- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
- 1 Page 171
- 2 Page 172
- 3 Page 173
- 4 Page 174
- 5 Page 175
- 6 Page 176
- 7 Page 177
- 8 Page 178
- 9 Page 179
- 10 Page 180
- 11 Page 181
- 12 Page 182
- 13 Page 183
- 14 Page 184
- 15 Page 185
- 16 Page 186
- 17 Page 187
- 18 Page 188
- 19 Page 189
- 20 Page 190
- 21 Page 191
- 22 Page 192
- 23 Page 193
- 24 Page 194
- 25 Page 195
- 26 Page 196
- 27 Page 197
- 28 Page 198
- 29 Annotation Index
Dynamite, a blasting explosive, was invented in 1867 by Alfred P. Nobel by mixing nitroglycerin with kieselguhr.
The name also recalls the Kenosha Kid sequence of Gravity's Rainbow, which may have taken its name from a 1931 pulp fiction story by Forbes Parkhill, a two-fisted wild west adventure.
they could look at the unsolved cases the way a banker might at instruments of debt
And bankers call those instruments negotiable paper.
reaction of 1849
Acts of European governments to suppress the widespread liberal revolutions of 1848. The reaction impelled many people to emigrate to the U.S.
Sangre de Cristos
southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. Wikipedia Entry
Spanish: Blood of Christ
Robert Oppenheimer had a ranch in the Sangre de Cristos and loved to ride horseback through the area since he was 18. When the Manhattan Project sought a location to set up shop, Oppenheimer saw Los Alamos as a way to combine his two great loves (physics and NM) with the military's need of a secure and isolated place for the bomb's development.
The Kid's family had supposedly come . . . whenever the Kid's in the county
The Legend of the Kieselguhr Kid, with parallels to the Legends of Zorro, the Lone Ranger and many others.
Couple dozen, in big bandoliers across his chest
Similar to the way suicide bombers in the Middle East wear their munitions?
The Uncompahgre Plateau in Colorado.
infamous outlaw Wikipedia Entry
Born in Verona, Italy, Dr. Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909), using concepts drawn from Physiognomy, early Eugenics, Psychiatry and Social Darwinism, devised the theory that criminality was inherited, and that the born criminal could be identified by physical defects, which confirmed a criminal as savage, or atavistic; Wikipedia entry
spanish for bog, quagmire
Burke Ponghill has some "swampland" for sale, it's in Colorado, wanna buy some? Comes with a bridge he'd be happy to sell you too. Calls to mind the Florida land speculation boom/bust of the 1920s in general and Isola di Lolando in particular. Built to look like a Venetian island, it still sits abandonded in Biscayne Bay.
This immediately brings to mind the post 9/11 George W. Bush use of the term, once again relating the time of AtD, with its "unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places" with current day America - unless, of course, "No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred." Thew 18:49, 30 May 2007 (PDT)
"got us a man of principle"
Eerily reminiscent of Theodore Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, the convicted American murderer known for his campaign of mail bombings, many of which were addressed to specific victims, intended by Kaczynski to draw attention to what he percieved as the ills of technology on modern society. Wikipedia entry.
There a several tenuous threads of connection between Pynchon and the Unabomber. Pynchon has written works exploring the dangers of modern technology and, more specifically, ludditism.   As a young man, Pynchon co-wrote such a play, Minstral Island, with his Cornell classmate Kirkpatrick Sale, who later would become one of the world's most prominent and outspoken luddites. Sale later said, "The Unabomber and I share a great many views about the pernicious effect of the Industrial Revolution, the evils of modern technologies, the stifling effect of mass society, the vast extent of suffering in a machine-dominated world and the inevitability of social and environmental catastrophe if the industrial system goes unchecked," although naturally Sale condemned the Unabomber's method. When the Unabomber's identity was still unknown, Pynchon was suggested (with who knows what degree of seriousness, and by whom) as a possible suspect. 
"jizzmatic juices backin' up, putting pressure on the brain"
'Jizzmatic juices' seems to be a Pynchon-created slang phrase for semen, adapted from the dictionary-found slang word for semen, "jism". Pynchon has "a lady acquaintence" of Mr. Ponghill as responsible for the "naive theory" [Lew Basnight], commonly-enough held, that lack of sex "lack of exposure to the fair sex", previous paragraph can affect the brain and therefore one's judgment.
- In the 19th century, this was actually a "scientific" theory. The idea was that the human body was a closed system w/ a certain amount of energy. For women, intellectual activity was presumed to send blood to the head, meaning that it would not be available for reproduction. For men, lack of sexual activity was presumed to lead to a clogged up system dangerous to health. Among other things this point was used to justify men's visits to prostitutes. See for instance this book excerpt via Google Books
- Yes yes. this "lack of exposure to the fair sex" can cause Beaver on the Brain
"Don't mean he ain't got a right to his privacy."
Continues the Unabomber/Pynchon connection. Pynchon follows the description of a dynamite bomber with the right to privacy, something that Pynchon has guarded closely for his entire life. For more on Pynchon and privacy, see page 37.
back to the campfires of his youth, only then it was God didn't have a name
"What is God's name?" or "What is God's first name?" was a topic that reliably led adolescent boys to yatter pointlessly on for hours when their adult leaders wanted to be left alone in camp.
"your own brother"
The Unabomber was turned in by his brother. ("Kaczynski" means 'ducky' or 'duckman'. Did TRP hide this somewhere?)
every cabin . . . concealed stories that were anything but peaceful
Compare Sherlock Holmes in "The Copper Beeches": "It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys of London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside."
"Only slowly would it occur to his ultra-keen detective's reasoning that these bombs could have been set by anybody, including those who would clearly benefit if "Anarchists", however loosely defined, could be blamed for it."
Is this an(other) allusion to the Controlled demolition hypothesis for the collapse of the WTC? Cf. a similar reference in page 85 and the discussion therein.
Pynchon seems to be a smart enough guy to not believe such ridiculous theories. It's all too easy to read into these true historical events (the short-lived period of anarchist bombings of the late 19th and early 20 centuries) similitudes with more recent events, but the context in AtD is clear enough that this sort of speculation seems to be nothing more than speculation. Of course, that's the fodder for conspiracy theorists...--Kirkm 04:40, 21 February 2007 (PST)
I see a broader parallel between government manipulation of 19th century fear of "anarchists" and 20th century fears of "terrorists." As in the 2006 film "Children of Men," where the government is responsible for the "terrorist" bombings. --Cal 11:48, 14 June 2007 (PST)
The idea of controlled demolitions undertaken on the gov.'s behalf isn't a new one, and those who think the idea is too outlandish for the period have failed to "Remember the Maine!" 
Anyways, whether Pynchon believes the WTC "conspiracy theories" or not, it seems obvious that he is encouraging the reader to make the connection. If anyone knows that it's "all too easy to read into these true historical [or fictional] events... similitudes with more recent events" it's TRP. --Pomopaulrevere
- I disagree that TRP is "encouraging" us to make such a connex, and anyway, the Maine was either an accident or destroyed by a [Spanish] mine, so it isn't parallel. The yellow press went to work, even though the US gov't at that point was not sure it wanted war with Cuba. -- Owl of Minerva
It seems to me that when Ruggles writes statements like the quote above, or makes a reference to someone removing the rubble of a building to an out of country location, or a little later on when he has the Chums suspect their Subdesertine scherzo is really only a front for oil exploration, he does so with the full knowledge that his vigilantly paranoid (and generally anti-establishment) readers might suspect he is referring to present day events. This is the same man who wrote Proverbs for Paranoids after all. I guess it comes down to whether or not you think Pynchon had his tongue planted firmly in cheek when he wrote on Amazon that "No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred". You see where I stand. --Pomopaulrevere
- Sorry, Pomopaul, my comment sounded rather snooty. I did NOT mean that trp wants no connex made, but rather that he is connecting past and present power politics based on disasters, especially human-caused disasters, rather than encouraging us to believe that our own gov't caused 9/11. In AtD, I see materialist power politics with not-thought-out and unintended consequences. The Austrian Emperor, for instance, is not trying to provoke war with Serbia in order to bring about the extinction of that Empire, but that is the unintended result. But you have given me pause, for you are certainly correct about Proverbs for Paranoids.... -- Owl
- A wrong premise seems to underlie some discussion in the wiki: the notion of a passage referring to something outside the book. The writing stands on its own feet; if it didn't, we all would have quit reading. But you don't go to the Velázquez show to learn what the Spanish princesses looked like. The artist proposes new terms that you can use to understand your world. A lot of us think we can use Pynchon's terms this way: magic, straight lines, Panic fear, born of light, the sacrifice of innocence. If that's so, then the best end of the wiki is to help users parse the terms. It misses the point to discuss what Pynchon thinks or intends or to make this book be about the 21st century.
- Well, maybe we need to continue this discussion on a Talk page. "Referring" to something outside the book has different meanings,of course, and certain literalnesses of referring many of us might find....narrow......or plain wrong but I would argue that TRP would agree with Melville on the NECESSITY of works to 'tie in' to the real world. . I think one of the best things about the wiki is that is allows that to be shown--and shown deeply and thematically---against the blindness of some readers and even 'critics' and reviewers who say Pynchon's works are so 'postmodern' they are only about themselves. I think the above poster might not differ with this assessment, but I wanted to stress it. MKOHUT 08:40, 22 June 2007 (PDT)
revealing the Plutonic powers as they daily sent their legions of gnomes underground
Here we may have a key to understanding the war in the Earth's Interior—in which Chthonica, Princess of Plutonia, saw her castle besieged by the Legion of Gnomes—when the Chums of Chance seem to have joined the Plutonic cause; see text and annotations, p. 117.
"the Powers, who always had more dwarves waiting, even eagerly, to be sent below."
A Tolkien-inspired imagery? Dwarfs figure prominently into Norse mythology and fantasy works before Tolkien, but Tolkien supposedly began the use of the spelling, "dwarves," employed here. Wikipedia entry on Dwarf
- I would hope it's an allusion to Wagner's Ring rather than to Tolkien. On pp. 127-28, Iceland Spar, there is discussion of the far north and Nordic travels there. Beyond the Ginnungagap lay Niflheim or in German Niebelheim, meaning Foggy Home, and in Wagner it lay under the earth, with bent-over workers, perhaps dwarves, forced to mine gold and other minerals. This makes the comment above, about the earth's interior and Chthonica, fit even better.
Tortoni's on Arapahoe
Italian restaurant located in the 1500 block of Arapahoe Street in downtown Denver. Photo
Gahan's saloon across the street from City Hall
Saloon operated by William Gahan, a Denver City Councilman, and his brothers conveniently located at 1401 Larimer Street in Denver, across the street from City Hall. Gahan operated two other saloons, including one at 1133 Larimer Street, which he supposedly kept open on Sundays, harbored gambling, and sponsored a boys' baseball team that played for beer.
Ed Chase, the boss of the red-light district
Edward "Big Ed" Chase (1838-1921) was a New Yorker from Saratoga Springs who became the leader of criminal activities in Denver from 1860 on, and as such was an influential and respected man. He ran saloons, gambling houses, bordellos, and theaters (specializing in "burlesque"), and served on the Denver City Council from 1866-1869. After that, he was a behind-the-scenes ward boss and power broker for the Republican party, which dominated Denver politics at the time. Nearly every 19th century election in Denver was clouded by charges that Chase had organized an army of voters out of riffraff, vagrants, prostitutes, barflies and gamblers. By the time of his death in 1921, Chase had come to be regarded as a respected real estate investor and capitalist. For more info, consult The City & The Saloon: Denver 1858-1918 by Thomas J. Noel.
"another little Haymarket"
On May 4th 1886 a workers' protest meeting was held at the West Randolph Street Haymarket in Chicago. A bomb was thrown at the police, the police opened fire and many officers and protesters were killed (chicagohistory.org)
Western Federation of Miners Wikipedia Entry
Other AtD women named for herbs and ornamentals include Stray's friend Sage in Nochecita, Lake's colleague Oleander Prudge, Cousin Dittany Vibe, Verbena at Smokefoot's, and of course Dahlia Rideout.
Ku Klux Klan
The Klan itself was not in its heyday at the time this episode took place, and not only is it unlikely that the Klan would have shown itself at the time, but also that it would have been this far west. The "modern" Klan was only reformed in 1915. Wikipedia. IN the 1920s, Colorado would become a stronghold of the "modern" Klan.
Carrying a sidearm. (The word also means "having money," but here the first meaning is pretty clear.)
An elite American who was on the board of the Telluride Mining Association, head of a mining company and was aggressively anti-union even to the point of false murder charges. Bulkeley Wells http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulkeley_Wells
"Yutz" is a slang word (from Yiddish) for a clueless goof.
different tempos and keys
Cf 'anarchist miracle' in "Lot 49" (chapter 5).
In the early 1970s San Francisco was the site of the Black Flag Concerts, where anybody was allowed to make any music. People who attended said it was disorienting to wander through the crowd listening to folk singers, kazoo bands and Celtic harpists all belting away. (The Black Flag is a traditional emblem of anarchism.)
Also perhaps a reference to Charles Ives, who wrote much music containing combatting sections in different keys, tempi and melody. The quintessential image of Ives' music is that of four marching bands playing different tunes arriving at the same village square. Ives attended Yale, though graduated in 1898, two years prior to the scene beginning on page 156.
Or perhaps just an image of musical anarchy to match the political Anarchism.
Mormon whiskey reported by Mark Twain. cite
As Twain himself suggests, Valley Tan was not so much a whiskey as a “first cousin to it.” It was a brand of patent medicines that were produced in Salt Lake City at the Valley Tan Remedies (V.T.R.) Laboratory beginning in 1884. A brief profile of the company can be found at this website.
it'll be run Anarchist run for you, Brother Basnight
Echoes Chick on p. 8: "legal ain't got nothing to do with it—it's run, Yankee, run, and Katie bar the door."
faded into the mobility
"Mobility" also appears in Mason & Dixon. The word was later shortened to "mob."
"kept wasting Agency money rattling off one telegram after another."
Cf. the following excerpt from a letter by novelist Raymond Chandler to Jamie Hamilton, 21 March 1949:
- "I remember several years ago when Howard Hawks was making The Big Sleep, the movie, he and Bogart got into an argument as to whether one of the characters was murdered or commited suicide. They sent me a wire (there's a joke about this too) asking me, and dammit I didn't know either. Of course I got hooted at. The joke was in connection with Jack Warner, the head of Warner Bros. Believe it or not, he saw the wire, the wire cost the studio 70 cents, and he called Hawks up and asked him whether it was really necessary to send a telegram about a point like that. That's one way to run a business." (The Raymond Chandler Papers, ed. by Tom Hiney and Frank McShane, Penguin 2001, p. 105)
The explosive pentaerythritol tetranitrate. Ingredient of Semtex, discovered 1891. Wikipedia
There is, in Norfolk, Virginia, a district (?) called "Oyster Wharf"; there is, in London, a development called "Oyster Wharf" not sure if it's significant or points anywhere, but it appears that this fellow's name is a contraction of those two words. More generically, an "oyster wharf" is any wharf where the oystermen come in and offload their catch. Back in the day, they would give oysters away for free. Oyster shells are a natural source of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3).
Bear in mind that the Chums' Upper Hierarchy communicated orders to the Chums via a pearl. Miles Blundell "well before sunup, had visited the shellfish market in the teeming narrow lanes of the old town in Surabaya, East Java" and procured a bucket of "Special Japanese Oysters" (p. 113). The pearl was inserted into a device which rendered a "photographic image." This connects with the red crystal used in Merle's and Roswell's device (p. 1037).
Also bear in mind the sexual implications of the oyster, both its use as slang for the vagina (because its shape is evocative of the vagina, and some say its smell, as well) as well as its reputation as a aphrodisiac. This plays into the sexual pattern that runs through Against the Day. A few tidbits:
- Oysters were documented as a aphrodisiac food by the Romans in the second century A.D as mentioned in a satire by Juvenal. He described the wanton ways of women after ingesting wine and eating "giant oysters". An additional hypotheses is that the oyster resembles the "female" genitals. In reality oysters are a very nutritious and high in protein. 
- Oysters have always been linked with love. When Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sprang forth from the sea on an oyster shell and promptly gave birth to Eros, the word "aphrodisiac" was born. The dashing lover Casanova also used to start a meal eating 12 dozen oysters. 
Interesting that the oyster plays to the sexual connection, and the "artful sons of Nippon" using paramorphism to change aragonite, the "nacreous" (an adjective frequently used to describe semen) part of the pearl "to microscopic crystals of the doubly-refracting calcite known as Iceland spar" (p. 114).
Also: "Oysvarf" in Yiddish means, literally, vomitus; An "oysvarf" translates roughly as "a little puke".
- Actually, my checking indicates that it's oysvurf, not oysvarf, which is Yiddish for an outcast or bad person.
Also might be a reference to Owsley Stanley,"'underground' LSD chemist, the first to produce large quantities of pure LSD" and "the primary LSD supplier to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters". wiki:
mixtures of nitro compounds and polymethylenes
Nitro compounds include TNT, nitroglycerine and many other explosives. Polymethylenes are probably polymethylene waxes used as stabilizers or desensitizers.
experiencing the hotel dining room in a range of colors, not to mention cultural references, which had not been there when he came in
Kinda like the way many of us are seeing AtD after prolonged exposure to the wiki. . . .
"The wallpaper in particular presented not a repeating pattern at all"
Cf. Lucius Sheppard's 1985 short story The Fundamental Things, where a lady starts translating her wallpaper pattern to Hebrew.
The connection between explosives and psychedelics is apparently not based in chemistry but it has appeared elsewhere in popular culture. The 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale has a scene where pillowcases are inflated with a psychedelic gas, a fuse is attached, and a powerful explosion is the result.
This little hallucinated ditty, sung by "a race of very small but perfectly visible inhabitants" of Lew Basnight's steak, is reminiscent of "We Represent the Lollipop Guild" sung by three tough-looking Munchkin boys in The Wizard of Oz (1939). "Beavers of the Brain" also brings to mind the phrase "Beaver on the brain" (describing a horny male or, perhaps, lesbian) which even adorns t-shirts (see right).
Cf. "Pussy on the brain" - p.260
See also, The Sexual Angle.
Keep that Bulldog in your pocket...
A "Bulldog" is a small, "snubbie" revolver, with a very high power-to-weight ratio, perfect for carrying in the pocket as a concealed weapon. It also carries a somewhat sexual connotation.
A spelling error may lead to the idea that cyclomite is a name for the explosive RDX; that's cyclonite.
- I don't think this is a spelling error. Connects with dynomite. No way.
- Didn't make myself clear. If cyclomite is a Pynchon coinage, a Google search should give only Pynchon-linked hits. But I got a hit on an explosive—causing me to be short of breath till I realized it was just a misspelling for the correct term (in that context) "cyclonite," or RDX.
Plasti-, moldable (in this case chewable); cera- related to Latin cera = wax, cerumen = earwax; -ator, an agent to modify a product. The word "plasticerator" does not seem to have caught on. It would not be a failed synonym for "plasticizer," an agent to make rigid plastics pliable.
city in Illinois.
Wall of Death
Without risk of spoilage, see annotation to p. 476.
things would happen gradually enough to afford time to do something about it
A central idea in Gravity's Rainbow, which features a rocket that breaks the sound barrier and thus the ability to kill you before you hear it coming.
the world turned all inside out
This passage describes acid flashbacks.
- It's certainly written so as to suggest acid flashbacks but it's describing Lew's experience of being blown up
the carnival theory
On page 90 Kit Traverse had "seen a dynamited carny jump up out of the blast good as new."
Derived from George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby. The novel was adapted into a long-running play starring Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree as Svengali. A hat of this style was worn on stage during the play's first London production.
Wilde's US lecture tour was in 1882.
Ancient Pueblo Peoples, see "Anasazi"
"Like a Red Indian Stonehenge!" - "Only different!"
Cf. " 'Thanatoid' means 'like death, only different.' " (Vineland, p. 170). See also page 133.
Miss Colman-Smith is West Indian [tarot cards]
Pamela Colman Smith (1878—1951) was an artist, illustrator, and writer. She is best known for designing the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of tarot cards for Arthur Edward Waite. Smith was born in England, the daughter of an American merchant from Brooklyn, Charles Edward Smith and his Jamaican wife Corinne Colman. Due to her father’s job with the West India Improvement Company, the family often moved, spending time in London, Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, New York. Wikipedia entry
Pynchon's interest in the tarot is evident in Gravity's Rainbow. Two tarot cards are referred to here -- the Hanged Man (image) and the Knight of Swords (image). The reference is an anachronism, as the deck wasn't published until 1909.
espadas . . . copas
Spanish: Swords, Cups. The Tarot suits corresponding to spades and clubs.
Latin: one who asks. The subject of a Tarot reading (in some settings, the mark).
"The shower is visible from mid-July each year, but the bulk of its activity falls between August 8 and 14 with a peak on August 12. During the peak, rates of a hundred or more meteors per hour can be registered." Wikipedia This paragraph again suggests p. 83, Indian, and even Indian ghosts' amusement with the Whites.
hell of a blow-up . . . . maiden's sigh
Possible allusion to the testing of Trinity Bomb, the first explosion of an atomic weapon, which took place at White Sands, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Wikipedia.
See the text on the "anti-Stone," pp. 78-79, and annotations.
A second Moon
On page 144, Inconvenience is described as a "misplaced moon."
In the summer of 1900 Galveston was a major seaport; many of its cotton warehouses still stand. In the 19th century it was a port of entry for immigrants from Germany, Bohemia, the Balkans and elsewhere. The 1900 hurricane was the making of Houston, a few dozen miles up slow-flowing Buffalo Bayou—which was turned into the Ship Channel within a few years.
An historical event (8th September 1900, 6000 dead). [Wikipedia]
wherever could you have been living, before that frightful bomb brought you to us?
Perhaps an allusion to and rhetorical parallel of the "wake-up bomb" of the 9/11 attacks, and the relative increase of attention paid by the American media and public to such post-9/11 disasters as the slaughter of citizens in the Afghan and Iraq offensives, the destruction wrought by the South Asian tsunami, the displacement of the "hidden" poor of the Gulf States by Hurricane Katrina, the carnage of the earthquake in Iran, the rampant and still-raging genocides of Sudan, and so on.
- It has to work in AtD before it can be an allusion to something else! Here Neville seems to say Lew was not with him and Nigel until the explosion delivered "the New Lew" into "the world reconstituted" (p. 185), not that the N's simply found him in his torpor. "It didn't seem like Colorado anymore" (also p. 185). The explosion did more than knock Lew out; now he's living somewhere else. The reader is well-advised to trust Pynchon and let the text mean what it means before interpreting other histories into it.
- By my reading, this is the second time Lew has been displaced into another, parallel, world. The first time (in Ch. 1) occurred when he left innocence to find himself having committed some unmentionable crime, of which he has no recollection (bec/ he committed no crime in his original world).
This is the second appearance of the word (the first was on page 83). Neurasthenia was a kind of catch-all at the time for what today would be called depression, fatigue, anxiety, etc.
Scandinavians, especially Swedes, are sometimes referred to as squareheads. In HBO's Deadwood, for example, the orphaned girl Sophia (whose Scandinavian family migrated from Minnesota) is the squarehead girl.
Fireman Jim Flynn
The nickname undoubtedly comes from railroading, not firefighting.
In the West, the Plains and down to Texas, a blue norther is a fast-moving weather front with lightning, rain and wind, followed by a rapid drop in temperature.
1883 + 19yo = 1902?
Breaking ore into small pieces in preparation for refining.
A Plateau in Western Colorado, named after the Uncompahgre Ute Indian Tribe. [Wikipedia]
A seaman deuce is an apprentice seaman. See V.
Philip K. Dick's full name is Philip Kindred Dick.
Deuce had been one of those Sickly Youths . . . Strenuosity
Theodore Roosevelt was the model for feeble boys growing into bold men. His "Strenuous Life" doctrine was uncomfortably close to the adult Deuce's ways.
absorbed . . . re-emission . . . fluorescence of vindictiveness
In a fluorescent tube, invisible ultraviolet radiation from the electrical discharge is absorbed by "phosphors" on the inside of the glass. The UV excites the phosphor atoms, which then—instead of giving off ultraviolet of their own—re-emit the energy at a different wavelength, one that is visible.
Mining under a contract that paid by the volume of rock extracted. See annotations to p. 302 (but to avoid spoilers, don't look up or down).
not since the aught-one strike
So 1901 is in the past.
three-dollar sack suit
That is, a suit one might buy at a store where one fills a sack with clothes and then pays three dollars for the lot. A sack suit is an ordinary 19th-c. business suit which "evolved into the modern three piece suit." source
the fish at that table
The player whose money the others mean to take.
Mountain Pass dividing the Uncompahgre Plateau from the San Juan Mountains. [Wikipedia]
Possibly named for Commodore John D. Sloat (Wikipedia entry), American naval officer who claimed California, then a territory of Mexico, as part of the United States on July 7, 1846. The text of the declaration can be found here. Another source may be the Sloat Lumber Co. of Quincy, CA, which used an uncommon 30 gauge track, about which all I can find is here. Fresno is presumably a reference to the city in California, though its direct relation to either the Commodore or the Sloat Lumber Co. is unclear.
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West, by Cormac McCarthy, has a character named Sloat, but he's so minor that the only dialog he gets is when he denies being related to the commodore.
Sloat is another term for slat, a narrow piece of wood. Fresno is Spanish for ash.
In terms of sound and connotation, Sloat sounds like "stoat" (a weasel) combined with "sl" -- slippery, slimey, sluggish. All of which fits him.
copping the borax
? Seemingly a term invented by Pynchon. No idea what it means, but borax is a mineral used in detergent, pottery, a lots of other things. Wikipedia on Borax
"Borax" is a slang word for cheap, poorly made products. Makers of borax for use in cleansing used to give away junky items as premiums. If you look at it the other way around, "borax" could mean a premium, hence an enlistment bonus. "Copping" of course is getting something by underhand means.
from Fort Bliss to the Coeur d'Alenes
From Dan to Beersheba, so to speak. Fort Bliss is near El Paso, Texas. The Coeur d'Alène Mountains are in the panhandle of Idaho and the western end of Montana.
Montrose, CO. [Wikipedia]
Brings to mind Gilligan and the Skipper from Gilligan's Island: Sloat, like the Skipper, is twice his buddy's size; in both pairs, it is uncertain just who is whose sidekick; and the Skipper referred to Gilligan by, "li'l buddy."
Colored liquor, such as bourbon or whiskey.
- This describes a complementarity as well as a dichotomy, and leads us back to the theme of doubling and Doppelgänger.
The Light Over the Ranges
Repeats the title of Part One. May also suggest Tesla's 03 July 1899 'vision' (page 97). May also be tied to the light/dark theme running through parts of the book thus far: light over the (dark) ranges. Note the concurrence of the leitmotives light-time-water in the sentence "He watched the light over the ranges slowly draining away". The image of "draining light" might also hint at the wave-particle duality.
"Sir, please relocate your hand or I shall be obliged to do so myself"
A fine flowery way of saying, "Move it or lose it, Sport."
In far southwestern Colorado near the Utah state line.
shadow had taken the immeasurable plain
Contrasts "the light over the ranges". Possibly an allusion to Sodom and Gomorrah, the "cities of the plain" in Genesis 19, in which the angels advise Lot and his family: "do not look back and do not stop anywhere in the Plain. Flee to the hills or you will be swept away" (19:17). The cities of the plain, is also the title of i) the translated fourth volume of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu (original title Sodome et Gomorrhe) and ii) Cormac McCarthy's third novel of The Border Trilogy.
The Light Over the Ranges
Against the Day
Rue du Départ