Friday, December 22, 2006

Chapter 19: Spiritualism in Merry Old London!



Chapter 19 gives us Lew Basnight’s adventures in London. Seems that Neville and Nigel are part of “T.W.I.T., or True Worshippers of the Ineffable Tetractyls,”(219) a kind of Pythagorean cult a bit reminiscent of the Pavlovians at the White Visitation in Gravity’s Rainbow. T.W.I.T. is led by Nicholas Nookshaft, the Grand Cohens. In Hebrew traditions, the Cohens were a priestly cast. He also meets Yasmeen Halfcourt, a beautiful young woman under T.W.I.T.’s protection.

Yasmeens makes another connection to cryptography, and perhaps Neil Stephenson. She notes that “ ‘On this island,’ she went on, ‘as you will have begun to notice, no one ever speaks plainly. Whether it’s Cockney rhyming codes or the crosswords in the newspapers—all English, spoken or written, is looked down on as no more than strings of text cleverly encrypted’” (224). For the British, the American’s earnest attempts to interpret are seen as silly. It’s all “a bit of fun” (224). Says a lot about the way we study texts.

There is also a great deal more reference to Tarot decks, the occultist Arthur Edward Waite, and his Order of the Golden Dawn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Edward_Waite). Interestingly enough, Waite was author of the New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.

Great humor—the family which represents Temperance in the Tarot deck are the “Uckenfays.” Obviously a Pig Latin name!

T.W.I.T’s affinity for séances is also reminiscent of GR. The explosion at the Séance somehow seems to connect the London tale to Colorado. And the feuding professors, Renfrew and Werfner (anagrams for each other) are also connected to the Tarot deck, card XV.

There is a long meditation on what would have happened if Ernst August had succeeded Victoria on the British throne—seems to be a meditation on how England was one bullet away from fascism (230-231).

2 Comments:

Blogger The Modesto Kid said...

Dear Stevens: Thanks for these notes -- I am finding them very useful indeed. I seem to be on a pretty similar reading schedule to yours. (Though I am nowhere near as prolific a taker of notes.)

8:38 AM  
Blogger Stevens said...

Thanks, Modesto!

It's a guilty pleasure, but I'm enjoying it.

Steve

6:39 PM  

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