Thursday, January 18, 2007

Chapter 29: Espato de Islandia!

This chapter, the penultimate chapter in “Iceland Spar,” describing Frank’s adventures in Mexico, seems especially important to the recurring themes of the book. Everything in Mexico seems a strange, double-refracted version of Colorado: Mexican army, Mexican silver mines, an understanding that there are at least two (or more if you count Basnight) Kieselguhr Kids, even another Estrella!

The following rant from Joaquin, the parrot, answering the question as to why Mexican cities are called doubly: Zacatecas, Zacatecas; Guanajuato, Guanajuato:

“Think! Double refraction! Your favorite optical property! Silver mines full of espato double-refracting all the time, and not only light rays, naw uh-uh! Cities too! People! Parrots! You just keep floating along in that gringo smoke cloud, thinking there’s only one of everything, huevon, you don’t see those strange lights around you” (387)

Frank does follow one light, a vision from a dream which he thinks will lead him to Deuce. Instead it lands him in jail, but he is broken out by a band of hilarious Mexican anarchists.

His newfound friend, Ewball Oust, turns out to be a doppelganger for Bob Meldrum in at least one way—he’s an incredible marksman.

Frank ends up with three Merxican native Americans, who lead him to a strange cavern. As he approaches, “Framk understood that he had been waiting for the unreadable face of the one duende or Mexican tommyknocker who would lead him like this up some slope, higher than the last roofless wall, into a range of hawks and eagles, take him beyond his need for the light or the wages of the day, into some horn-screened mouth, in beneath broken gallow-frames and shoring all askew, allowing himself at last to be swallowed by, rather than actively penetrating, the immemorial mystery of these mountains” (391).


A magical piece of crystal in the cavern seems to be a mirror leading him to Sloat’s location.

This is such a Marxist or anarchist narrative at its heart. The day is the time of work, the time of the bosses. Pynchon is truly working “Against the Day.”

And at chapter’s end, he finds a Mexican tavern, and dispatches Sloat. The first revenge killing enters the book.


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