Paperback ð Gravity's Rainbow eBook â
- 776 pages
- Gravity's Rainbow
- Thomas Pynchon
- 15 July 2018 Thomas Pynchon
Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity s Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the 20th century as Joyce s Ulysses was to the first Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative, and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force. This is of course the Pynchon pinnacle, the summit of his fame, the cornerstone of his work So much so that he fell silent for about 14 years after writing it leading me to wonder if DeLillo was spoofing him in Mao II It is an amazing book and the first Pynchon I ever read It is a rude introduction to his style though as it is thoroughly post modern in narration, in the manipulation of time and reality, and the proliferation of characters There are moments of pure genius, but also of repulsion leading him to lose the Pulitzer the year it was published , but even those moments are perfectly in harmony with the characters they are associated with, the massive condemnation of anti Semitism and Nazism I have to believe that despite his silence, Pynchon has to be anti Trump and all forms of repression and censorship It is the story of a journey across a no mans land like many of Cormac McCarthy s books full of violence and anarchy as the war is over but boundaries and frontiers between countries, reality and non reality, good and evil, acceptable and reprehensible are blurred and the hero must make this journey with or without a conclusion I will stick to my no spoilers policy and avoid discussing the plot, but highly recommend this masterpiece, but perhaps one should start with an easier Pynchon like Inherent Vice or The Crying of Lot 49 to get their feet wet first because I would hate to see you missing out of this from feeling out of your depth if you can t find your pace in it.The political message of the book is still relevant war is fucking hell and the aftermath is just as bad History as written by the winners obfuscates the suffering of the losers And not the losers as actors on the scene of history who are typically unscrupulous leaders who in large part escape responsibility and aftereffects of the ensuing disasters, but rather the rank and file who are treated as no than pawns on history s chessboard.Pynchon is a complex writer who pulls no punches GR has a non linear plot with an elliptical writing style and a myriad of complex characters, sometimes finely described in vividly lit detail like in a painting of Ingres but sometimes barely evoked out of darkness like a self portrait of Rembrandt Reading GR is a voyage through chaos itself the chaos of a destroyed Germany and the chaos of human depravity often than not unpersuaded by a dream of redemption, a terrifying voyage into the darkest depths of the human soul.It is also a book that you can re read and discover things you may have missed the first time around in particular the elliptical structure which explains the word rainbow in the title It is grotesque and raw and superbly written I have been told in the comments that the Companion by Weisenburger is excellent I ll use it when I reread GR What is the real nature of control From the first sentence of Pynchon s National Book Award winning novel, Gravity s Rainbow, the Reader is transplanted into a threatening world where death strikes first, the cause second It is a world of frightening realism and comic absurdity, all fueled through drug induced hallucinations, paranoid ramblings, and psychological investigations that is not all that unlike our own reality once you remove yourself to view it from afar as if it were some painting in a gallery This is the Zone, and Pynchon is your field guide through the wasteland of paranoids, preterits and pornographers The novel is stylistically staggering and so carefully researched that the line between fact and fiction blurs and is not always easy to deduce It is carefully plotted out with extreme precision, aligning the events with actual weather detail from the days played out and in keeping with a metaphoric representation of the zodiac signs through the passing months While this novel can be demanding, it is also extremely rewarding for those who make it through this wild rocket ride of literature A first time Reader should be cautioned that Part 1 of this mammoth text is exceedingly difficult Pynchon seemingly takes great joy in pummeling the Reader with a labyrinthine structure of characters and plot lines, each accruing through dramatic left turns in the narrative The effect is pure disorientation, obfuscation and outright frustration It feels just like spinning plates It is, in a sense, Pynchon s boot camp for the real war awaiting across minefields of prose it is where he must break you down and reconstruct you as he sees fit While the Reader must keep their head down and gut through, soaking up as much of the swirling stories as they can, Pynchon lays out the groundwork for the larger themes to come Many of the ideas expressed early on won t seem particularly meaningful, but by the end of the novel the Reader will realize it was all right there in their faces from the start As characters will come and go like ghosts, with only minimal dimension and reference to them, the Reader will begin to realize that the coming tribulations are not there for the growth of the characters, but for the Reader themselves The Reader must come out the other side changed in order for the novel to be a success They must let go of their notions of story and plot, for Pynchon views even the smallest plot structure as comfort, they must let go, give in, and submit to Pynchon He demands it, and he will fire off heady diatribes against your intellect with philosophy, theology, conspiracies and actual rocket science The novel takes off running once the gun sounds the start of Part 2 when, dropped from foggy London town, the Reader finds themselves in the Zone Early on is a discussion of Pointsman and Mexico, Pointsman being crafted as the ultimate embodiment of Pavlov s cause and effect conditioning and Mexico being considered as the Antipointsman The young statistician is devoted to number and method, not table rapping or wishful thinking But in the domain of zero to one, not something to something Pointsman can only possess the zero and the one He cannot, like Mexico, survive anyplace in between to Mexico belongs the domain between zero and one the middle Pointsman has excluded from his persuasion the probabilities Much of this novel deals with these two major perspectives Pynchon often establishes structure, the Pointsman method, merely to deconstruct it and show the faults that lie within By showing two specific points, in this instance excluding those inbetween points, Pynchon is able to demonstrate moments of symmetry, which he will then reverse Normally a rocket would be heard before it explodes in a ball of death, but with the V2, now we have the death before sound reversals also play a large key to the novel, from the count down before a launch, to hypnotic imagery of English explorers sailing backwards to home These two specific points are also expressed as binary differences, such as black and white, life and death, good and evil, preterition and the chosen few These binaries are clear cut sides, direct opposites of forces in keeping with the theory of entropy which rules the novel, sides that we clamor to reach in order to have a firm ground to stand on and a cut and dry vision of who is friend and who is foe But Mexico, and Pynchon, rejects these binaries Mexico acknowledges the space between zero and one, which is a wild, lawless no man s land recall the McCarthy esk western vision of Slothrops where there is one of everything a endlessly compounding one that creates an asymptote never actually reaching 1 where everything and anything is possible It is a place dream than reality, and the hallucinogenic nature of Pynchon s spiraling prose and plots do well to express the ambiguities inherent in such a Zone However, the novel never fully subscribes to one theory and can be interpreted as a cautionary tale for those who wander into this territory Plot, laws and binaries are structures that keep our minds at ease and provide comfort and safety, so when we enter into the infinite freedom of the decimal we open ourselves to forces that may scatter us, kill us, and rub us out into oblivion Pynchon himself will try to scatter and thwart the Reader in consequence of stepping into his Zone He acknowledges you are in his territory, and will speak as he chooses, often with what seems an intention of belittling your own intelligence He only occasionally makes concessions to the reader when he realizes at least a slight bridge must be made in setting a scene such as saying you will want cause and effect All right , which, considering the rejection of such an idea in this novel, serves to mock the reader for scrambling to grasp the reassuring ledge of the pool in this deep end he has thrown us To swallow this novel on a first read, a reader must attack it somewhat like middle school mathematical story problems find the important information in the bloated paragraph, divide and conquer There is a plethora of information to choose from as he will offer a vast variety of the same symbols and metaphors the S, for example, shows up as the SS, the shape of the bomb factory tunnels, people spooning, the symbol for entropy, etc There is a death life metaphor on practically every page Yet, Pynchon seems hell bent on keeping you on your toes and disoriented He will allow the Reader to slide into a groove of strong forward velocity, and then deliver a scene so grotesquely funny or vilely disgusting to shock the readers mind and scatter their thoughts and perceptions from decoding this vast network of ideas and then tries to evade us in a web of looping plots, obtuse anecdotes and countless characters some of which come and go with hundreds of pages between mention The maze of a plot that must be navigated is acknowledged as being similar to the course of events Slothrop encounters on the way, which he compares to the MBTA by riding each branch the proper distance, knowing when to transfer, keeping some state of minimum grace though it might often look like he s headed the wrong way, this network of all plots may yet carry him to freedom There must be a sense of trust that eventually, if you keep gutting through, there will be a conclusion to satisfy a journey of such magnitude There is a constant paranoia overwhelming each printed word, a paranoia that the Reader must assimilate by proxy in order to fully appreciate the madness at hand Yet paranoia itself must be a sort of comfort as well While there is a fear of the Invisible Hand at play, pushing us through psychological nods in the right way, it is still a comfort that we are part of Their greater plan For the preterits, this They is the only sense of God they will ever feel, as they are looked over by God himself This whole novel is the interaction of such Preterits, from the fetishists to the colony of escaped concentration camp members, and the Reader must become a member of these second sheep as they must lose their selves along with Slothrop The Reader is dragged through the mud and muck of a smattering of various theories, and to keep their sanity, they attempt to assign meaning to these elusive threads flashing about them in order to keep going But perhaps this is just what Pynchon wants us to do, assigning Him the role of the They, and the Reader will begin to feel paranoid that this is all in jest, that Pynchon is simply pulling the world over their eyes and will begin to question even their own powers of deduction We have learned that all that is comforting must be released not yet knowing at these points in the novel that there is only a void awaiting with total freedom , and even the paranoid ponderings are only a comfort for us in Pynchon s world If there is something comforting religious, if you want, about paranoia, there is still also anti paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long Well right now, Slothrop feels himself sliding onto the anti paranoid part of his cycle, feels the whole city around him going back roofless, vulnerable, uncentered as he is, and only pasteboard images now of the Listening Enemy left between him and the wet sky First, note the reversals in this, then swoon at the powerful prose in the second half Now, assign meaning to this quote but Slap, no Pynchon says there is no meaning But then feel yourself become transparent and weightless, fading into oblivion with no reference to the world around you This is the ultimate dilemma we are faced with in the Zone It is no surprise the Reader is made to feel so paranoid in a novel rife with corporate conspiracy, much of which is highly researched and forms an impressive historical fiction aspect to this novel If those rambling through the Zone are the preterits moved by the They, than these corporations are one of the highest tangible link to They we can see They decide who lives and dies, who is rich and who is denied wealth, what we want to consume and how consumers need to feel a sense of sin and exist in a realm where the War is simply a shuffling of power This war was never political at all, the politics was all theater, all just to keep the people distracted secretly it was being dictated instead by the needs of technology.by a conspiracy between human beings and techniques Throughout the course of Gravity s Rainbow, we have endless looks into mans thirst for technology, which in itself is a thirst for death based on the nature of the technology, even when it is also a life giving force such as is the case of Pokler who had no life until the Rocket, and how this goes beyond the War itself Even the White Visitation simply uses the War as a reason for funding Mans role in technology is at the heart of every idea in this book Entropy is a measuring stick which this novel employs in a book that sets out to dissolve all rules, having a rule that is upheld highlights its importance , and all events and ideas serve to counterbalance each other in keeping with the conservation of energy with the preterits being the heat burned off As a quick aside, if I may, many of these preterits, Mexico and Jessica s romance or the concentration camp members their liberation was a banishment for example, are directly tied to the war and a become casualty of peace the budding romance there are some tearjerker lines, Pynchon really shows his soft side with them being the waste heat in a chemical reaction They Rockets, being the focal point of the book, are both life and death images as well as phallic metaphors while many of the phalluses are rocket metaphors Film plays another large role, with much of the book containing constant allusion to pop culture similar to a Quentin Tarantino film, and Der Springer believes he can reshape reality through film This struggle of life and death is something that must be embraced as two parts of a whole in this novel, much like man and machine become one with Gottfried and the 00000 Rocket Life and death are found strung together all throughout the novel, yet, as critic Harold Bloom points out in his essays on Rainbow, in Pynchon s book so focused on the idea of Death, the Reader never actually experiences or witnesses one not one in all of the 800 pages Many deaths are spoken of, some ambiguous like Tantivity s, and others referred to plainly such as Pudding s note that shit is spoken of as a metaphor for death, shit is the presence of death , and he is made to ingest it during for him, not us a sexual peak as another way life and death bind together in the novel , but the camera of the prose, if you will, always cuts right before the Reader must be an active participant in the death Like Gottfried again, we know he dies, but because the com link is only one way, we never can know the precise moment Even Peter s clubbing to the head cuts before the club can land In this way, the novel is shown actually as a celebration of life, all the moments moving from 1 life to 0 death but never getting to the zero We are forever in the Zone, for better or for worse But with the final words of the novel, nay, the final two words, he pulls us from oblivion back to the whole We escape death by existing in the moments between 1 and 0, and, ironically, in a book bent on annihilating structure and group alignment, he calls us all back into one large group humanity.Gravity s Rainbow is a massive novel that takes quite a bit of decoding and deboning in order to devour But this is precisely what Pynchon wants and requires of us This is a book that or less requires a second reading just to grasp all that it has to say, the first is just a test of survival The agglomeration of ideas are too much to chew and savor on one trip, and there is so much ambiguity present that, like Joyce s Ulysses, he intends to scholars to dissect and analyze this novel for years and years to come In the novel, the Zone members gather to become Kabbalists of the Rocket, to be scholar magicians of the Zone, with somewhere in it a Text, to be picked to pieces, annotated, explicated, and masturbated till it s all squeezed limp of its last drop This book is Pynchon s Rocket, our Torah our darkness , which he cast forth into the 1970 s literary scene as a harbinger of destruction to all preconceived notions of literature Pynchon in this way is not all that unlike the Rocket launchers, hidden far away out of sight in his reclusiveness, avoiding photographic surveillance, sending his Rocket into a brave new world We, the Readers, are Gottfried strapped inside with fire beneath our feet as Pynchon, as Blicero, hurls us forth into the irreversible future.Now everybody 00001 00001 Each bird has his branch now, and each one is the Zone roll creditsI would also HIGHLY recommend the A Gravity s Rainbow Companion Sources and Contexts for Pynchon s Novel to any readers of this novel It was a huge help, especially with the pop culture allusions Just be wary that it does occasionally give away plot elements and devices, sometimes long before they appear in the novel, and will practically double your time reading the actual book because there is so much information.Also, I have to thank Stephen M s wonderful group read for inspiring me to read the book, while doubling as a support group to get us all through this tome The discussions and links there are extremely helpful and insightful.Last, but certainly not least, I d like to direct you to the amazing reviews of my reading buddies on this strange ride, Steve, Ian, Jenn, Mark,Shan, Sean, Paquita, and many to come It took three months, but I finally pinned this sucker down to the count of ten Three months is kinda perfect if you think about it, though That s my typical honeymoon period in most relationships, the enthusiastic I can still than tolerate you part, so great timing, yeah Sure, I cheated on him on about 15 separate occasions in that time frame, but hell, nobody s perfect The library card in my wallet is like a condom just begging to be used.So yeah, I can now say I ve read this book Oh, and you know what else So Fucking What What Pynchon has created here is like a goddamned kaleidoscope every time you look in, you re going to see something else It will give it up and give it up and then beg for some All it takes is a minor flip of the wrist and BOOM An all new explosion of madness Oh, come on, I fucking dare you to read this book and not make a single sexual reference while reviewing it Shiny steel Roaring rocket Skat, skat Boom You finish, and you say Okay Now that the hard part s over heh , now I can go back and actually read this thing You know, after I practice a few times by reading this thing The strange bit of all that is it doesn t feel like a cross to bear I want to read it again You know, over about a year, sipping it slowly like, I dunno, something fancy that people drink slowly because it s fancy If Pynchon s not sucking you down a black hole of sonic prose, snake charming you all woozy with pages upon pages of seriously some of the most gorgeous, sprawling shit you will ever read, then he s grabbing your hand and skipping you along the Land of Oz while feeding you poppers and whippits and champagne, all while conducting a symphony of melancholy deceptively presented as a cheeky musical in your mind with an ensemble cast who are all candy flipping and drunk More often than not, he manages as much all at once while also making you laugh so hard, actually out loud, that you get funny looks from strangers and maybe even shoot a little snot from one nostril Embarrassing There s no place like Oz, there s no place like Oz, there s no place like OzTwo things First, a warning Don t read this in public You will be reading about shit entering a mouth as you wait in the lobby of an auto shop for your oil to get changed, all while America s Funniest Home Videos plays in the background and an angel blonde little girl is staring at you blankly while pulling her lower lip into strange shapes you will be having your blood drawn and turning your ereader away from the nurse s all too nearby eyes because just like when mom and dad came in during the worst scenes of whatever movies you watched as a teen, you are of course reading the part where a case of mistaken identity ends in an oopsy doopsy orchiectomy, just after the part where that guy was having sex with that prostitute while calling her by racial slurs as she planned her grocery list in her head, eyes dead and distant High potentiality for awkward moments with snoopy strangers, trust me Second thing About that , my roommate has finally beat this old purist into submission with an ereader As my book continued to disintegrate, she took advantage of this opportunity to come out victorious in her long standing campaign to convert me to digibooks, and downloaded this novel, went to the page I was on, and sat it in my lap As we were in the middle of a move and my book was in pieces in various boxes in the back of my car for ten days, I couldn t exactly say no I suppose it s high time that I admit the damned thing is pretty convenient Dammit Moving on then, I read from the reader when out of the house, and tore up my hard copy at home I will continue to graffiti the latter during future re readings Here is what is left after a first pass I only hit you because I love you, book Point being, ignore the haters, and stop being such a sissy Dive, baby, dive The water s good Or do you just hate swimming And Christmas And puppies Original review so the comment thread will continue to make sense My copy is so old and poorly constructed that the glue can t hold the weight, and the pages are falling out like baby teeth as I turn them, so much so that I keep finding myself holding a sheet of paper in my hand like it s parchment in order to read the left side text of the novel Somehow this strange reading method, the literal breaking apart of the story as I move through it, seems appropriate Also, the spine itself has fault lines indicating a future separation of the physical book into 4 large chunks, which is even better, really I should probably buy some duct tape, though, or this could get confusing The cover says this book cost its original owner 4 dollars and ninety five cents Can you even get a kindle short story for that these days I know history is rarely kind to harsh criticisms about super nebulous or difficult authors , but dig this This book is horrible After reading The Crying of Lot 49, Slow Learner and now this, I m convinced that Thomas Pynchon is a hack, and the reason we don t hear from him is because he has nothing to say and knows that if we gave him a microphone and fifteen minutes he d be found out.90% of the people who pick up this novel won t finish it, and 90% of those who do won t like it But 100% of them will pretend they do because Pynchon has the rare reputation of being one of those authors you have to read We re all convinced Pynchon is the possessor of some private, hidden genius that buried somewhere between the rambling nonsensical plot and the long winded, super cerebral, jargon riddled diatribes on the Rocket and the sexual implications of its trajectory and its relation to the symphonic form is a message of some import.But for all the hype, someone please point to a passage in this novel that overreaches or couldn t be approximated by the efforts of anyone else who lived a super reclusive, hermetic lifestyle, owned a library card, and was given nearly a decade the length of time between the publication of this novel and the author s previous one , and around 900 pages to do it in.Seriously though, don t read this book Aside from the small flutter of accomplishment I feel at actually finishing it, I ve found it to be little than a super frustrating and ultimately hateful reading experience. I don t know why exactly you folks out there read, or why you feel compelled to then seek out a community in which you might share your thoughts, impressions, reactions etc about the books you ve read But me myself, I read for many reasons among them the opportunity to transcend the narrow window of my own point of view the chance to learn by a leap, however minimally, over the subjective walls of my own stupid existence also and especially to inhabit for a few moments the warm pulse of aesthetic bliss and recognition that waves over me whenever a certain sentence or passage hits just so at a basic level, to increase my appreciation and understanding of Life, and those artists and thinkers out there striving to contribute to the meaning of human experience, those attempting to bring some beauty or order into the entropic universe and make a little sense out of this mess of a reality we re stuck in for the duration And if they can t find order or beauty, at least to make the muck sing out in some delightful way There is also that moment where something unnameable but now somehow named clicks into place while reading, and something akin to deja vu blooms inside the This is the proper expression of the thing I ve always had in mind but have never been able to express so rightly The closest thing I get to what is typically described as a feeling of spirituality I who sincerely believe I do not experience spirituality in any degree , are these moments when I come upon this expression of something intensely meaningful and resonant with me and my personal experiences outside of myself, encountering something that seems of me but not by me these are elusive moments, rare, but when they occur I feel struck by something close to what Nabokov wrote about his experience of Love When that slow motion, silent explosion of love takes place in me, unfolding its melting fringes and overwhelming me with the sense of something much vaster, much enduring and powerful than the accumulation of matter or energy in any imaginable cosmos, then my mind cannot but pinch itself to see if it is really awake I have to make a rapid inventory of the universe, just as a man in a dream tries to condone the absurdity of his position by making sure he is dreaming I have to have all space and all time participate in my emotion, in my mortal love, so that the edge of its mortality is taken off, thus helping me to fight the utter degradation, ridicule, and horror of having developed an infinity of sensation and thought within a finite existence Which is why, of course, I then tend to seek out a community with which to share my emotion, my experience, to know that others too might be aware that such experiences are not only possible, but are out there for us, somewhere, waiting to be found hidden among the vast mundane plowing of life and the comforting idea that others have generously spent many of their precious hours alive in creating works of art that contain their own such revelations, because they understand the importance of keeping this type of transmission alive through history, that this type of uncovering and finding is an essential component of being human CUE SONG Take a look It s in a book A reading rainbow So, here I am, putting it out there to this broad community of Good Readers, wanting to tell you, Gravity s Rainbow, for me, was one such experience, one such finding , a book I ve been waiting for all my reading life And with it, and my readings of Mason Dixon and Against The Day, I am certain of my notion that Pynchon is the peak of American postmodernism, alongside the works of William Gaddis that these two have set the goal for what the encyclopedic novel might accomplish on this side of the Atlantic, in this American English I consider having the opportunity to read both Gravity s Rainbow and Gaddis J R in the same year a great privilegeBut Pynchon s book itself is practically impossible to review, impossible to summarize or condense, worthless to categorize or constrain by exegesis because of all it contains, the enormity of what it holds within its pages, the hundreds of characters and mad proliferation of ideas and allusions, all those words hundreds of thousands of words that somehow leave so much unsaid, but unsaid in perfect ways left to drift into audience dreams because it projects countless tentacles wrapping its world and reaching out into space time, some of which return full of Story and the Known to feed the octopus body center of narrative, and some which purposefully throw Story and the Known out into the careening forces of the expanding universe, to be forever unresolved and scattered to cosmic coldness and star distances because of the density of the fragmentation of the world it has created, but which is no fragmented than any human consciousness encountering existence on any given day So allow me only to give you a small cenotaph or a monument an obelisk to the impossible review of Gravity s Rainbow Like a great movie, all of its themes are present in each scene, and yet the individual occurrences and set pieces here seem infinitely varied and inexhaustible It is the macro microcosm unity of the mandala I believe, at a certain level, it contains the elemental forces of existence, the things that make Time rotate, Jackson, but that are only allowed to be seen by Pynchon writing around them he knows that naming would fix them and so render them invisible These are parallax visions The explosion implosion, the ascent descent, of a rocket or the archangels or a human destiny, the fatal arc of gravity s pull on an accelerating object, as if it ever had a choice of the path it would take the dialectic, the synthesis of opposites, the white and the black, the yin the yang, and the Tarot tower with a king in mid fall the parabola path of ejaculate soaring from penis head to trembling body or mouth, or the journey of the whip to flesh and a memory of feeling anything as clearly as we feel pain, or the need to inflict pain the cuticle of the fingernail inscribed by its own half moon the body has its own parabolas Faust retold in tar dark comedy Rossini s Tancredi performed in the deepest depths of an LSD trip an orchestral kazoo piece titled What Is The Nature of Control and the freedom of the individual within the extrinsic objective needs of the Conspiracy the wave that dips below the zero but is not extinguished and re emerges over London mouthing a millionhuman scream the manymirror worlds that were born alongside ours in the forge of the Big Bang but went into dimensional retreat, that can now only be accessed by occult practices the scuttling amid the transportation networks of the necropoli, where ghosts take luxurious elevators through their ruined places the poles of the Earth and the Heavens aligning, right there a Brocken Spectre fingering a destroyed city s maw the procession of the conjured and the vanished, and the parallel worlds and possible universes we rub up against each time we peel a banana the voices of the dead in constant song which is the Music of the Spheres, listen for them in the silence of the Shadow of the Sun, if it ever finds you and all the bending light sent in Morse code to us by Them from the pinpoint stars, which Those In The Know know are powerful film projectors, enumerating to us the Lies We Must Believe So That We Play Out Our Part In Their Game, and all the chemical formulations of all Their hallucinogens and all their lost dogs and all Time unfolding at once Everybody now in an encyclopedia of human culture accommodating all things lowbrow to high a schizophrenic Moby Dick of the nuclear age Our Great Paranoid Epic Slothrop s Progress Through The Military Industrial Raketen Stadt subtitled The Kenosha Kid and The Dear Ol Death Drive where we find Orpheus s lyre unstrung and discarded, but still plucked by the dry wind or a lost harmonica found years later in the cold flow of a distant river and the bluegreen water notes it mournfully plays, the water through the individual soundholes making of the river a sound rainbow the Rainbow Promise, ages old, taken back by the one who swore it I tell ya it makes one helluva good movie complete with a Looney Tunes short A and of course, that the act of sex and the act of death are one , yes, at first this might seem simple, but it is really a complicated notion, one which might require infinite time and depths for us poor humans to come to terms with, if we ever do but luckily film reels run in circles next up, cutting room floor tidbits from the poet laureate of the L neburg Heath and his critically acclaimed Sonics to Orifice relevant previews of poems to come Tree arising O pure ascendance Orpheus Sings Towering tree within the ear Everywhere stillness, yet in this abeyance seeds of change and new beginnings nearHail the force sublimeuniting we who live in signs.The clock s steps only mimethe ticking of a truer time.Devoid of actual perception,antenna to antenna we posit,by main force of intuition,what emptiness transmits.Do you hear the futureadrone and athrob, Sir Extolling its power,comes a messengerLook at the machine how it turns and destroys.vengefully twisting us like toysAnd though you fade from earthly sight,declare to the silent earth I flow.To the rushing water say I am. ITS ABOUT A SECRET ROCKET PROJECT IN WW II BUT I THINK SOME OF IT IS A DREAM BECAUSE IT DOESNT MAKE SENSE THE AUTHOR IS VERY CLEVER. Prologue A screaming comes across the sky It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now GenesisIn the beginning was the earth, and above the earth was the sky The earth consisted of land and water The sky consisted of air, the moon, the sun and the stars in the heavens.The land consisted of rock Water was everywhere, but still precious.The sky was light by day and dark by night By day, the light came from the sun and sometimes the moon At night, a lesser light came from the stars and the moon.On the land, things were still, but then they began to change The sun made rock hot by day and the night made it cold, and the rock became stone, and the stone soon became soil.The Creation of LifeIn time, the soil and the water came together with the air and the sunlight to form life.The life was green and did cling to the soil.The air and the heavens were the realm of gravity.Everything on earth was made to fall and to disperse and to dissipate as time goes by To rise was to challenge the laws of nature Nothing could rise, except one thing, invisibly, vapors.Water mixed with the heat of the sun and became a vapor, and the vapor ascended to the sky and became clouds At night and sometimes by day, the clouds became rain, and the rain fell and spilled water onto the earth.Some water remained on the land in rivers and streams and lakes Other water, sliding and falling and dropping across the land, found its way to the oceans.The Life of FruitIn time, life conspired to defy gravity little by little.Life combined with the soil and the water and the air and the light to make trees and shrubs some bearing bananas or mangoes or pawpaws , and these plants reached skyward to the sun.But these plants could not be severed from the soil, because their roots sought nourishment there Any plant severed from the soil would fall to the earth, obedient to gravity.In time, many plants were severed from the earth and covered by soil and water and became hard and part of the rock Beneath the surface of the earth, dead plants formed coal, and sometimes oil and gas.The Origin of ManAfter much time, other forms of life were born, including animals that did grow heads and arms and legs and tails and eat the plants.Some animals became humans, some male, some female, all of whom wished to walk on two legs and become higher than other animals and plants.Men were not always bigger and stronger than other animals and so sought refuge in holes in the ground and caves.The caves were darker than night and men grew frightened of the dark, not knowing what was out there, until they discovered fire, which they used for light and heat.Sometimes, men used fire to warm the flesh of other beasts and they grew stronger.Life was good, and men tended to live within and surrounded by nature as one.Man on the MoveMen began to move across the earth in search of food and learned how to construct homes of rock and stone and bricks made of soil and water.Their homes grew taller than trees and animals and began to defy gravity.Then men learned how to make machines that could move across the land and water at speeds faster than men or horses could walk or run.And they consumed coal and oil and gas, so that they were not dependent on horse power.Man Turns the Power Switch OnMen learned how to make electricity and switches that would turn the power on and off.Men made glass bulbs that turned darkness into light.Men had finally become enlightened.Men looked at the sky for beauty and meaning and portents of the future They wondered what lived in the heavens and whether they had been created by gods.They made drawings and pictures of what surrounded them One day they would make photographs and moving pictures and shiny silver discs.Men observed what occurred in nature and, over a great duration, started to learn about cause and effect.Man Dominates HimselfThen men created gods in their own image They invented religions and superstitions and sometimes it was difficult to tell them apart, men and their gods, religions and superstitions.Men used their religions to explain what they could and couldn t do.Then they created churches and holy men and scriptures to dictate to them what they must and must not do, and the holy men and their gods punished them if they did not do what they must do, or did what they must not do Man Discovers Matters of Life and DeathMen observed decay and destruction and death around them, and wondered whether they too would die one day.Men didn t like this prospect and decided that they alone amongst the plants and animals had a soul and, after death, would live in eternity.Except that, if they disobeyed the commandments of their holy men and gods and scriptures, they would be punished by eternal damnation and made to live in hell Which was not meant to be a good thing.Some scientists conducted experiments and tests on dogs and other animals and learned how they were governed by stimulus and response.Men wondered whether their souls and their capacity for reason elevated them above the animals.They did not recognise that, even with their gods, men would do evil things to each other that animals would never do.Man Engages in Some Empire State BuildingMen built their homes in cities and formed nations They conquered other cities and nations and established empires.They established workforces and armies.They organised men and their possessions into rows and columns, and they made men and women wear uniforms, so that they might look and think and do alike.They developed systems to punish those who would dissent and they used force to hold their empires together.They looked down upon any man or woman who would not conform or wear a uniform.Those that they did not incarcerate or hang or inject with life sapping solutions or electricity, they cast off into the wilderness, where they would disperse or die of thirst.We Men are ScientistsSo men acquired knowledge and wisdom, and accumulated science and technology beyond the wildest dreams of their predecessors.They converted their knowledge and wisdom into zeroes and ones, so that they might store them on silver discs.Some men wondered whether there was to life than zeroes and ones, and was there anything beyond zero or between zero and one, and they were scorned.Man Defies GravitySlowly, man s dreams became ambitious.Some men dreamed about how they might fly like a bird, and one day men learned how to make flying machines.Men did not always live happily with other men, and they made tools and machines that would maim and kill their enemies.Men used their aeroplanes to drop bombs on other men, and the planes and the bombs grew bigger, and the maiming and the killing grew widespread and efficient.At the same time, men learned how to make bigger and taller buildings that reached higher and appeared to touch the sky.Many men lived and worked in these skyscrapers.In Case of WarThen there were two wars between many nations of the world.In the first war, many men died in trenches dug into the soil of their farms.In the second war, it was not necessary to get into a trench to die Many people died in their homes and their buildings It was easier to kill quickly in the cities that housed large numbers of people.Men made new bombs that were meant to end the wars, but when they continued, men invented rockets that could maim and kill even greater numbers of people.Some rockets made a sound that warned people that they were coming.If you heard the sound, you might be able to escape to safety.When they did not end the war, scientists invented and better ways to kill and better people They built rockets that made no noise and could kill you before you heard them coming.They were the perfect machinery of death, because nowhere was safe and you could not escape them These rockets defied both gravity and the imagination.While nobody had been looking or thinking about it, man s buildings and vehicles and aeroplanes and rockets and bombs had made the earth dark again.A Voice in the WildernessWell, maybe not nobody A man called Slothrop had been watching.Every time a rocket was launched, Slothrop was blessed with a hard on, an erection.He would look at the rockets and he would be turned off.At the same time, he would look at the rockets and he would be turned on.Slothrop s hard on was a hard one for the scientists to explain.What the Fuck Somewhere in Europe, scientists were erecting buildings, platforms, rockets that could bring death to people like Slothrop.Slothrop suspected that the best use of an erection was not to build an edifice, but to fill an orifice.Slothrop wondered, why had men become obsessed by Death, when they should have been preoccupied with Life Surely, there is no life without sex, no progress without congress, no creation without procreation Make love, fuck the war Fuck war, fuck each other How do you convince everybody else that this is the solution Fucked if I know, sez Slothrop.The Prophet DebunkedSlothrop is cast out of the mainstream and sets out across Europe in pursuit of love, sex, and rockets and those who would launch any one or of them at him.Still, even equipped with his hard on, Slothrop prefers bananas to buildings and rockets, he is bent but never straight.He is the ultimate non conformist, hedonist and sybarite, who gives pleasure to himself and to many women, Katje, Margherita, Bianca, three of the foremost amongst them.Slothrop s skepticism and excess threaten the System, Religion and Culture He is an anarchist Counter Force to Binary Code, Mono theism, Uniformity and Over the Counter Culture He is the unwitting counter cultural Prophet who threatens the methodical, ordered and conformist backbone of Mainstream Society He is a spanner in the works He is a virus that must be eliminated Like Trotsky, he is a Prophet that must be netted.They, the powers that be, with their uniforms and their weapons and their switches, chase Slothrop through Europe, but he remains free.MisanslothropyIn time, people came to doubt whether Slothrop ever actually existed at all.Some would ask, Slothrop What kind of name for a prophet is that Still They did not stop their pursuit, even when They were certain that he must be dead The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.If you can t see him or hear him, deprive him of oxygen Wipe out his disciples Stifle his message Prevent it from reaching any children If the medium is the message, remove his medium That way the prophet and his prophecy will cease to exist Revelations What Revelations Was Slothrop a fabrication A ghost in the machine A shadow in the light of day A figment of someone s imagination A fiction Just a character in a novel Just a story in a holy book As Slothrop would say, I m fucked if I know Outside the novel, the world continues as before, only so Buildings reach higher Rockets and aeroplanes fly further Wars drone on Civilians die Men line up in rows and columns and uniforms Power perpetuates itself eternally Evil perpetrates itself on people via people Darkness masquerades as light The sky is silent We can no longer hear the screaming It s all theatre, even within our homes.Group ReadI re read this as part of a group read started by Stephen M NotesI kept my reading notes in My Writings Letter from Vlad the Impaler of Butterflies Dated April, 1973Dear Tom,Vera and I very much appreciated your gift of a signed first edition of your novel.It actually caused a little friction in the Nabokov household.I don t mean to be ungrateful or vulgar, but we both wished you had given us one copy each I guess we could purchase one, but we were too keen to read it Naturally, I started it first, immediately it arrived, but quickly found I couldn t put it down.The reason being that, every time I did, Vera picked it up and commenced reading Initially, our respective lepidopteran bookmarks were quite far apart, but when she passed my place, she asserted her right to be the dominant reader, and I had to wait until she had devoured the entire offering, which she did by the time of Maundy Thursday.Fortunately, this left me Easter to finish it, so we were able to compare notes by Easter Monday, appropriately with a sense of renewed faith in literature.I am convinced Gravity s Rainbow is one of the finest works of modern fiction.It is very much an artistic and logical extension of V , which as you know we also enjoyed greatly.If your first novel was a pursuit of V , then Gravity s Rainbow is a pursuit of V, too.In fact, it is a pursuit of both V1 and V2.Vera was bold enough to suggest that V1 and V2 might connote Vlad and Vera, though we were unable to reach consensus on who might be noisy and who might be silent We did, however, hypothesise that Slothrop could be a reversal of Humbert.To put it bluntly these are Vera s words, not mine , Humbert, European in origin, fucks his way around the New World, or less.Slothrop, on the other hand, American to his bootstraps, fucks his way around the Old World.I admire the way you, even so than Slothrop, carried off Bianca It is some of the most delicious erotic writing I have read.Bianca echoes Dolores nicely Even the sound of her nameBi an ca The way it rolls off your tongue, it reminds me of, forgive me for citing myself, Lo lee ta.It s also close enough to the German acronym B.N.K which even a faint hearted German reader or patient would appreciate stands for the Bundesverband Niedergelassener Kardiologen , cross my heart and hope not to die.Vera was the first to detect how you reversed the reader s response to this relationship.Humbert knew damned well how old Lolita was It was crucial to his enterprise.On the other hand, Slothrop believed Bianca was a minor of barely 11 or 12, but when you work through the arithmetic of your puzzle, you realise that in reality and therefore fiction she was 16 or was it 17 and consequently of age.So, what Slothrop did was legitimate, but what the reader who was as yet unaware of this detail did was not.In Lolita , I allowed readers to believe they were jurors with a legitimate interest in the proceedings, whereas in Gravity s Rainbow they are complicit in a crime that the protagonist did not actually commit.The reader s voyeurism comes at a cost, at least metaphorically.Only time will tell whether America and the world is ready to be confronted with their culpability.Even if they are not, I hope your novel receives the acclaim it deserves.So, well done, Tom, Richard would have been proud.I would have been proud to call you my pupil, too Pupil 2 , if only you had enrolled in one of my classes.Perhaps you learned and better from my example In the hope that you might continue to do so, I have asked my Publisher to send you a copy of my Strong Opinions.I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed expressing them.Yours, with all my admiration, V.Slothropod De Feets Cephalopod, Dutch Girl Almost Pops Her ClogsSlothrop, octopusAnd Katje BorgesiusWe were meant to meet.The Thoughts of An Erotic ClausewitzFuck Death, Fuck Rockets,Says Erotic Clausewitz,Make Love, Fuck the War.Jim Carroll Watches the Earth RecedeHow can I propelMy missile gainst the pull ofWicked Gravity Slothrop s Dewy GlansSlothrop s cock, un croppedSlots into sweet spot, then, spent,Flops soft in wet spot.Summit MeetingWho knows what worldly wisdom I might findWhen I discover myself at the peak, Gravity defiant, all nickels spent,Trying to work out what it could have meant,And you re already there, reposed, asleep,Your trousers down and crimson phallus bent,And scattered on the snow are streaksOf your rocket powered ejaculateThat have fallen moist, arc like to the earth,Still rainbow coloured and immaculate.So I read 200 sullen words worthOf the dry wit and onanistic mirthThat appeal so much to the daisy chainOf acolytes standing at your rear.As one who s usually come before,They call you a poet and a seer.It s sad we only see your back side,Though we re the ones forever left behindBy all your avant garde sorcery andThe flaccid disquisitions of your mind.Soundtrack Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Babe You Turn Me Onhttp www.youtube.com watch v 153eVr THIS BOOK IS ABOUT A MAN IN WW2 HE GETS ERECTIONS. You know that very brief moment after you wake up in the morning That moment when you re not sleeping but you re not yet awake You kind of know what s going but you re not fully aware You re in conciousness limbo When you read Gravity s Rainbow you fall into this conciousness limbo You read the words on the page but they don t all make sense You re confused, you don t know what s going on but you love it You re floating through this syntactical Pandora s Box fully unaware of your surroundings, not wanting to stop reading so you just read and read this 900 page page tome never wanting to stop And then it ends And you want to start again Because you know that this is the greatest novel ever written And you ll never read anything like it ever again.