scheme painfully worked out by the original authors.

After this goes on for long enough, the original authors or others with a like-minded sense of dedication have to go through and clean up the cruft.

I saw several cycles of this happen with the article Calvin and Hobbes. Everybody has their own favorite Calvin and Hobbes strip, and damn if they don't want to talk about it! This sort of thing is a big reason why WP has "Featured Article Review", a mechanism for forcing cruft patrol and, if necessary, taking pages off the honor roll.

If pynchonwiki is to be a going concern, it'll need mechanisms for keeping track of good content. Somebody will also have to institute ground rules for keeping debate fair and dealing with the inevitable hotheads and trolls (trust me, no subject is too obscure to attract crackpottery). Otherwise, we're just prayin' for that anarchist miracle.

Pirate Prentice wrote:

> There's basically 3 things the wiki does at the moment: 1) straight up
> reference (what was the Chicago World's Fair and when did it happen?),
> 2) connections to other Pynchon novels ("single up all lines" also
> appears on these pages of GR and V., "entropy" was a major theme in
> GR, etc), and 3) interpretation.

I think that any work people do on #3 (which is what Wikipediphiles call "original research") should be credited to the people who do it, since it is after all value generated by labor. To an extent, #2 shades into #3, depending upon how much one has to squint to draw the connections. The many avatars of Pig Bodine are less subtle than the postage-stamp references in ATD, for example.

BlakeStacey 15:44, 29 November 2006 (PST)

What do we do about interpretation? As you say, the Pynchonwiki differs from Wikipedia in that there's room for people to add their own interpretations. Jasper on Pynchon-L warned that this could easily turn into a BS free-for-all, and maybe he's right. Who knows? This is one grand experiment! I foresee that someday, perhaps soon, we will need to agree on some hard and fast rules regarding opinions/interpretation (i.e. should users sign their opinions, do we keep interpretation in the discussion pages, etc), but for now, I for one say let's just sit back and see what the 125+ registered users we've got come up with. Bleakhaus 19:58, 29 November 2006 (PST)
I floated an idea on PYNCHON-L which seems reasonable, at first glance. What if we institute a rule like Wikipedia's "No original research" policy for the articles themselves, allow a free-for-all on the discussion side, and then host periodic debates on issues of interest? We pick a topic relating to ATD, people who want to throw lit-crit around write their positions, and after a week, the moderator (i.e., a screwball with scholarly pretensions and too much free time) writes up the debate's "greatest hits" as an article. Giving proper attribution to all participants, naturally. This way, we can cover whatever issues arise naturally in close-reading ATD, letting everyone who wants to rant do so, while making sure important ideas don't get lost. BlakeStacey 08:37, 30 November 2006 (PST)
Ande+++Not quite sure how to "discuss" here yet---but since I stirred the pot on the pynchon-l site, I will try to move my musings here. As always with Wikipedia and actually anything (see recent hacks of WTO, news stories about faked research at the university level, etc.) Reader Beware! It seems that when speculating, there is speculating language properly employed (wiggle words like "seems to me, mayhaps, IMHO--if you are partial to internet convention) that can signal departure from fact to opinion. But the "facts" are only so good too--there is nothing to stop me from presenting myself as a scholar of esoteric Sanskrit calligraphy and providing translation of the text of the seal, nefariously if I wish, to promote some pet close reading. On the other hand, part of the joy of reading,esp reading Pynchon, is the unexpected depth gained by digging just a bit-- I'm not a WWI naval buff--my experience being limited to loving __Riddle of the Sands__ and a quick read of __Dreadnought__, so my initial read of 'dazzle painting'(AtD 122) had more Star Trek NG-Romulan Ships appearing off the aft deck-type connotations, but I marked it, looked it up, found it to be fascinating (esp when you consider that the periscopes looking at the painted patterns were made of Iceland Spar), and found that the wiki was a great place to share my discovery--without feeling too shy about the "well duh, of course everyone knows that..." responses that one might subject oneself to in an open forum...
As to attribution, I started this discussion of speculation on the wiki on the P-List, because I found an off-hand comment I made in the course of (what I had assumed) was a less than serious discussion, suddenly "attributed" to me on the wiki--now, I understand that I can "edit" said attribution into wiki oblivion (or into a wiki war) but last vestiges of my Mother's WASPish upbringing cause me to hesitate to disturb the work of others...I could just retreat into politeness and not talk to strangers at all.
So, as to the issue of No. 3--Interpretation--I agree with A.A., No.2 will bleed into No. 3, attribution is essential--and such posts should include a signature--preferably not just the digital signature available if you dig in the wiki history. We may even want to create a system so that people can discreetly mark posts as 1, 2 or 3, if they forget to use speculative language. And in the meantime, I would ask that until we have a moderated discussion, where Ideas are tempered in the furnace of debate, we be careful about "attributing" passing thoughts as "original research." Ande Ande 10:49, 30 November 2006 (PST)
Quick hints about the mechanics of wiki-work: you can indent paragraphs by using colons, italicize text by using double apostrophes (''), bold text by using triple apostrophes ('''), sign your name by using four tildes (~~~~ for me gives BlakeStacey 10:10, 30 November 2006 (PST)) and make "wikilinks" to other pages by using double square brackets. [[Thomas Pynchon]], for example, gives Thomas Pynchon. Wikipedia has a "Cheatsheet" on these matters; all of those tricks should work the same here. Best wishes, BlakeStacey 10:10, 30 November 2006 (PST)

I think Ande's ideas are all good ones, and particularly like the idea of keeping separate the discussion and annotation sections.
Of course, with Pynchon, there's plenty to draw connections with, and I think it's worthwhile to bracket non-obvious connections with contingent language. Not only does this indicate their interprative nature, it also more fully allows the possiblity of other readings.Ahpsp 10:42, 30 November 2006 (PST)

Tim sez: I already laid out on the home page, under "Pynchon Wiki Help and Contributor Guidelines", how to handle discussion:

To open a discussion on an individual listing of the Alpha Index, see the page on Tait. Basically, give it a name that identifies the alpha listing (eg [[Subject Discussion|DISCUSSION]] where "Subject Discussion" would be, eg, "Tait Discussion" or whatever) and notice that the visible name will be "DISCUSSION" in full caps, so it stands out a bit.
You can initiate a discussion for any topic using the above syntax. Just make sure the discussion article you create has an unique, intuitive and reasonably brief name. Don't just create a new article called "Discussion" -- if one already exists, you'll just open that one for editing. And, as I've said elsewhere, just use the "List All Pages" sidebar link to see what current exists in the wiki.
Anybody is free to email me tim (at) hyperarts (dot com) to discuss.
I think through the group process we can get it right.
Regarding help, besides the Wikipedia Cheatsheet, you can use the Help link in the sidebar which has a page with lots of useful info. I need to create The Perfect Wiki Cheatsheet, but just haven't gotten the time what with all else that sort of exploding around me :)
WikiAdmin 10:56, 30 November 2006 (PST)
Tim, I think your system of Discussion is overkill. What if, and I believe this would commonly happen, someone has only a sentence or two to say about Tait? Or someone wants to respond to that in a sentence or two? We'd then be creating hundreds of Wiki pages with only a bit of content in them.
I advocate for the creation of separate discussion pages only if there's so much discussion on a certain entry that it's bogging down the Letter page. Bleakhaus 15:50, 30 November 2006 (PST)

Tim sez:

I think your approach is fine, basically the same principal as adding content to the Page by Page or Alpha guides, i.e., the drilldown. Avoid clutter at all costs!
I also think a general discussion page, such as this has become, should be archived (moved) every so often. This one's getting quite unwieldy.
WikiAdmin 18:19, 30 November 2006 (PST)

Could I suggest a different approach? I think the spoiler-free page annotations pages are a fantastic resource for somebody reading the book for the first time. The letters pages provide a good overview and quick reference. But I suspect that in the long run, both will prove too limiting for people who want to delve deeper into individual topics. I think it would be useful to expand most entries into their own articles, especially characters, places, concepts. These pages would contain spoilers as well as discussion--one subsection could be devoted to opinions and debate. That way, we wouldn't need an additional system of DISCUSSION pages, which would clutter up the automatically generated category indices.

--Jurgen 12:01, 18 February 2007 (PST)

Welcome, Jurgen. You are obviously welcome to create entries on any topic, as I see you've started to do on the Chums. I may suggest that spoilers be clearly marked for entries linking off the Spoiler Free page, but otherwise, I look forward to your contributions!
As for discussion, there has been far less debate than anyone foresaw or warned of. In the rare instances when discussion has gotten too long, it's been moved to the Discussion tabs and that's worked out fine so far. See Page 153. Discussion could also take place on article pages, as you suggest, but my opinion is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Bleakhaus 13:59, 18 February 2007 (PST)


A lot of people are talking about whether we should suggest signing posts, especially those we'd consider opinion or speculation. I actually think this is a good idea, but obviously it will be up to each contributor whether he chooses to or not.Bleakhaus 15:52, 30 November 2006 (PST)

Copyright policy?

The Pynchon Wiki doesn't appear to have any copyright notices or policies set out. Should we agree to release our contributions under the GFDL 1.2, like Wikipedia, a Creative Commons license or some such? BlakeStacey 16:59, 2 December 2006 (PST)

Sounds good to me-- CC may be the way to go. Bleakhaus 17:55, 2 December 2006 (PST)
My personal choice would be for the CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5, or perhaps the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike version. BlakeStacey 20:04, 3 December 2006 (PST)

Wiki Tip: Contributors would rather fill in blanks than add new entries.

Therefore, it is preferable to add unknown references marked with a question mark than to omit them entirely. Bleakhaus 17:57, 3 December 2006 (PST)


As we gradually increase the sophistication of our pages, a system of speedily generating footnotes (or other citation mechanisms) will become important. Right now, we seem to be handling everything with direct external hyperlinks, which is fine for the moment, but pretty soon, we'll be wanting to give footnotes or Harvard references to journal articles and specific pages of books. (Yes, you know, all that Pynchon-relevant material which is not yet online?) Adopting the Cite.php extension to MediaWiki might be a very good idea. See, oh, Transhumanism for an example using this referencing style to its fullest. BlakeStacey 20:12, 3 December 2006 (PST)

again, I whole-heartedly agree. Bleakhaus 21:43, 3 December 2006 (PST)
Tim sez: I have installed Cite.php. It's fairly easy to use and, as above, here's the Cite.php page with instructions. Basically, after an entry you want to cite, put the references between these two tags: <ref></ref>, and at the bottom, where you want the references to be listed, put this tag: <references/>. Very cool, and thanks for the suggestion.
WikiAdmin 05:53, 5 December 2006 (PST)
You're welcome! I have used these footnotes on the page Thomas Pynchon to set an example. BlakeStacey 16:52, 5 December 2006 (PST)

Tibetan seal and Shambhala

Why does Pynchon use the seal meaning "Tibetan Government Chamber of Commerce?" One reason may be that Shambhala, oft mentioned in the novel, is supposed to be a mystical (or mythical) city in Tibet. Madam Blavatski, also a presence in the novel, claimed to have been in touch with Shambhala. Twentieth-century explorers were not able to find evidence of the city. Pynchon's use of the seal seems less than serious. Godshawl 13:37, 26 December 2006 (PST)

Errata page 1049, line 21

Superfluous quotation mark before Roswell.

Godshawl 13:06, 14 January 2007 (PST)

List of Characters?

Greetings. Maybe I haven't explored the wiki thoroughly enough yet, but is there a master list of characters anywhere? Should we start one? It would contain spoilers, obviously. We could sort them into a category:characters that would generate its own index. I feel that a list with brief paragraphs about each major and minor character could be quite useful.

--Jurgen 11:21, 18 February 2007 (PST)

Anyone care to work on *V*?

I'm very interested in extending this site to include V, which I still consider to be Pynchon's best work to date.

Any interest?

Aemathisphd 11:58, 2 May 2007 (PDT)

Man, I thought I was the only one considering V. as Pynchons best novel (careful, not work!) - but I admit I have not read M&D yet...
I'm in, but I will not be able to devote lots of time before mid-June. But if Tim would build the skeleton and move here the relevant material from, things can start rolling... Ctsats 14:47, 2 May 2007 (PDT)

The wiki for V. is ready. Phew! WikiAdmin 00:16, 17 May 2007 (PDT)

Reviews and links in languages other than English

Wouldn't it be useful the reorganise the External Links sections according to language? There are several French, Dutch, and a lot of German reviews.

Just wondering. Stencil

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