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.
249.5 & 6 Anglo vigilantes from Whittier
Whittier High School and Whittier College is where President Richard M. Nixon, President when GR was published, hailed from. []
This literary device tying Nixon to race riots and social repression works on literary license only, and in reviewing the historic situation it appears that the riots were not so much white vigilantes from Whittier attacking Zoot Suiters, as much as drunken Navy men gone wild and finding an easy target in Mexican American youth.
This seems doubly galling on Pynchon's part:
First, Whittier, CA, was and largely remains a Quaker community, named after the Quaker Abolitionist poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Quakers are among the most pacifistic people. In addition they embody many of the values Pynchon seems to support: egalitarianism, hierarchy-less assembly, the notion of a God available to all people unmediated by a priesthood or the elect, etc. Violence is not part of their program.
Second, Pynchon is throwing the blame for the riots on Whittier (this contributor has never been to Whittier) instead of what appears to be the true cause of the riots -- nasty, drunken sailors -- those guys TRP hung out with for a while -- and then other service branches joining in the race baiting. See the PBS American Experience website and program for more information: The Zoot Suit Riots.
Richard Nixon, however, remains at the center of this Navy-Violence-Whittier-Quaker venn diagram. A Quaker from Whittier who in WWII served in the Navy. I, for one, could never figure how a Quaker president could bomb Cambodia or deal in such political slime.
250.25-26 Sandoz (where, as every schoolchild knows, the legendary Dr. Hofmann made his important discovery)
That is, Albert Hofmann discovered the psychedelic effects of LSD-25 in 1943.
251.12 Shell Mex House
Shell Mex House, built 1930-31 is situated at number 80, Strand, London. It was for many years the London headquarters of Shell-Mex and BP Ltd for whom it was originally built. During WWII the building became home to the Ministry of Supply which co-ordinated supply of equipment to the national armed forces. It was also the home of the "Petroleum Board" which handled the distribution and rationing of petroleum products during the war.
252.19-20 penis-in-the-popcorn-box routine
Old urban 'legend', known as *Penis Surprise*. Urban Dictionary.
253.03-4 this smile [Slothrop's own] asks from him more grace..
'Grace' is the last word of Against the Day and a key thematic concept therein.
One of Nice's most famous roads, offering spectacular views
A French automobile manufacturer, founded in 1919 by André Citroën. It was the one of the world's first mass-production car companies outside of the USA.
253.20-21 heads for a bistro on the old-Nice side of La Porte Fausse
La Porte Fausse is a passage connecting the glamorous, touristy "modern"(19th century) centre of Nice with the crammed old town, which used to be a working-class district. It is called "The False Gate" because it looks as if it were just a gateway to a house. Passing to the other side seems to be an objective correlative for entering the preterite world.
Borsalino hats are a quality-made felt hat with broad brim manufactured in Italy. The company has been in existence since 1857. "Borsalini" is Pynchon's plural.
255.26 it's Murray Smile
It would seem that this name is derived from Murray Wilson, Beach Boy Brian Wilson's abusive father, and the LP Smile, the legendary 1967 Beach Boys album that was never completed due to Brian's mental collapse and loss of will; Pynchon hung out with Brian during the legendary "Smile" Period Pynchon and Brian Wilson
257.31-32 The War has been reconfiguring time and space into its own image. The track runs in different networks now.
Cf. the railway network as a metaphor for parallel worlds or alternative histories in [COL 49].
259 the mental cases of Switzerland
Zurich's best known psychiatric clinic is Burghölzli where, among others, Eugen Bleuler, Carl Gustav Jung, and Ludwig Binswanger used to work. One of the 'mental cases of Switzerland' at the time, although not at the Burghölzli, was the writer Robert Walser. Other famous mental cases of Switzerland Pynchon could be referring to include Friedrich Glauser and Friedrich Nietzsche.
perpetual motion or as we like to call it Entropy Management
The whole passage reads somewhat like an ultra-condensed version of [COL49], Chapter Five.
ornithopters and robobopsters ... got a little goatee made out of steel wool.
Seems to be a bit anachronistic. After all, bebop was first promoted as "bebop" as late as 1944 (although it was "invented" in 1939, as Pynchon refers to earlier in GR), and its popularity began to grow beyond Harlem in the summer of 1945. "Ornithopters" likely refers to Charlie Parker's ("Bird") composition "Ornithology" of 1946. The much-imitated goatee belonged to Dizzy Gillespie.
"You interested in some L.S.D."
As a man from Sandoz, Mario Schweitar is aware of the hallucinogenic effect of LSD, discovered by Albert Hofmann in 1943. Slothrop, of course, has never head about it. Schweitar's "mournful" remark about the "wrong country" seems to be a complaint about Schwitzerland's neutrality and small market; the CIA and the U.S. Army used LSD in tests before it became a counter-culture fad.
German: vegetable bridge; Gemüsebrücke, or Gmüesbrugg, is the traditional name for the Rathausbrücke (a vegetable market used to be here).
Wilhelm Tell Overture
From the Rossini opera by the same name. Slothrop would know this as the theme music for the Lone Ranger radio show which ran from 1933-1954 (also a Tube series from 1949-1957)--another 'western' reference. The Rossini thread is picked up here after Rue Rossini in Nice. Another escape from Their gaze.
hope nobody was looking through that one-way glass
A recurrence of the "half-silvered images", introduced on the very first page; representing political power, which sees but cannnot be clearly seen. Sounds quite Foucauldian.
King Tiger tank
Königstiger (officially Panzerkampfwagen VI) was the most impressive German heavy tank in World War II, although it had several construction faults. Just like a Rolls, it was a kind of rarity; Porsche produced only 489 such tanks from late 1943 to March 1945. The comparison emphasizes the concept of WW II as a cluster of ambilateral business transactions.
Comparing the noise of the Rolls and the Königstiger, perhaps Pynchon also had the following episode of advertising history in mind: In 1959, David Ogilvy wrote an ad for Rolls Royce. Its headline ran: "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock." Howard Gossage responded with an ad for Land-Rover, stating: "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Land-Rover comes from the roar of the engine." (And it goes on with a quote from novelist John Steinbeck.)
The paper is fifteen years old.
Another echo of COL 49, Ch 5, where another Hispanic anarchist, Jesús Arrabal has an issue of Regeneración from 1904 on his table at a greasy spoon.
In ordinary times ... the center always wins. Its power grows with time, and that can't be reversed
This is a combination of Max Weber's notion of center and periphery with the Second Law of thermodynamics. So "decentralizing" in "extraordinary times" (p. 265.1-2) is an act of "entropy management".
265.24-25 connections of many years' standing with the Republican underground
Meaning the Spanish Republic (1931-39), in which anarchists played a major role.
Cigarettes with a cork filter.
266.7 Spencer Tracy
An American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 74 films from 1930 to 1967. This reference is to his role as the African explorer Henry Stanley in the 1939 film Stanley and Livingston.
266.11 Richard Halliburton
An American traveler, adventurer, and author. Best known today for having swum the length of the Panama Canal, he was headline news for most of his brief career. His final and fatal adventure, an attempt to sail a Chinese junk, the Sea Dragon, across the Pacific Ocean from Hong Kong to the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, made him legendary.
266.23 Lowell Thomas
An American writer, broadcaster, and traveller best known as the man who made Lawrence of Arabia famous. So varied were Thomas's activities that when it came time for the Library of Congress to catalog his memoirs they were forced to put them in "CT" ("biographies of subjects who do not fit into any other category") in their classification.
266.23-24 Rover and Motor Boys
The Rover Boys and Motor Boys were two different series of popular adventure books for boys at the turn of the 20th century.
266.37 City of Peace
Geneva, so called for the number of peace treaties signed there due to Switzerland's status as 'neutral country'.
267.35-36 Reformation country, Zwingli's town
Yes but this only highlights a strange omission: even the narrator fails to notice that Slothrop has just visited the real birthplace of Puritanism, that is, Geneva.
as a mantra... they have been taught to speak inwardly oss
Buddhist mantras start with the syllable om, representing the Universe as inward vibration. Oss, with the voiceless (non-vibrating) sibilant is apparently an anti-mantra meaning bones, representing Nothing, just the escape of air.
step by step he, It, the Repressed, approaches
"It, the Repressed" is clearly Freudian terminology. Here, Jamf's "German-scientist mind, battered down by Death to only the most brute reflexes," seems to fade into Infant Tyrone's mind conditioned to the most brute reflexes by the German scientist; and that is the ambiguous "he" Slothrop is afraid of.
Beyond the Zero
Un Perm' au Casino Herman Goering
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