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Gravity's Rainbow
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Gravity's Rainbow - Spine 2012 > Discussion - Week One - Gravity's Rainbow - Part One, pp. 1 - 109 (1 - 91)

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message 1: by Jim (last edited Jun 26, 2012 09:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
This Discussion covers Part One, pp. 1 – 109 (1-91)


Beyond the Zero

A screaming comes across the sky, Pirate prepares his famous banana breakfast, and a giant adenoid threatens St. Mark’s. Teddy Bloat does daytime recon of the “where’s the birds?” map. Tyrone Slothrop realizes it’s just a matter of time before he pays his debt to nature. Roger and Jessica make love, not war. Pointsman and Spectro ponder and speculate. Jessica and Roger experience rocketus interruptus. Slothrop drops into Roxbury, Massachusetts and tours the sewers. Pirate rubs out a message. Doddering Brigadier Pudding ponders his presence at The White Visitation while Doctor Rosie’s PISCES posse poses possible options for Slothrop’s lop-sided MMPI. Stimulated by the implications of Dr. Jamf’s infant penis stroking project, Pointsman and Mexico stroll on the frozen beach, trying to connect.

And so begins our journey through Pynchon’s novel of war, paranoia, parapsychology, love and rockets.

Gather your wits and hold on fast, your mind must learn to roam…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rJGX8...


To avoid spoilers, please restrict your comments to Part One, pages 1 – 109 (1-91)


Mosca | 12 comments Jim, I can hardly imagine a better synopsis of these 109 pages!

But you'd have to have read these pages to understand your twisted mind. You have no shame.


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Mosca wrote: "Jim, I can hardly imagine a better synopsis of these 109 pages!

But you'd have to have read these pages to understand your twisted mind. You have no shame."


I had a shamectomy back in '75...

What do you think about all this exploration of men and their penises and penis-related objects (rockets, bananas, semen-catalyst ink, etc.)? What is Pynchon trying to say about war and/or how men wage it?


message 4: by Mosca (last edited Jun 11, 2012 10:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mosca | 12 comments Well, I'm not certain what penises would have to do with any of this book's lengthy design developments of its first initial conceptual impregnations.

It seems to me that our cultural literati today are so distracted with the smut-inspired pornography that, today, passes itself off as the lurid prose of our pulp culture, that no matter how inspired any really talented author, such as Thomas Pynchon, whose firm grasp of any literary tool, whose deserved prominance is readily evident to those of us who can feel the heated force his of his work, that writer, that fountainhead flowing full with creative juices will be so quickly misinterpreted by sophmoric minds as the most juvenile of filth!

Pynchon's genius stands erect above such softheaded and twisted members of the reading crowds.

It is clear he is writing instead of the works of Werner von Braun--to those who can truely feel the thrust of his magnum opus.


message 5: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Mosca wrote: "Well, I'm not certain what penises would have to do with any of this book's sprawling design developments of its first initial conceptual impregnations.

It seems to me that our cultural literati ..."


A penetrating poke at Pynchon's Priapusian Prose - LOL!!!


Ellie (elliearcher) Oh Jim...LOL

Just made it through the ultimate dumpster dive-trust that to be the first section I understood.

Of course, it was the least convoluted.


Matthew | 86 comments I'm enjoying the book a lot. A lot more then I expected to, honestly. I'm finsing all sorts of fun things in here that Pynchon does very well. Does anybody feel that his long languid prose passages lend a certain verticality to this narrartive? I mean, I see murals when I read some of these passages. Also, perhaps all those hard-ons help reinforce that verticality.

Also, I love that Pynchon just dumps specialist knowledge on you and you're left to navigate through it. There's a surprising large amount of science here in the first chapter, particularly in terms of Psychology and Statistics. I recognized the Poisson Distribtution when it came up in the book, as well as the Monte Carlo Fallacy, but only because I had a statistics class back in the day.

I think George Mexico (Statistician) and Pointsman (Pavlovian) are people that represent their professions. Pointsman is trying to explain and understand Slothrop particular abilities. Pointsman seems obsessed with Pavlov's idea of opposites, and in particular the unusual that still protrudes within the usual and being able to explain it. While Mexico has a hard time even accepting those oddities. And yet, Pointsman says Slothrop belongs to them both. Would this imply Slothrop can inhabit multiple ways of being?

So far some of Slothrop's abilities would suggest this: his ability to have a hard-on when a rocket drops, Slothrop going thorugh a toilet, inhabiting a different person's body. Even his earlier observations about rocket drops suggest this, when he obsesses about hearing rocket's drop before they drop, seeing the explosion before he dies, are reverse of how they should be. Beyond the zero indeed. I sense things will become even wackier as we get going.

Anyways, these were some thoughts I had while reading the book. Still enjoying it a lot. Kind of loast track of time but will get back to the discussion at a later point.


-Matt


message 8: by Mosca (last edited Jun 11, 2012 10:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mosca | 12 comments Matthew,

You are so right about what, to me, makes this book so extraordinary.

Of course, Pynchon can't stop amusing himself with an encyclopedic knowledge of phallic metaphors dished out to us with an adolescent male's sense of propriety. And, of course it speaks to millenia of war, in which men have killed one another (and others) with phallic symbols--swords, spears, arrows, cannons, guns, and now rockets. All of which Pynchon now wonderfully and ridiculously mystifies us with the psychic, telepaththic, and mystical intuition of a hard-on, of all methodologies!

The man is obscenely perceptive.

But something else, much more insightful, much more spiritual, much more breath-taking, much more... I don't know; you tell me. Something much bigger is going on.

Matthew wrote: "I mean, I see murals when I read some of these passages."

So do I, Matthew. I've been lucky to have read a good many really talented writers; but, Holy Jesus! I've never read anyone who does Cinemascopic transcendance like Pynchon.

I've said before that his prose is more like an epic poem than a simple narrative. And it seems to never stop.

And in this first step beyond the zero, into all these obscenities, into all this occult evil, into all these damaged fiends, into this grotesque tap-dance of a twentieth century mechanised, urban nightmare called, in retrospect "World War Two", into all this ....CRAP!!, .....wanders Roger and Jessica.

Two lovers who are not naive at all. But who are so willfully.........sweet, and....dear. And seemingly tangental. My god a doomed romance in the middle of all this shit!

This stuff works on so many levels, I know I can't keep up with it all. Can you?


message 9: by Traveller (last edited Jun 14, 2012 08:23AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) I've only just started and I can't believe how much I love the prose so far! It's like I want to re-read every paragraph, I love his imagery so much. I have yet to arrive at the famous penis passages, tho. :P

EDIT: Oh, no, I have!
Ok, I see what everybody means...


message 10: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments Jim wrote: "This Discussion covers Part One, pp. 1 – 109 (1-94)

Gather your wits and hold on fast, your mind must learn to roam…

Jim, Thank you for that quote from Amazing Journey by The Who!!! Perfectly appropriate for Gravity's Rainbow.



message 11: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley | 55 comments First of all, great synopsis, Jim. :)

Like others, I too am surprised by how much I'm enjoying it so far! I started really getting into it about half-way into this first section. His prose is beautiful, and now that the plot has begun to emerge, I'm finding that interesting as well. Although there are a LOT of penises and phallic imagery...wow....

Matthew wrote: "Also, I love that Pynchon just dumps specialist knowledge on you and you're left to navigate through it. There's a surprising large amount of science here in the first chapter, particularly in terms of Psychology and Statistics."

I was taken off guard by the amount of detailed psychological and statistical knowledge here, but that's actually part of what has drawn me in so far. Psychology is my field, and I know enough about stats to find the concepts presented interesting. With all of the classical conditioning, I feel like I'm back in my behavior modification class. ;)


Matthew | 86 comments Sometimes I think Pynchon is writing so densely to make a specific point about the dense sea of informaion we live in. GR as a book is perhaps more digestable now because we live in a sea of information that threatens to drown us everyday. I think I answered Mosca's question there.
Mosca: It certainly does feel like an epicpoem. At times I think of Metamorphoses. Ovid's that is.

Okay....probably should go back to my retail job. I hate being overeducated in a recession.


message 13: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments I just started reading Gravity's Rainbow a few nights ago, so I'm already behind schedule. I'm at around page 40, and this is definitely not a "quick read." (Well, it's not a "quick read" for me, but maybe it's a bit easier for the rest of the group.)

I absolutely LOVE Pynchon's sense of humor. As others have posted in this thread, I am also enjoying it much more than I expected to. And the prose is absolutely beautiful (I keep coming across so many lines that I'm highlighting because they're just so fantastic.)

Just last night, while I was reading, I thought "it feels as though I'm reading an epic poem." I was going to post that here, but I thought maybe it was a crazy thought, so I am SO GLAD to see that Mosca, Matthew and Damian all feel the similarities of an epic poem in Gravity's Rainbow.

Even though I haven't even reached 100 pages yet, I can already tell that this book is going to be one REALLY FUN and interesting ride!!!


Rachel | 81 comments So I'm lagging and just getting into the book...but whoa. Just whoa. Mind blown.

Like you guys, Pynchon prose reminds me of poetry: it's dense, allusive and opaque like a lot of good poetry, but Pynchon sustains it for hundreds and hundreds of pages...kind of like we were discussing while reading The Waves.

Saw somewhere (and maybe, under the right stimulus, I could remember just where!) that the meanings of the book are located in nodes. Nodes surrounded by overlapping clouds. Like the "clusters of meaning" Damien mentioned.

I feel Pynchon is taking us on a convoluted path from node to node, returning periodically to add more density to the clouds. It's crazy how many nodes Pynchon has managed to establish already: death, war, race, epistemologies, love...while being hilarious, destabilizing, bleak and tender. Whoa.

Matthew wrote: "Pointsman seems obsessed with Pavlov's idea of opposites, and in particular the unusual that still protrudes within the usual and being able to explain it. While Mexico has a hard time even accepting those oddities. And yet, Pointsman says Slothrop belongs to them both. Would this imply Slothrop can inhabit multiple ways of being? "

Yeah, I feel like Pynchon is getting into some classic (ha!) concerns of post-moderism here. Like during his discussion of Mexico vs. Pointsman, where Pointsman is "One or Zero...all Pavlovian brain mechanics -- assumes the presence of these bi-stable points. But to Mexico belongs the domain between zero and one -- the middle Pointsman has excluded from his persuasion -- the probabilities." And:

"How can Mexico play, so at his ease, with these symbols of randomness and fright? Innocent as a child, perhaps unaware -- perhaps -- that in his play he wrecks the elegant rooms of history, threatens the idea of cause and effect itself. What if Mexico's whole generation have turned out like this? Will Postwar be nothing but "events," newly created one moment to the next? No links? Is it the end of history?"


I'm very interested to see where Pynchon takes this particular node during the rest of the book!


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