Monday, April 30, 2007

Chapter 64: To Hell and Back!


A long chapter, but after a slow start, the chapter becomes rather central to the against the light/day motif. Reef, and Yashmeen will accompany Cyprian on a return mission to the Balkans.

Pynchon seems to have the same feelings about nationalism—the scourge of modernity:

“If a nation wants to preserve itself, what other steps can it take, but mobilize and go to war? Central governments were never designed for peace. Their structure is line and staff, same as the army. The national idea (my italics) depends on war” (938).


The mission to the Balkans is an Anarchist one—even Ratty and Coombs de Bottle have joined the movement. They hope to play “a co-evolutionary role, helping along what’s already in progress…the replacement of governments by other, more practical arrangements” (933).

Another great quote—could be a mantra for life:

“Yashmeen was the one who shared most deeply the Anarchist beliefs around here. She had no illusions about bourgeois innocence, and yet held on to a limitless faith that History could be helped keep its promises, including someday, a commonwealth of the oppressed” (942).

And a quote that takes me back to the 70s and Todd Rundgren’s Utopian visions:

“What are any of these ‘utopian dreams” of ours but defective forms of time travel” (942).


Yashmen and Reef’s daughter, Ljubica is born during the rose harvest. The boys find a “Tesla Ring,” and weapons of mass destruction (phosgene gas) but don’t confront the technology for fear of the consequences to Yashmeen and the Baby.

Cyprian seems to reach a point of enlightenment at an Orphic-Pythagorean monastery, and decides to stay behind—leaving Reef and Yashmeen a couple. “It may be,” Cyprian said as gently as he thought he had to, “that God doesn’t always require us to wander about” (958). Cyprian’s final question before entering into the nun’s vow of silence is “What is it that is born of light?” (959). Phosgene Gas? Nuclear fission? Fusion?


After Cyprian is left behind, Reef and Yashmeen journey across Thrace towards Macedonia into the light. Their mission seems to have failed, and war has broken out in the Balkans. Surrounded by armies, their only path to escape seems to be the one place Cyprian warned them to avoid—Albania


Ljubica, who seems to have some kind of amazing power, has a conversation with Ksenija, and Albania sheepdog, and companion of Pugnax. It seems the dog is shepherding the family to safety.


They finally escape to Corfu, and who shows up there but Auberon Halfcourt and his newfound love, the Japanese mathematician Umeki Tsurigane. The chapter ends with a father/daughter reunion.

4 Comments:

Blogger Douglas Lannark said...

Sorry, but looks like another *typo*. For the record and sake of future researchers this quote “a co-evolutionary role, helping along what’s already in progress...the replacement of governments by other, more practical arrangements” is on page 933 lines 26-30 and not on page 939.

From the Zone on Walpurgisnacht, the polar opposite of Halloween!

1:03 PM  
Blogger Stevens said...

Thanks Dog--I'll fix it!

3:49 AM  
Blogger Douglas Lannark said...

And while you're at it, please fix the spelling of my name too. On this hemisphere it is Douglas, not Doug or Dog.

The Witches have returned safely to the Zone and through-out Europe the May 1st Processions have begun -- the working class hardly any better off than a century ago in ATD....

4:51 AM  
Blogger Stevens said...

Sorry Douglas--the working class certainly seems no better off in "New Europe," and in the US we've lost all sense of any leftist heritage.

Where are all the Red Diaper Babies?

4:00 AM  

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