Friday, November 24, 2006

Chapter Two

Chapter 2 begins with Lindsay looking down on “‘The Great Bovine City of the World’” (10), describing the maze of turns and angles the cows must choose before reaching the slaughterhouse. Immediately I think of the opening scene in GR where the train keeps knotting inward, its passengers as doomed as the Chicago cows. I can’t help wondering, whether Pynhcon is engaging in a kind of self-parody, or whether the two scenes might have been written contemporaneously. As little as we know of Pynchon the man, we know even less about his writing process!

From the seriousness of this opening, he moves into one of those slapstick scenes for which he is (in)famous—Miles Blundell’s foot, stuck in the hydrogen valve, sending the crew of the airship plummeting towards a certain death. In the ensuing chaos, we learn even more about the extent of Lindsay’s literacy—he makes reference to Riemann topology.

Who is the “stout gentleman” pursuing the naked lady with his camera. Probably an allusion I’m missing?

After safely landing we get the first song, with Miles on uke. Some allusions about the Captain’s sexuality, and we meet the members of another airship crew, “Bindlestiffs of the Blue:” Miss Penelope Black commanding, Riley, and Zip. On their trip to Chicago in the airship Tzigane (Fr=gypsy), the Bindlestiffs (Hobos) had encountered some sort of unearthly voices, or communication. Again, I think of the séance in GR.


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