Thursday, March 29, 2007

Chapter 54: Deep Waters

In this chapter Kit arrives at Lake Baikal, an arrival which seems to have deep implications for Kit’s future. This lake in Inner Asia is almost unknown to Americans even though the Wikipedia tells us that it is the deepest lake in the world, with more freshwater than all the Great Lakes combined, and 20% of the Earth’s freshwater.

The chapter ends on a prophetic note: “From time to time, Kit recalled the purity, the fierce shining purity of Lake Baikal, and how he had felt standing in the wind Hassan had disappeared into, and wondered now how his certainty then had failed to keep him from falling now into this bickering numbness of spirit. In view of what was nearly upon them, however—as he would understand later—the shelter of the trivial would prove a blessing and a step towards salvation” (778).

Kit’s quest for “the prophet, Doorsa’a master?” seems lost, or deferred, but Hassan responds to Kit’s question, “Shall I speak to him” by claiming “You spoke to him.” (768). This passage reminds me of Peter Mathiessen’s Himalayan journey, chronicled in The Snow Leopard, where at the end of a journey to find a Zen Master he comes to realize that his modest Sherpa guide was the real Zen Master he was searching for.


Blogger Douglas Lannark said...

The Kit/Hassan passage also reminded me of Hermann Hesse's "Die Morgenlandfahrt" ("The Journey to the East," 1932). Servant/Master -- a common repeating theme in spiritual literature; also a classic opposite pair.

Fair enough, yet from a Zentral European perspective you completely left out page 777 -- what, not one word about this fantastic dialog and text?!

Pynchon perhaps presenting his own philosophy on the readers?

For my tate and interest not the first serious "omission" . . . what about the final paragraph on page 642? Or Tancredi on page 742?

Or is it really *that* bad in the States?! Yes, ''cause if anybody needs a revolution, it's sure *youse* gringos.'

Please, don't always do as you are told. . . .

9:32 AM  

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