ATD 219-242

Revision as of 09:17, 30 January 2009 by Jodcook (Talk | contribs) (Page 219)

Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.

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they would have little clue . . . their more or less ambushed keesters
One of half a dozen Pynchonian circumlocutions for "wouldn't know [blank] if it bit them in the ass."

The Tetractys
True Worshippers of the Ineffable Tetractys

The Tetractys is a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows: one, two, three, and four points in each row. As a mystical symbol, it was very important to the followers of the secret worship of the Pythagoreans, Kabbalists, and nutbars of other affiliations since. It has all kinds of symbological meaning, including the four elements, the organization of space, the Tarot, etc. Wikipedia entry;

In the Pythagorean tetractys — the supreme symbol of universal forces and processes — are set forth the theories of the Greeks concerning color and music. The first three dots represent the threefold White Light, which is the Godhead containing potentially all sound and color. The remaining seven dots are the colors of the spectrum and the notes of the musical scale. The colors and tones are the active creative powers which, emanating from the First Cause, establish the universe. The seven are divided into two groups, one containing three powers and the other four a relationship also shown in the tetractys. The higher group — that of three — becomes the spiritual nature of the created universe; the lower group — that of four — manifests as the irrational sphere, or inferior world. [1]
This division (three/four) has to be related to the "trivium" (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and "quadrivium" (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) of the Medieval liberal arts.

More effably, if you flip the Tetractys left to right, it gives the positions of the pins in ten-pin bowling.

The acronym T.W.I.T is most appropriate: a twit is an ineffectual buffoon. Neville and Nigel are certainly twits.

I believe the above really misses the Big Symbol, i.e., Pynchon's linking of T.W.I.T. with the vagina, i.e., the female sex organ. "T.W.I.T." sounds like — no, is — a cross between "clit" and "twat." And, natch, it's headed up by Nookshaft. And, let's face it, that tetractys is surely an inverted beaver, yes? (See "Beavers of the Brain"). Its male counterpart is Candlebrow U., to be encountered down the road apiece (and that ain't no spoiler!).

"The Tetractys" is also the name of a poem by the Quaternionist prophet Hamilton. I can't imagine Pynchon didn't find it fairly interesting reading. Read it for yourself here

Chunxton Crescent
Invented by Pynchon. "Crescent" is a female symbol in many mythologies and cultures, and it reinforces T.W.I.T.'s association with the female sex. But "Chunxton"?

The moon is seen as a female symbol, and was worshipped in ancient times as a powerful force. It is believed to be linked to the unconscious and our feminine side. The sacredness of the moon has been connected with the basic cyclic rhythms of life. The changing phases of the moon were linked to the death and rebirth seen in crops and the seasons, and also to the female monthly cycle that controls human fertility. The moon calendar is still important and many festivals exist around the lunar phases. [1]
Eliphas Levi's Baphomet

The crescent is also said "to represent silver (the metal associated with the moon) in alchemy, where, by inference, it can also be used to represent qualities that silver possesses." (Alchemy and Symbols, By M. E. Glidewell, Epsilon.)

Additionally, the crescent was an important symbol for Eliphas Levi, occultist, magician, and spiritual antecedent to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and, in turn, the T.W.I.T.

Chunxton may be derived from "chunk stone" or "chunk(s) town." I'm inclined to favor the first. "Chunk stone" has two main meanings: (1) stone that's quarried in chunks instead of blocks, slabs or crystals; (2) a magical stone that figures in some American Indian stories. Turquoise and amethyst chunk stones are often made into jewelry as-is, or larger chunks of (say) marble can be used as decoration. Here are links to two Indian stories in which people use chunk stones in finding or tracking: first, second. Of course it's also possible that "chunk" is the verb meaning "throw," in which case there ought to be a "glass houses" connection somewhere; I can't find it.

Pure speculation here, but our own moon is a giant "chunk" of "stone". And how did that "chunk" get there? Well, this being Thomas Pynchon's universe, sometime early in the solar system's history, this proto-planet called Orpheus comes along and smacks into the Earth so violently that it not only creates the moon, but at the same time expels enough water and gas to make "it possible for life on Earth to evolve as we currently know it." Seems to me like something worthy of Occultist reverence
In CoL49, TRP states at least twice that the Pacific Ocean is "the hole left by the moon's tearing-free and the monument to her exile." (The Crying of Lot 49, p.41)

"Tyburnia occupies the ground on the north side of Hyde-park and Kensington-gardens, and stretches from Edgware-road on the east to about Inverness-terrace on the west. This is not, strictly speaking, a fashionable quarter; but it is not absolutely unfashionable, and is a very favourite part with those — lawyers, merchants, and others—who have to reside in town the greater part of the year." Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879.

Sir John Soane
(1753 – 1837) was an English architect who specialised in the Neo-Classical style. Wikipedia entry

Madame Blavatsky
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), Russian-born founder of the Theosophical Society. Madame Blavatsky claimed that all religions were both true in their inner teachings and false or imperfect in their external conventional manifestations. Wikipedia

Theosophical Society Seal

Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society was founded in New York City, USA, in 1875 by H.P. Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others. Its initial objective was the investigation, study and explanation of mediumistic phenomena. After a few years Olcott and Blavatsky moved to India and established the International Headquarters at Adyar, Madras (Chennai). There, they also became interested in studying Eastern religions, and these were included in the Society's agenda. Wikipedia entry "Its post-blavatskian fragments" refers to the schism that occured between some of the founding members after the passing of H.P. Blavatsky in 1891.

Society for Psychical Research
The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a non-profit organization which started in the United Kingdom and was later imitated in other countries. Its stated purpose is to understand "events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal by promoting and supporting important research in this area" and to "examine allegedly paranormal phenomena in a scientific and unbiased way."[1] It was founded in 1882 by a group of eminent thinkers including Edmund Gurney, Frederic William Henry Myers, William Fletcher Barrett, Henry Sidgwick, and Edmund Dawson Rogers. The Society's headquarters are in Marloes Road, London. Wikipedia entry

Rosy Cross of the Golden Dawn

Order of the Golden Dawn
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (or, more commonly, the Golden Dawn) was a magical order of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, practicing a form of theurgy and spiritual development. William Wynn Westcott, also a member of the Theosophical Society, appears to have been the initial driving force behind the establishment of the Golden Dawn. See also the aforementioned schism within the Theosophical Society. Wikipedia entry

of whom there seemed an ever-increasing supply
Supply of seekers, not of "arrangements." (Well, this contributor read it wrong . . . twice.)

century had rushed . . . out the other side
An instant of zero, not a whole year, because they aren't yet "out the other side" of 1900. ??? A century is 100 years. The one referred to here lasted from 1800-1899 and, since it's 1900, it has "rushed to its end."

Missing the point. The image focuses on the zero. And please, let's not have that sterile argument about when a century begins!

Don't know if this is of any significance, but the Fool (or Jester), says Wikipedia, is "often numbered 0." [2]

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not even if that tartan were authentic
It's a solecism in England, but is (or was—at least until well up in the 19th century) a prosecutable offense in Scotland, to wear the tartan of a clan one doesn't belong to. At the time of the action, Lew's offense against taste is not to wear tartan (see below in this entry) but to wear a tartan he isn't entitled to wear.

The previous statement doesn't quite jibe. In the late 17 cent. it was prosecutable for any Scot (read Highlander) to wear a tartan. Those tartans we see ascribed to clans were creations made to please Queen Victoria. Tartans and the Kilt are from Scottish and Irish Clans; from the oppressed. Thus, the fun in the line comes from the fact that an authentic tartan was false to begin with, but that doesn't keep Nigel from lording the fact that Lew's argyle sox are not up to snuff.
Kilts came from an earlier garment which covered more of the body than today's piece, and those in plaid were called Breacan, meaning partially colored or speckled. The plaids also came in trews (trousers), and ruanas (shawls). Many had uniformity in design, but probably because those were the colors available and thus recognized as part of a family, clan or sept.

Caen stone
A cream-colored limestone for building, found near Caen, France.

a primitive wind instrument consisting of several parallel pipes bound together; panpipes.

an ancient form of harp, so syrinx and lyre are like flute and harp. A famous Concerto for flute and harp is the work of G. F. Handel, who also composed the Messiah.

Ten sideshow acts for one admission. Wikipedia

Also, a description of the Tetractys.

masses of shadow . . . bright presences
We've had suggestions, at least, that shadow is more hospitable than brightness.

humans reincarnated as cats, dogs, and mice
Do the T.W.I.T. members just take the word of the creatures, or do they have some way to be sure?

Nicholas Nookshaft
Grand Cohen Nicholas Nookshaft's name reinforces the linking of T.W.I.T. to the female sex organ, "Nooky shaft" being a vulgarism for the vagina. Interestingly, "shaft" is both a rod or pole, or penis, as well as a vertical passageway, thus its connations are bisexual.

Anyone familiar with Ceremonial Magick is aware of Aleister Crowley. Crowley was famously bisexual, responsible for one of the most famous Tarot Decks — the "Thoth" deck — and was involved in spycraft for British Intelligence and, it is rumored, was a double agent for the Germans as well. Nicholas Nookshaft is a parody of Crowley.

Grand Cohen
'Cohen' is Hebrew for 'priest'.

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Couldn't have been the same world as the one you're in now
We can infer that Lew got blown up in one world and shifted to another. A review of the explosion episode, particularly with the annotations to p. 188, will be worthwhile.

"Lateral world-sets, other parts of the Creation, lie all around us, each with its crossover points or gates of transfer from one to another, and they can be anywhere, really."
Could this be the explanation for some of the most inexplicable scenes from the book thus far: Lew Basnight's mysterious offense, causing him to lose his wife, and his first encounter with the Drave group (around page 39); and Hunter Penhallow's escape from the mysterious creature (around page 154)? Parallel worlds?

Yashmeen Halfcourt
Her initials YH are the first half of the Tetragrammaton -- YHVH or YHWH in English.

seventeenth degree Adept
Masonic and other esoteric mystery schools have differing number of degrees. Attaining a degree shows that one has sufficiently mastered the material, undergone the tests and passed through any initiations involved with that degree.

The Masonic system has three degrees. These are extended to 32 in the Scottish Rite and a 33rd degree is the ultimate akin to a Distinguished Service award. By comparison, the Golden Dawn has 11 degrees divided in three orders; and the Order of the Temple of the East (Order Templi Orientis, O.T.O) has 12. In TWIT, the 17th appears to be the final degree where one becomes a Master TWIT or a Grand TWIT, I suppose.

Why 17 degrees? Other than 17 being prime, there seems to be no symbolic or geometric significance to 17. Since the Crowley-associated systems do not reach 17, whereas the Masonic system does, looking to the Masonic A & A Scottish Rite 17th degree we find it is the "Knight of the East and West" which teaches that loyalty to God is man's primary allegiance, and the temporal governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall. Compare this to the Bogomils later in AtD.

On the other hand, T.W.I.T. is centered on Tarot cards, so the relationship between number and any correspondences to the Tarot would be very much to the point. In this case, the Major Arcana assigned to the number 17 is the Star. The Crowley-associated system for Tarot consists of the Thoth Tarot deck, along with Crowley's "explanatory" 'Book of Thoth':

As has been explained elsewhere. It refers to the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius, the water-bearer. The picture represents Nuith, our Lady of the Stars. For the full meaning of this sentence it is necessary to understand the first chapter of the Book of the Law. . . .

The full text can be found at's site on the Thoth "Star" card, albiet with the wrong card illustrated, in this case atu 18, "The Moon".

Symbolic and Cultural Meanings of 17:

Because 17 has no symbolic significance, it does! In The Illuminatus! Trilogy, the symbol for Discordianism includes a pyramid with 17 steps because 17 has "virtually no interesting geometric, arithmetic, or mystical qualities."

In the Harry Potter universe, 17 is the coming of age for wizards.

Described at MIT as 'the most random number', according to hackers' lore. This is supposedly because in a study where respondents were asked to choose a random number from 1 to 20, 17 was the most common choice.

The number of syllables in a haiku (5+7+5).

The number of special significance to Yellow Pig's Day and Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics.

and on and on.....

A righteous Jew. Wikipedia "One whose merit surpasses his iniquity." The Talmud says that at least 36 anonymous tzadikim are living among us at all times; they are anonymous, and it is for their sake alone that the world is not destroyed.

The common theme between the Masonic 17th degree and Tzaddik seems to be righteousness.

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The Tetractys isn't the only thing round here that's ineffable
Schoolyard joke. "F" a euphemism for fuck, so "ineffable" = unfuckable also describes Yashmeen.

squadron commander
A squadron of hussars would number 100-200 troopers commanded by a major. (The linked page concerns Baden-Powell's regiment—the 13th, not the 18th—in the South African War.)

Auberon Halfcourt
Auberon means royal or noble bear.
Punning, "Au" is the chemical symbol for gold, thus, "Golden Bear", mascotte of UC Berkeley.

Eighteenth Hussars
Prestigious British cavalry regiment. Stationed in India 1864-76 and 1890-98; Halfcourt's secondment must have taken place at one of these times.

Summer capital of the British Raj in India in the Himalayas. Wikipedia.
A terminus of the Kalka-Simla railway line (built 1906) aka the "British Jewel of the Orient."
Named for the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali.

Smartly taken at silly point
A cricketing reference. Silly point is a fielding position very close to the batsman. examples
With the infield pulled in for a bunt, the cleanup man swings away and pulls a clothesline drive between third and short, which the shortstop snares for the out. (Teach you lot to come over here and talk cricket.)

To know, to dare, to will, to keep silent
Mystical formula. examples The four precepts of Western Magick, extensively discussed in the writings of Aleister Crowley.

In the States, "detective" doesn't mean—
. . . An agent who solves criminal cases. The major "detective" bureaus hired personnel out as bodyguards and muscle.

"There is but one 'case' which occupies us"
This echoes the famous quote from Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: "The world is all that is the case." (See the full text of the Tractatus here.) This quote also factors in heavily in V. (Specifically, in two places: there's the P's and Q's love song, and also in Captain Weissman's repeating, encoded, hallucinated message over the telegraph in Africa.)

The Number 22
I found it interesting that the significance of the number 22 was first brought up on page 222. might be nothing, really. 22 is the number of cards in the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, the section of the deck that has been removed from the modern playing deck which only has the suits (elements) and the Court cards. The 22 Major Arcana are numbers 0 to 21 and move from The Fool card to the Universe. Purportedly and symbolically, the progression of cards tell a tale of the evolutionary path of the Soul in its course. The 22 cards also, in some systems, map onto the 22 paths that connect the spheres of the Kabalistic Tree of Life (which also is mentioned in this chapter). An understanding of the Tarot cards cannot be achieved with an understanding how they relate to the Tree of Life. They are the relationships between the Sephiroths which in turn at 10 in number, just like the Tetractys and portray the energies that flow from the highest monad of Divinity (Kether) down into the manifested world (Malkuth). Pynchon makes use of both the Tarot and the Kabalah in Against the Day as well as Gravity's Rainbow.

See also the novel The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams for a similar intrusion of the characters of the Major Arcana into everyday English life.

22 is two times two, so a quaternion...

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"And the crime... just what would be the nature of that?"
Might Lew himself be one of the 22 suspects? Perhaps the ineffable crime is what made people treat him like a pariah earlier in the book.

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"'walking out'"
A walking date.

the veil of maya
In Hinduism, maya is the phenomenal world of separate objects and people, which creates for some the illusion that it is the only reality. In Hindu philosophy, maya is believed to be an illusion, a veiling of the true, unitary Self. Many philosophies or religions seek to "pierce the veil" in order to glimpse the transcendent truth. Arthur Schopenhauer used the term "Veil of Maya" to describe his view of The World as Will and Representation. Wikipedia entry

the ancient London landscape . . . known to the Druids
Peter Ackroyd's recent London, the Biography devotes many pages to sacred and magical features of the city. "Druid".

London's royal barbers since 1875. site
And what other barber would you mention in a passage about the Greater Trumps . . . .

On this island [...] all English, spoken or written, is looked down on as no more than strings of text cleverly encrypted
A sentiment echoed in the first sentence of Pynchon's December 2006 letter written in defense of novelist Ian McEwan: "Given the British genius for coded utterance..." Image of Letter

crosswords in newspapers
The first crossword to appear in a newspaper was in 1913. Cryptic crosswords in British newspapers certainly match Pynchon's description. See, for example, the Listener crossword.

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Girton College
Of Cambridge University, for women, founded 1869. history

Next they'll be letting you folks vote.
Women were granted the right to vote in England in 1928.

"the vast jangling thronged somehow monumental London evening"
This kind of eschewing of punctuation might be expected in Joyce but it's not typical of Pynchon and seems to serve no special purpose here. A typo?

Pamela Colman Smith
Illustrator of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck "Wikipedia".

Arthur Edward Waite
Occultist and co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. Wikipedia

four stone
56 pounds.

Ucken-fay is "pig latin" for 'fucken'.

gaver du visage
A literal translation of "stuff one's face", though this is not how it is said in French (it would be se gaver or se baffrer). cite

A smoking salon (divan) for cigar smokers.

Interestingly, a work by Robert Louis Stevenson, from 1903, entitled The Dynamiter begins with a "Prologue of the Cigar Divan".

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Seven Dials
bad area in London, see Wikipedia entry

The Devil by Colman-Smith

Four-wheeled carriage drawn by four horses. Supplanted by the Hansom cab.

Renfrew at Cambridge and Werfner at Göttingen

Note that each Professor's name is the other's spelled backward.

Also notice the theme of dual natures or forces. The two professors are "bound and ... could not separate even if they wanted to." They become rivals within the broader conflict of the 'Great Game' -- the political rivalry over Central Asia being played out by the various European powers, but especially by Great Britain and the Russian Empire.

Cambridge University is one of the oldest and the best universities in the world. In 2009 it will be celebrating its 800th Anniversary. In its early day, Cambridge was a center of the new learning of the Renaissance and of the theology of the Reformation; in modern times it has excelled in science. It is now a confederation of 31 Colleges (such as King's, Girton, St.John, Trinity and others mentioned in ATD), consists of over 100 departments and faculties, and other institutions. Since 1904, 81 affiliates of Cambridge have won Nobel Prize in every category: 29 in Physics, 22 in Medicine, 19 in Chemistry, 7 in Economics, 2 in Literature and 2 in Peace.

Göttingen University, one of the most famous universities in Europe, founded in Göttingen, Germany, in 1737 by King George II of England in his capacity as Elector of Hanover. At the end of the 19th century, it became world famous because of its Departments of Mathematics and Physics and rivaled Cambridge for eminence. The reputation of the university was founded by many eminent professors who are commemorated by statues and plaques all over the campus. It claimed 44 Nobel Laureates. But it suffered from the 1933 Great Purge of the Nazi crackdown on "Jewish Physics" and never recovered its original fame.

Berlin Conference of 1878
Divided Balkans after Russo-Turkish War. Wikipedia

English, . . . , Japanese—not to mention indigenous—components
Not to mention them was exactly the point as the Great Powers sorted out the Ottoman possessions.

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"The Great Game"
The Great Game was a term used to describe the rivalry and strategic conflict between the British Empire and the Tsarist Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The term was later popularized by Rudyard Kipling in his novel, Kim. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Wikipedia entry Also the name of Padzhitnoff's airship.
I believe the great game stands for Espionage in the Age of Gentlemen, the substance of Pynchon's Under the Rose.

mamluk lamps
A mosque lamp from the mamluk era.

...the Kabbalist Tree of Life, with the names of the Sephiroth spelled out in Hebrew, which had brought her more than enough of that uniquely snot-nosed British anti-Semitism...

Kabbalah is the ancient study of Jewish mysticism, long shrouded in mystery and kept from all but a devout few of the most dedicated Talmudic scholars. The Tree of Life is one of the central symbols of Kabbalah, supposedly a physical representation of the path of enlightenment from the most base knowledge of the physical world (at the bottom), to the highest spiritual planes of understanding (at the top). The Sephiroth are the nodes of the Tree, representing the various "stages" of understanding. Of course, tihs is all a very gross oversimplifcation and hardly does justice to the term itself.

The "Quabbalah" or "Cabalah" being studied by Madonna and others in Hollywood is a secularized and co-opted form of the original Kabbalah, which is deeply connected to the Torah and Jewish life.

In Medieval Europe, Kabbalist scholars wore amulets and other symbols on their clothing, and were often misunderstood to be magicians or wizards (think Merlin). The common magician's expression "abra cadabra" has Kabbalistic origins.

"Eskimoff . . . I say what sort of name is that?"
Tiptoeing around the real question, "Is she Jewish?"

English Rose
The phrase "English Rose" or "Bonnie English Rose" when applied to a woman means her skin is unblemished, her coloring subtle, her temper sweet. Madame Eskimoff, in short, is a beauty in a traditional English style.
(Incidentally, an officially unrecognized designation of roses.)

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Oliver Lodge
English physicist, inventor and writer (1851-1940) involved in the development of wireless telegraphy and radio. After the death of his son in 1915, Lodge became interested in spiritualism and life after death and wrote several books on the subject. Lodge conducted research on lightning, electricity, electromagnetism and wrote about the aether, themes that are repeated throughout ATD. Wikipedia entry.

William Crookes
English chemist and physicist (1832-1919) who worked in spectroscopy and whose work pioneered the construction and use of vacuum tubes. Like Oliver Lodge, Crookes was also a spiritualist, which appears to be Pynchon's reason for grouping him with others in this passage, although his experiments in electricity and light also tie in with these themes in ATD. Wikipedia entry.

Mrs. Piper
Probably Leonora Piper 1857-1950.

Eusapia Palladino
(1854-1918) Famous italian spiritualist medium. Wikipedia entry. It's fair to say she was often caught cheating.

W.T. Stead
William T. Stead (1849-1912), British writer, poet, social crusader, and spiritualist. He went down with the Titanic. Wikipedia entry.

Mrs. Burchell
The Yorkshire Seeress, investigated by WT Stead. cite

Trouble with the time here. Lew's timeline points pretty strongly to autumn 1900. A séance that's "about to" go on Mme. Eskimoff's résumé, however, leads the murder of the Serbian king and queen by three months, and the murder itself occurred in June 1903, which seems to imply March of that year.

This seems as good an instance as any to question the insistence of some here to pin down the exact date (and season?). Pynchon doesn't knock it to the wall, doesn't find cause to bother and I think the reason for that is obvious... the ambiguity lends a freer hand with which to paint. So don't fuck with the butterfly on the wheel.

Alexander and Draga Obrenovich, the King and Queen of Serbia
According to Wikipedia the assassination occured on 11 June 1903, so the seance at which Mrs. Burchell "witnessed" it, should have taken place in March 1903.

Parsons-Short Auxetophone
pic and info. The Auxetophone appears to have been a sound amplification device, not a recorder. Parsons did not enter the picture till 1903, so the apparatus would not have this name in 1900, but Short demonstrated it as early as 1898.

electros of the original wax impressions
A thin film of metal was electroplated onto the wax, then peeled off and wrapped around a new cylinder.

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A term used in both engineering and psychology. Psychology: "Characterized by a high degree of emotional responsiveness to the environment." Electricity: "Of or relating to two oscillating circuits having the same resonant frequency."

The syntonic comma, a small interval in the frequency ratio of 81:80, is a problem in musical temperament.

the Russo-Turkish War
The Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878), the latest Russo-Turkish War of many fought between these two contries since 16th century as a result of Russian attempts to find an outlet on the Black Sea and to conquer the Caucasus, dominate the Balkan Peninsula, gain control of the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits, and retain access to world trade routes. The last Russo-Turkish War came as a result of the anti-Ottoman uprising (1875) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria. On Russian instigation, Serbia and Montenegro joined the rebels; after securing Austrian neutrality, Russia openly entered the War in 1877. The War ended in 1878 resulted in the Treaty of San Stefano which so thoroughly revised the map in favor of Russia and her client, Bulgaria, that the European powers called a conference (the Congress of Berlin) to revise its terms by the Treaty of Berlin.

kilometric guarantee
Money offered by the government to building companies. Apparently, the railroad companies fooled the Ottoman Empire building trails which were much longer than needed. Google books citation

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King's... Girton
King's College is one of the most famous and historic colleges at Cambridge, founded in 1441. Girton College, Cambridge, was established in 1869 as the first residential college for women in England.

Michaelmas term
The fall term, starting early October (1900 here). Wikipedia

A between-maid.

Edward Oxford
attempted to shoot Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, at the time of her first pregnancy (1840).Wikipedia

had the young Queen died then without issue
Nookshaft posits two scenarios: (1) The implicit, unmentioned, and not as "interesting" possibility that everything is actual, as it "appears" to be in the "real" world, surrounding Queen Victoria; that she is simply an old, vain regent. (2) "the 'real' Vic is elsewhere," and the current, aged Victoria is a ghostly stand-in. Nookshaft implies that this figure is a proxy or puppet of Ernst-August. If this were "the case," then the question shifts to the following: (a) Is the ruler of the underworld, who holds the "real," eternally young Victoria captive in cahoots with Ernst-August in the "real" world? or: (b) Is the ruler of the underworld, who holds the "real," eternally young Victoria captive NOT in cahoots with Ernst-August, who nevertheless ascends to the throne with real-Vic out of the way, and imposes the stand-in? In which case: What would be the motivation of the underworld-entity third-party? And who, or what, specifically, is it?

sixty years ago
One event of 1840, the attempt on Victoria's life, is referred to as sixty years ago; another, the issue of the first adhesive stamps, as more than sixty years ago.
If it weren't for these nagging problems in Lew's timeline, we could peg the date as 1900.

Salic law
originated in the Late Roman Empire as Germanic tribes invaded and their law codes were translated into Latin and written down. Salic Law was that of the Franks who settled in present-day northern France and the law code of Charlemagne. Over the course of the Middle Ages it was largely replaced by Roman Law. For examples, see [3].

However, Salic Law continued to be used in a number of European areas to decide matters of noble inheritance. Specifically, Salic Law stated that no female could inherit rulership (above by Owl of Minerva 18:03, 4 April 2007 (PDT)) and, indeed, a royal or noble title could be inherited only through the "male line." When King William IV, ruler of both the United Kingdom and Hanover, died, the Crowns separated. Hanover practiced Salic law, while Britain did not. King William's niece Victoria ascended to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland, but the throne of Hanover went to William's brother Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. Wikipedia entry

Tory despotism

Not necessarily-- it describes Ernest himself. "The Duke of Cumberland had a reputation as one of the least pleasant of the sons of George III. Politically an arch-reactionary, he opposed the 1828 Catholic Emancipation Bill proposed by the government of the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington." Wikipedia entry

It can describe Ernst August and still be an allegory of Thatcher. The description of Ireland fits that of some world-views during her time.

All parallels between past and present are worth considering. They don't have to be direct references. The present-day Ernst August - famous for pissing on the Turkish Pavilion at EXPO 2000 - carries on the family tradition.

Someone famously cited James Joyce as proof that Catholics shouldn't get university educations.

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Orange Lodges
Lodges of the Orange Order, a protestant fraternal organisation based predominantly in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Wikipedia entry. The Orange Order was founded to subvert the United Irishmen of Wolfe Tone by agitating against Protestant and Catholic community. It was hostile to the idea of Irish Home Rule or independence. In the 1880's it developed the Ulster Unionist Party to politically parry Parliamentary attempts at Home Rule for Ireland.

"from the first to the twelfth of July, anniversaries of the Boyne and Aughrim."
i.e. anniversaries of the Battle of the Boyne and the Battle of Aughrim of the Williamite War in Ireland.
This was and still is known as "Marching Season" in Northern Ireland; the time when 'parades' are traditionally a source of fear and violence. Nearly all the parades are organized by the Orange Lodges and hence anti-Catholic.

The first adhesive stamp, 1840

"the first adhesive stamps of 1840"
This stamp has come to be called the Penny Black. Wikipedia entry
Penny Black is also the name of a character (p.18)

"immune to Time, [...] neither of them aging"
Cf Oscar Wilde's only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which Dorian Gray remains young while his portrait ages.

Cf Stray's pregnancy, a "dreamy thing" (page 201). The definition of springtide is springtime.

Page 232

Éliphaz Lévi
A/K/A Eliphas Levi, nom de plume of Alphonse Louis Constant (1810-1875), French occultist and writer who pioneered a revival of Magick in the 19th Century, and was an influence on A.E. Waite, the Order of the Golden Dawn, and Aleister Crowley. An acquaintance of novelist Edward ("It was a dark and stormy night") Bulwer-Lytton. Wikipedia entry.

Punter is being used in the sense of someone who bets, someone who is taking a chance. Or more probably in the common extended sense meaning merely "customer"

Greek: things heard. Good information under "A" in the alpha index.

number twenty-four
Or 25? etext

(ca. 245 - ca. 325, Greek) was a neoplatonist philosopher who determined the direction taken by later Neoplatonic philosophy, and perhaps western Paganism itself. He is perhaps best known for his compendium on Pythagorean philosophy.Wikipedia

French: makeup.

Page 233

Collis Brown's Mixture
Contained morphine, chloroform, and caramel, among other things. Full ingredients

Xylene abuse is similar to "glue sniffing"-- xylene is a strong solvent able to cause several damages to health, especially to the brain. wikipedia

a thousand pounds a year
Over $100,000 today. cite

Condy's fluid is pink to purple. Methylated spirits is a kind of denatured alcohol: 95% ethyl alcohol, 5% methyl alcohol. "Pinky" would have a variety of effects, very possibly including blindness.

Page 234

Condy's fluid
A disinfectant used to treat and prevent Scarlet Fever, among other things. Wikipedia

tonight's the night
Considering the content here, probable reference to Neil Young's drug-addled album and its title song, "Tonight's The Night" from 1975. Wiki

an important market street in the City of London.

A street originally for stabling; but in modern times often converted into houses/apartments.

Coombs de Bottle
"comes the bottle" ?

Russian duck
Duck is strong, untwilled linen or cotton, lighter and finer than canvas. Russian duck is coarse, heavy and unbleached but softer than English duck.

Page 235

sensitive flames
Cf GR p.29-32, 715.

extractors . . . distillation columns
Separatory apparatus. An extractor works on differences in solubility, a distillation column differences in volatility.

tremblers and timers
A trembler is a kind of motion detector used in both bombs and alarms; one kind has a flexible stem with a heavy contact on the free end so that disturbing the package it contains causes a trigger circuit to close. A timer uses a clocklike mechanism to bring two contacts together.

proper solvent procedures
Famous 1960s "Anarchist Cookbook" was infamously inaccurate. Amazon w/author's note

Page 236

Breathless hush in the close tonight
Dr. De Bottle quoting from Henry Newbolt's poem "Vitaï Lampada," which makes school games a metaphor and model for martial bravery.

The Gentleman Bomber of Headingly
Cf Hornung's 'Gentleman Thief' and cricket player, Raffles. info

Reminds me of the Krikkit Robots in Douglas Adams' Life, The Universe, and Everything, where a bomb is put in place of a Cricket Ball at a match between Britain and Australia.

Also, acronymically, the GBH=Grievous Bodily Harm, the British term for felonious assault.

Here and elswhere the spelling of the cricket ground should be 'Headingley'.

The Ashes
An international cricket series between England and Australia dating back to 1882. dates A number of references in this chapter relate to this rivalry. For example, on this page the English cricket ball is compared to the Australian "kookaburra". Kookaburra is the brand name of the balls used in Australia, in England it's Duke. The properties of the English ball was one of the keys to England's success in the summer of 2005. Was Pynchon's writing here influenced by the hype in the UK at the time?

A poison gas used in World War I.Wikipedia

Source of red dye. Wikipedia

Misspelling of exhilaration.

Page 237

beige substance
Presumably Cyclomite.

Happy Birthday! . . . Gemini
Ordinarily you would think this tagged the date as 21 May to 20 June Wikipedia. But other evidence in the text points to deepening autumn.

One of two possible explanations:
1. The T.W.I.T. is perhaps using an ascendent or lunar based astrological system rather than the solar-based system commonly used in the West. This resolves the apparent contradiction of a Gemini in autumn since the ascendent travels through all signs every 24 hours and the moon travels through the entire zodiac once a month. For example, Vedic astrology looks primarily to the ascendent, then the moon, and lastly the sun to study respectively the body, the mind and the spirit of the native. Basnight does have a mind that operates on two planes -- hence a moon in Gemini reading.
2. The explosion carried Lew to a place on the other side of the Sun. Deep autumn would then be November 23 to December 21th, our sign of Sagittarius.

get the Ashes back . . . next year
On page 236 the Ashes (Test Matches, cricket competitions between England and Australia) are "in progress." At some time previous to this conversation Mme. Eskimoff said England will regain the trophy "next year" provided they use the young bowler Bosanquet (next entry). Test Matches took place in (a) December 1901 to March 1902, Australia victorious; (b) May to August 1902, Australia again; (c) December 1903 to March 1904, England bringing back the Ashes and Bosanquet figuring as a key bowler.

If Mme. Eskimoff has foreseen aright, "next year" is 1904 and the time of the action is 1903. The conflict in dates is troubling: In a matter of weeks and a few pages, Lew just misses the 1900 Hurricane and gets information that definitely points to 1903. (And he proves to be a Gemini with an autumn birthday!) I don't think there is anything accidental—or negligible—about the discrepancies.

Another Ashes reference. Bernard Bosanquet invented the bosie (or googly), as described here, around 1900. A major factor in England's 2005 Ashes success was reverse swing, another type of delivery whose physical dynamics are poorly understood.

Check out the "Cricket in Against the Day article by Peter Vernon, which is an in-depth look at, well, cricket in Against the Day.

A somewhat derogatory term for a British person, commonly used in Australian English. Also Pommy or Pommie.

Hebrew letter Shin
Obviously a nod to the Vulcan greeting in Star Trek, with the distinctive hand sign and the phrase, "Live long and prosper." Perhaps also to the Jewish faith of Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock. See The Jewish origin of the Vulcan Salute

Pynchon placed one of these in Mason & Dixon, as well:

Dixon discovers "The Rabbi of Prague, headquarters of a Kabbalistick Faith, in Correspondence with the Elect Cohens of Paris, whose private Salute they now greet Dixon with, the Fingers spread two and two, and the Thumb held away from them likewise, said to represent the Hebrew letter Shin and to signify, 'Live long and prosper.'(M&D p.485)

Might there be a further connection between The Cohen of T.W.I.T., the "Cohens of Paris" and these backwoods Kabbalists?

Also, note the hand on the devil tarot card above.

Shin "also stands for the word Shaddai, a name for God. Because of this, a kohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites the Priestly Blessing. In the mid 1960s, actor Leonard Nimoy used a single-handed version of this gesture to create the Vulcan Hand Salute for his character, Mr. Spock, on Star Trek."[4]

"In the Septuagint and other early translations Shaddai was translated with words meaning "Almighty". The root word "shadad" (שדד) means "to overpower" or "to destroy". This would give Shaddai the meaning of "destroyer" as one of the aspects of God. [5]

...and if we look back to the Devil tarot card we see the shin hand sign and the inverted pentagram. Thus through Eliphas Levi and then Coleman-Smith/Waite a connection is created between shin and the inverted pentagram. And then we can make connections with the Jeshimonians and the TWITsters.

This might be why "the cure grows right next to the cause" in Jeshimon. They are under the winged protection of God-the-Destroyer.

Page 238

Second Law of Thermodynamics
The law of entropy... "The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium." (Rudolf Clausius) [6]

There's no such thing as a perfectly efficient engine, i.e., a box that does work by taking in heat from where there is lots of heat (e.g., combustion chamber) and throwing off heat where there is not much (exhaust pipe). Something always gets lost. Similarly, the transfer of money from where there is plenty (bank) to where there isn't much (Europe) is never perfectly efficient.

"He began then, bewilderingly, to talk about something called entropy. The word bothered him... But it was too technical for her. She did gather that there were two distinct kinds of this entropy. One having to do with heat engines, the other to do with communication... The two fields were entirely unconnected, except at one point: Maxwell's Demon. As the Demon sat and sorted his molecules into hot and cold, the system was said to lose entropy. But somehow the loss was offset by the information the Demon gained about what molecules were where... Entropy is a figure of speech, then, a metaphor. It connects the world of thermodynamics to the world of information flow." The Crying of Lot 49 (Pages 84 - 85)

morsus fundamento
Latin: A bite on the ass?

The meaning is that he wouldn't know metaphysics if it bit him in the ass. Like "octogenarihexation" ("86"-ing) in Vineland--the vulgar faux fancied up.

three-percent consols
British "consolidated" bonds, for many years the conservative investment par excellence. wikipedia

Page 239

Not mental as in "of the mind" but mental as in "mad". "You're mental, you are" is a common british playground taunt.

Colney Hatch
London lunatic asylum. Wikipedia

Out of the dust . . . beam of morning sunlight
I.e., sometimes your horse wins.

An encyclical is a letter circulated by the pope or other figure of high authority in a body of believers. A comprehensive Wikipedia article explains and adds a list of papal encyclicals. An encyclical usually takes its first 2 or 3 words as its title (Multi et Unus in this case).

Of course, the Vatican would strongly protest that McTaggart, an atheist, should send out an encyclical!

Seems to refer to a historical logician joke. explanation Professor McTaggart was, perhaps, the most famous philosopher who argued that Time did not exist as we seem to experience it. W.H. Hardy was a very famous Cambridge mathematician who knew all the famous philosophers in England.

John McTaggart Ellis (J. M. E.) McTaggart (1866-1925), British philosopher. He was born in London and educated at Clifton College, Bristol and Trinity College, Cambridge. He lectured Philosophy at Trinity College from 1897 to 1923. His brilliant commentaries and studies on Hegel's dialectic (1896), cosmology (1901) and logic (1910) were preliminaries to his own constructive system-building in Nature of Existence (3 vols., 1921-1927). In his 1908 essay "The Unreality of Time" he argued that our perception of time is an illusion (Cf page 412: dismissing . . . the existence of Time).

Godfrey Harold Hardy (1877-1947), English mathematician. He was a lecturer at Cambridge (1906-1919), professor at Oxford (1919-31) and Cambridge (1931-47). Concurrently with Wilhelm Weinberg developed Hardy-Weinberg law (1906) describing genetic distribution and dequilibrium in large populations. He was also known for contributions to complex analysis, Diophantine analysis, Fourier series, distribution of prime numbers, etc.

Multi et Unus
Many and One.

Is the grafitti in Cambridge another cricketing reference? Dukes are the balls used in England (cf. p236). Chucking (or bending the arm when bowling) is an emotive topic in cricket that arises from time to time. It first arose around 1900 [7]. In 2005 it caused administrators to change the rules of the game [8].

"Create More Dukes" has a second meaning, suggested by the odd choice of verb. Duke in Britain refers to the highest rank of nobility, and fittingly there are not many of them. At present only about a dozen people hold the title. Since sometime in the 1870s new dukes have been created (by decree of the monarch) only in the royal family. Most recently at the time of the action, Queen Victoria had promoted a run-of-the-mill marquess to the dukedom of Fife to set the stage for his marriage to one of her granddaughters. If some group of activists thought the nation needed to beef up its peerage, they might adopt the slogan found here as a graffito.
Here is a colorful summary of UK dukes today and through history, although it is unsound on coats of arms and such. This site has more names and fewer pictures, listing all the titles (from dukes to lowly barons) created since the year Dot.

the Laplacian, a relatively remote mathematicians' pub
A little Pynchonian joke? The Laplacian operator is a component of the Schrödinger equation, the basis of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics was famously rejected by Albert Einstein (many references on the net but see Stephen Hawking), known for his theories of relativity. Moreover, quantum mechanics deals with the very small and relativity with the very large (this is a simplification of course), so the Laplacian is indeed remote from relativity!

No such pub during my stay in Cambridge (1998-2000). Also not today, according to this list.
Obviously more than a little joke. Refers to Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (1749-1827)Wikipedia Entry, aka "the French Newton", probably the greatest mathematician and astronomer of his time. Most of the scientific principles derived from his findings are explored in AtD (from lumineferous ether to the existence of black holes). Laplace was also instrumental in the advancement of the science of probabilities.
The ever quotable Laplace, much loved by atheists worldwide, famously replied to Napoléon, when he asked why there was no mention of God in his treatise on astronomy: "Sir, there was no need for that hypothesis". Also responsible for what is known as the Laplacian principle: "The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness."
The literal translation of Laplace is "The Place".

Page 240

Worse than Gordon at Khartoum
Refers to Charles George Gordon, British Major-General, whose attempted defense of Khartoum versus Arabi rebels in 1884-85 ended with his beheading. Wikipedia cf. Basil Dearden's 1966 film Khartoum, in which the role of Gordon is played by Charlton Heston.

Page 241

"You recognize him?"
As, presumably, Webb.

How can that be? Webb is dead, there's nothing to suggest he went to England, the costume is not right for him, and—most tellingly—his medium is dynamite, not phosgene.
Who might Lew recognize in the photo? The "suspects" are Neville, Nigel, the Grand Cohen, Dr. Coombs De Bottle, Clive Crouchmas and Professor Renfrew. If Prof. Werfner looks much like Prof. Renfrew, he goes on the list too. If the "Gentleman Bomber" could possibly be female, add Yashmeen and Mme. Eskimoff. We haven't met anyone else (except members of the Icosadyad, who don't have faces).
Suppose we rule out the ladies and Werfner. Neville or Nigel wouldn't be able to hide their identities with a suit of white flannels. Renfrew is sitting right there when Lew sees the picture, but Lew's reaction (his stomach sinks) does not seem Lew-like if it's Renfrew he has recognized, plus Renfrew himself wants to meet the Bomber. That leaves the Cohen, De Bottle and Crouchmas.
Would Lew experience dread on spotting Crouchmas? He doesn't know much about C.C. at this point, so it isn't clear why he would suppress that recognition.
Seeing the Cohen might lead to this gastric reaction: Lew might think he's on the fringe of an anarchist group again (and look where it got him the last time). The Cohen stays on the list.
Dr. De Bottle not only follows cricket but bets on it; he speaks almost with reverence about phosgene; he knows a nonobvious fact about the bombs; and he dresses like a gentleman. None of these points applies to the Cohen. And recognizing De Bottle would give Lew that sinking feeling because D.B. is purportedly fighting against bombers on behalf of the government. De Bottle goes to the top of the short list.
Alternately, there's no clear answer and not enough clues (especially considering the role of time, forces beyond anyone's control, double agents, etc.). This Gentleman Bomber can be any person from Lew's past or a deja vu from the future. The G. Bomber seems to be England's answer to the Kieselguhr Kid, a nebulous personality working against the forces of history. The important thing about this situation is not the Bomber's identity, but the fact that Lew is being thrown into an assignment much like his last one in America (and we know how that ended...) He's obviously not very happy about it, and not inclined to tell anyone what he knows, or might know.
For what it's worth, my take was also Webb, especially in the context of all the bilocation business. It isn't "Webb" but evil alter-land "Webb"! (no dig on ya'll Brit folk intended, although the " stay at Cambridge" bit was just wonderful :)

A bosie from a beamer
More cricket! A bosie is now more commonly known as a googly (cf. p237). A beamer is a full-pitched delivery that reaches the batsman above waist height.

Page 242

The northern hemisphere

German: uncanny, sinister.


  1. From The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall (1928)

Annotation Index

Part One:
The Light Over the Ranges

1-25, 26-56, 57-80, 81-96, 97-118

Part Two:
Iceland Spar

119-148, 149-170, 171-198, 199-218, 219-242, 243-272, 273-295, 296-317, 318-335, 336-357, 358-373, 374-396, 397-428

Part Three:

429-459, 460-488, 489-524, 525-556, 557-587, 588-614, 615-643, 644-677, 678-694

Part Four:
Against the Day

695-723, 724-747, 748-767, 768-791, 792-820, 821-848, 849-863, 864-891, 892-918, 919-945, 946-975, 976-999, 1000-1017, 1018-1039, 1040-1062

Part Five:
Rue du Départ


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