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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> ATD 149-170 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Against the Day

ATD 149-170

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


Page 149

meteorite
Cf Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg.

the far-fallen object
That makes one think of Milton's Lucifer, doesn't it? But going back a few pages, "Flames were always your destiny, my children" (p. 145). And if the object doesn't bring light to the great city, it does bring fire. Lucifer is not too strong a connection, but still in the background.

The Yiddish word farfallen means both "fallen" and "bygone."

The alien visitors disguised as a meterorite is reminiscent of the arrival of Martians in Grovers Mill, NJ in Orson Wells adaptation of War of the Worlds.

Page 150

the entangled carriages, wagons, and streetcars ... hitched to animals months dead and yet unremoved
An anticipation of the scenes of destruction following the U.S. federal government's and FEMA's botched relief efforts at the onset and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the southeastern United States in August and September 2005.

also a likely visual reference to the popular belief that the Christian Rapture will involve abandoned vehicles jamming the highways as motorists ascend skyward.

Another possibility would be a reference to the 1917 Halifax Explosion, in which the French freighter SS Mont-Blanc accidentally exploded in Halifax harbor. The next day saw a terrible blizzard hit the city, bringing the total death toll from the event up to around 2,000.

Tammanoid creatures, able to deliver votes
As in "Tammany Hall", the often corrupt political machine that played a role in New York City politics for nearly two centuries. Wikipedia entry.

a stationary star, let alone one of the falling sort
Gravity's Rainbow, p. 760: "But it was not a star, it was falling, a bright angel of death." The whole passage seems strongly connected to GR. Could also be a reference to Lucifer, who is referred to as the falling star.
And behind both AtD and GR, there are strong overtones from the Book of Revelation:

9:1 -The fifth angel blew his trumpet. I saw a star, that had fallen down from Heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the fathomless pit.
9:2 - Then he opened the pit and smoke like the smoke of a vast furnace rose out of it, so that the light of the sun and the air itself grew dark from the smoke of the pit.

White Wings
For many years (1880s or 1890s through 1950s?) the most visible and dependable of New York City's public services: the street sweepers. And of course, just a wee bit of angelic resonance.

Page 151

the Eskimo view
But cf page 142, where the Eskimos are "eager" to help.

...at least one consultation with somebody - that "there would always be time..."
once more Gravity's Rainbow, p.760: "There is time, if you need the comfort, to touch the person next to you...".

Panic fear
Note the capital letter; this is not blind, uncontrolled fear in general but specifically fear associated with the great nature-god Pan.

Panic fear... affecting pose
Although there are hints in the previous pages, here is where the parallels with 9/11 become too clear to ignore. Pynchon's presenting 9/11 as a story of a meteor dug from the ice will no doubt fill pages of analysis soon. To start, though, Pynchon critiques post-9/11 opportunism ("many in the aftermath did profit briefly by... affecting that pose"). Many say 'opportunism' has attended many, many disasters. For a full, spoiler-filled discussion, see Against the Day and September 11

Deep downtown, where a narrow waterway from long ago still ran up into the city...
Ok, this is fiction but we've all convinced ourselves we're talking about New York. Pynchon could have invented this waterway but that's not his style. So where is this waterway in downtown NY?

Several waterways existed in lower Manhattan that were later filled in or paved over. A map from 1874 --Kirkm 12:14, 20 February 2007 (PST)

The most prominent, which makes sense of the geography ("deep downtown")but not the time, would be Canal Street; the eponymous canal had been filled in long before the time of this action.

a cargo ship... in whose hold... kept in restraints... stirred a Figure with supernatural powers
Also reminiscent of King Kong, where the chained ape is transported by ship to New York. King Kong figures prominently in the film-happy Gravity's Rainbow.

which no one in its as-yet-unwritten history had ever known how to stop
Christian religions teach that the work of the Devil can be stopped; on the other hand, the Devil's history is anything but unwritten (see Genesis, Paradise Lost, Neil Gaiman, etc.). Keep searching.

Page 152

with only dwindling moments of normal history remaining
Do we infer that history, somehow plotted in advance, is about to go off its rails? AtD refers several times to the idea of an already settled history being disrupted by some action. Drave on p. 41, for example: "Most people have a wheel riding up on a wire, or some rails in the street, some kind of guide or groove, to keep them moving in the direction of their destiny. But you keep bouncing free." And Lew's summary: "Going off my trolley." Also on p. 33: Scarsdale Vibe on the essence of modern history.

Tenderloin toughs
The red-light district of Manhattan at the time, in Midtown Manhattan from 23rd Street to 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue.

Fire and blood were about to roll like fate upon the complacent multitudes
cf. Genesis 19:24: "and then the LORD rained down fire and brimstone from the skies on Sodom and Gomorrah."

Well, in its own terms Genesis is describing a punishment. It would be a distortion to say the "complacent multitudes" are being punished. Scarred, killed, robbed, yes, but not punished.

beautiful patterns
Cf. "picturesque patterns," p. 81, as well as Igor Padzhitnoff's Tetris-like bombardments on p. 123.

Page 153

a chorale of pain
If enough people are suffering together, they become a choir; see annotations to page 19 and page 116.

a three dimensional image in full color, not exactly of Christ but with the same beard, robes, ability to emit light
Note that the unnamed enemy allegedly said, "The man-shaped light shall not deliver you" back on page 145. On whether this may or may not also allude to Osama bin Laden, see the 149-170 Talk Page.

Or Christ himself "doubly refracted" into the anti-Christ.S-Fremin 08:19, 20 January 2007 (PST)
Also recalls, once again, the last page of Gravity's Rainbow, with its "closeup of the face, a face we all know".

Projecting a three dimensional image: most projections are two dimensional, like a movie. This is holographic projection. Holography was invented in 1947, so this is either an anachronism or a slip into science fiction or just fiction.

Since Iceland spar is used to make holograms, I would argue that within the "reality" of the text, there is no reason the Figure from the ice could not project a hologram image.

If not Christ then possibly the 12th Imam, the Mahdi which ties in with the Doosra later. Incidentally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad concluded his 17 September 2005 address to the United Nations General Assembly with discussion of the Mahdi and a prayer for his appearance.

Scene also, with mass hysteria, noise, and especially this hologram image recall climax of classic film, Quatermass and the Pit Wikipedia

Our Protector...who remained, guardedly, unnamed
unnamable--ineffable--like the atomic bomb on p.78 (Cf. Webb, Merle and the "Anti-Stone")

The Godhead, the highest God, is the unnameable, the ineffable.

The word "guardedly," however, can take on two meanings here.

First, it can refer to the proscription in many religions of saying the name of God, which is beyond human language anyhow, but is thought of as the ultimate word of power, hence the Commandment:

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain

Also consider the Jewish use of the Tetragrammaton refered to as "The Name" often pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah, but in fact no one knows the true pronunciation.

Second "guardedly" in a protective or spineless sense: they don't know which devine or demonic power they're dealing with. Even the Archbishop seems unsure who the Figure is and everyone is hedging their bets so that once they learn the name of this god (the Figure) they can then claim to have known it all along as a way to propitiate it. In so doing they may save their hides and cities, but from a Judeo-Christian perspective they have violated the commandment of having no gods before the God of the Covenant. They have already violated the commandment(s) regarding the making of graven images or likenesses, or the bowing down to and serving such likeness (like the golden calf). Bottom line: they're selling their souls to save their skins.


recent incorporation
1898. New York City is a special case. The city consists of the entire area of five counties. These counties retain a small amount of governance as boroughs. Under the state legislation, commonly called Consolidation, that allowed the city (as the City of Greater New York) to annex huge areas beyond its original borders (including smaller cities, towns and villages) in 1898, the State of New York retains certain powers over the city. At the time of Consolidation, Queens County was split between the western towns, which voted to join the city, and those that did not. The next year (1899), the eastern towns of Queens County separated to become Nassau County. Wikipedia entry

So the city . . . face of their violator
It's important that this paragraph describes the great city before the Figure devastated it.

Pages 154-155

weeping widow...cruelest bitch of a city
Personifications of the city, as in Gravity's Rainbow (p.4: "last crystallizations of all the city has denied, threatened, lied to its children"). What is "he" and "she" referring to in the following paragraph?

Hellfire
once more fire and brimstone.

the Destroyer
Allusion to the Hindu god Shiva?

I AM THE WAY INTO THE DOLEFUL CITY
From the description of the gate to hell in Canto III in The Divine Comedy Volume I: Inferno by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). Pynchon quotes from the modern translation by Mark Musa:

"I AM THE WAY INTO THE DOLEFUL CITY,
I AM THE WAY INTO ETERNAL GRIEF,
I AM THE WAY TO A FORSAKEN RACE.
JUSTICE IT WAS THAT MOVED MY GREAT CREATOR;
DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE CREATED ME,
AND HIGHEST WISDOM JOINED WITH PRIMAL LOVE.
BEFORE ME NOTHING BUT ETERNAL THINGS
WERE MADE, AND I SHALL LAST ETERNALLY.
ABANDON EVERY HOPE, ALL YOU WHO ENTER."

Note that Pynchon echoes the word "race" on the previous page: "an embittered and amnesiac race".

The "votive shrine . . . Downtown" may be intended to evoke the shrine at the footprints at Ground Zero, "votive" here invoking the twin beams of light that took the place of the WTC towers in the months following 9-11, though it should be noted that the actual description invokes the basement cavities of the the towers' foot-prints much more accurately.


From the Journals of Mr. Fleetwood Vibe...
The short narrative spanning pp.138-155 bears some of the hallmarks characteristic of the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft: (1) a narrator (Fleetwood) who relates a series of horrible, cosmic events in the form of a memoir or journal entry; (2) a slumbering entity, or "visitor" (p149), mistaken for a more mundane object (meteorite, in this case), and; (3) the incapacity of humans to anticipate or respond to the foreignness of this cosmic vistior and its actions. Given that this horrible thing was retrieved from the Arctic, it is reminiscent of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" (though, Antarctic in setting; 1931; Wikisource text of the novella) and, given the meteor-like form of this visitor, "The Colour out of Space" (1927; Wikisource text of the story). The ensuing chaos that overtakes the city is very similar to Lovecraft's 'prose poem' "Nyarthathotep." (1920; Wikisource text)

Also, the beginning of Hunter's escape, when he gets "lost" and the streets "made no sense anymore" recalls the Lovecraft story, "The Music of Erich Zann". It is also similar to Winston Smith's early wanderings in 1984.

In addition, the whole passage probably makes reference to several 1950s Sci-Fi movies, most importantly "The Thing from Another World" (1951) by Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby (remade as "The Thing" by John Carpenter in 1982) in which scientists discover an alien and lethal lifeform under the ice of the arctic. The idea of the alien lifeform falling to earth and being mistaken for a meteorite at first is prominent in Jack Arnold's "It Came from Outer Space" (1954), although the aliens in that case are benevolent rather than dangerous.

Hunter Penhallow's escape might be read as a happy ending getaway inversion of the claustrophobic opening sequence of Gravity's Rainbow, where nobody gets saved; "in this world brought low" echoes "the Light that hath brought the Towers low" on the final page of Gravity's Rainbow..."Light" may prefigure Against the Day's treatment of that subject, too.

cf also "The Museum at night...unlighted and towering", p.150

The disorientation that Hunter experiences (city streets skewing, finding a mysterious group of people) echoes Lew Basnight's encounter with Drave's group (p39), and the vision on the opening pages of Gravity's Rainbow.

In regards to Hunter's escape echoing Lew Basnight's "Chicago" sequence: It seems as if Hunter is also able to step to the side of the day? Greenlantern 13:35, 20 February 2007 (PST)
The connection of Hunter's "meeting" and Lew's encounter with Drave seems valid and useful. As to Hunter's having a power of invisibility, that's less well substantiated. I suggest instead that the refugees (throughout history refugees have known to keep their coats and hats on) have a way of fleeing into time. "The longer they traveled, the more 'futuristic' would the scenery grow." It's futuristic because it exists in the future!

I agree that the two scenes are linked. There is another link, which is the distortion of space that has been mentioned already several times in AtD, in contexts of map lines or electromagnetic fields that become distorted so that parallel lines are no longer that.

Page 156

clouded and windless late-November day
From 1898 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1975, the Harvard-Yale football game—followed by persons in one province of the United States—was played in the last half of every November.
The timing—a matter of months from Tesla's storm to now—suggests that the game is that of 1899, which was played on November 18 at Cambridge. A Cornell man might relish the fact that the outcome was a 0-0 tie.

Taft Hotel
The Taft in New Haven opened in 1912; it isn't clear whether there might have been an earlier property of that name. The Taft in New York City opened in 1926. So placing a Taft Hotel in New Haven in 1899 is another anachronism (which appear often and seem to serve some purpose). A Google search turns up the suggestion (on an ephemeral eBay page) that there may have been a Taft's Hotel in West Cambridge in the mid-19th century too.

Not so hidden Ohio president: Wm H. Taft, of Cincinnati was president in 1912, a Yale grad, Skull&Bones member.

Irish pennants
Untidy ends of thread or string.

rival school hues
Yale: blue and white. Harvard: crimson white, and black.

"Mr. Rinehart"
A Harvard rallying cry, supposedly dating to 1900. The original Rinehart obtained his law degree from Harvard in 1903. In 1900 Mr. Rinehart occupied a high room in Gray's Hall at Harvard. It was easier for his friends to call to him from the ground than to climb three flights of stairs when they wanted him to join them. They would stand at the corner of Gray's and shout, "Oh, Rinehart." Many another student was called in the same way, and no particular attention was paid. But one sweltering night, when students were grinding for final examinations, one of them heard the familiar "Oh, Rinehart" from below and reacted instantly. He tossed aside his book and echoed the cry into the Yard. Within a minute, the enclosure resounded with the phrase from side to side and end to end. Something about the sound and accent of the name appealed to the students and from then until the end of the session the cry was heard nightly throughout the Yard. source

In later years, the origin story for the tradition changed: Rinehart became a lonely freshman who shouted his own name to see what it would sound like to be popular. He was discovered shouting his own name and the cry of "Rinehart" was used to make fun of him. The tradition continued until after World War II, when it faded from memory. Contemporary students apparently aren't familiar with the story or tradition. Language Log

Tibetan prayer wheel principle
Previously mentioned on page 130, where the principle was used to transport oneself to the tropical locale of the ¡Cuidado, Cabrón! hot sauce label.

Page 157

"crimson" is cognate with "worm"
Largely true. The American Heritage Dictionary gives the etymology for worm as "Middle English, from Old English wurm, variant of wyrm." The root wyrm in turn derives from the Indo-European base wer-2, meaning to turn or bend. (Words descended from wer-2 include stalwart, weird, vertebra, wrath, wrong, wrestle, briar and rhapsody.) The modern word crimson derives from Middle English cremesin, which (via one of several alternative pathways) comes from Arabic qirmizy, a word based on qirmiz, the kermes insect. This insect, which lives on the Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), was an early source for red dye but fell out of favor after the introduction of cochineal. The Arabic name for this insect probably stems from the Sanskrit kṛmi-ja-, referring to a red dye produced from worms. The -ja is from an Indo-European root *gene-, meaning "to produce" (whence, ultimately, our word "gene" and the -gen in chemical element names). The other component, kṛmi-, means "worm", and takes us back to Indo-European wer-2.

"no professional football"
NFL founded 1902. cite

grease runs
Deliveries of graft payments.

the Tombs
A prison in New York City. History of the Tombs

dime novel
Adoption of poor but plucky boy by industrialist in need of an heir sounds like a plot by Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832 or 1834-99). A Wikipedia entry gives one plot summary that serves for quite a few of Alger's 135 dime novels.

crockful of cucumbers
Male children? (Cucumber is slang for penis.)
Obviously, yes, but not because they have penises. You put cucumbers in a crock to pickle them; Vibe's sons have all the energy and initiative of vegetables soaking up brine.

Page 158

Willard Gibbs
Cf page 29. J. Willard Gibbs (1839-1903), an American mathematical physicist.

it was desire
"Desire" is a word of power in AtD. We saw it in Harald the Ruthless, p. 117, and will see it again.

lust in idleness
"Love-in-idleness" is a traditional name for the pansy.

Hamiltonian
Hamilton Quaternion (Cf page 130) disciples.

In classical mechanics, Hamiltonian is a function used to describe a dynamical system (as a pendulum or a particle in motion) in terms of generalized coordinates and momenta. It is equal to the total energy of the system when time is not explicitly part of the function. It is named after the Irish mathematician Sir William R. Hamilton (1805-1865). (Hamilton.)

Page 159

Walter Camp
Yale University athlete (1859-1925) who helped create the game of American football.

Witherspoon Street
Runs to the north, away from the main gate of the Princeton campus. See also DISCUSSION.

Rooseveltian strenuosity
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) advised Americans to live "the strenuous life"—and provided an example.
He suffered from asthma as a boy and was considered a poor risk to grow up at all. Through vigorous exercise and outdoor living he became strong and, more often than not, healthy. He was elected vice-president after service in the Spanish-American War, succeeding to the presidency (1901-9) when William McKinley was assassinated.
In a speech to the Hamilton Club of Chicago in 1899, he said:

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.
("The Strenuous Life," collected in his book of the same name, 1900.)

'Fax's brother Cragmont
There is a Cragmont area in Berkeley, Calif., and a Cragmont assembly ground (church campground) in Black Mountain, N.C. Doesn't seem to be a New York suburb, though.

across the perilous æther
Repeating the phrase from p. 99 (see annotations). Here æther means "air" or "empty space."

an expedition heading for Africa
At the time of the Vormance expedition, Fleetwood has already been to Africa, so this episode precedes Vormance.

meat lozenges
Lightweight for hikers. "Brand's meat lozenges, which are about the size of a four-penny piece and a quarter of an inch thick" cite

Seven Sisters
Seven women's colleges at the time. Wikipedia

Page 160

Dittany
(1) White dittany, Dictamnus albus var. dasycarpus, with reputed medicinal properties; (2) common dittany, Maryland dittany or stone mint, Cunila origanoides; or (3) dittany of Crete, Origanum dictamnus L., a species of oregano said to have aphrodisiac qualities. Herb (2) is native to North America, but the smart money's on (3).

Page 161

Elsie de Wolfe
(1865-1950), American interior designer, hostess, and actress, best known for her innovative and anti-Victorian interiors. She is often credited with inventing the profession of interior decoration. Wikipedia entry

"musical dramas"
The musical comedy genre was nascent, while operetta was a mature form with plenty of audience appeal. R.W. Vibe was misguided, though, if he thought Conkling's 30-year career (see next entry) could be condensed to three entertaining acts.

Roscoe Conkling
New York Radical Republican politician (1829–1888) who served in both the House and the Senate. He opposed reform, acted as a friend of big business, engineered the selection of Chester A. Arthur as vice-president, and was suspected of involvement in the Garfield assassination that made Arthur president. See also his Wikipedia entry.

Tubby the pig
Pynchon thinks pigs are cool. For examples, the character Pig Bodine, the Porky Pig tattoo and the Plechazunga costume in Gravity's Rainbow. Pynchon was allegedly notorious for carrying around a 6- to 7-inch yellow plastic pig (source), and his room was allegedly decorated with pig toys around the 1960s, according to Jules Siegel's Playboy article on the writer.

Page 162

Sillery
Wine from the French town of the same name. Wikipedia

puce
A brownish color; perhaps meant as a play on "puke"?
Seems straigtforward in the text: overlay Scarsdale's gray tones with Edwarda's mauve and sometimes you get puce. Sort of.

Page 163

"Kit was wondering through the house when he heard piano music"
Just like Kurt Mondaugen, in chapter 9 of V. (p. 238)

R. Wilshire Vibe had not endeared himself to his nephew
Because African Antics comically played up the dangers Fleetwood was about to face.

Tell me, what-cha gonn-na do, When they come screamin, after you?
This reminds me of The Guns of Brixton, by The Clash, which contains the lines:

When they kick out your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun

Is it possible this line is a reference to the popular American television reality series COPS, whose theme song contains the lyrics:

Bad boys, bad boys
Whatcha gonna do?
Boad boys, bad boys
Whatcha gonna do?
Whatcha gonna do
When they come for you?

The series follows the daily lives and patrols of "real life" police officers on patrol in varoius American cities, often focusing on the down-trodden and marginalized in American society. The overall effect of the program is often to further separate the "us" from the "them", in that we can sit idly by and use the unfortunate, stupid, or criminal as our entertainment.

Page 164

Logical paradoxes
Fleetwood has presented Kit with a statement similar to the notorious liar paradox with "...you shouldn't trust anything I have to say about this family." Wikipedia

Whether the statement actually qualifies as a paradox is not immediately clear. Fleetwood is not just saying "you shouldn't trust anything I have to say," which is self referential in the manner of the liar paradox. He is specifically referring to some sentences he might utter "...about this family." Unless we are willing to interpret Fleetwood's sentence itself as being about his family, and not just some other sentences he might utter, it is not paradoxical. Fleetwood is a member of the family. His sentence makes a statement that casts doubt on what he might say about a member of the family. This statement by Fleetwood about what he might say can be (but arguably not "must be") interpreted, in a general sense, as a statement about his family (which includes himself). On that interpretation he is making a statement that denies that the statement itself can be trusted.

There is a second way Fletwood's statement does not clearly show itself to be a paradox. Most variations on the liar paradox are statements that claim themselves to be false; this is different from a statement saying that it cannot be trusted. If something cannot be trusted, it might still be true.

Page 165

"your strongest certainty...you remember everything"
The whole paragraph recalls Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu, where random perceptions suddenly bring back lost memories. Through this remembrance the past is regained, and it is suddenly possible to constitute identity. This might be mirrored in Fleetwood's "single great episode of light" in which one hasn't "discovered it but returned to it".

all my colleagues care about is finding waterfalls
A quest Kit must have sympathized with; see p. 98 and annotations.

a simply-connected space with an unbroken line around it
Orthodox Jewish communities often make a symbolic perimeter around their space so that they can, for example, carry a book as they walk to Sabbath worship; by convention they are still "home"—thus not enjoined against some kinds of work—as long as they stay inside this eruv. One such neighborhood in Atlanta uses a set of electrical power lines to bound its area.

In this context, "simply connected" means the region inside the perimeter does not contain any "islands" that don't belong to the space. Wikipedia gives an admirably clear explanation.

Page 166

hair ropes
Cowboy superstition: horsehair ropes kept snakes away.

"some peaceful expanse of rangeland"
The use of the word "range" along with the previous page's description of heavenly light suggest some connection to the phrase, "the light over the range."

In fact, there were several proposals for an African "Zion", most notoriously a Nazi plan to settle all Jews in Madagascar.

by way of commentary
On Fleetwood's rotten joke.

"stand your ground"
Ellmann tells a similar story about Joyce's father facing charging riders in Phoenix Park.

Page 167

...it was a time honored principle to do nothing for free [...] Trust me. Buy Rand shares
It is implied that Rand is a gold mining company (does anyone know if this is/was a real company?). Regardless, Yitzhak and Fleetwood are talking about South Africa. Although the rand is the currency of South Africa today, it was not in circulation intil 1961. (source) The famous Krugerrand is a gold coin, but that was introduced in 1967. (source) The Witwatersrand is the ridge upon which Johannesburg is built.

The Rand is a gold field, not a company or currency (in this context). See note on page 146

It is possible that Pynchon is also mocking the philosophy of Ayn Rand, which is often characterized as a defense of selfishness or strong individualism. Pynchon previously parodied Ayn Rand and her Theory of Objectivism as "Mafia Winsome" and her "Theory of Heroic Love" in V.

It seems a stretch to interpret this as a reference to Ayn Rand, especially as these sound like historical facts: although the Australian gold rush began in the 1850s, the rich Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie fields of gold were found in the 1890s, apparently triggering later rushes. (source) But perhaps... Bleakhaus 17:59, 22 December 2006 (PST)

war going on
The Second Boer War started 11 October 1899, between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics of the Orange Free State and the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic). After a protracted hard-fought war, the two independent republics lost and were absorbed into the British Empire. Wikipedia

Page 168

Eastern Question
Europe's concern with post-Ottoman Turkey. Wikipedia

"Fleetwood wanted to be like them...He prayed to become one of them. [...] Nothing "took." "
Cf. William Gibson's 1981 short story Hinterlands (Wikipedia entry), for a similar case of people willing unsuccesfully to be "taken" by the unknown (albeit without Pynchon's explanation as to why this doesn't happen):

"We both have the drive, though, that special need, that freak dynamic that lets us keep going back to Heaven. We both got it the same way, lay out there in our little boats for weeks, waiting for the Highway to take us. And when our last flare was gone, we were hauled back here by tugs. Some people just aren't taken, and nobody knows why. And you'll never get a second chance. [...] But I'd wanted to go, wanted it so bad. Charmian, too."

Massawa
a port on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. Important for many centuries, it has been colonised by Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, Italy, Britain... It became the capital of the Italian colony of Eritrea until this was moved to Asmara in 1900. Wikipedia entry

Lourenço Marques
Today known as Maputo, capital city of Mozambique. Wikipedia entry

cantinhas
Portuguese: taverns (like Spanish cantinas).

rotgut rejectamenta of Bucelas and Dão
Rotgut= "poor-quality and potentially toxic alcoholic liquor." Rejectamenta= "things thrown out or away," so the reject wine. Bucelas, Portugal is a famous wine-growing region. Dão is a type of Portuguese wine.

Johannesburg
Johannesburg, also known as eGoli, the place of Gold, is the financial, economic and cultural center, but not the capital, of South Africa. The discovery of gold in 1880s brought a large number of whites to this region from all over the world. Apartheid, a racial segregation system, was enforced between 1948-1990. While gold mining no longer takes place within the city limits, most mining companies still have their headquarters in Johannesburg.

"like Baku with giraffes"
Gravity's Rainbow mentions Baku by name three times, according to the Pynchon Pages index:

352; seaport capital of Azerbaydzhanskaya SSR, Soviet Union, on the west coast of the Caspian Sea; 353; Blobadjian "pursued through the black end of Baku by a passel of screaming Arabists" 354 (Actually there are four references, as it appears twice in page 354 - Ctsats 20:28, 25 January 2007)

And not to forget the giraffe: "Foppl stood holding a sjambok or cattle whip of giraffe hide" (V., chapter 9, p. 240)

After reading this section, and the oddly-separated text of Fleetwood's reverie about his pursuit of wealth in the Transvaal, and his murder of the Kaffir, the family name struck me, "Vibe" = "V" I be. Certainly this section brings back the African horror of "V."

Baku, Azerbaijan's capital, is located on the southern shore of the Apsheron peninsula of the Caspian Sea. The origin of the name, based on the most widely known theory, comes from bad kube, meaning "city of winds". Today's Baku is reallly three cities rolled into one: the old town (885-1872), the boomtown (1872-1920) and the Soviet-built town (1921-1991). The basis of Baku's economy is petroleum. Commercial exploitation began in 1872, (Baku is where Nobel Brothers acquired their wealth and the money for the Nobel Peace Prize), and by the beginning of the 20th century the Baku oil field was the largest in the world and Baku supplied half of the world's oil production. But towards the end of the 20th century much of the land's petroleum had been exhausted, and drilling had extended into the sea. Baku ranks as one of the largest world centers for the production of oil industry equipment.

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Kaffirs
African blacks. The word Kaffir, derived from Arabic kafir, "infidel," is considered extremely insulting, and calling someone this name has been a civil cause of action in South Africa since the 1970s.

eGoli
Zulu name for Johannesburg and a possible pun on e-coli.

to be shot or to step into a mine shaft
Completing the story Fleetwood didn't tell on p. 147.

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long descent into the abyss through the blue ground

Many South African diamonds are mined from kimberlite volcanic "pipes". Surface material is usually weathered to a shade of yellow; deeper material, serpentinized kimberlite, is called "blue ground" by miners.

some grave imbalance in the structure of the world . . . Be serious
Fleetwood's dreams connect forward (in time—but back to pp. 121-55 in AtD) to the scourging of the great city.

Word was about that Alden Vormance was getting up a party to go north and recover a meteorite.

Admiral Robert E. Peary, arctic explorer, recovered two large meteorites on his Greenland expedition of 1893-1895. He recovered a third meteorite on his expedition of 1896-1897. He recounted these experiences in Northward Over the Great Ice published in 1898 and now available on Google Books.

In The Shooting Star, the tenth book of The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé, the ship The Aurora is on a mission to recover a meteorite from the Arctic Circle.

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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