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

Birds

There are a number of characters named after birds or bird sounds: Linnet Dawes, "Pert" Chirpingdon-Groin (there is a pert bird), and Wren Provenance immediately come to mind, but I'm sure there are others, and there are myriad bird references and metaphors (the Sodality of Ǣtheronauts and their mechanical wings), many references to twittering, and TWIT; I just haven't had the time to explore it deeply, but others may...

Interesting bird fact from Homage to Pythagoras:

Clearly, variations in temporal perception are a factor separating one individual consciousness from another within a species and, to an even greater degree, separating the conscious awareness of different species. It may be said, indeed, that each distinct variation in the pattern of temporal recognition constitutes an entirely different universe of perception. For example, birds have a capacity for temporal recognition eight to ten times more rapid than we do. For them, pictures flashing at twenty-four frames per second, which appear to us as a continuous, moving picture, remain still photos until the velocity of 240 frames per second is reached. Likewise, sounds which are to us a continuous whistle are to birds separate and distinct peeps. In other words, birds are able to record ten times as many granulated perceptions as we can in any given temporal interval, which accounts for the acute rapidity of their reflex responses. It is even possible to say this perceptual rapidity was not developed in birds to enhance flight ability, but rather that birds fly only because it is a movement which suitably embodies and expresses the perceptual rapidity. [1]

Possible thematic bird connection in Pynchon, from Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts. [We know TRP is a great fan of West] "Under the skin of man is a wondrous jungle where veins like lush tropical growths hang along over-ripe organs and weed-like entrails writhe in squirming tangles of red and yellow. In this jungle, flitting from rock-gray lungs to golden intestines, from liver to lights and back to liver again, lives a bird called the soul....Do you stuff birds? No, my dears, taxidermy is not religion.No! a thousand times no. Better I say unto you, better a live bird in the jungle of the body than two stuffed birds on the library table.". Page 7-8.

Page 5
Pugnax, the dog aboard The Inconvenience has a definite bird connection — there's a bird called the Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) which is a medium-sized wader. Note that Pugnax's first "utterance" is "Rr Rff-rff Rr-rr-rff-rrf-rrf"...

Page 14

the aeronauts hailed one another through megaphones, and the evening was thus atwitter, like the trees of many a street in the city nearby, with aviatory pleasantries.

Page 21:

"You look kind of glum, Lindsay." "I? no, not at all — beyond an unavoidable apprehension at the thought of Counterfly with full run of the ship and no one to supervise him, I am as cheerful as a finch."

Page 26:

And [Miss McAdoo's] hat, roguishly atilt, egret plumes swooping each time she moved her head, would have charmed even the most zealous of conservationist bird-lovers.

Page 45:

all's I know is there's a couple a thousand hunkies down to the Yards come over here with hate in their hearts for this bird and his family,

Page 57:

Merle Rideout dreamed he was in a great museum, a composite of all possible museums, among statues, pictures, crockery, folk-amulets, antiquated machinery, stuffed birds and animals, obsolete musical instruments, and whole corridors of stuff he would not get to see.

Page 61:

"Free! Free as a bird!"

Page 67:

"Wait, wait, go back a little, tell me how that Zombini bird fits in to this again?"

Page 71:

waiting by the fencepost where the bluebirds were nesting for a footloose brother to come back home after all,

Page 72:

leather-cushioned chairs with elaborate old footrests wrought in the rosebuds-and-bluebirds intertwining of the century about to pass, as if poised among the thorned helixes of vines

Page 89:
Veikko Rautavaara's last name could be a nod to the modern Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928- ). Although Rautavaara experimented with modernist styles, including serialism, his later works are quite accessible and often have a mystical element (such as in several works with titles making reference to angels). A characteristic 'Rautavaara sound' might be a rhapsodic string theme of austere beauty, with whirling flute lines, gently dissonant bells, and perhaps the suggestion of a pastoral horn. A number of his works have parts for magnetic tape, including Cantus Arcticus (1972, also known as Concerto for Birds & Orchestra) for taped bird song and orchestra.

Cantus Arcticus is unique in that it is the marriage of sounds produced by a live orchestra and pre-recorded bird sounds. Rautavaara himself taped the bird of Finland both in the marshlands as well as above the Arctic Circle. The result is the sound of peaceful nature, the harmony of what surrounds us when we venture off into the unspoiled wild. [1]

This bird connection may be a factor in Pynchon naming Veikko thus.

Pages 109-110:

MEALTIMES LATELY HAD been fraught with political instability, owing to an ongoing dispute over the choice of a new figurehead for the ship. [...] Randolph St. Cosmo had continued, in the matter of choosing a figure- head, to promote the National Bird, as a safe and patriotic choice.

Page 115:

"Noseworth, you can remember the old days. We knew for hours ahead of time." Skyfarers here had been used to seeing flocks of the regional birds spilling away in long helical curves, as if to escape being drawn into some vortex in- side the planet sensible only to themselves, as well as the withdrawal, before the advent of the more temperate climate within, of the eternal snows, to be replaced first by tundra, then grassland, trees, plantation, even at last a set- tlement or two, just at the Rim, like border towns, which in former times had been the sites of yearly markets, as dwellers in the interior came out to trade luminous fish, giant crystals with geomantic properties, unrefined ores of various useful metals, and mushrooms unknown to the fungologists of the surface world, who had once journeyed regularly hither in high expectation of discovering new species with new properties of visionary enhancement.

Page 122:

On sky-piercing crags as likely to be frozen seabird guano as rock

Page 129:

"Here you go," handing over an ancient hand-blown bottle whose label, carefully en- graved and printed in an unfaded spectrum of tropical colors, showed an erupting volcano, a parrot with a disdainful smile and the legend !Cuidado Cabron! Salsa Explosiva La Original.

Page 130:

The luxuriant world of the parrot on the label, though seemingly as re mote from this severe ice-scape as could be imagined, in fact was separated from it by only the thinnest of membranes. To get from one to the other one had only to fill one's attention unremittingly with the bird's image, abasing oneself meantime before his contempt, and repeat "!Cuidado cabron!" prefer- ably with a parrot accent, until the phrase no longer had meaning

Page 139-140:

Nunatak, in the Eskimo tongue literally "land connected," refers to a mountain peak tall enough to rise above the wastes of ice and snow that otherwise cover the terrain. Each, believed to have its own guardian spirit, is alive, an ark sheltering whatever lichens, mosses, flowers, insects, or even birds may be borne to it by the winds of the Region

Page 173:

"Now you mention it, every day back down to the Denver office, we do see letters for this bird [the Kieselguhr Kid], all but a couple of em from women, strange but true, and most of those proposing marriage.

Page 178:

Who were these birds — dynamiters pretending to work for the owners while they planned more out- rages? owners' stooges infiltrating the W.F.M. to betray their brothers?

Page 186:

And sure enough, the last card to turn up in the layout, the one these birds kept saying really mattered, was that Hanged Man again.

Page 204

Linnet Dawes - The linnet is Carpodacus mexicanus, most often called house finch. The species originated in the western U.S. but got spread through the east as a result of releases by bird smugglers. Also a European finch. The daw or jackdaw is an Old World bird somewhat resembling the crow in appearance and the grackle in behavior.

Page 210:

[at Jeshimon] leave [a body] to hang there by its one foot for the birds of death who then came down and landed hissing on perches molded for their convenience out of the red mud of the region.

Page 212:

for that reason Reef got to Jeshimon in time to keep his father's carcass from the carrion birds

Page 213-14:

He shot a carrion bird, maybe two, among the great unhurried black ascent of the others slung the corpse across his shoulders,

Page 241:

"Your German colleague, what's his name, Werfner — is he as inter- ested in this bird as you are?"

Page 262:

Willis Turnstone (see annotation).

Page 266:

THE SNOWS LENGTHENED down the peaks, and soon the white-throated swift had taken wing...

Page 275

Wren Provenance, a girl anthropologist

Page 287:

Ristras of dangerously dark purple chilies hung all about. At night they were said to glow in the dark. Clerks and cashiers, birds of the night but newly risen

Page 289:

"Pobrecito." Off [Lupita] whirled again, singing just like a bird.

Page 315:

Playing down the street at the Railbird Saloon just happened to be Gaston Villa and His Bughouse Bandoleros

Page 320:

the old bird [Professor Vanderjuice] thank goodness was quite an- other species entirely

Page 336:

these birds smothered appetites and curdled stomachs.

Page 337:

IN NEW YORK AT LAST [Dally] stood out of the traffic, watching shadows of birds move across sunlit walls.

Page 358
Camp Bird - Camp Bird Mine, Ouray, Ouray County, CO, is a gold-zinc-silver-lead-copper mine operated from 1896 to 1990. It located six miles south of Ouray and produced yearly 1.5 million ounces of gold and 4 million ounces of silver until 1990.

Page 358:

Worked at the Camp Bird, maybe?

Page 358:

And Reef turned around just in time to see the two of them [Mayva and Stray] disappear into some yardage place, jabbering away like a couple of birds on a rooftop.

Page 385:

"And this is Joaquin [a talking parrot]," El Nato smiling up at the bird. "Tell them something about yourself, m'hijo."
"I like to fuck the gringo pussy," confided the parrot. "How's that?" Ewball blinking at the bird's theatrical-British accent, recalling somehow vaudeville Shakespeare and profligate nights.

Page 385:

The parrot flapped his wings as if signaling to a confederate in the distance.

Page 387:

The only one willing to engage him in conversation was the parrot Joaquin.
"Ever wonder why they call it Zacatecas, Zacatecas? Or why it's Guanajuato, Guanajuato?"
Frank, fallen by now into the doubtful habit of Conversation with a Parrot, shrugged in irritation. "One's a city, one's a state."
"!Pendejo!" screamed the parrot. "Think! Double refraction! Your favorite optical property! Silver mines, full of espato double-refracting all the time, and not only light rays, naw, uh-uh! Cities, too! People! Parrots! You just keep floating along in that gringo smoke cloud, thinking there's only one of everything, huevon, you don't see those strange lights all around you. Ay, Chihuahua. In fact, Ay, Chihuahua, Chihuahua. Kid engineers! All alike. Closed minds. Always been your problem." Giving in at length to parrot hysteria, sinister in its prolonged indifference.
"Here's your problem," Frank approaching Joaquin with his hands out in strangling position.
The comandante, sensing psitticide in the air, came hurrying up.

Page 388:

"!Ay, Chavalito!" screeched the parrot Joaquin, in some inaccessible dark frenzy from his cage, which was being loaded onto a pack mule, "we are in some mierda, pendejo."

Page 399-400:

[Darby and the 10-year-old] "A plump and energetic chanteuse of some ten summers, incandescently blond, now emerged from a back recess wearing a gown of artificial golden paillettes sewn, not to any underlying fabric but only — precariously — to one another, creating a louche aspect more eye-catching than even outright nakedness, and, accompanied by the tiny "jazz" orchestra..."
"You boys got da 'ying' for any o' dis in heeuh, hey, just name it, we'll see wha' we kin do," offered Plug. "Actually — " began Darby, gazing at the underage "songbird," but he was interrupted by Chick Counterfly.

Page 480:

A squirrel or a bird would sit for what seemed hours, while she talked to them, pausing now and then in case they had something to say in reply, which sometimes it appeared they did. Lake swore she'd heard creatures replying in their own languages and her mother nodding attentively, as if she understood.
"What'd that hawk have to say, Ma?"

Page 511:

Nothing spilled, dropped, or broken, flowers, birds, and silk scarves emerging from empty air. [Zombini act]

Page 531:

"Rare birds," said Barry Nebulay [of lady Quarternionists], "though of course there is Miss Umeki Tsurigane, of the Imperial University of Japan, a former student of Professor Knott when he was there.

Page 537:

Kit grinned. "Suspicious-looking birds, ain't we? What happens to a man spends all his time sitting indoors and staring at numbers."

Page 548:

"Haven't seen so many of those birds [Quarternionists] in one place since Candlebrow," declared Darby, looking through one of the remote viewers.

Page 553:

the lowland nearly silent except for water-thrushes

Page 576:

[Dally] dressed these days as a boy and escaped all male attention but the sort directed at boys, though such birds of passage, usually in for the night or two, were quickly set straight.

Page 580:

used to go around town pulling these adolescent pranks, making little critters out of clay, bringing them to life, birds that could fly, rabbits that talked

Page 604:

KIT MEANWHILE HAD BEGUN to frequent the Applied Mechanics Insti- tute. Since Prandtl's recent discovery of the boundary layer, things over there had been hopping, with intense inquiry into matters of lift and drag, powered flight poised like a new-feathered bird at the edge of history.

Page 639:

where Ewball, Frank, and Guenther and a couple dozen blackbirds happened to be sheltering.

Page 639:

FRANK AND EWBALL moseyed into Steve/Ramon's party to find a ballroom murmurous with tiled fountains, where uncaged parrots glided from one ornamental palm to another.

Page 684-85:

a tune from the third act of Waltzing in Whitechapel, which Nigel accompanied with ukulele chords, thus —
Oh, Sing-
-ing Bird,
Of Spital-fields
How lonely i’-all-feels,
Wiv-out your mel-
o-dee! When shall my
Brick Lane bunt-ing
Chirp-again,
To my throbbing-brain,
Her dear refrain,
Soft-leee? Al-
though it’s spring
In Stepney, so-we’re-told,
Here in my
Heart-it’s-cold
As any-win-
try sea—until my
Singing Bird of
Spit-alfields,
Perched on her lit-tle heels,
Comes trip-ping back,
To meee!
        —(My dar-ling),
[D.C.]

Page 699

From somewhere in the direction of the Giant-Wheel came the infernal lilt of yet another twittering waltz.

Page 728:

"So how we going to do the Hottentot on this bird?" "The what?" "French — it means assassination."

Page 729-30:

More of these birds that come flying in, was all — look around, gather in flocks like the pigeons in the Piazza, fly off again. No, as Merle used to say, apiarian byproduct of hers.

Page 730

They gathered round, as if this were one more Venetian sight they must take in, and all started twittering, except for Reef, who, patting his pockets as if having forgotten something, touched his hatbrim and disappeared back into the hotel. Ruperta seemed to take it personally

Page 741:

as below the grounded pigeons and waterbirds were fleeing the Lagoon shivering into sotoporteghi, into courtyards within courtyards, denying sky, pretending citizenship in the labyrinths of earth, gone glitter-eyed and shifty as rats in corners.

Page 753:

At Merv the tracks swung leftward into the desert, open as weatherless sky, herds of gazelles darting like flocks of birds across it.

Page 758:

"yakitori pitches" - Yakitori, grilled bird, is a Japanese type of skewered chicken made from several bite-sized pieces of chicken meat, or chicken offal, skewered on a bamboo skewer and barbecued, usually over charcoal. A Yakitori pitch would be a kind of fast food stand: pitch a tent and sell yakitori.

Page 763:

Invisible birds, collecting against the night, sang boisterously.

Page 783:

TWO SMALL BLACK BIRDS who had not been there now emerged out of the light as it faded to everyday green and blue again. Kit understood for a moment that forms of life were a connected set — critters he was destined never to see existing so that those he did see would be just where they were, when he saw them. Somewhere on the other side of the world, an exotic beetle stood at a precise distance and compass bearing from an unclassified shrub so that here, in this clearing, these two black birds might appear to Kit, precisely as they were.

Page 796:

Birds they were used to sharing the sky with, migratory European species, had vanished, leaving the region to the eagles and hawks that had formerly hunted them. Huge modern cities of multiple domes, towers of open girderwork, smokestacks, and treeless plazas sprawled beneath, without a living creature in sight. [Chums viewing aftermath of Tunguska]

Page 836:

They must be where the stone martens glided like ghosts from shadow to shadow, and cave entrances offered not security but fear.

Page 866
Jenny Invert, "wizard trapshooter, president of the Inanimate Bird Association";

Page 920:

not mediated by sacred images of stained glass but by new leafage on trees outside, holes broken in the adobe by federal artillery, accidentally passing shadows of birds and clouds.

Page 925:

giant feathers from very yellow, red, and green parrots, enormous parrots whose wingspreads darken the sun, each feather of but a single color, plucked far away at great personal risk, in a precariousness of stone and windy space, from beneath the birds' wings as they soar past deploying claws the size of ceremonial lances, in fact the same feathers as those gathered for the glory of that inner circle of the priesthood known as the Hallucinati, who enjoy strolling out in groups in the evenings to impress visitors from the outer districts, or like "Frank" here, up from the lowlands and beyond, who come flocking in to town just to gaze upon the promenading hierarchy and their female attendants who have spent hours on eye adornment, parrot-patterning their orbits in bright yellow with red stripes and green crescents, with their hair drawn back from sweetly convex child-brows

Page 926:

[in the Balkans] Birds here had not sung for generations, no one alive in fact could remember a time when they had sung, and these skies belonged now to raptors. The country was well prepared for what was soon to break over it.

Page 948

EVEN TO THE INDIGENOUS, used to twittering fools from the north and west in tourist attire, the three seemed gravely passionate

Page 956:

UP IN THE BALKAN RANGE one day for the first time, defying the predators above, they heard birdsong, some kind of Bulgarian thrush, singing in modal scales, attentive to pitch, often for minutes at a time.

Page 965:

the constant birds of prey patrolling the sky.

Page 996:

"Tell me," he said somewhat drowsily, "how'd you two lovebirds [Willis and Wren] meet?"

Page 1027-28:

Birds had long been up and about, but discreetly so.

Page 1030:

each nightfall nesting together on city rooftops like a flock of February chaffinch, having learned to find, in all that roofs keep out, a domesticity of escape and rejection, beneath storm, assaults of moonlight, some darker vertical predation, never entirely dreamed, from other worlds.

Page 1030:

"as the sea-wind carries the erne..."

Page 1032:

Great disks of day-wearied birds tilted and careened above the squares big and small, brushed with penultimate light one moment, shed of it the next.

Page 1047:

Hummingbirds darted in and out of the bougainvillea.

Page 1047:

"Had a late call up at the studio." Cici it turned out was playing one of the Li'l Jailbirds, characters in a popular series of one-reel comedies

Page 1083:

A vector through the night into a morning of hosed pavements, birds heard everywhere but unseen

Page 1085:

Pugnax and Ksenija's generations — at least one in every litter will follow a career as a sky-dog — have been joined by those of other dogs, as well as by cats, birds, fish, rodents, and less-terrestrial forms of life.

References

  1. "Ancient Temple Architecture," Robert Lawlor, in Homage to Pythagoras: Rediscovering Sacred Science, edited by Christopher Bamford, pp. 74-75, Lindisfarne Press, 1994
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