Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chapter 12: The Escape!

Chapter 12 is a difficult read. Most of the chapter is the narrative of Fleetwood Vibe, who describes the encounter between the Vormance expedition and the Chums of Chance. Many references in the Against the Day wiki (, but little hint of what is really happening. There is a warning delivered by the Chums to the expedition about a “Zone of Emergency” (139) because the “Nunatak” (139) upon which their command post sits ( is actually some strange object, which the Chums reveal to the expedition by means of some strange ray ( radar?). The Chums have grown a little, and their science officer is now “Dr. Counterfly” (139), who wears goggles with lenses made from Iceland Spar.

Most of the remaining chapter describes the teams expedition to acquire this object, cart it back to the ship, and into the hold, where the object, now revealed to be some sort of creature, escapes, announcing prophetically “The man-shaped light shall not deliver you” (145) and “Flames were always your destiny, my children” (145).

Along the way we also encounter a bilocated (in two places at once) shaman, Magyakan, an acquaintance of Hastings Throyle (143), who also delivers a prophetic message, comparing the creature/object they will encounter to the sled dogs.

We also learn that Pugnax has been left behind, and that he is the leader of the dogs who are on the verge of forming “a canine labor union” (144).

After the creature’s escape (think King Kong), Fleetwood Vibe struggles to return to the safety of civilization, ending up in a city in chaos—New York? DC? He ends up in a line waiting for a train, a line reminiscent of the Chicago slaughterhouse of Part 1, and the train which leads not to escape, but entanglement, at the beginning of GR.

The chapter ends in an “Explorer’s Club” in Washington D.C., a scene reminiscent of Colonel Pargiter’s London club in Woolf's The Years. This enigmatic scene ends with the chilling “they were speaking of the unfortunate events to the north, the bad dream I still try to wake from, the great city brought to sorrow and ruin” (148). It seems to be referring to events in New York, yet may be the author’s personal (I hesitate to make such a leap regarding this author) speculation about 9/11.


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