The Crying of Lot 49

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I am reading it again, for perhaps the 5th time. I thought it might prove unreadable as a result, my eyes skimming off it - but no, it's more readable than ever, slowed down, yielding up fresh treasures, probably-important passages that I have somehow not fully seen before, small sentences likewise whose minor connecting work I ponder anew.

I don't know where to begin with this extraordinary slim packet of treasures and intellectual thrills. Save to say: what's your favourite bit?

the pinefox, Tuesday, 25 October 2005 12:26 (fourteen years ago) link

i like this book a lot, i've been meaning to reread it. "oedipa" is one of the best names ever.

i picked up gravity's rainbow again yesterday and i've gotten about 40 pages in. better than i've ever managed before.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 12:36 (fourteen years ago) link

i reread Lot 49, closely, in September. it yielded up much more than the first time. i can only imagine what the 5th time will be like.

i could almost say open to an arbitrary page and you've found my favorite part, it's so consistent. i'm especially partial to scenes with the Paranoids, like when they steal the boat and try to explain the play but get confused like the marijuana smoke. Dr Hilarius' breakdown is super, too. and "Mucho, baby"

W i l l (common_person), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 14:22 (fourteen years ago) link

The ending of "Cashiered", and the striptease metaphor, as the creepiest examples of the novel's uniquely scary subtext (if that's what it is - the subtext may just be a pretext ...)

Harthill Services (Neil Willett), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 19:40 (fourteen years ago) link

i find it fascinating that you could react so well to lot 49 but so poorly to gr, the pinefox. but i would not be surprised if you were already expecting me or some other gr enthusiast to say so.

i am fond of lot 49 but i wonder if i'm not a little less pleased by it than i might otherwise be because of the way its compactness makes its inventiveness, imaginativeness, seem more contrived, more rigged. too many wonderful or astounding or etc. things too close together, not as grounded in ahem i can't believe i'm writing this 'a realistic situation' as the comparable details in gr. but, on the other hand, that could just be part of its being more like a parable, a fable, or some such.

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 23:50 (fourteen years ago) link

i mean 'contrived', 'rigged', and such not literally but just to gesture at the kind of imperfection, if it could be called that, that i find in lot 49 upon recollection. yknow.

Josh (Josh), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 03:46 (fourteen years ago) link

This is fairly obvious and I'm sure you know this and probably mean something else with your comments, but-- that's kind of the point, isn't it? That the whole thing is meant to feel rigged, almost claustrophobic? Form echoing content?

W i l l (common_person), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 05:09 (fourteen years ago) link

I disagree, Josh: I don't think the overall situation feels contrived in an annoying or problematic way (it's true, Will, that contrivance as 'plot' is possibly part of the point); I do think that what is 'contrived' about TP, in a negative sense, is his fratgradmathlad humOr. I think that the scene with Cashiered is an example of that, and thus a low point in the book; but as I recall, GR is made up very substantially of such painfully 'contrived' scenes, just less easy to read. Unlike you I don't think GR is 'grounded in a realistic situation': I think it's embarrassing, disagracefully prolonged, hippy Bond tosh, as I said years ago. What CL49 has in contrast is intellectual thrills - a sense of excitement that is bound up with connection, revelation and analysis.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 26 October 2005 12:13 (fourteen years ago) link

the compactness is one of its strong points. i find pynchon unbearable as the page count rises.

lauren (laurenp), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 12:43 (fourteen years ago) link

"What CL49 has in contrast is intellectual thrills - a sense of excitement that is bound up with connection, revelation and analysis."

"in contrast"? simply not true.

cl49 is too dense for me, honestly.

John (jdahlem), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 13:02 (fourteen years ago) link

(i'm going to have to read it again now dammit)

John (jdahlem), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 13:08 (fourteen years ago) link

the pinefox when did you last read a bond novel?

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 14:02 (fourteen years ago) link

Here is something that I wanted to ask initially: what - pre-first-page, pre-will-execution, pre-Tristero - is wrong with Oedipa Maas?She has a shrink, but I have perhaps always imagined that TP is saying 'everyone in Southern CA' (wherever that is) 'has a shrink' - a silly Woody Allen situation, not a serious diagnosis. But perhaps not. On p.91 we read of her 'several wounds, needs, dark doubles' - an enigmatic phrase, if you think about it - I think. To what phenomena does it refer? And perhaps - again, I have not taken the measure of this till now - her sense that the whole business might be her hallucination relies partly, perhaps, on her pre-existing sense that she is not mentally sound.

An importantlooking element that I don't really understand, or haven't yet, but is perhaps relevant, is the business about being a princess in a tower, with reference to paintings by one Remedios Varo (p.13) - whose existence or otherwise I have yet to verify. I think this section has always come too early in the book for me, before what I thought was the meat of it showed up; and perhaps it has always been too enigmatic for me. But perhaps it is central after all.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 26 October 2005 16:40 (fourteen years ago) link

Here is a lovely sentence: 'They rode over the bridge and into the great empty glare of an Oakland afternoon' (p.90). Not for any symbolism or significance - I don't want the glare to mean or echo anything - but for its brief texturing and the margin of lyricism it pulls from an everyday statement.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 26 October 2005 16:42 (fourteen years ago) link

i am fond of lot 49 but i wonder if i'm not a little less pleased by it than i might otherwise be because of the way its compactness makes its inventiveness, imaginativeness, seem more contrived, more rigged

I also have a problem with the compactness of CoL49, though not so much that it feels rigged either. GR seems just as rigged to me. I think the problem is that the book feels too insubstantial to support the weight of mystery that it is being asked to bear. The prodigious length of GR adds to the sense of depth, multiple layers, occult meaning, misdirection, mystery and esoteric knowledge. Pretty much any mystical text worth its salt is going to be enormously long (think of the Kabbalah, or Beelzebub's Tales). The length is part of the experience - for the very reason that it places extraordinary demands on its would-be readers. It should take stamina for the initiate to penetrate the mysteries. A novella version just doesn't take up enough weight on the shelf.

o. nate (onate), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 17:10 (fourteen years ago) link

..never, then?

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 17:42 (fourteen years ago) link

Remedios Varo does/did exist. Oddly I was a fan of her before I was a fan of Pynchon. Here is the picture he refers to, 'Bordando el Manto Terrestre', which I presume he saw in the same Mexican museum that Oedipa did:

I'm also a fan of this picture: 'Woman leaving the psychoanalyst':

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 19:13 (fourteen years ago) link

This is on my possibly last-ever undergraduate course.

I remember being prepared to find it shallow when I read it and finding it shallow, then rereading it and finding it not-shallow and being thus understandably wary of previous reactions.

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 19:27 (fourteen years ago) link

i don't remember what the author says but 'lines of flight', by stefan mattessich?, a sorta deleuze and guattari-overloaded reading of pynchon that simultaneously tries to advance some sort of political theory?, makes a big deal out of varo in the chapter on lot 49. or, at least i might say, a deal. varo serves as the cover art too.

this is not to say you would profit from checking this out, the pinefox. i have not yet found the book to be especially understandable or illuminating.

(i thought to note this because until coming across the discussion of varo there, pynchon's mention of varo was one of those which i had apparently always passed over with no recognition; i found that especially interesting since i usually have the sense of at the very least recognizing most of pynchon's overt references.)

Josh (Josh), Thursday, 27 October 2005 01:00 (fourteen years ago) link

Not only does Lot 49 get better, and easier, every time you read it, but there are nuggets of buried treasure that you CANNOT see the first time through.

Check out e.g. Chapter Three, end of paragraph two:

"...if she hand't been set up or sensitized, first by her peculiar seduction, then by the other, almost offhand things, what after all could the mute stamps have told her...?"

At this point "mute" can only mean "silent," but on a second read...

rogermexico (rogermexico), Thursday, 27 October 2005 03:16 (fourteen years ago) link

Also of ironic note: Remedios Varo's work is currently at the center of a nasty and legal battle.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Thursday, 27 October 2005 06:24 (fourteen years ago) link

I like the first picture.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller 68), Thursday, 27 October 2005 07:41 (fourteen years ago) link

Mr Mexico's claim is correct, I think.

JtN's post is amazing!

I wonder whether Woody Guthrie (Bound For Glory? which I have, of course, not yet read) is a source or inspiration for the late vision of hobos and disinherited dwellers in disused railway cars. In fact, I wonder if he is to that as Kerouac is to the San Francisco night scene.

Maybe not.

the pinefox, Thursday, 27 October 2005 11:36 (fourteen years ago) link

For more in that Guthrie-esque vein, you might enjoy the story 'The Secret Integration' (and also TP's discussion of it in his introduction) in 'Slow Learner'... although it does have a rather superfluous math element.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Thursday, 27 October 2005 13:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Long have I meant to read that collection properly. I should, soon.


the pinefox, Thursday, 27 October 2005 13:54 (fourteen years ago) link

I soured on lot 49 after reading p's intro to slow learner and really thinking about how poorly he used "entropy" in both this and the eponymous story. there are lots of great bits (it takes some larnin to rilly appreciate the jacobin revenge drama) that still get me, but the overall structure is less realized, yeah, in part b/c the logic and knowledge behind it is more dodgy than GR, where at least the mathlogicmysticalconnexions are right. the ideas still overtake the ppl. in lot 49, while by GR the characters come first, and vineland (which is my fav at the moment, but i haven't reread M&D in ages, i'll grant) is almost pure character.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Thursday, 27 October 2005 14:44 (fourteen years ago) link

yeah i've been wanting to read vineland for a long time but for some reason haven't gotten a hold of it yet.

"it takes some larnin to rilly appreciate the jacobin revenge drama"

i'd like to know what you mean by this!

pynchon said he hated lot 49 nyah!? i don't know jack shit about entropy but some of the ideas & passages within are really beautiful, fully realized & mathematically sound or not. totally abstract characters can be a pain, tho.

John (jdahlem), Thursday, 27 October 2005 15:25 (fourteen years ago) link

the ideas still overtake the ppl. in lot 49

You say this as though it's a bad thing. I'm not so sure, esp. wrt the novella.

vineland is desparately underrated, but I'm stumped by your impression that it's "almost pure character." I suspect I'm tripping on a terminology issue here.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Thursday, 27 October 2005 16:08 (fourteen years ago) link

I like the secret integration, too. I like Pynchon when he is... sentimental?

CL49 is probably the book I have recommended to most people. I can't see how anyone could find nothing or little there, anyone.

Gravel Puzzleworth (Gregory Henry), Thursday, 27 October 2005 16:32 (fourteen years ago) link

i haven't read vineland in years, but from what i remember it's the slapstick pynchon gone wild. the scene i recall is the lawncare man singing his company's jingle to the tune of the marseillaise ("a lawn savant who'll lop a tree-uh").

lauren (laurenp), Thursday, 27 October 2005 16:54 (fourteen years ago) link

I think I agree with lauren's first post. & TP always comes across as a bit . . . lame, y'know? "tweedy man's Dick", &c.
It's sort've the equiv of Less Than Zero - harmless. tho I've just picked up M&D, which might alter my thinking.

etc, Thursday, 27 October 2005 20:42 (fourteen years ago) link

I doubt much could alter your mind, etc.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Thursday, 27 October 2005 20:56 (fourteen years ago) link

i just meant that the first time i read col49 i didn't get lots of the jokes at all, and the whole jacobin revenge drama bit rilly only makes sense if you get the degree to which this is a spot-on parody of real stuff.

i don't see how vineland is pure shtick at all. there are lots of set pieces, sure, but it is totally sentimental at heart. like truly adorable. the shticks are all so loveable too.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Friday, 28 October 2005 03:47 (fourteen years ago) link

'his batman, a Corporal Wayne' = lame and fantastic at the same time

Josh (Josh), Friday, 28 October 2005 04:00 (fourteen years ago) link

That line's OK, probably.

I don't know what 'Tweedy man's Dick' means.

I don't think TP is like Less Than Zero. I think he is very different!

I don't think that one needs to have read a load of C17 drama to be delighted by The Courier's Tragedy. I think that in such instances , one somewhat constructs the context from the text - a process which is probably fundamental and pervasive but little remarked upon (but which should not be an excuse for bad and obscure writing; it just strikes me that in this case you create your sense of C17 drama on the basis of TP's parody, as much as the reverse; and I think the result is terrific).

the pinefox, Friday, 28 October 2005 12:08 (fourteen years ago) link

jacobin =/= Jacobean

"tweedy man's Dick" = I like imaginative fiction but Pynchon baffles and intimidates me

Far from schtick gone wild, Vineland is an angry, mordant, and prescient assessment of the Love Generation's death drive. If often hilarious.

Mason and Dixon is a virtuoso piece, but also plotless and the last thing I would choose to change anyone's mind about Pynchon.

Should we revive a Pynchon thread for this side stuff and return to Lot 49?

rogermexico (rogermexico), Saturday, 29 October 2005 00:19 (fourteen years ago) link

Returning to Lot 49 is always worthwhile.

We should really get to 49 posts.

the pinefox, Monday, 31 October 2005 14:13 (fourteen years ago) link

I don't feel like rereading it, so much.

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 03:41 (fourteen years ago) link

i bought myself another copy today cos i couldn't find my old one. i think i'll reread it tonight to see if i still like pynchon.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 20:38 (fourteen years ago) link

I tried to get it from the library. No luck.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller 68), Wednesday, 2 November 2005 08:51 (fourteen years ago) link

one month passes...
i think that that first sentence - just the first clause of it, really - sets up most everything i dislike about '49. Tupperware as a sort of shorthand for 'suburban conformity', and pynchon only remembering that oedipa is tarred with this once or twice in the book: "but metzger! i'm a republican!" etc. -

my professor was making a big deal of talking about signifiers & such during the class, and i kept rolling my eyes. weirdly lots in 49 seems like pomo-critic-bait: driblette's whine "why is everyone so interested in texts?" makes me stop and larf, altho i'm kinda fuzzy as to whether 'texts' had its sense of academic double-meaning in '64, for '49. the book josh mentions - 'lines of flight' - make a lot of the breaking of the frame in the varo triptich, which is kinda interesting. i dunno what the hell to do with this book: reading it as 'exemplary postmodernism' or whatever is a boring dead end, but reading it as a secret-depths-behind-apple-pie-america is just sad. both of these make one hell of a period piece out of it.

(the only way to break the frame of the novel i can see is with its links on either side, to V. and to GR, and maybe from there to something of actual real-world use)

(of course actually reading it, rather than trying to, i guess, take something from it, it somewhat great.)

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 3 December 2005 02:35 (fourteen years ago) link

i don't know what happened to that last sentence. i suppose for purposes of actually reading for enjoyment it works, as opposed for reading with the notion in mind that somehow we might benefit from the reading of this book.

the ending of chapter two is the section i am most curious about, for some reason.

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 3 December 2005 02:37 (fourteen years ago) link

is 'entertainment' or or or even 'art' not an option?

enjoyment is a benefit, isn't it? i don't mean that in the trivial sense either.

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 3 December 2005 03:12 (fourteen years ago) link

on reflection i prefer that sentence without naming 'enjoyment', it is more the good kind of gnomic.

you may be right. (i'm not sure my distrust of this book isn't a dislike of a couple general things external to this book, which conflicts with my ability to enjoy the book qua book) (not that this isn't the kind of process involved in interfacing with any kinda entertainartment ever, obviously)

i do like that lines of flight book, despite not being able to follow any of the delueze/guattari* stuff: particularly the fact that it tries to follow "counterculture politics" as a theme through GR is something i am glad of. however i have had to return it to the library after little more than a couple glances at it. oh, hey, d'you have the pynchon notes back issues link to hand?

*how do you pronounce these people, by the way? i have been wondering since more or less forever

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 3 December 2005 03:33 (fourteen years ago) link

I've always heard them to rhyme with Toulouse and Atari.

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 3 December 2005 04:06 (fourteen years ago) link

well i was hoping 'atari' was an incorrect rhyme so to lend my as yet unrecorded 'The 80s (Green Gartside Song)' the correct poignancy

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 3 December 2005 04:12 (fourteen years ago) link

i have a search function, you know

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 3 December 2005 06:07 (fourteen years ago) link

Wait, there are TWO Crying Of Lot 49 threads?

k/l (Ken L), Sunday, 4 December 2005 00:12 (fourteen years ago) link

If you don't count the secret ones, yes.

Casuistry (Chris P), Sunday, 4 December 2005 00:32 (fourteen years ago) link

I bought this today, and have Moby Dick on pause for a few.

Jaq (Jaq), Sunday, 4 December 2005 02:57 (fourteen years ago) link

tyrone slothrop is an anagram of "the butler did it"

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 7 February 2006 11:26 (fourteen years ago) link

why else would he pick those letters and put them in that exact order? It could be a just a fluke, but I personally don't think so. What else would they stand for then?

J. Lamphere (WatchMeJumpStart), Tuesday, 7 February 2006 15:59 (fourteen years ago) link

the length and density of the book, and the numerous allusions within, make me think that KCUF/FUCK was intentional (not that auctorial intention is the most interesting thing to talk about, or can ever be absolutely determined from the text).

the prof in my last English class brought up "Oedipa my ass," for what that's worth.

W i l l (common_person), Tuesday, 7 February 2006 18:35 (fourteen years ago) link

chris you must be 'taking the piss' ahem.

who would NOT notice?

or is it wrong of me to assume that everyone was once an adolescent?

Josh (Josh), Wednesday, 8 February 2006 02:04 (fourteen years ago) link

[distinct sound of chain being jerked here]

Jaq (Jaq), Wednesday, 8 February 2006 02:30 (fourteen years ago) link

the thread reviver read the book! or parts of it!! is there no decency any more?!?

Josh (Josh), Wednesday, 8 February 2006 03:50 (fourteen years ago) link

"Maas" is more likely like the Spanish word "mas" meaning more. So, Mucho Maas is a lot more, or more than a lot.

mike h. (mike h.), Friday, 10 February 2006 23:22 (fourteen years ago) link

That is, I've always pronounced "Maas" like mahss, not like mass.

mike h. (mike h.), Friday, 10 February 2006 23:23 (fourteen years ago) link

three months pass...
You know, I was watching 'The Big Sleep' again last night and I was moved to wonder whether the name "Oedipa Maas" (for which I have never read an entirely satisfactory explanation) might in fact be an homage/allusion to the rather odd character Eddie Mars. It would certainly be in keeping with the book's more general play with the form of LA noir...

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Tuesday, 30 May 2006 10:08 (thirteen years ago) link

does this also explain Veronica Mars?

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 30 May 2006 12:02 (thirteen years ago) link

is it pronounced "mass" or "mahs"?

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 30 May 2006 22:47 (thirteen years ago) link

the english prof i referred to above pronounced it more like "mahs" than "mass." he drew possible meanings out of its similarity to the spanish word "mas" (more), and this pronunciation makes Mucho Maas into a pun.

W i l l (common_person), Saturday, 3 June 2006 17:41 (thirteen years ago) link

one year passes...

How can I learn to appreciate "The Crying of Lot 49"?

Heave Ho, Saturday, 6 October 2007 11:19 (twelve years ago) link

get a copy and read it?

Jaq, Saturday, 6 October 2007 15:48 (twelve years ago) link

I've read it once, it went over my head.

Heave Ho, Saturday, 6 October 2007 16:52 (twelve years ago) link

Wait awhile, then read it again. Read it slowly, read it quickly, read it while waiting in a lawyer's lobby, read it only at stoplights when you are stopped. Wait awhile between each read. Read about it, the opinions of people you admire and people you despise. Tear out an obscure page and saute it in butter. Tear it into pieces with forks, then chew each piece carefully, savoring. Read it without thinking; read it aloud where you can't be heard. Read it while falling asleep and tell yourself to dream its significance. Wake in the night and feel the print on the pages, make out the letters, spell out the words. Copy it out in longhand while listening to the haunting call of the muted posthorn.

Jaq, Saturday, 6 October 2007 19:10 (twelve years ago) link

and then start finding "W.A.S.T.E." stamped in weird places.

Rubyredd, Saturday, 6 October 2007 22:59 (twelve years ago) link

"I've read it once, it went over my head."

you are not alone.

Zeno, Saturday, 6 October 2007 23:58 (twelve years ago) link

i think i would have read it once and been like "i don't get it", but i had to write an essay on it, which made me read it several times. it definitely gets better on multiple readings. also, reading it as a kind of analagy:

The USPS would appear to represent one particular and dominant construction or idea of America, while the W.A.S.T.E. system represents an alternative and subversive representation - a representation of the “excluded middles”. In this story, we can characterise the USPS as a centralised agency, with a streamlined and efficient system of collection and dissemination of information. In opposition, the W.A.S.T.E. service is chaotic, disordered, mysterious, largely unknowable, decentred and without an obvious agency in control. But what the reader comes to realise is that the two systems are in co-existence; neither one of them offers a singular truth, or an overriding master narrative, to describe America. In fact, the two systems represent just how the internet functions: the USPS can be seen as a metaphor for the speed and ease in which global telecommunications technology organises and transmits information, while W.A.S.T.E. symbolises the way in which the reception of that information can be subverted by the receiver. The USPS represents public life, while private life can be seen in the symbol of W.A.S.T.E. The participants of the W.A.S.T.E. system are the “excluded middles” that Decker refers to, and by subverting the USPS system they keep it in check.

Rubyredd, Sunday, 7 October 2007 00:11 (twelve years ago) link

One good way to appreciate it is to read some of his other books- then you will appreciate how short it is.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 9 October 2007 15:37 (twelve years ago) link

the book crying of lot 49

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 9 October 2007 15:39 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

Funnily enough I don't agree that KVUF is an obvious, um, whatever, rearrangement, of, that other word. I was not really an adolescent as Josh was.

Eddie Mars, I should start writing under that name.

the pinefox, Thursday, 23 October 2008 11:36 (eleven years ago) link

I meant, KCUF, but then, potsmaster, and there is a moment in the text where Oedipa is spelled Oepida.

the pinefox, Thursday, 23 October 2008 11:37 (eleven years ago) link

My port of entry was through the story of Lot's wife in Genesis - Oedipa is literally "Mucho" (Lot)'s wife. (He describes himself somewhere as parental to his girl listeners.) And P didn't stop there, he deliberately forced in every meaning of the word "lot": auction lot, car lot, lot meaning fate.

Maybe because I grew up in California, the social and landscape descriptions didn't give me much.

alimosina, Thursday, 23 October 2008 14:42 (eleven years ago) link

the entire sequence with Oedipa wandering around Berkeley is one of my favorite things ever written. especially when read at night, in solitude, in cities. it's like a 21st-century walpurgisnacht.

The droid army of the legacy press (bernard snowy), Sunday, 26 October 2008 05:18 (eleven years ago) link

Bless you. Here, I think I have a tissue somewhere.

You mean San Francisco, right? The Berkeley sequence is somewhat different, though also excellent.

On SF, though, I entirely agree - those 6pp or so are magically lyrical and I think they offer a rare kind of insight into ... culture.

the pinefox, Monday, 27 October 2008 00:01 (eleven years ago) link

er, I forget. doesn't she start out in Berkeley? or take the bus there at some point? maybe that's Oakland. I can't remember. I don't know California. I've been to San Francisco once. it wasn't as good as Oedipa's trip there.

The droid army of the legacy press (bernard snowy), Monday, 27 October 2008 01:21 (eleven years ago) link

Fab wide-eyed past-tense plot summary:

Driving without purpose, Oedipa realized that she was heading toward San Francisco in rush hour. Strangely, the hectic rush calmed her. She told herself that she would go with the flow in San Francisco, looking for nothing, and hopefully escape from the maze in which she was entangled.

However, within an hour, Oedipa saw a muted post horn. Walking along the streets, Arnold Snarb, a tourist, had pinned his ID badge on Oedipa. She was suddenly among a group of tourists who moved into a gay bar, The Greek Way. Oedipa was pushed in and given a drink. The man she stood next to had on a different badge, one with the muted post horn symbol. Oedipa tried mentioning that she was from Thurn and Taxis but the man did not understand. She directly asked about his pin but he told her nothing until Oedipa admitted that she needed help. She told him everything she knew. He had heard only of Kirby, the code name from the Scope's bathroom wall. He told Oedipa that his pin meant he was a member of Inamorati Anonymous, an organization for isolated individuals against love. The symbol originated with a fired member of Yoyodyne who had wanted to kill himself but could not decide to do it for weeks. He received a stack of letters from others who wanted to commit suicide but never did in response to an ad he placed. All contained the muted horn on the stamp. The man realized this in an attempt to douse himself with gas and burn to death. At that time, he recognized that love was his weakness and that he would start an organization for others who wished to isolate themselves from it. The horn became the sign.

After the helpful man left, Oedipa felt drunk and alone. The rest of the night, she wandered the streets of San Francisco, locating the Tristero symbol everywhere. She saw it in chalk on the street, like part of a children's game, and on a Chinese herbalist's window. She felt that she was meant to see and remember every sign. She was safe. In Golden Gate Park, she saw a circle of children who knew of the chalk game. Oedipa wandered into a Mexican diner and found Jesús Arrabal, an anarchist she and Pierce had met in Mazatlán. Jesús had been amazed by Pierce's total oligarchism. Lying near him was an old anarchist paper with an handstruck image of the post horn. Jesús could tell her nothing about it. On a bus, Oedipa noticed a scratched image of the post horn on the back of a seat with "DEATH" penciled near it, standing for "Don't ever antagonize the horn." She found the symbol in a laundromat and she heard a mother at the airport asking her son to write by WASTE. Each sign beat her up more than the last. She would later wonder how many times she had dreamt the horn. It seemed that every underground used WASTE to subvert the government.

the pinefox, Monday, 27 October 2008 10:21 (eleven years ago) link

four years pass...

just finished it. decent warm-up lap for what was to come. has several inspired passages (the suicide-gasoline-inamorati story, the movie/seduction/stripping-game scene and of course The Courier's Tragedy are stunning set-pieces, among others) and reads very smoothly. held my interest.

whoever says it's his best book is either a certified nutjob or intensely lazy, or at least needs to give me a seriously goddamn impressive explanation

ghosts of cuddlestein butthurt circlejerk zinged fuckboy (imago), Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:15 (six years ago) link

its his best book that i've finished, tho ive read the first six pages of gravity's rainbow about 40 times

should we bin tapping? (darraghmac), Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:26 (six years ago) link

gravity's rainbow is the guru granth sahib of my own personal religion and yes it's hard to get beyond the first 10 pages, took me about 5 years - this is the challenge of it

against the day is also much better than TCOL49 (hell, just the chapter where cyprian becomes a bride of the night is better than TCOL49), as is what I've read of mason & dixon

pynchon is still obviously the greatest

ghosts of cuddlestein butthurt circlejerk zinged fuckboy (imago), Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:30 (six years ago) link

no tolkien, wash out your mouth

should we bin tapping? (darraghmac), Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:33 (six years ago) link

anyway im more than happy that i've read the two big flann o'brien novels so far this summer after years on the shelf

should we bin tapping? (darraghmac), Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:33 (six years ago) link

i might reread this

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Thursday, 20 June 2013 01:15 (six years ago) link

fuck me, i don't have a copy of this. how is that even possible

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Thursday, 20 June 2013 01:16 (six years ago) link

set undergrad text, they're cheap to re-get

j., Thursday, 20 June 2013 01:34 (six years ago) link

i think i got rid of my first copy because i decided i liked the new cover but then i got rid of my new copy because i decided i didn't after all

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Thursday, 20 June 2013 01:51 (six years ago) link

thats the way to judge a book eh

should we bin tapping? (darraghmac), Thursday, 20 June 2013 01:55 (six years ago) link

hardcore pynchonites' contempt for this book is kinda hilarious

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 20 June 2013 07:01 (six years ago) link

i like it because of the swinging '60s vibe and because i kinda relate to oedipa. surely everyone will at least concede it's better than 'v' (which i find completely unreadable), right?

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 20 June 2013 07:05 (six years ago) link

No arguments from me, although the truth be told I didn't like crying that much either but it was at least shorter. There was a thread recently about not liking or not finishing books and I resisted the temptation to post about how I stopped reading V with about about five pages left. Reason I stopped was because I figured he wasn't going to explain anything anyway- please don't tell me otherwise-reason I didn't post was because it sort of felt like humblebragging, but I have no such scruple today. Still like that other crying thread.

Pastel City Slang (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:11 (six years ago) link

V has its moments and is obviously a harbinger of greater things to come but I don't think back on reading it with much fondness.

Lot 49 is a great novel and I get the feeling people underrate it because its short and relatively zippy, but there's a hell lot going on in there and it feels particularly relevant right now. I would rate it above AtD and on a par with GR (which is unstoppable for its first half but sags in the second half).

Matt DC, Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:17 (six years ago) link

Think ppl underrate Crying in part because Pynchon himself dismisses it in the introduction to Slow Learner

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:20 (six years ago) link

i've only laid out a lazy position above in response to lj, so i should state that reading crying in one feverish night sitting was one of the most intense and visceral trips of my life, it is imo a great work regardless of before, after or comparisons

should we bin tapping? (darraghmac), Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:23 (six years ago) link

I *do* think that TCOL49 would make a HELL of a movie, possibly by Linklater in his rotoscoped A Scanner Darkly mould

ghosts of cuddlestein butthurt circlejerk zinged fuckboy (imago), Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:32 (six years ago) link

also, Gravity's Rainbow sags in its second half? dios mio

ghosts of cuddlestein butthurt circlejerk zinged fuckboy (imago), Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:34 (six years ago) link

FWIW I think all the big Pynchons have a bit of a dip around 3/4 of the way in and then recover at the end, although none as pronounced as AtD. The section with all the rich kids shagging their way round the Balkans is eminently forgettable.

Matt DC, Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:39 (six years ago) link

that's...the best bit*

*the best bit not involving the Chums obv, or the murder of the Italian anarchist, which is one of the best bits in Pynchon (of the 3 1/2 I've read)

AtD only loses me at all with the weird detective potboiler near the end, and even that's kinda fitting as way of uh disappearing Deuce. The Frank Traverse plotline kept threatening to lose me and then kept winning me around, especially him seeing that statue through the window (again, one of the best bits in Pynchon)

ghosts of cuddlestein butthurt circlejerk zinged fuckboy (imago), Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:45 (six years ago) link

lol that post 'it's the best bit except this and this and this'

their climactic journey into the East is really amazing IMO

ghosts of cuddlestein butthurt circlejerk zinged fuckboy (imago), Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:46 (six years ago) link

five years pass...

Princess Gloria — once christened “Princess TNT” for her explosive years as a hard partying, art-collecting, punk-haired aristocrat — has grown into the sun queen around which many traditionalist Roman Catholics opposed to Pope Francis orbit. Her Regensburg castle is a potential “Gladiator School” for conservative Catholics on a crusade to preserve church traditions.

Her Roman palace overlooking the ancient forum is a preferred salon for opposition cardinals, bitter bishops and populists like Stephen K. Bannon. Many of them are hoping to use the sex abuse crisis that amounts to the greatest existential threat to the church in centuries to topple the 81-year-old pontiff, who they are convinced is destroying the faith.

j., Saturday, 8 December 2018 09:15 (one year ago) link

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