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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> ATD 1040-1062 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Against the Day

ATD 1040-1062

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


Page 1040

the Pacific Electric Building and its new Coles P.E. Buffet
Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet opened in 1908 on the ground floor of the fabled Pacific Electric Building. It is one of Los Angeles's oldest restaurants and claims (in contest with Philippe's, another restaurant in the neighborhood dating back to 1908) to have been the originator of the French dip sandwich. Philippe's and the French dip sandwich were both recently featured in the outstanding PBS documentary Sandwiches That You Will Like.

Page 1041

living in Lincolnwood
Perhaps a bilocation. During Prohibition, the area was called Tessville. It was notorious for speakeasies that were outside the jurisdiction of Chicago police. The town cleaned up its act and was renamed Lincolnwood in 1936. Only at that time did it become a place that someone might retire to.


Dr. Ghloix
He was also the alienist of the Vormance expedition (page 132).

shadow-factories
Movie studios.

Thetis Pomidor
Thetis the Silver-Footed is a Nereid (sea nymph) in Greek mythology. She is the mother of Achilles, who seeks to prevent his death by dipping him in the water of the river Styx (holding him by the famously vulnerable heel), by trying to prevent him from joining the war at Troy, and by persuading him not to try to avenge Patroclus. In the end she has made for him the magnificent shield he carries in his duel with Hector.

Pomidor is the Polish word for "tomato" (possibly other languages too). (A "tomato" = a "hottie" in mid 20th century slang).

Page 1042

Erno Rapée
1891-1945, Hungarian-born composer for American movies. He published a book of "photoplay music" for the silents.

Shalimar
Excessively evocative name for a detective's moll; the Wikipedia disambiguation page leads to many of the meanings.

Mezzanine Perkins
Her given name suggests a physical attribute also called "balcony," while her surname makes a nice fit with another desirable quality, "perkiness."

Chester LeStreet
Chester le Street is a town in the north east of England. Home of Durham County Cricket club, amongst other things.

TRP almost certainly picked up on the name during research for 'Mason & Dixon'. Dixon was a native of County Durham, which is home to a number of odd place names (e.g. Pity Me, No Place). Chester-le-Street is roughly 15 miles south of Newcastle upon Tyne.

I imagine TRP keeping long lists of potential character names from odd terminology which he runs across in his research...

Vertex Club
The vertex is the intersection of two lines of an angle, the zero point on a graph/grid. Recalls the V Note in V..

Balcony
A platform that protrudes outward from the home.

Miss Jardine Maraca
Allusion to Beach Boys guitarist Al Jardine, who bears a reasonably common surname? Rude teenagers in the 1960s sometimes used the word "maracas" when they didn't want to come right out and refer to a girl's bazongas.

Page 1043

the days just before the earthquake
The quake of June 29, 1925, destroyed the center of Santa Barbara and occasioned rebuilding to a "Mission-style" plan.

chifferobe
From chiffonier + wardrobe, a combination chest of drawers and wardrobe for hanging clothes. Pronounced "SHIF-uh-rohb." Also chifforobe, chiffrobe, or chiffarobe.

The disposal of an old chifferobe is a plot point in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

hop
Marijuana.

Page 1044

smoked a Fatima
Sometime in the mid-20th century, this American cigarette brand sponsored a radio program starring Basil Rathbone.

Possibly not relevant, but given the marijuana reference, the choice of this particular cigarette brand also echoes the phrase "smoke a fatty", i.e. a big joint of marijuana.

Page 1045

glass mattes
Scenes painted on glass could be filmed along with the action, so that large or intricate backgrounds did not have to be built to full scale.

Page 1046

Olga Nethersole
British actress and producer, 1863-1941; had successful tours in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Mrs. Fiske
American actress Minnie Maddern Fiske, 1865-1932; a leading figure on the stage; made movies of two of her theatrical productions.

Page 1047

Li'l Jailbirds
Some points in common with the Little Tough Guys, Dead End Kids, East Side Kids and other movie series; see the Wikipedia entry.

one-reel comedies
A reel of film ran off in something over 12 minutes.

orthochromatic film
Film with low sensitivity to red light. The human face reflects a lot of red light, which made little impression on the film, so that faces tended to look dark in the projected image. Adaptations in the studio included green makeup to bring the face into highlight.

it's a silent movie
This is an anachronism. It's about 1925 here (if "just before the earthquake" on page 1043 still holds for this passage), talkies don't come around until 1927 (The Jazz Singer), and until then, all films (with a few experimental exceptions), "silent" would not have been necessary to mention. Later, "silent film" comes in as a retronym, like "pocket watch" after the introduction of wrist watches, and "analog watch" after the introduction of digital watches.

birch beer
Carbonated soft drink made with birch bark or oil, typically popular in northeastern U.S. and Newfoundland.

stuffed peppers they liked to call "mangoes"
This term for bell peppers occurs in the Midwest and especially southern Ohio.

rat cheese
Informal for cheddar.

Page 1048

a P.E. stop
"P.E." stands for "Pacific Electric." The Pacific Electric Railway (AAR reporting mark is PE), also known as the Red Car system, was a mass transit system in Southern California using streetcars, light rail and buses. At its greatest extent, around 1925, the system connected cities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, and to Riverside County and San Bernardino County in the Inland Empire. Wikipedia

runs through the time between the picture was taken and now in a matter of seconds
The reason this may sound plausible is that analog computers were used in just this way to generate artillery firing tables. But in the artillery case, the parameters of motion were given; photographic film does not record this information.

Page 1049

Intolerance
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916) was D.W. Griffith's follow-up to Birth of a Nation. Intolerance and its effects are examined in four historical eras. In ancient Babylon, a mountain girl is caught up in the religious rivalry that leads to the city's downfall. In Judea, the hypocritical Pharisees condemn Jesus Christ. In 1572 Paris, unaware of the impending St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, two young Huguenots prepare for marriage. Finally, in modern America, social reformers destroy the lives of a young woman and her beloved. The sets were reportedly spectacular, and on a huge scale.

the Times bombing
The Bombing of the Los Angles Times, October 1, 1910.

the constant term in the primitive, which differentiation has taken to zero
Last part first: differentiation is the operation of finding the rate of change of a quantity; a constant doesn't change, so its differentiation yields a result of zero. The "primitive" is the function that was differentiated; if it contained a constant term, that has vanished and must be restored. Reconstruction of the primitive therefore involves reversing the differentiation (finding the "indefinite integral") and setting the correct value of the constant term. By guesswork in this instance. No, it doesn't work, but remember that this is alchemy we're talking about.

Or 'Pataphysics.

Consider a pun on "primitive" in Pynchon's worldview...the primitive being a good thing, now vanished.

Page 1050

his official . . . life . . . a completely different life
The reconstruction of the "primitive" (page 1049) entails fixing a value for the constant term. The operator can choose the "official" value and get Lew's "supposed-to-be" life as output, or can choose a different value and track some unofficial life. The machine can't tell the difference.

Louis Le Prince
1842-90. Inventor in 1888 of the "chronophotographe" process. Widely acknowledged to be first to photograph motion. He vanished from a train.

Page 1051

mazuma
Slang; Yiddish derived from Hebrew: money.

Page 1052

a company-issued Bulldog
A Bulldog is a small, "snubbie" revolver, with a very high power-to-weight ratio, perfect for carrying in the pocket as a concealed weapon or, in Deuce's case, in a shoulder holster. First referred to in the "Beavers of the Brain" song, p. 183

Page 1053

'em mick bastards bombed the Times
James and Joseph McNamara ultimately pleaded guilty to the bombing (see page 1049 and page 1058).

dago dynamiters
Deuce must have acquired this bit of alliterative bigotry somewhere and randomly dropped it into his rant.

Page 1054

the Universal Dream Casino
a "dream casino" has been used by some writers to describe the 'ideal' gambling place as in the phrase, "Bugsy Siegel's dream casino" in Vegas. A 'dream casino'--real betting, it seems--company for women exists. From the context, and novel's themes, I suggest that this phrase means all of Lake's possible, fantasizable fates, played out as 'chance'.

Chinese fourths
The interval of a fourth in music consists of 2 whole-tones plus one half-tone. The following are all fourths: from do to fa, re to sol, mi to la; fa to ti is a tritone. In the context here, the 2 notes in the interval are being played simultaneously. In the music of the Western world (North America, Europe, and Australia), if one plays parallel fourths (e.g., do-fa to re-sol, to mi-la), it sounds like Chinese music. Authentic Chinese music is played using an Eastern scale which is different from the Western scale people in the West are used to, which is why Chinese music might sound out of tune ("jangling") to someone from the West.

Page 1055

Page 1056

it's no longer possible to go back the way they came
A situation encountered before in AtD, for example Kit's predicament at the doubling of Stupendica.

Page 1057

Hamburger's
Hamburger's opened in August, 1908, at the corner of Broadway, 8th, and Hill Streets. It was, at the time, "the biggest department store in town."

Page 1058

it wasn't Haymarket . . . It wasn't Ludlow. It wasn't the Palmer raids
Haymarket bombing; Colorado coal war; Justice Department campaign against American leftists under Woodrow Wilson's attorney general Alexander M. Palmer.

Virgil Maraca
For Virgil, see page 825.

...when the land was free, before it got hijacked by capitalist Christer Republicans for their long term evil purposes....
and once again (say it with me) "No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred."


Gray Otis . . . the McNamaras . . . Brother Darrow
the McNamaras were accused of dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building on October 1, 1910, resulting in the death of 21 persons. The crime was one of a nation-wide series intended to prevent the use of non-union materials and non-union labor. The defendants were strongly supported by the American Federation of Labor. Later the accused pleaded guilty, and James B. McNamara was sentenced to life imprisonment and John McNamara to imprisonment for 15 years. The pro-McNamara forces claimed that escaping gas, not a bomb, had destroyed the Times building. More extremist labor sympathizers charged that Otis himself had arranged the explosion.

Harrison Gray Otis (1837-1917) was an American newspaper publisher who directed the Los Angeles Times from 1886 until after World War I, which he edited with an iron hand, becoming one of the most powerful figures in southern California. He made his newspaper a voice of Republican interests, and he opposed labor unions.

The McNamara brothers trial, which ended just as it began with confessions of guilt by the McNamaras, set the cause of organized labor on the West Coast back by decades. More...

It also nearly ruined the career of Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), one of America's leading criminal defense lawyers, who represented the McNamaras in the trial. Bert Franklin, on Darrow's payroll, was caught bribing two of the jurors in the McNamara trial. He plead ed guilty to jury tampering and he testified that Darrow had known and approved of the bribery efforts.

Darrow was arrested and put on trial. When organized labor turned its back on Darrow's request for financial assistance, Darrow had to pay all the legal costs of the 13-week trial out of his own pocket. Darrow denied the charges, and on August 14 and 15, 1912, gave an impassioned closing speech to the jurors, in which he claimed that:

"I am not on trial for having sought to bribe a man named Lockwood. I am on trial because I have been a lover of the poor, a friend of the oppressed, because I have stood by Labor for all these years."

On August 15, 1912, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating for less than an hour. More about Darrow's trial...

Page 1059

paradiddle
In this sense perhaps more often "taradiddle." Fiddle, finagle, wriggle. In strict pedantic usage "paradiddle" is a kind of quadruple stroke on the snare drum. Nothing pedantic about it, LeStreet is the drummer in the house band at the Vertex Club and a paradiddle is a 4-beat exercise pattern on the snare drum. E.g., R-R-L-R-L-L-R-L or R-L-R-R-L-R-L-L or etc. (there are lots of paradiddles). The purpose is to play them fast enough so that it sounds like a roll. Different patterns produce rolls that sound distinct from each other, very important to a jazz drummer.

a barnstormer's Curtis JN
An army surplus airplane from the World War, bought and flown by an itinerant pilot in aerobatic exhibitions. Nicknamed "Jenny," the plane was pictured on a 1918 airmail stamp; some sheets had the center image printed upside down: the "Jenny Invert."

Page 1060

constant-term recalibration, or C.T.R.
See annotation to page 1050.

spagyrist
Alchemist, especially one seeking cures. Follower of Paracelsus.

Doddling
(1) Frequent misspelling of "dawdling." (2) Easy duty for an English bus conductor (e.g., issuing tickets but not supervising operations). (3) Sexual intercourse.

Tree of Diana
Branching possibilities, alternate histories branching out from any given moment.

...one compassionate time-machine story, time travel in the name of love...
Two come to mind: Robert Heinlein: The Door Into Summer and Jack Finney: Time and Again. In both a protagonist succcessfully chases an impossible love through time.

And don't forget the special meaning of "compassionate" in AtD, "the Compassionate" = the Chums of Chance.

A possibility: "The Compassionate" = "The Kindly Ones" = the Erinyes, or Furies, in Greek myth ? = The Chums of Chance.

Now, as if the terrible flood of time ...
This beautiful paragraph is reminiscent of the famous time travel sequence in George Pal's film The Time Machine. But here, instead of history, wars, etc. Lew sees his love. It is as if Pynchon is saying "This is how it should be done."

Page 1061

mathematical mists
Recalls Kit's dream on P.566, of equations permitting a view into possible worlds. Also recalls Julian Barbour's work on probablity mists hovering over possible time capsules. Please see his book, The End of Time for more details.

Béthenod-Latour alternator
A high-frequency alternator, capable of producing continuous waves, important in the early development of wireless telegraphy and radio.

Page 1062

The material on Merle and Roswell in this chapter (pg. 1040-1062) completes the thread begun by the chapter (pg. 447-459) where Merle first meets meets Roswell. The two chapters are like a pair of bookends.

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

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