ATD 57-80

Revision as of 21:59, 1 December 2006 by Pschmid1 (Talk | contribs) (Pages 73-74)

Page 58

Michelson-Morley experiment
The Michelson–Morley experiment, one of the most important and famous experiments in the history of physics, was performed in 1887 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley at what is now Case Western Reserve University, and is generally considered to be the first strong evidence against the theory of a luminiferous aether. Primarily for this work, Albert Michelson was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1907. Wikipedia entry

Particle or Wave? " finds in the devout aetherist a propensity of character evertoward the continuous as against the discrete"
aether is the medium that light would move in, if it were a wave. This enters the question of whether light is a particle or a wave into the discussion. Pynchon sets up the dichotomy: (aether/wave/continuous vs. empty space/particle/discrete) (also, see page 61)

Töpler influence machine
A machine for producing electrical charges.

Page 59

Harks back to M&D's visit with George Washington.

Northern Ohio Insane Asylum
Full of light enthusiastes who invented light-powered bicycles (see p 76,) believe light to have consciousness and personality, and who eat light.

"Originally known as the Northern Ohio Lunatic Asylum, this was the second of 6 public asylums established in Ohio in the 1850's. In later years it was commonly known as Newburgh State Hospital because it was located in Newburgh Township as recompense for Cleveland having been awarded the location of Cuyahoga County Seat. The main building, containing 100 beds,was completed in 1855 on land in Newburgh donated by the Garfield family." [1]

Page 60

Aether reports
Associations of light with "wind."

Roswell Bounce
The mentions of cosmic space, balloons, a US Bureau "in charge of reporting," and his occupation as a photograper seem to allude to the 1947 Roswell UFO incident, an alleged alien crash that the US government insisted was a downed weather balloon. Wikipedia entry

Page 61

"Somehow Merle got the idea in his head that the MIchelson-Morley experiment and the Blinky Morgan manhunt were connected."
Vaguely recalls the use of John Dillinger in Gravity's Rainbow (741), insofar as they both read a surprising amount of metaphysical meaning into the death or final apprehension of a notorious criminal. It also ties the criminal underground (out of the light) with the properties of light.

"Blinky" a "walking interferometer"
Wikipedia entry on Interferometers

fighting in the Rebellion
The Civil War was not called such during the time it was occurring; the South called it "the war between the states" to emphasize both their right to secede from the union and that this was a war between sovereign states; the North called it "the Rebellion of 1861" or, after termination of hostilities, "the Rebellion of 1861-1865," appellations that did not recognize the South's right to secede.

Page 62

Blinky "emerges from invisibility" thus dooming the existance of aether. Aether is then "Against the Day" undetectable, unknowable, invisable.

Page 63

O.D. Chandrasekhar
Perhaps a nod to Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995), an Indian-American physicist, astrophysicist and mathematician, known to the world as Chandra, who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics. He calculated and discovered the Chandrasekhar Limit which is the maximum mass possible for a white dwarf star (one of the end stages of stars that have exhausted their fuel) supported by electron degeneracy pressure, and is approximately 3 × 1030 kg, around 1.44 times the mass of the Sun.

Page 64

Light tied to silver and chemestry.

Page 67

Beast Without Shame
Inexplicably recalls the epithet earlier used to denounce Lew Basnight on page 36: "the Upstate-Downstate Beast."

Merle and Dally
Merle's family situation (single father, smart aleck daughter, mother who took off) is identical to that of Vineland's protagonist Zoyd Wheeler.

Page 68

"...have you ever felt that you wished to suddenly disappear...?
While Merle is getting obsessed with revealing images from darkrooms and chemicals, Zombini comes and makes Erly "disappear."

Page 69

"some larger plan"
May be talking about writing Against the Day itself.

Page 70

Ginseng. Panax sp.
The "red berries" Merle refers to.
American Ginseng and the Idea of the Commons at the LOC.

Pages 73-74

Obviously recalls Byron the sentient lightbulb from Gravity's Rainbow. Also recalls Insane Asylum where he is told light has "consciousness and personality." But Merle's "hitch as a lightning-rod salesman" also may be read as Pynchon's tip-of-the-hat (or the copper rod) to a certain nineteenth-century American predecessor, the author of a story called "The Lightning Rod Man" (1854). Come to think of it, Pynchon may be the one contemporary author able to match Melville in whimsy, satire, melancholy, Jehovah-like ambition, and periodic sentences that are light on their feet yet labyrinthine. Cf. M&D's link to Melville's Israel Potter (now, sadly, unread), or GR's line trailing back toward that book about a whale.... This 'Skip' episode is not to be skipped; for the moment it sets ATD's readers aglow with sweetness and light.

Page 76

Electric Generator hooked to an old bicycle
Don't know if this is that important, but similar to Insane Asylum light-bicycle.

Page 77

Webb Traverse
The character is introduced mere paragraphs after the description of spiderwebs "that when the early daylight was right cause you to stand there just stupefied." As "traverse" means to travel across or through, perhaps the character's name signifies his ability to navigate the complicated webs off.. I dunno, society, the establishment or something?

Webb and Merle
Photography as alchemy. Mercury and the Philosopher's stone Wikipedia entry on Silver Fulminate

Page 78

The Anti-Stone
not clear what it does: turns gold into lead, i.e. explosives/weapons?

Page 80

Ties into the central scientific metaphor of GR, that the laws of physics and fate are somehow connected.

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