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.
Features at Zwolfkinder, all evoking children’s fairy tales: "The Tinder Box," the Billy Goats Gruff, Hansel and Gretel.
"Twelve Children" - the name evokes Jacob's twelve sons (and the daughter who is not one of the official twelve). This pattern is self-consciously repeated in the Grimms' tale "The Twelve Brothers", where the boys are to die if their mother gives birth to a girl.
The camp, which is also a quasi-town, may be modelled after Theresienstadt, the Jewish town/Lager set up by the Nazis in what is now the Czech Republic. This is suggested by themes like transit, phoney children's paradise, as well as the large orchestra, or the number 60,000 (the number of those who "passed through" Zwölfkinder as well the population of Theresienstadt at its peak). It also recalls another totalitarian institution, that of the communist "children's towns" (large, town-like, somewhat militarized holiday camps for Young Pioneers), whose prototype was Artek in the Soviet Union. (Deutsches Jungvolk also had its summer camps.)
A river, not a canal, that runs through Berlin.
who would eat an apple in the street
A phrase of German/Yiddish origin, suggesting a poor person of no breeding.
Archery is a sport often associated with Zen discipline in Japan, where it is known as kyūdō. Many archers practice kyūdō as a sport, with marksmanship being paramount. However, the goal most devotees of kyūdō seek is seisha seichu, "correct shooting is correct hitting". The archer seeks not to hit a target but (according to some sources) to become one with the arrow as it flies, as Fahringer advocates becoming "one with the Rocket." One of the earliest introductions of kyūdō in the west was by a German, Eugen Herrigel, who studied Zen and archery in Japan in the 1930s. His Zen in the Art of Archery (1953) remains a classic in its field. Wikipedia entry
In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is a "Buddhist saint," one who has nearly attained nirvana but delays it in order to aid others. Wikipedia entry
In the name of the cathode, the anode, and the holy grid?
Weisenberger (2006) incorrectly identifies these as components of an electrolytic cell connected to a power grid. Instead they refer to the 3 parts of the triode vacuum tube mentioned a few lines earlier. Electrons flowing from the cathode to the anode have to pass through a charged screen or grid. A slight amount of charge on the grid can have a big effect on the current flowing between the cathode and the anode. Thus the triode is a simple amplification device, since a small signal charging the grid controls a large flow of current. It is, btw, an analogue and not a digital device.
good company at Herr Halliger’s Inn
Note the echo of the title of von Goll’s perverse film.
An Atlas or Atlant (named after the Greek mythological figure which it it represents) is a column, pillar, or pilaster in the shape of a man, who bears the weight on his head or shoulders. It was a popular element in continental Beaux-Arts architecture (that is, in Kekulé's time.)
"I lost my heart in Heidelberg"
Although Weisenburger asserts that the song derives from Tony Bennet’s recording "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," there are more likely origins. The title suggests the lyrics to "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen" (see note at V134.27) or "Avalon" ("I found my love in Avalon") by Al Jolson and Vincent Rose. In addition, the lyric suggests Sigmund Romberg’s venerable operetta The Student Prince, about the heir to a throne who falls in love with a barmaid in the university town. The show also features the song "Gaudeamus Igitur" (V432.13).
- Igor Zabel offers a more a concrete reference: "I lost my heart in Heidelberg": a popular German song from the twenties: "Ich hab' mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren". The song was written for a musical of the same name by German composer Fred Raymond. Read the lyrics...
"once, only once"
What Rilke poem is this?
- Rilke sometimes (often?) addresses the reader with "you" ("Weren’t you always distracted by expectation, as if every event announced a beloved? - Duino Elegies), which Pynchon does often in these surrounding pages.
From the song "Ein lustger Musikante marschierte am Nil" by Emmanuel Geibel (1815-1884). German words and midi music
love something like the persistence of vision
"The notion of 'persistence of vision' seems to have been appropriated from psychology". From Herbert's essay below.
The term "persistence of vision" is still in popular use, and fits Pynchon’s (and Pokler’s) needs well in this context.
The phrase "persistence of vision:" has long been misapplied to explanations of how the spectator perceives motion from the sequential flashing of still images on film. The term which usually refers to the positive afterimage retained by the retina of the eye has been rejected by psychologists and students of perception as imprecise and misleading. The illusion of motion is actually a much more complicated process, involving several elements of cognition. A very good synopsis of the problems with the term by Stephen Herbert is available here.
425.24ff you go and sit exactly on the target...one is safest at the center of the target area
Major-General Dr. Walter Dornberger, head of Peenemünde rocket development and von Braun's superior, actually made this suggestion when the airburst problem resisted solution: "the bull's eye is the safest spot on the map." Instead of sending a sacrificial underling such as Pokler to do the sitting, Dornberger and von Braun, to their credit, sat their own personal asses down on the target. They did this every day for about a week. On the very last rocket observed from the target, von Braun
- "was standing in an open field [and]... beheld the rocket coming out of the blue sky." To his horror, he realized it was pointed straight at them [Dornberger, v.B] -- it would be a direct hit. "I threw myself down to the ground, but a moment later a terrific explosion hurled me high into the air. I landed in a ditch and noted with some amazement that I...had not suffered as much as a scratch." quoted in Neufeld, Von Braun, p.181.
425.32-33 Ground Zero
Another, apparently ironic, anachronism (or anatopism). The term Ground Zero, originally the hypocenter of an atomic bomb explosion, was coined by participants of the Manhattan Project, after the test stand at Trinity Site. It had, of course, no equivalent in pre-1945 German military slang. But the starting point in time for the Pökler detour is preceded by the first nuclear explosion, as the Trinity device was tested on July 16, 1945, the opening day of the Potsdam Conference.
429.5 searchlights... in Wismar and in Lübeck
That would locate Zwölfkinder in present-day Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, near the Bay of Lübeck, and also between the bright and dark aspects of the continental tradition. Lübeck, apart from being vitctimized in the raid which is prominent in "Beyond the Zero", was Thomas Mann's city, while Wismar is the port where Nosferatu embarks for England.
Igor Zabel elaborates further on Weisenburger's note:
- "The song is a symbol of the university (as such) and its anthem (e.g., it is sometimes performed at ceremonial occasions). The mentioning here refers to the "feeling of graduation". Gaudeamus igitur is traditionally sung by the students of the final class of Gymnasium (i.e., university students to-be) as they celebrate their graduation."
A rank in the SS, which corresponds to the Lieutenant Colonel.
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