As I read more and more, this book, even more so than GR layers itself. Each of the chapters and sections seem to be a certain delta-t taken out and individually examined (but not necessarily in order) reveal a history of individuals and ultimately of a society. In the same way, the landfill that Nick visits with Sims and Detwiler seems to represent layers of history put together that also give birth to a history and age. Conventional history has more often than not followed the aristocrats and the wars of those in power. The landfill, the accumulation of everyone's waste, seems to me a very plebeian but unified representation of society's history.
U 235's blog
My one complaint so far, Underworld makes waiting the next month and a half for baseball season that much more agonizing.
One moment that particularly struck me was the moment where Cotter he realizes his rival is indeed Bill Waterson. From my perspective it seems certainly possible that the two of them represent the Soviet and American powers and their onetime alliance and subsequent hostility. Just after Cotter finally wrests the ball away, "The man catches his eye, This is not what Cotter wants, this is damage to the cause. He made a mistake looking back" (49). The moment serves as a loss of innocence, the end of an impersonal struggle. Once the friends, united by a previous common cause, have something to fight over, it tears them apart in such a primal way. What makes this moment so stunning, however, is the the distinct sameness of the two sides, two men looking "at each other over the crowd and through the crowd." For all that separates them, they stand out to each other essentially oblivious to the swarms of people around them. For all their conviction that they each have the superior claim to that ball, they both ultimately want the same thing, the ball -- and will do whatever it takes to keep it.
Gravitation is a force human kind encounters everywhere, one which remained unconquered for the vast part of human existence.
When physicists look at gravitational fields, they consider all objects within a given field to have negative energy to indicate their captivity in that gravitational field. If an object has exactly enough energy to escape that field, it has 0 energy. In essence when it goes beyond that 0, it becomes free from the gravitational system. This bit describing the rocket's ascent at the very end made me think of a possible explanation for what constitutes going "beyond the zero":
A continuation to Kodiak Sasha's post:
There's an important bit about the pigs on page 564-5 that I'm not really exactly sure what to make of in light of Slothrop taking up the pig suit.
Man in the Western World abides by the rules of the system, but in the colonies where he is free from the system, he may follow his natural impulses alone. "Christian Europe was death" (322) in the same way that the text constantly reminds us that the system fueling the war and its aftermath depends on death. To lose sight of death and indulge life in the colonies is to free oneself from that system.
Having read kettledrum's post, I'd like to add a bit.
Being passed over removes one from the world, so that he can stand removed and indifferent, but to what extent does this constitute a negative alienation from society contrary to man's social nature?
This reminds me of p353 near the bottom where it talks about the search for the drug to "kill intense pain without causing addiction." "There is nearly complete parallelism between analgesia and addiction. The more pain it takes away, the more we desire it." While removal from the world at large takes away its painful realities, removal from it strips a person of the social character which defines them in the same way that drugs dull the pain while turning their user into a dependent who can no longer focus on anything but the next dose.
I have a burning and probably not immediately answerable question: Who is Dr. Lazlo Jamf?
Almost every thread of GR links back to him, yet I feel I don't really know him. We know a fair amount of details about him and his work, but I only feel that I've "heard of him" but not "met" him like I have with Pynchon's other characters.
With that out of the way, I particluarly liked the use of yin-Yang at the end of part 2 to illustrate the inexorable connection between Roger and Pointsman. The system of Yin and Yang is a binary one like Pointsman who may only exist at zero or one. However, regardless of their contrast to each other, they exist as a blended entity in nature. By that token, Roger, lying in the infinite domain from zero to one, provides the necessary link between Pointsman's binary universe and the far more complex real world of a war. In that same real world of a war where man's law and nature's law stand in open conflict, Roger faces the loss of Jessica, his salvation. Roger is among elect, the war has not passed him by costing him his salvation. "Lord Acton always sez, History is not woven by innocent hands" (281).
As others have said before me, reading Gravity's Rainbow can be quite the chore. I too spent the first 150 pages chained to wikipedia looking up obscure references. At the same time, while I read the book, I feel as if I am watching an artist starting with a blank canvas painstakingly paint small little details as I try to guess how they contribute to the greater whole. Pynchon has a maddening habit of introducing seemlingly unrelated ideas and characters or breaks into a scene only to explain them pages down the road. For example, Pynchon explains the section where Slothrop flashes back to the Roseland Ballroom right after being injected with barbiturates (starting on p62) on page 74, where he notes that Slthrop was "willing to co under likght narcosis to help illuminate racial problems in his own country." While incredibly frustrating, the eventual explanations give me hope that slowly but surely, the novel is converging towards some level of coherence.