Pages 269-278

This page-by-page annotation is organized by sections, as delineated by the seven squares (sprockets) which separate each section. The page numbers for this page-by-page annotation are for the original Viking edition (760 pages). Editions by other publishers vary in pagination — the newer Penguin editions are 776 pages; the Bantam edition is 886 pages.

Contributors: Please use a 760-page edition (either the original Viking edition with the orange cover or the Penguin USA edition with the blue cover and rocket diagram — there are plenty on Ebay for around $10) or search the Google edition for the correct page number. Readers: To calculate the Bantam edition use this formula: Bantam page # x 1.165. Before p.50 it's about a page earlier; as you get later in the book, add a page.

Finally, profound thanks to Prof. Don Larsson for providing the foundation for this page-by-page annotation.

Page 269

269.35 White Lotos Day pilgrimage 19 Avenue Road, St. John's Wood
The address was the one-time home of Annie Besant which became headquarters for Blavatsky (HPB) and the TS(!) -- Theosophical Society-- once Besant joined the group. HPB died on May 8th, 1891, and May 8th became White Lotos Day, commemorating the anniversary of HPB shedding her mortal coil. May 8th, 1945 was V-E Day, of course. May 8th interestingly enough was also the death day (different years) of Oswald Spengler and Gustave Flaubert. Oh, and as every school boy knows, May 8th is Pynchon's birthday!

Page 270

270.14 Tennysonian comfort
From the second verse of Tennyson's 1854 poem Charge of the Light Brigade:

'Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

270.16 Floyd Perdoo
From the French "perdue": "lost."

270.27 Third Term
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's third term as President of the U.S. 1940-44

Page 272

272.19 young Sigmund Freud
Refers to Freud’s rejection of the "seduction theory." Freud originally believed that many of his women patients suffered from neurotic behavior due to sexual abuse as children. He came to reject that belief as improbable and began to hypothesize the workings of the unconscious as a result. See Edwin Treacle’s musings at 277.03-05.

Page 273

273.34 The pinball machines writhe... thudding flippers
An anachronism : Flippers were first featured on the Gottlieb pinball table, "Humpty Dumpty," released in 1947, two years after this scene takes place.

273.37-41 La Gazza mellow
La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) is an opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. It is best known for its overture, which is notable for its use of snare drums.

Page 275

275.1 Wheel of Fortune
Tarot card X; in its multiple meanings random change is the core element (cf. the references to Gödel's theorem and Murphy's law in lines 275.25-26).

Page 276

Page 276. 20-21- Un-pleasantries such as "It's beginning to sound like the Tavistock Institute around here"
The Tavistock Institute was founded in September 1947, over two years after this scene takes place. Perhaps Pynchon was referring to the Tavistock Clinic, a psychiatric clinic in London which was founded in 1920 and known for work with shell-shocked military personnel? The Tavistock Institute is known for studies in group, organizational, family, and marital behavior, while the Tavistock Clinic's clientele would more closely match the tense, paranoid atmosphere of The White Visitation after the war. [1]

276.31 Krishna
A deity worshipped across many traditions in Hinduism; often depicted with blue skin

Page 277

277.03-05 as the dead father who never slept with you, Penelope, returns night after night to your bed, trying to snuggle in behind you..."

This Penelope is Jessica's niece (?), first introduced in the Boxing Day scene (Part 1, Episode 21). The dead father appears in her vision, but she refuses to accept "it" as it is only a demonic shell, one of the Qlippoth. In that scene the narrator refers to "the main sequence of Western magic" (176.14). Here, it is "the last weary stages of [Europe's] perversion of magic" (277.1). While in the first case the dead can return as Qlippoth, in the perverted stage death (interconnected with the repressed "dynamic unconscious" in the Freudian sense) is incarnated in real living beings.

From an interview with Freud biographer Peter D. Kramer [1]:

Over time, Freud offered differing views on infantile sexuality, all of them problematic. The most dramatic mistake became associated with the phrase “seduction theory.” As he was turning forty, in a desperate attempt to achieve fame Freud gave a speech to his Viennese colleagues on the origins of hysteria. In it, he claimed to have analyzed a series of 18 patients suffering from hysteria or a combination of hysteria and obsessionality. In every case, he had uncovered evidence of an early sexual event. All the hysterics had experienced “coitus-like acts” between the ages of two and four—at the hands of parents, siblings, other relatives, or nannies — and these events were the original cause of their disorder. The tale of Freud’s entry into and exit from this stance is complex, but his original presentation suggests not so much that Freud was misled by patients but that he misdirected them through making his expectations clear.
Famously, Freud soon reversed the direction of infantile sexuality and claimed that what was pathogenic was children’s repressed desire for the parent of the opposite sex.

277.7 scream inside the Fist of the ape
Faye Wray screaming after being picked up by King Kong

277.34-35 Sir Denis Nayland Smith to young Alan Sterling
Characters from the Fu Manchu series


  1. "An Interview with Freud Biographer Peter D. Kramer, California Literary Review Website, Jan 29, 2007

Beyond the Zero

3-7, 7-16, 17-19, 20-29, 29-37, 37-42, 42-47, 47-53, 53-60, 60-71, 71-72, 72-83, 83-92, 92-113, 114-120, 120-136, 136-144, 145-154, 154-167, 167-174, 174-177

Un Perm' au Casino Herman Goering

181-189, 189-205, 205-226, 226-236, 236-244, 244-249, 249-269, 269-278

In the Zone

279-295, 295-314, 314-329, 329-336, 336-359, 359-371, 371-383, 383-390, 390-392, 392-397, 397-433, 433-447, 448-456, 457-468, 468-472, 473-482, 482-488, 488-491, 492-505, 505-518, 518-525, 525-532, 532-536, 537-548, 549-557, 557-563, 563-566, 567-577, 577-580, 580-591, 591-610, 610-616

The Counterforce

617-626, 626-640, 640-655, 656-663, 663-673, 674-700, 700-706, 706-717, 717-724, 724-733, 733-735, 735-760

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