Friday, December 15, 2006

Chapter 14: The Long Island Vibes

In Chapter 14 we flash back to Kit’s narrative while at Yale, where he rooms with another one of Scarsdale Vibe’s sons, the youngest, Colfax. Vibe is not at all impressed with his sons, who he characterizes as “a crockful of cucumbers” (157). And seems to be offering Kit the opportunity to be he heir. Kit is uncomfortable with both the offer and Vibe’s manner: “The man had been looking at him strangely. Not a fatherly or even foster-fatherly expression. No, it was—Kit almost blushed at the though—it was desire” (158). This seems reminiscent of the homoerotic desire of Captain Blicero for his young charges in GR.

Despite declining the offer, Kit soon becomes acquainted with all the Vibes. Besides Scarsdale and his son Colfax, we also meet Cragmont, who ran away at age 13 and married a trapeze artist, and the black sheep of the family, Fleetwood, who we know of through his journal of the Vormance expedition. Dopplegangers again: both Scarsdale Vibe and Traverse Webb have three sons, and both have a son who is ‘on the outs’ with Dad: Fleetwood and Kit being another set of Dopplegangers. We don’t meet a vibe sister here, but we do meet Cousin Dittany, with whom Kit has a series of romantic trysts.

The narrative then shifts to Fleetwood Vibe’s adventures as an explorer in Africa, a location familiar to readers of both V. and GR. At the end of the chapter we learn of his intentions to join the Vormance expedition.

A few notes from the Pynchon wiki: first, Dittany is a group herb that sybolizes love. Second, look at the name Vibe: V I be. It harkens back to the earlier novel's African adventures of the man who would become Blicero in GR. Furthermore, the references to Rand (think also Rand, Krueggerand, and Ayn Rand) give the story an African connection, and a connection to the earlier novels. I also think of the mysterious Rand Corporation, the think tank that did/does research for the CIA, and I notice that Tesla's "invention" of a power source so cheap it can't be measured is the very invention John Galt developed in Atlas Shrugged.


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