I've been noticing a lot about opposites in the book and I think it's interesting how it often relates to male and female itneractions.
On page 409,
"...he [Mondaugen] seemed to look at fuel and oxidizer as paired opposites, male and female principles uniting in the mystical egg of the combustion chamber: creation and destruction, fire and water, chemical plus and chemical minus--."
"Valency," Pokler protested, "a condition of the outer shells, that's all."
Then on page 572 Andreas explains the importance of the mandala to Slothrop. It's a long paragraph so I won't type it all out, but basically there are two types of the letters on the mandala, male and female letters representing different directions. This came from the way that in their tribal villages, women and men lived on opposite sides of the village. The female letters represent fertilization, birth, breath, and soul, while the male letter represent activities, fire, preparation, and building, It says, "Each opposite pair of vanes worked together, and amoved in opposite senses. Opposites together."
There are two things I thought when I read this. First, there's been a lot of talk about the sexism of the book and the lack of female representation. The rocket's launching capabilities are described aboved as a combination between male and female quanitites. I wondered from the quote o 409, who is supposed to be the "creation" and who is the "destruction." Sincce women are capable of birthing and men are the ones navigating the war, it seems like maybe Pynchon is saying something negative about stereotypical "manliness." However, the two quotes show that both the male and female need to come together to be of any use. This reminds me of William Slothrop's belief that Jesus is only important because of Judas, and that without the preterite there is no elect.
Lastly, (this is a lonnnnngg post) on page 587 it says, "...there came over Laszlo Jamf...a hostility, a strangely personal hatred, for the covalent bond. A conviction that, for synthetics to have a future at all, the bond must be improved on--some students even read "transcended." That something so mutable, so soft, as a sharing of electrons by atoms of carbon should lie at the core of life, his life, struck Jamf as a cosmic humiliation. Sharing? How much stronger, how everlasting was the ionic bond--where electrons are not shared, but caputred. Seized and held!..." I'm not sure how this anti-cooperation idea fits into everything, but maybe it has to do with the fact that the story takes place during a war in which countries (Germany) are trying to take over each other..