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Women & Men Chapter Discussions > 0044 Choor Monster of the Long White Mountain

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message 1: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Discuss.

message 2: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments More lots of stuff getting underway; the beginning of the Intrigue. In order to help follow Mayn's various meetings up with MacKenna, Jean provides a nice quick summary toward the end of the chapter on p90.

One of the confusing pieces of McElroy's style is the manner in which he frames the stories. In this case, a lot of the material is presented to us as Mayn telling Jean about this and that. Sometimes it is hard to detect the shift from within the story to its telling-frame. Chronology is always a bugger to figure out as well; Mayn might skip from one thing to another thing, and we're left to straighten out what happened when.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you so much, Jonathan, that's great. The thing I find with this book so far is that it's not so difficult to determine what's actually going on, it's that the things that are going on are never going on for very long, because other scenes and stories and moments weave in and out of them. It's difficult to tell where one ends and another begins. He also has a thing about shifting voice and tense (this chapter went between 'you', 'I' and 'him' as the primary pronoun even more than the first breather!)

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I got the impression in this chapter that some of it was Mayn's dream, even though he claims that he has never dreamt. The parts where McElroy kept using the word 'void' took my thoughts in that direction. The firing squad section, mainly.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

This section was fucked up difficult for me, by the way, much more so than the first BREATHER.

message 6: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments He has a very good reason for that. In fact, pay close attention to passages containing dreaming.

message 7: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments I'm not sure it was about order. To me, it was about sensations and experience, which can be chaotic. It was about getting past the chaos of information to get to the essence.

message 8: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments I agree that it's revolving around an idea more than any order as we typically know it, Jonathan. There is no clear time line, no clear "name" identity, no clear place identity, and no clear memory. There's even a suggestion that there's a blending of the sexes.

I was confused as to what you meant by "order."

message 9: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Thanks for that, Jonathan. I've been reading up on the Middle East, and it's disheartening learning about power plays by world leaders with third world countries. My perspective on W&M have deepened with added knowledge on power and economics. I've also learned more about pomo literary techniques. My review would be different now.

message 10: by Kyle (new)

Kyle | 13 comments deleted user wrote: "I got the impression in this chapter that some of it was Mayn's dream, even though he claims that he has never dreamt. The parts where McElroy kept using the word 'void' took my thoughts in that di..."

I remember at one point he mentioned that he "doesn't dream, at least not at night," or something like that. So I am wondering if some of the digressions and dream-like passages were him "day-dreaming."

I'm a little late, I realize.

message 11: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Jonathan's deleted posts:::

pp.44-65 - Choor Monster of the Long White Mountain

This chapter continues with the BREATHER threads involving James Mayn, with possibly an added thread involving a firing squad, though that too may be directly connected with Mayn (I can not connect the two yet, they remain apart, create a gap).

The first sentence: 'That sounds good, somewhere.' Mayn hears his mothers violin or piano. The chapter begins in his childhood, and moves between various other points in Mayn's life.

-- First the childhood stuff, we have no major new developments there, but a lot of great sensory passages. I particularly liked the line about the 'warlike leverage of your friend Sam's black rubber fins at the lake, which were fun, but cheating - but magical.'

-- He's in a Greenwich Village railroad flat listening to/ reporting on an 'unfrocked meteorologist', a 'Hermit-meteorologist' discuss New Weather which 'finds a relation between unprecedented atmospherics and the behavior of little stretches of coast that may alter infinitesimally overnight'. Was the guy really fired for this theory? or was it mostly 'for reading his mail on camera on [...] a pirate TV station.' Either way, James seems not to be able to make too much of the theory ('unique, but no more'), and will report on him as 'human interest'.

--The bulk of the pages under discussion are taken by Mayne at Canaveral. He's looking for a Chilean economist that he had met once before. Why? Might have something to do with his employer, an Argentine whose brother faked his death by plane on a foreign continent. But maybe not. Is this the same Chilean who is described as a 'Chilean naturalized German beekeeper'. It has to be, right? And what does this have to do with a firing squad we are being asked to identify with (you!). Smells like Pinochet or something of the sort.

What he ends up doing is going out with another reporter, Jean, that he meets at the press site. They go to a roadhouse together, then leave for another 'ominous briefing' at Canaveral. As they leave the roadhouse, they laugh at the grandmotherly waitress saying 'Have a nice day tonight.'. The launch is cancelled. Problems with skylab's heat shield. 'Time to think up a new parasol.'

--Oh, and Mayn is still in the future, on a platform, going up into Locus T, where he will be combined with someone else, transmitted to another location and combined into one person (are you getting all this?)


Questions? Anything I missed that we can know at this point?

Let's look at words that keep coming up: the title keeps getting repeated, we also keep seeing the words gap, vacuum, and equals. Any more?

pp. 65-80

Jean and Mayn are at a billiards bar. They get talking to a man who doesn't think it's worth pouring all that money into space. He hasn't 'smelt a cent of it', but Mayn counters that 'you're spending it right now.' and then explains how the program creates jobs throughout the US.

Mayn plays billiards with a (different?) man. A girl who is with him talks about a woman she met at the pool, she's from NY and she discovered she didn't love her husband during a pool game. Mayn is somehow convinced he knows her, or is connected to her somehow... She's a rising star in the feminist community. All signs point to Grace. Why does Mayn think he might know her? There are 'no words for this belief.'

Jean and Mayn walk the beach so long they're walking the coast of Florida. Mayn talks 'bout his kids. His kids, grown now, a boy 'this side of twenty', girl a little older, when they were kids he told them the story of the Big Dipper...sometimes they couldn't see the Bear, 'and to tell the truth, sometimes neither could Mayn'.

Mayn is 'in bed with a friendly person'.'Will Mayn love her? He's talking to her, which is important'.

We jump from '73 back to December '68. Mayn is talking to the German beekeeper who made his fortune in Chile. His parents (or at least his father) came to Chile after the war.

Maybe Mayn is speaking of this encounter to Jean. He is telling her of the second time he encountered the Chilean, at a previous launch. But the Chilean pretended they had never met before? Was it the same man? They watch the preparation for launch. 'The astronauts are elated' for their 'vacation in a vacuum'.

Jean asks, what story is he after? Several are introduced to us, all having to do with secrets or espionage. The 'story' we are possibly familiar with is 'How I kept to myself a conversation with the pilot who helped stage the plane crash that fated the death of a right-wing Chilean revolutionary, in January'.

Jean falls asleep as she talks sleepily, incoherently about, yes, Mayn's future life, the transfer of two into one...

pp. 80-end of chapter

Still with Mayn and Jean in the Space Coast Hotel. Jean is going in and out of sleep but is still 'responding regularly to what Mayn is saying'. The most obvious question is asked by Jean, why does this Chilean make such an impression anyhow? Well, it's not answered quite yet, but I can say more about the Chilean.

He is given a name. Dr. Mackenna. He is bald. He is an economist, a statistician. The first time Mayn saw him he was there for Allende. He was there on December 7th, 1972. I guess this is not the German beekeeper Chilean? Until someone or the text shows me otherwise, I am operating under the Multiple Chileans theory.

Mayn knows this: he won't fall in love again until 'he finds the formula joining
(1) his uncontrollable power to witness [two people turned into one]
(2)his faith that the Chilean economist matters more even than his connection with post-Allende politics and the Spence link
(3)his lifelong inability to dream'


HOT TIP: A Colloid seems like another good model for our novel, 'between solution and suspension, fine particles in a liquid'.

So, we kind of know what Choor is sort of(from g'ma M's stories) and we know that 'more and more monsters[...are] deciding to join the human race'(92), from...Choor? What is the Long White Mountain. I would say it's the Andes. So, in this chapter, the Choor monster would be... our Dr.M, the Chilean. Let's think of other reasons this title fits the chapter. (edit: several hundred pages later I find the identification of Dr. M with the Choor Monster doubtful. I don't want to mislead. Perhaps I was right the first time and I'll have to delete this edit.)

What do you make of Dr.M's future, the one with the new skin that can live w/o the pressure of our atmosphere, and the 'cool new' blood type, type R. Is this a different future than the one that Mayn inhabits at times?

I still find elements of this chapter baffling, though I think I get maybe 85% of it as of where I'm at on page 480ish. Like, the beekeeper stuff, I'm still baffled by. The firing squad stuff, I still can't make it fit exactly right. Maybe if I directly re-read it instead of looking at my insane notes, I could boost that up to 90%. The scenes that are not going on for long, they go on again later, usually also not for long, but together they add up to a very dense and developed scene. It works!

#10 response to deleted : " This section was fucked up difficult for me, by the way, much more so than the first BREATHER."
Really? The first couple paragraphs of the first BREATHER still make my brain split.

Mayn doth protest quite a bit 'bout that dreamin'

#12 response to Aloha "He has a very good reason for that. In fact, pay close attention to passages containing dreaming. "
Rereading my comments here, as I begin to reread the chapter, I see I was trying too hard to connect all the voices back to Mayn's experiences (rather than letting myself be carried by that varied voices of McElroyian planetary consciousness) once I decided he was the main voice here--the firing squad voice may come from Mayn thinking of the political turmoil in SA, but the text at that point isn't organized around Mayn's conscious thoughts, but the idea of the "order"--Mayn ordering a drink, the various coaches ordering plays and drills, the order of the faux execution--the words that produce, if followed, immediate action. When these situations come up, we jump from Mayn to the orderer.

By "at that point" I mean, those couplethree pages I described. I don't mean the entire chapter. McElroy is using sensation and perception, but I'm saying that it wasn't as ordered through any progression (in time or otherwise) on Mayne's part as much as I thought (or remembered I thought) it was: it's revolving around an idea. This happens a lot during the BREATHERS actually.

oh, no worries. I meant order as in "command". It's all good.

Allende's final speech at the United Nations, referenced in this chapter (and if I recall correctly, a few others): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQfC4l...

You have to turn the (English) subtitles on.

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