Friday, March 5, 2021

I don't know how to do this anymore.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Gravity's Rainbow: Part XXIX.I

This section begins with a primer on plastics, a brief history leading up to Jamf's Imipolex G. I'm not a chemist so I don't understand the lingo but I've done enough chemistry so I get the gist. That's the fairly standard description of my intelligence! I can't explain anything to anybody in great detail (except maybe why Cerebus can't get pregnant) but I'll definitely understand any amount of detailed explanation of a subject with which you'd like to bore me. Here's an example of me reading this book:

Jamf at the time was working for a Swiss outfit called Psychochemie AG, originally known as the Grossli Chemical Corporation, *Me, yawning, nodding along, eyes glazing over* a spinoff from Sandoz (where, as every schoolchild knows, the legendary Dr. Hoffman made his important discovery). *me, eyes flashing open, grin on my face, nodding enthusiastically. "Yeah, yeah! Every schoolchild! Good old Albert Hoffman! My hero! Genius!"*

The primer also describes the links between all the petrochemical companies of the time. It's probably supposed to show how big business and corporations and the advancement of science (particularly plastics, in this case) had no loyalty to any nation. It was all about profits and advancements and more profits. One of the companies had an address at Schokoladestrasse which made me happy because I knew those words. I'm not bragging! Obviously everybody knows those words! It just made me happy! In the same way somebody in the book could have said "Ziegenstrasse" and I would have come in my pants.

This is all discovered by Slothrop as he researches Jamf and Imipolex G and the German blueprints for rockets and especially this one weird rocket that was built with a section composed of Imipolex G which seems to have been top secret: The "S-Gerät, 11/00000." While doing the research, he also comes up with "Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Hmm, that may have been a proverb for paranoids in 1945 and also 1973 but I think it's just standard operating procedure for anybody with any money or power at this point. I don't think saying that makes me paranoid. I think it makes me observant.

During the days of researching, Slothrop discovers Tantivy has died. Or might have died. Basically, They want Slothrop to think he's dead so whether they sent him out to a dangerous mission to get killed or they just planted a story in the paper so Slothrop would read it, it hardly matters. Thinking Tantivy has not just died but was most likely killed by Them to get to Slothrop, Slothrop's path becomes clear. He's no longer content to sit in the Casino and study and sort of ignore that they're manipulating his life. It's time to head into The Zone and figure out what's going on.

He heads to Nice to find the address given to him by Waxwing, the address where he can get a new identity.

Just for the knife-edge, here in the Rue Rossini, there comes to Slothrop the best feeling dusk in a foreign city can bring: just where the sky's light balances the electric lamplight in the street, just before the first star, some promise of events without cause, surprises, a direction at right angles to every direction his life has been able to find up till now.

For Slothrop, that moment must be heaven. A promise of events without cause?! How does one so paranoid as Slothrop ever reach that stage? I guess upon arriving in a new city at dusk before he has a chance to see the strings, the facades, the seeming random coincidences that, upon slight reflection, prove themselves to be manipulations.

Slothrop arrives at the address given to him by Waxwing and winds up among a bunch of bohemian drifters and squatters. In a description of their shoes: . . . saddle-stitching in contrasting colors (such as orange on blue, and the perennial favorite, green on magenta. . . . What is it with magenta and green?! Did Pynchon suffer from some kind of PTSD derived from wearing bowling shoes?!

After a lot of paranoid delusions of conversations with people he thinks he knows but they're just wanderers and drunks, squatters and Johns, he gets his papers. He's now Ian Scuffling, war correspondent, and he's headed to Zurich.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Cerebus #24 (1981)

In this issue, the kids downstairs won't stop laughing loudly while Old Man Cerebus tries to sleep.

Only about thirty issues left containing "A Note from the Publisher" which I'll probably continue to ignore since they don't say anything I care about! This is an assumption based on Sim and Loubert's marriage ending in 1983 (the assumption that the note will only last around two more years and not the assumption that none of them will discuss anything I'm interested in. That's less assumption and more evidence-based research).

I did enjoy this bit from the "A Note from the Publisher" page though.

Dave Sim's Swords of Cerebus essay in this issue is a continuation from the last issue and continues on into the next issue. It ends at a dramatic place in a story he's telling about getting drunk with some dealers at a convention and one of them carrying around a loaded gun, leaving it on the dresser in the hotel room where they've landed at the end of the night to continue drinking. After the part of the story where Dave says, "Take the bullets out," the essay is left hanging to be concluded in the next issue. I suppose, due to the constraints of space, it had to be done. But imagine picking up this issue and having to wait two weeks to find out where the story goes. And then imagine, two weeks later, after you've mostly forgotten about the story, reading the continuation of the story from that point and thinking, "What the hell was happening with Sim and these guys?!"

I suppose all of that could have been avoided by simply buying the Swords of Cerebus volume this essay was in and reading it the way it was supposed to be read. But that's unrealistic! The reason these bi-weekly Cerebus issues exist is because the single issues, by 1989, were too hard to find and the Swords of Cerebus volumes were out of print, replaced by Sim's Cerebus phone books. I think I only have the first three Swords of Cerebus books because I purchased them so late that the phone books were already in print. But I managed to stumble on Swords of Cerebus first and picked them up, always having been curious about that aardvark (aardvard?) on the cover of all those comic books across the aisle from my precious Elfquest books down at Brian's Books in Santa Clara, California.

This issue is called "Swamp Sounds" and I hope that means Cerebus is going to have sex with some of the ladies at Madame Dufort's School for Horny Girls. Except I know that it means a Swamp Thing parody is in the works. Unless it's a Man-Thing parody. Does it matter?

The story begins with Cerebus sitting around playing card games and drinking whisky with the three young ladies at the school.

When I was in my early 20s, this was one of the funniest jokes I'd ever read in a comic book. I'm now 49 and, well, it still is.

Oh wait. I forgot the joke gets funnier.

Ah ha ha ha ha! What a scamp!

Cerebus and the girls have a discussion about heroism. Cerebus says it doesn't exist and prods them for examples of a true hero still living. Theresa tells a story they heard from Katrina's sister about their uncle. The story gives credit to Lord Julius for saving the Festival of Petunias, an act which, of course, was accomplished by Cerebus. But what's more interesting is that Katrina looks almost exactly like Jaka which means the sister who told the story was certainly Jaka. I'm not sure if Jaka brings up Katrina in any later stories, or if she's a character at all in "Jaka's Story." Seeing as how Lord Julius isn't really an "uncle" to any of them, it could be suggested that Katrina isn't really Jaka's sister. But, I mean, she looks just like her.

The second story was about Elrod and features this iconic re-imagining of Cerebus through Elrod's eyes.

Later that night, Cerebus realizes the "swamp sounds" are coming from inside the school. He investigates to find the girls in a trance around some magic table with Madame Dufort watching over them. But Dufort has removed the disguise and reveals himself to be the sorcerer, Charles X. Claremont! For the non-comic book initiated, he's a parody of Charles Xavier with the addition of the great X-men writer Chris Claremont's surname.

Charles decides to explicate the entire plot, revealing his machinations, plans, and goals while Cerebus sits patiently listening. The second most important part of the story is that a book of fables by the legendary Suenteus Po was actually a book of spells. One spell was to summon the Apocalypse Beast which is what Claremont has done (the most important part of the story!). He introduces it to Cerebus as Woman-Thing. Which spontaneously causes me to remember how Charles X. Claremont dies next issue. Ick.

Cerebus #24 Rating: B+. Apparently in my estimation, Dave Sim does better work when he's concentrating on the comic book parodies than when he's concentrating on obscure Clint Eastwood movies. Don't argue with me that The Beguiled which opened the year I was born and doesn't have as many horses and gunfights as you'd expect from an Eastwood movie isn't "obscure" just because you've seen it. Also, I don't want to get into an Internet argument where I might be wrong. So just shut up, okay?! But I bet we can agree that the Charles Xavier, School for Gifted Girls, and the Woman-Thing bits are way better than the whole beguiling thing from last issue, right?! Last issue would have been better if Cerebus had had sex with some human women. I would have been so grossed out by what that would have got started in my pants.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Cerebus #23 (1980)

Uh oh. This issue looks serious.

Just a few issues left before Dave Sim really starts getting serious with his 25 issue story arc, "High Society." He's already hinted a few times that a lot more is happening than just Cerebus bouncing around Estarcion trying to get drunk and rich. Yes, just drunk and rich. He doesn't seem too concerned with getting laid. I think he's probably a virgin and a romantic so he's going to need to be in love before he has sexual relations with some poor sod. Although that theory will be stabbed in the face later when Cerebus becomes Pope and marries himself to Astoria simply so he can rape her while also convincing himself it isn't rape because he married himself to her first. But maybe he loved her and thought he was being romantic? He's an aardvark! How can I judge an aardvark's mental acrobatics! I can't even judge my own.

If I remember correctly, one of these last three issues before "High Society" will be the one with the Man-Thing parody. But this one, I believe, is the one where he's laid up in a house with a bunch of women who want to fuck him but, being Cerebus, he's all, "No, no! I am not interested in that kind of thing! Unless you get me drunk on peach brandy!" I forget what the other plot will be. Maybe the return of Thrunk?

I haven't spoken about Deni's "A Note from the Publisher" lately because there's really nothing to talk about. It's always just "We've been really busy and I don't have anything else to say so just read the book!" I suppose this one was informative because Deni apologized for the price of the comic book going up and I wouldn't have noticed that that. The original Issue #23 has a cover price of $1.50 while the Bi-weekly, which I'm reading because it was cheaper to buy than the real issue, has a cover price of $1.25. See? Cheaper!

I hate agreeing with people when they say something like "I'm not the typical whatever!" But Dave Sim basically invented (and if not actually invented since I know a lot of Internet literalists are going to want to end me for saying it, perfected) self-publishing comics. Ultimately I like Elfquest better for aesthetic and middle school boy reasons (the time I read it. Not because I'm into middle school boys. Anymore, at least) but it just can't compete with what Sim accomplished.

The thing Dave Sim decided made him different was that he wasn't interested in collecting comics or comic related materials. I guess he was too cool for comics. But he still went and made a comic book? Maybe that's why he was so successful. Sure, he was a fan of comic book artists and their works. And he read comic books. So it makes sense he was interested in drawing and writing one. But he wasn't a big dumb nerdy fangender. I probably would have been more like Dave Sim but then Giffen created Lobo and I was like, "I need all the Lobo stuff! He's the perfect representation of the music I'm into! All superficial glam without any finesse or subtlety! Violence unending! Clothing that is more costume than cool but at least signifies to the correct people that maybe I'm into the same rock ballads about love that they're into and thus maybe they might let me put my penis into their vagina! Fucking Lobo! So cool! I need all the merch!"

Yes, I was a Lobo fan but please realize that I also love hyperbole before you completely judge me. Although for my twenty-first birthday, the woman I was sort of seeing at the time bought me a Lobo poster and a Lobo shirt for my birthday which was weird because we hadn't been dating for that long. I opened the presents in the middle of a country bar. I was celebrating my 21st birthday at a country bar because my friend Bob and I had made a pact at twelve years old that we'd ride the mechanical bull at The Saddle Rack as soon as we turned 21. He had turned 21 twenty-three days previously.

If the woman I was dating at the time stumbles upon this and recognizes me by this description of my 21st birthday, please do not contact me. You had sex with me while I was sleeping when I had previously made it known that I wasn't ready to have sex with you. Yes, after I woke up, I was all, "Okay, well, I guess we're doing this," and I was fine with it. But it probably didn't surprise you that I didn't want to see you after that. Not because "I got what I wanted." But because you took what you wanted.

Probably fitting that the woman who gave me Lobo merchandise was also the woman who sexually assaulted me! Lobo is bad news! But then so is Cerebus. I think maybe some of my favorite comic book characters were seriously problematic!

This issue of Cerebus is a parody of the Clint Eastwood movie, The Beguiled (which I've never seen but now really want to watch it. If I can find it, I'll try to watch it before finishing this review to compare it to the comic).

Cerebus, wounded after fleeing Beduin (or was it Iest? I can't remember!), stumbles, nearly unconscious from pain and infection, in sight of a large boarding house. He collapses and is rescued by three young women who are desperate for some dick.

And then I get to "Aardvark Comment" with all the letters. What's that, you say? What about the story? Isn't this a "review" of the comic book's story and not the stupid bullshit writing without pictures which bookend the story? I mean, sure, I guess. But apparently people are finally acting on that trite parental advice that if you have nothing nice to say maybe don't say anything at all. Now every conversation about a terrible piece of art goes like this:

Person A: "That was some truly horrible shit. Ugh. I can't believe I paid for that. I wish the director's mother had died during the sex which impregnated her. So vile. The worst. It actually ruined all of the things I once loved that shared any words in the title of this awful piece of filth."
Person B: "You know a lot of people worked hard on that piece of art. They didn't set out to make a bad piece of art. They put a lot of time and effort into it and we should applaud their strength to go out there and accomplish something that few people ever accomplish."
Person A: "I fucking hate you."

"Person A" actually only thinks that last piece of the conversation.

I know my brand has been to be unspeakably cruel to creators who produce bad comic books, to be overly insulting to the editors that allowed the creator to submit sub par work, to be outright antagonistic to the publishers of comic books edited by lazy assholes and written by people who just don't give a shit about the final product. But I've learned I was wrong to be that way! I should have been applauding Scott Lobdell for not caring about the quality of his work because at least he got the pages done in time! It's okay that Howard Mackie uses fifteen thousand extraneous punctuation marks in his dialogue (half of them used incorrectly) and his editors just waved the script on while they jerked off on piles of money because how many comic books have I written?! I should be sucking the dick of the presidents of DC and Marvel for not charging me ten dollars for poorly written drivel and badly edited crap because at least they were offering me some art that people sort of worked on. And when Dave Sim writes a story that's based on a movie he really enjoys but doesn't really tell much of a story and the only jokes are "people speaking with bad Italian accents," I just have to smile and point out, "This is art! People worked on it!"

So I'm not going to bash Sim for having a boring issue of Cerebus after having quite a few good ones. That would be like me pointing out that, sure, maybe Cullen Bunn writes some decent comic books when he's working with material he loves, like stuff with characters he created, but he obviously doesn't give a shit about DC's intellectual properties or why else would he write a run of Aquaman that is just a discount version of John Carter? How dare I complain that Bunn's Aquaman couldn't be further from what makes Aquaman Aquaman and it's fucking ridiculous that DC wouldn't expect me to demand a refund on that bullshit. "Oh, yes, I get to write Aquaman!" is something Cullen Bunn definitely did not say. I'm sure it was more like, "Oh, fuck. DC is going to pay me a pretty good sum to do an Aquaman run. Let's see what half-assed sci-fi scripts I have lying around that I could do a quick 'find' on the main character's name and 'replace' it with Aquaman!" That's just the kind of thing I refuse to do now.

"The Single Page" has now become "The Double Page." One page was a comic about how Dave Sim picks the comic for The Single Page. The other one was a dystopian look at agriculture and crime in the year 2052 that ends on a pun. It was pretty good. The first one was kind of stupid but I liked the way the artist drew Sim's pug nose.

Cerebus #23 Rating: C-. In the early days, one of Dave Sim's main jokes and/or plot points was that Cerebus was an aardvark and it wasn't weird to others except in two ways: the way he smelled when he was wet and the way he looked. Sure, they all called knew his last name was "the Aardvark" but everybody still commented on how ugly he was for a human. I think that was supposed to be part of the humor of this issue. At least one of the young women of the boarding house wasn't sure if she wanted to bring in the hurt little animal and nurse it back to health or fuck it. Eventually this aspect of the comic book gets more complicated as we learn more about aardvarks in Estarcion and how they're always some kind of nexus for great change and historic upheaval. Also they're magic in some way. I gave this issue a "C-" because I was mostly bored with it right up until it ended abruptly. Maybe it was funnier the first time I read it when I wasn't 300 issues used to Cerebus as an aardvark. I probably chuckled every other page thinking, "Hee hee. Those women want to fuck an aardvark. That's hot."

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Cerebus #22 (1980)

Spoiler Alert: Elrod is a fictional character. No, I know that's not a spoiler! But it actually is so I apologize. You'll understand later.

There's probably some kind intelligence test (not really. But maybe there should be?) that ranks your intelligence based on which character from Cerebus you find the most funny. You're probably super duper smart if you say Oscar Wilde (or whatever his name is in this comic). After that, Lord Julius probably shows you're pretty intelligent. Maybe Cockroach is up there because people on the Internet often mistake referencing pop culture as a joke and The Roach references a whole lot of pop culture. Way down at the stupid pile on the bottom are probably the McGrew Brothers. The character I find the funniest, which probably puts me at below average intelligence, is Elrod. Obviously if you pick Jaka, you're a misogynist and if you pick Pud Withers, you're a sociopath. I know those aren't levels of intelligence but if you pick a non-funny character in a test asking to pick a funny character, there's something fucking wrong with you.

Spoiler Alert #2: Elrod dies in this issue. No, that's not the spoiler since he died at the end of the last issue (or was about to and then the next time bit said "Next month: The Death of Elrod"? It's been too long since I read Issue #21!) and if you looked at the cover, it says "The Death of, I say, the Death of Elrod." The actual spoiler is that Elrod becomes Deadalbino, a parody of Neal Adams' Deadman comic. I'm putting this spoiler here because Dave talks a little bit about it in his Swords of Cerebus essay:

Judging by Dave Sim's Deadman "to-do" list, I'm guessing he'd ask for the worst genie wishes as well.

So Dave Sim, as Deadman, would take over a woman and play with her boobies for two hours? Okay, fine. I'm taking him literally because I want to think of him as a prude even though I'm sure he's cleaning it up for this comic book he's selling to the public. Who would want to read his actual fantasies of taking over his math teacher? It would probably be disgusting based on what my fantasy would be! I'm only going on record and saying that I would fill all of my holes with penises because this is a totally imaginary situation and it could never happen. But if it could happen, and this is a huge problem for the character Deadman, it's fucking rape. Even when Boston Brand takes over somebody's body and doesn't fiddle with their private bits, it's rape. He's penetrating their psyche without consent! Not to mention how easily he could get somebody killed! What if he grabs some peanuts while inside somebody and discovers they're allergic?! And how often did he enter people and start pulling some ridiculous parkour stunt bullshit, completely endangering their lives?! He doesn't know how frail their knees might be! And I know it could only happen off-panel, but you know he did Sim's math teacher fantasy with way more than one woman! How could he not?! Dead people get horny too!

Here's what I'd do: I'd take over the math teacher and make her write on her chalkboard, "I'm a ghost that can take over your body. I just did it to write this message. Do you want to fuck?" Then she'd probably read the message and moan, "Oh baby! I am so turned on by Fickengeists! Let's do this!" And then boom! She'd be in the bathroom stall touching her boobies like crazy!

The issue begins with Elrod getting killed, becoming a ghost, and taking control of the Sopai assassin. Cerebus has been unconscous through all of this but when he wakes up, he doesn't care about how he survived. He just wants to get back to his war with Palnu that he thinks is still somehow going on even though he's no longer anywhere near the vicinity.

Cerebus doesn't understand that he's the nexus of chaos and it's everybody else who gets pulled into his messes.

I understand that part of what makes Cerebus the nexus of chaos in this comic book is that he's the protagonist. Any chaos that happens when Cerebus isn't around isn't likely to make it into the pages of the comic book, unless they somehow relate to something Cerebus is up to. Like when you get a scene of Serna having Cirin's mouth sewn shut or pages and pages and pages of Oscar Wilde dying. Sure, Cerebus is sitting right out front but he's not really doing anything. Even when he takes a break from being the protagonist, the story presented needs to happen near him. Unless it's memories of Jaka's childhood! But then that's a story being written by the Oscar who is kind of Oscar Wilde but not the one who dies in the following story. I don't think. Maybe?

I suppose if Cerebus wasn't a nexus of chaos, the story would get kind of boring. It's a good thing Dave Sim's God created a chaotic little aardvark whose adventures Dave Sim could transcribe.

Cerebus soon learns that his army was replled by Palnu's forces and slaughtered. That's when he resigns himself to be a part of Weisshaupt's weirdness.

Weisshaupt makes a bunch of plans that involve Deadalbino taking over various high profile government officials and then he names Cerebus "Secretary of the Interior," a job which with a list of responsibilities that make sense, as opposed to when he was Kitchen Staff Supervisor. Although if you look past Lord Julius's confusing way of governing, Cerebus's job really hasn't changed: he's to drink and gamble and threaten people who speak out against his boss.

Weisshaupt's plan completely falls apart because he's relying on Elrod. I suppose Cerebus could have warned him but Cerebus was already drunk with power in his new position that would give him the power to always be drunk. Deadalbino sneaks back into his own body and suddenly he's no longer Deadalbino. He's just Elrod again. Cerebus leaves Weisshaupt to be caught by the guards and he escapes for another adventure. But he'll be back to politics soon. Like in just a few more issues.

Cerebus #22 Rating: B+. Cerebus gets another taste of politics in the Weisshaupt story line, his second toe-dipping since working for Lord Julius. Most of it isn't to his liking but he's definitely attracted to the luxurious amount of free time he can drink in relative safety. He's come a long way from his barbarian roots and his belief that he needs to raise an army of other barbarians to take over some major city which would give him a luxurious amount of free time to drink in relative safety. He's still trying to learn the best way to not have to do anything but drink and gamble and not have to answer to anybody else. It's the basic foundational dream for everybody's dreams, right? Just give me free time to do what I want without anybody bothering me. So Dave Sim wrote a comic book about a person who wants to be able to do whatever they want without anybody bothering them which allowed Dave Sim to do whatever he wanted without anybody bothering him. He even learns the lesson so well that he divorces his wife, probably because she was bothering him. Then he outrages a large percentage of his female readers, probably because they were bothering him. Then he alienates a large percentage of his fan base by writing month after month of religious arguments, and not fictional religious arguments dealing with Tarim (or Terim?!) but real life theology dealing with the three big religions of the People of the Book! Because while Dave was converted by—um, I don't know—himself, Cerebus was converted by Rick. Sort of. Anyway, Dave probably alienated those readers because they were bothering him! Now he's got just the right number of people in his audience that he feels comfortable! It's not as many as when he was writing hilarious jokes like Elrod in a barrel pretending to be a mouse! But the ones that are still there are worth way more than all the ones that made him a superstar comic book artist. They were just too stupid to realize what they wanted was a comic book about the life of an aardvark that ends with him explicating The Bible, falling out of bed, and going straight to Hell with all the other sinful characters who weren't Rick.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Gravity's Rainbow: Part XXVIII

I don't know what meaning green and magenta have in this novel but they spring up again in this chapter. As Slothrop wanders around Raoul's party, he's enlisted for some secret service by a guy in a white zoot suit. As he follows him outside, they run into Jean-Claude Gongue, described as the "notorious white slaver of Marseilles," "busy white-slaving." Ha. Two of the girls he asks to be white slaves declare they do not, the first one saying she wants to be a green slave and the second one wanting to be magenta. A third wants to be vermilion but I don't think vermilion is important. She's just there to obfuscate the green and magenta bit!

I can't make a guess as to what it's about. I can only note every time it happens to appear. I think this is the third time? I'm sure I missed some. But eventually, in the final chapter, Pynchon gives us a section called "The Last Green and Magenta." So, I mean, it must mean something, right?!

The man in the zoot suit is Blodgett Waxwing. He's important because he's going to get Slothrop his own zoot suit and also forged papers so Slothrop can flee the Casino and head into Germany looking for signs of his connection to Jamf and the Rocket. Blodgett is doing so many deals that depend on so many people coming through that he's basically the Milo Minderbender of this book.

The story here tonight is a typical WW II romantic intrigue, just another evening at Raoul's place, involving a future opium shipment's being used by Tamara as security against a loan from Italo, who in turn owes Waxwing for a Sherman tank his friend Theophile is trying to smuggle into Palestine but must raise a few thousand pounds for purposes of bribing across the border, and so has put the tank up as collateral to borrow from Tamara, who is using part of her loan from Italo to pay him. But meantime the opium deal doesn't look like it's going to come through, because the middleman hasn't been heard from in several weeks, along with the money Tamara fronted him, which she got from Raoul de la Perlimpinpin through Waxwing, who is now being pressured by Raoul for the money because Italo, deciding the tank belongs to Tamara now, showed up last night and took it away to an Undisclosed Location as payment on his loan, thus causing Raoul to panic. Something like that.

At least I feel like if I read that a few more times, I could work out all the trails and connections and it would make sense. I've read Catch-22 multiple times over the last twenty-something years and I still don't know how Milo paid for the eggs.

The tank in the previous quote, driven by an angry Tamara, crashes the party. Tamara fires a round into the house (a dud so it only does minimal damage from blunt force) and Slothrop has to wrestle her out of the tank. Between the obvious sexual metaphor of the tank's gun slamming into the mansion and firing off a load and Slothrop wrestling the woman out of the tank, Slothrop's penis does not get erect. Pointsman will never get to add this occurrence to the data of his experiment because none of his minions were there (or sober enough) to report it. But I guess we, the readers, should probably make note of it, right? Just a second.

"Tank's massive turret with the gaping bell-end launches its payload into the cavernous rooms of Raoul's mansion. Slothrop's penis does not get hard even though that's the sexiest bit of writing I've ever read. You can tell by how sexily I have summarized it. Ooh la la, as the American soldiers will say to their wives after coming home and giving them gonorrhea." Note Copyright Grunion Guy 2021.

Waxwing lets Slothrop know, once and for all, that the incident with the octopus was staged. How he knows, he doesn't tell Slothrop. But he gives Slothrop a business card and a clue as to where to run to, as well as the zoot suit, and a keychain.

Before the end of this section, there's a bit about police, describing what we all know is true about them but what some people choose to pretend they don't see. And by pretending not to know this truth, we see a despicable truth about themselves as well. They never realize what they're exposing of their true selves when they deny to accept a reality with which they secretly agree.

The zoot suit is in a box tied with a purple ribbon. Keychain's there too. They both belonged to a kid who used to live in East Los Angeles, named Ricky Gutierrez. During the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, young Gutierrez was set upon by a carload of Anglo vigilantes from Whittier, beaten up while the L.A. police watched and called out advice, then arrested for disturbing the peace.

The Blue Lives Matter folk are delusional, racist bastards and anybody with any sense (mostly the senses that are the providence of the ears and eyes) knows it.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Gravity's Rainbow: Part XXVII

I write another blog (several but this is the relevant one) where I discuss each line of Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day one at a time. Right now, it's fairly easy because it's just the first two chapters discussing the Chums of Chance adventure to Chicago. No sentences have been truly difficult. But as I do it, I often think about Gravity's Rainbow and how hard it would be. Here's the first sentence of this section which basically amounts to: "Hey! It's spring in late March!"

The great cusp—green equinox and turning, dreaming fishes to young ram, watersleep to firewaking, bears down on us.

If I were a bitter, cynical, bastard of a person, I'd think, "I'm trying to read a book, not analyzing Goddamned poetry!" Good thing I'm just a bitter, cynical, decent kind of person. No bastard here! Although for poetry, this is fairly easy. It's just Pynchon saying the date in four different ways: "great cusp," "green equinox," Gemini turning to Aries, and, once again but differently, Gemini (water) turning to Aries (fire) combined with winter (sleeping) turning to spring (waking). It really is poetry, like so much of this book. Which is one quarter of the reasons that make reading it so hard. The other three reasons are 1. changing perspective without notice, 2. tons of references nobody understands without research or having been there, and 3. reality often shifting, sometimes to dreams or daydreams, sometimes to "let's describe this scene as if it were a movie or comic book," or some other kind of strange hallucination. All of those things make this book difficult to read; all of those things make this book beautiful and surprising.

The second paragraph does much the same for the statement: "The war is nearing an end." It even mentions the resident of the asylum, Lloyd George, who believes he's the avatar of the war, is dying.

Life has also changed at the Casino Hermann Goering. Slothrop has learned that he isn't completely ineffective in his rebellions against the conspiracy against himself. He begins coming up with his "Proverbs for Paranoids" with the first proverb: "You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures." He learned that by forcing Dodson-Truck to confess some of what he knew, and for, well, whatever he did to have them take Katje away. That was probably mostly punishment for his work on Stephen Dodson-Truck. I mean, Pointsman also needed her back at The White Visitation to shit in Brigadier Pudding's mouth.

Slothrop has found himself increasingly in a state of reverie. That means he seems to be daydreaming a lot but another definition of reverie is "a fanciful or impractical idea or theory." In his reverie, he seems to somehow get in touch with the other side, and begins getting messages or transmissions or maybe impractical theories from the late Roland Feldspath, "long-co-opted expert on control systems, guidance equations, feedback situations for this Aeronautical Establishment and that." Roland was the spirit Carroll Eventyr was speaking with when we first meet Carroll Eventyr. At the time, Roland was speaking about his time in some kind of contact with Dominus Blicero. Roland's forte is control systems and he comments on how controls had gone topsy-turvy while "transected" with Dominus Blicero. He discusses how the wind is the major factor in the control of a rocket because, once launched, the rocketeers and rocket have lost contact. But Roland goes on:

"It's control. All these things arise from one difficulty: control. For the first time it was inside, do you see. The control is put inside. No more need to suffer passively under 'outside forces'—to veer into any wind. As if . . ."

Was Roland trying to describe the Schwarzgerat to them? That Blicero was experimenting with putting a living person in the rocket for means of control? And here I thought it was just a sex thing!

Roland describes his previous contact with Carroll as a bunch of bullshit about German economics because that's what all the ghosts are into. I think. Look, I failed statistics in college because it was too boring for the math to be that difficult. What I'm saying is that I'm also bored to tears by economics, even when it's discussed by a ghost! And I loved In Search of... so you'd think I'd be more into this. Maybe I'd have been more into it if economic models were described the way Roland describes them here, like wandering an empty city until you came to the edge and ventured into fields and then a forest where you, inevitably, can go no further, like all the mathematical theories reaching the limit of some confusing equation. And then that, somehow, brings us to the Rocket and the equations for its gravitational rainbow.

I'm sure if I were smarter, I'd understand what Roland's getting at. But I'm more on Slothrop's level of intelligence and so I react much like he does after these Roland reveries:

Afterward, Slothrop would be left not so much with any clear symbol or scheme to it as with some alkaline aftertaste of lament, an irreducible strangeness, a self-sufficiency nothing could get inside. . . .

As for Slothrop's non-daydreaming hours? He spends them learning German and learning about rockets and learning about propulsions and engineering and diagrams and ordnance. In doing so, he begins to realize how ridiculous the corporate connections are to the war effort. He tells a man named Hilary Bounce how ridiculous it is that the Germans are firing rockets out of a Shell company fuel manufacture site directly at Shell headquarters in London. Hilary, being a good corporate man, doesn't get what Slothrop is driving at. Can't this damn paranoid see that corporate profit and the business of war are two entirely different things that also just happen to rely on one another?!

Slothrop comes up with his second Proverb for Paranoids: "The innocence of the creatures is in inverse proportion to the immortality of the Master." I don't know what that means, exactly. I guess it means the more powerful a corporate entity or political position, the greater the dumb subservience of the people who work under it. Like these Goddamned idiotic Trump supporters who never see the terrible bullshit he's spouting or supporting and only pretend to see some greater good or generous scheme.

It's during this time that Slothrop begins to get the scent of the Schwarzgerat. He discovers blueprints for a rocket that needs some sort of insulation made of Imipolex G. What for? Turns out it's a state secret and not easy to uncover. Nobody will help him with it. But Slothrop learns Hilary has a teletype back to Shell in his room and he devises a means to get Hilary out of the room and get himself inside to send a message asking about Imipolex G. On the night he does this, after he gets the message back (to be read later), he heads to the party he sent Hilary and one of the dancers to, followed after by some sneaky sneak. The plot thickens!

Can this plot thicken much more?! Sure it can! Five hundred pages more! And how many of those pages will I understand? Hopefully at least 450 of them!