Monday, July 21, 2008

The Thomas Pynchon Wiki

Apparently more than one person out there thinks Thomas Pynchon is one of the most complex people around. Need proof? Have you been to the Thomas Pynchon wiki project? Every major work (except for Slow Learner) is there. If you never read him, and want to see just how complex he is, then check out this site, and you'll learn very quickly why his books can be like puzzles. I recommend starting with the one for Against the Day. I'm surprised someone hasn't given this kind of treatment to Joyce.

Apparently the whole thing started the same day the book launched, because it was just way to hard for readers to keep track of everything. Here's the annotations for just one page of the 800+ page Pynchon epic:

Page 683
Franz JosefFranz Josef (1830-1916), Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia from 1848 to 1916. His 68-year reign is the third-longest in the recorded history of Europe.
the BelvedereThe Belvedere Palace, Vienna, comprises two magnificent baroque mansions facing each other across a sloping formal garden. Prince Eugene of Savoy, whose campaigns against the Turks enabled the Habsburg Emprie to reclaim Hungary, purchased some land beyond Vienna's city walls in 1693, upon which he ordered a park with elaborate water features and fountains to be built. In 1714 the Prince had the lower Belvedere built and in 1721 the upper one. The Palace now is open to public tours. See Belvedere Pictures.

Prince Eugene of SavoyPrince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736) was the greatest general to serve the Habsburgs.

BallhausplatzBallhausplatz is a square in central Vienna containing the building that over 200 years has been the official residence of the State Chancellor. As a result, Ballhausplatz is often used as shorthand for the Austrian Chancellery
the Anglo-Russian EntenteCf page 618:the Anglo-Russian Entente.
WilhelmstrasseCf page 496:Wilhelmstrasse.
gemütlicher alter JungeGerman: good old boy.

a man who is standing where he should not be.This ominous sentence could be applied to the likes of GWB and those shady charcters who allegedly stood on the grassy knoll (among others).
some symmetry was being brokenSpontaneous symmetry breaking in physics takes place when a system that is symmetric with respect to some symmetry group goes into a vacuum state that is not symmetric. At this point the system no longer appears to behave in a symmetric manner. A common example to help explain this phenomenon is a ball sitting on top of a hill. This ball is in a completely symmetric state. However, it is not a stable one: the ball can easily roll down the hill. At some point, the ball will spontaneously roll down the hill in one direction or another. The symmetry has been broken because the direction the ball rolled down in has now been singled out from other directions [2].

Here, the meaning appears to be that the equilibrium of the twinned professors is broken; Werfner is in London, where he "should not be" (Renfrew's territory); a historical stasis has been broken; this must mean something. Perhaps a foreshadowing of the collapse of the Great Power "symmetry" of 1814 to 1914.

Not spontaneous symmetry broken, just plain broken symmetry. Cf page 537:broken symmetries.

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