During a section about Matti, DeLillo suddenly breaks out of the third person narrative and directly "questions" the reader. This happens twice. The first time is on page 402, "Do you work with sound waves? Do you gauge the effects of blast on delivery aircraft? Do you do physics packages and dream about a girl back in Georgia--" I'm not typing out the entire thing. The second occurrence is on page 413, when he writes, "Did you do grad work on solar energy? Did you do a paper on the trigger principle of nuclear fission--." (again, not typing out the entire thing). I wonder about the purpose of this, and what the intention is.
I noticed that DeLillo uses the present tense to describe things that take place in the 50's. The "present", or at least the parts of the book that are most like our current world, he generally describes in the past tense.
I was wondering why he did this. Does it say that the past, the 50's, is somehow more alive and real to us than what we think of as the present? I don't really know. I thought about Gravity's Rainbow and how it's like you are reading the whole book from a later time than WWII (maybe). Perhaps it's like we are reading the book from the 50's and looking forward...but that sounds silly so maybe not.
I find it interesting how Pynchon portrays World War II. The common view would be that WWII was one of the most coherent wars, evil versus good, plain and simple. (I don't really believe that, as a disclaimer). WWI, on the other hand, was murky and ridiculous and insane--rather like the Vietnam War. By focusing on the end of WWII, Pynchon manages to make it seem as stupid as Vietnam. The characters don't seem to know why they are there, and do not seem to feel any real emotion in regards to winning or losing. In fact, it seems like most of the characters don't really talk much about Hitler, or the Nazis--it's not the issue. The rocket is the issue. Now, if one views the book as something about the Cold War then this makes sense--to look at it as a WWII novel doesn't seem right. Ultimately it's not about WWII at all--only in setting.
Page 279 has my favorite random phallic reference. The reason I like it is because it is especially random (in my opinion) or, if not random, totally excessive. In short, it amuses me.
"And so, too, the legend of the black scapeape we cast down like Lucifer from the tallest errection in the world has come, in the fullness of time, to generate its own children, running around inside Germany even now--the Schwarzkommando, whom Mitchell Prettyplace, even, could not anticipate."
So...I've reread that paragraph...and chuckle because it's getting just excessive. It's getting hard to even take such images seriously.
I've found the resources available in this novel for the changing of time, place, and reality to be staggering. Though we're in these 9 days we've been so very many places. Along these lines, thinking about this book in relation to more traditional novels is kinda like comparing cartoons and sitcoms. The Simpsons can go anywhere and do anything while it is tough for Seinfeld to incorporate too much chronological, geographic, or supernatural flexibility. GR seems to move effortessly and oftentimes so seamlessly it is hard to notice between places, times, and realities. We have so many episodes, of course, and these make it easy to move around and restart, but the fluidity and reactiveness of the narrative enables this movement as well. A bottle of ether spills and the fumes not only reach roger and the doctor but Pynchon as well.