While I concede that Ferdinand is a hell of a name to render in katakana, the Japanese phonetic language used for transcribing words in other languages, I think that the translation Stephenson goes with is pretty much god awful. It really doesn't parse, no matter how hard I try. I think something like Faajinando comes a lot closer, but maybe that's just me. It just seems like sloppiness, which doesn't really fit with the meticulous construction of an encyclopedic narrative. Could he be trying to get at something with such a seemingly bad translation?
One thing I've been wondering about is why most of the characters have multiple names. Traditionally, an author will introduce a character using both first and last names, and then use just one throughout the novel, usually the last name. Pynchon instead uses many names for each character. Slopthrop, Tyrone, Rocketman, Raketenmensch, etc. Greta, Margherita, Mrs. Erddman. Enzian, Oberst, (that name that starts with an n that I cannot remember). At the end of the novel there is a lot of commentary about the fragmentation of Slothrop. On page 752 it says, "He is being broken down instead, and scattered.
This might seem a silly question...but it's something that kept crossing my mind as I read the book...Roger Mexico's name. Pynchon isn't the kind to just slap a name on a character with considering it. Roger Mexico is not exactly the most common sort of name...why mexico?
There might be no reason....but it seems to me that more often than not there's a reason for most everything in this book. Any ideas? It totally stumps me.
On page 372 as Slothrop becomes Rocketman, Pynchon writes that "names by themselves may be empty, but the act of naming..." (372). Pynchon doesn't exactly finish the thought yet if we infer him to mean that the act of naming is very significant (meaningful, whatever you'd like to call it) it raises a lot of questions about Slothrop's name and his identity. In part three we see him as Ian Scuffling, Rocketman, Max Schlepzig, and Plechazunga. Yet in the ones we have seen thus far in the reading (as of pg. 400 we have only gotten as far as Rocketman) there never seems to be much story behind the name changes.