All the books we've read so far have had the theme of connection. In the books we read before Cryptonomicon, the book connects little stories into one cohesive connected network of people whose lives influence each other. Cyrptonomicon has this aspect too. However, Cyrptonomicon focuses a lot on information and Avi and Randy's entire venture in Southeast Asia is to connect civilizations together. The book is about connecting people together and enabling them to pass information to each other in a variety of ways. On page 327, Goto Dengo is being gunned down by American soldiers while in the ocean which is on fire due to an oil spill. He thinks to himself as he is underwater, as a bullet flies in and slows to a stop quickly in the water.
I love Tom's story (359-365) about his fetish for black stockings. I thought the whole thing was hilarious especially the ending when he realizes that she has one too, even if she may not realize what her own fetish is. I started to think about why this story was particularly important to the novel, as in why did the author include this story? It sort of reminded me of Infinite Jest, in that everyone has their own addiction, whether it's tennis, or drugs, or alcoholics anonymous. Later in this section Enoch Root talks to Shaftoe about his connection with morphine. See the first paragraph on page 374. The whole thing is great. Here's a little bit:
As I get deeper into Cryptonomicon, Bobby Shaftoe seems to remind me a lot of Hal Incandenza. Beyond his moments with Glory (which he promptly sets out to forget), Bobby has an automated robotic and detached quality about him. Beginning with the lizard incident, he feels unable to communicate with others except in his military protocol which Stephenson essentially boils down to a sterile enabler for the less pleasant side of soldiery i.e. killing other people. As we see on page 203 Bobby misses the "good old days, back on Guadalcanal" where he was "a free agent" able to accomplish his orders by all means necessary, but now he just takes exact orders with absolutely no freedom.
I thought the scene on the grounded ship, when people like Bobby Shaftoe and Root are trying to figure out if Monkberg is a German spy, was hilarious. I loved how they were all trying to use logic to determine whether or not to destroy the code books:
"'Has anyone ever died,' he [Root] says, 'because the enemy stole one of our secret codes and read our messages?'
'Absolutely,' Shaftoe says.
'Has anyone on our side ever died,' Root continues, 'because the enemy *didn't* have one of our secret codes?'
This is quite a poser" (276).
I thought it was really interesting that they were trying to use all this logic to convict Monkberg of being a spy instead of actual evidence (although they do use some of that, like his self-inflicted leg injury). The logic they were using seemed sort of backwards to me, although I am definitely not a logic/math person.
On page 218, Tom is showing Randy some old Japanese air-raid shelter in a cave in Manila and they have the following conversation.
Randy sits down on the floor and grabs his ankles. He's staring open-mouthed at the books in the chest.
"You okay?" Tom asks.
"Heavy, heavy deja vu," Randy says.
"Yeah," Randy says, "I've seen this before."
"In my grandmother's attic."
I guess I was confused as to whether his relating the pile of books to his grandmother is a general statement, in the way that old people tend to have piles of useless stuff lying around or whether there was another meaning that I didn't get.
While reading this section, I was very confused about Qwghlm and the Qwghlmian people that kept appearing in Lawerence Waterhouse's storyline. I figured out it was close to England, but I didn't know if it was a code (with the mixed up letters, shown in other parts of the book) or what.
Wikipedia, as usual, sheds some light:
Qwghlm is a fictional location, featured in the books Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. Qwghlm consists of a pair of islands, Inner Qwghlm and Outer Qwghlm, off the northwestern coast of Great Britain. The islands are geographically similar to the Hebrides. It is somewhat of a parody of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and their mutual dislike for the others' way of life and religion. According to Stephenson, a very approximate pronunciation of "Qwghlm" is Taggum.
I find the Dentist terror pretty amusing. I mean, everyone is afraid of dentists, now this one is a powerful rich fiend. And then that his wife, (reminds of someone like Imelda Marcos) was actually a prostitute (or so Randy is told).
I was thinking back to Gravity's Rainbow and how Pynchon presents WWII vs Stephenson. Is this also going to go back to the Cold War? Actually, it's interesting that G.R., unlike Underworld or Crypt., does not jump back and forth between decades constantly. Perhaps Crypt. is more along the lines of Underworld. DeLillo shows the connections between the Co
"Kivistik had gone for the usual academician's ace in the hole: everything is relative, it's all just differing perspectives" (83).
It is annoying when an argument goes that way, but Randy vs. Charlene's friends didn't really seem to go to one side or another. I'm wondering if the novel is seting up for a discussion of relativity, whether the shades of gray we use are progressive or counterproductive, whether we're limited as a society because of it.
With the other books we've had similar discussions about secrets and their place, so I thought it was interesting that Cryptonomicon treats these encrypted messages as secrets that have a set lifespan. On page 55, Randy asks "How long do you want these messages to remain secret?" ... "Five years? Ten years? Twenty-Five years?" It's interesting to see a character who recognize the difficulty of keeping secrets and the inevitability of secrets emerging into the open i.e. it's just a matter of time.
Let me say first that I am really enjoying this book thus far. It is much more coherent than some of the other books we've read, flows better in my opinion, and gut wrecnchingly funny (ok so maybe I'm exagerrating a bit here but let's just say it's a plus when you have vocal representations of your amusement).
There are two things that I found really interesting. The first was all the technical jargon about symbol logic. I can see how alot of people would not like it but I for one enjoyed it alot. The way it was presented made it really readable. There was a speed an excitment to their discussions which just rubbed off onto the reader. Not to mention Randy's accent was pretty funny, although at certain points it seems like his accent has disappeared totally.