Pages 580-591

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 582

582.05 the same Pflaumbaum
See 159.37-38. We now learn that the "Jewish wolf" was really a victim, who could never have collected on fire insurance even if he had wanted to, and who wound up in a concentration camp. Note the suggestion that Lyle Bland himself was responsible for the fire.

Page 584

584.01-03 beings from the planetoid Katspiel

From Major Trends in Jewish Mysticicm

"The discussions between the traveller and the gate-keepers of the sixth palace, the archons Domiel and Katspiel, which take up a good deal of space, clearly date back to very early times." [1]
"Finally, after such preparations, and in a state of ecstasy, the adept begins his journey. The 'Greater Hekhaloth' do not describe the details of his ascent through the seven heavens, but they do describe his voyage through the seven palaces situated in the highest heaven. The place of the gnostical rulers (archons) of the seven planetary spheres, who are opposed to the liberation of the soul from its earthly bondage and whose resistance the soul must overcome, is taken in this Judaized and monotheistic Gnosticism by the hosts of 'gate-keepers' posted to the right and left of the entrance to the heavenly hall through which the soul must pass in its ascent." [2]

Thus Pynchon seems to have morphed the archon Katspiel, one of the gatekeepers of the sixth planetary sphere of the Highest Heaven, into the planetoid itself.

Michael Faraday
584.40 portrait of Michael Faraday

Although Weisenburger does not find a listing for a portrait of Faraday in the 1967 Tate catalogue, there are portraits of the scientist at the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Pictures and daguerreotypes of the older Faraday do seem to convey some of the menace suggested in the narrator’s description of Tantivy’s reaction on pages 584-585. Pynchon's (or Tantivy's?) characterization is probably unfair, since Faraday belonged to a small Christian sect that tried to live by the principles of the Sermon on the Mount.

I am sorry, but what avowed principles Faraday tried to live by mean nothing against Pynchon's characterization--real and for the metaphoric purposes of GR. Pynchon in GR, and everywhere, shows up the hypocrisy--to say the least--in avowed principles. MKOHUT 07:09, 15 August 2007 (PDT)

584.13 forest of Arden
Weisenburger does not see much relevance to the reference to Shakespeare’s pastoral retreat in As You Like It, but the context does fit here, ironically. The scene of bucolic refuge in the play is now a scene of death after the Battle of the Bulge, where the bodies lie "gangrenous in the snow."

Page 585

585.07-08 and how's the Katspiel Kid going to get out of this one?
The Katspiel Kid brings to mind The Kenosha Kid (Gravity's Rainbow), as well as Kieselguhr Kid in Against the Day.

Page 586

586.1-11 All the baggy-pants outfielders . . . Olympic runners
All types of characters seen on pinball scoreboards (as are the can-can dancers at 584.19).

Silver Streak Comics
586.38-39 Silver-Streaking Bert Fibel

The Silver Streak was a comic book superhero of the early 1940s, published by Lev Gleason. His comic book also featured a racistly depicted Oriental giant with fangs and long nails, known as The Claw (usually opposed the original Daredevil; The Claw himself was popular enough to become one of the few super-villains with his own comic book). In 1942, the comic was renamed Crime Does Not Pay. See note at 709.15. However, David Erickson adds the following reference:

"I always thought the reference was to Fibel's arriving in a hurry: The Silver Streak was the nickname of the Pioneer Zephyr, a streamlined train built for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad and entered into service in 1934. It set the rail land speed record on May 26, 1934, running from Denver to Chicago in just over 13 hours."
Pioneer Zephyr and Silver Streak movie poster
And from [Wikipedia]:
The Silver Streak was a 1934 film loosely based on the record-setting "dawn-to-dusk" run of the Pioneer Zephyr on May 26, 1934.

. The Chicago Museum of Science and industry has a very good website about the train.

Page 587

587.08 General Electric plant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Another reference point initially lifted from The Berkshire Hills, p. 80. The book’s authors note that the plant was at the time the leading manufacturer of transformers and specifically mention the "new million-dollar Plastics Department, where finished parts for radios, refrigerators, and oil heating units are manufactured from raw materials..."

Page 591

591.18 Buddy left to see The Bride of Frankenstein
Contrary to Weisenburger, Buddy probably did see the film. This is the day of Lyle Bland’s Transcendence; Buddy goes to see Dracula instead of going to the funeral, which is presumably some days later. See note at 645.12.


  1. Scholem, Gershom G., Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1941/1961) pp. 53-54 From this website
  2. Op Cit, p.50

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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