- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
Affectionate name applied by Coloradans to mountain peaks 14,000 feet (approx. 4200 m) high.
Another bi-location: one world out here, another reflected one in the lake. Oh, and the first syllable of the name is pronounced BY.
Incidentally, "bai" is the Chinese word for "white" and is written 白. Could "bi-location" imply a "white" location? Cf. Byal Sredets p. 956.
An Article on the Oddities of Lake Baikal: 
Wikipedia Entry: 
Cf page 437: Mount Kailash.
Tengri Khan is a mountain, the second-highest peak (23,000 ft) of the Tian Shan mountain range.
Hassan was of course no longer there.
OK, I have no idea what happened here. Since this is the non-spoiler section, maybe we can talk about it here: DISCUSSION
a maze of slot canyons
The ground is crumpled rather like Kovalevskaia's handkerchief on page 634.
stand before the Gate . . . Kit looked up . . .
See the picture here: Cf page 764: Tushuk Tash.
followed by the whizzing sound
As the impact of the V-2 was in Gravity's Rainbow.
You are released
Echoes Ite, missa est on page 668.
samovars . . . gasping and puffing
Samovar: a double urn containing a large amount of hot water and a small amount of super-strong tea. Passengers mixed their own to taste. The hot-water urn (the samovar proper) was in fact a small charcoal boiler; there was much steam. Many Russian railroad cars had samovars.
Ak-su (White Water) is a city in Xinjiang, China. It is located in the Southern foothills of Tian Shan. The economy of Ak-su is mostly agricultural, with cotton, in particular the long-staple cotton, as the main product.
Kucha is a city in Xinjiang. It was an ancient Buddhist kingdom located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Takalmakan desert in the Tarim Basin.
Korla, also spelled as Kurla, is a city south of Karashahr. The Iron Gate Pass, 4 miles north of the city, played an important part in protecting the ancient Silk Road from rading nomads from the north.
Karasahr (Black City) is located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan desert.
Fibrous silicate mineral, one of the constituents of jade.
Turfan is an oasis city located about 90 miles southeast of Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang, China, in a mountain basin on the northern side of the Turfan Depression. Even though it has only 0.9 inch rainfall per year, Turfan has long been the center of a fertile oasis, producing great quatities of high-quality fruits, and an imprtant trade center.
Flaming Mountains are red sandstone hills on the northern edge of the Turfan Basin. The red of the hills has been likened to burning flames, and temperatures often reach a sweltering 130° F. The Mountains were made famous by the 16th-century Chinese classic novel Journey to the West.
the Sangre de Cristos
The Sangre de Cristos (Blood of Christ) are the southermost subrange of the Rocky Mountains located in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.
the ancient kingdom of Khocho . . . to be the historical Shambhala
Dr Edwin Bernbaum, a Research Associate of the University of California, Berkeley, claimed, in his book The Way to Shambhala: A Search for the Mythical Kingdom Beyond the Himalayas (1980, 2001), that Shambhala is not in the Himalayas, but far to the north, in the Turfan Depression, "Established by the Uighurs, a Turkish perople, around 850, the kingdom of Khocho flourished for four hundred years as a remarkable oasis of culture and learning. A predominantly Buddhist country, with numerous monasteries, it also had active centers of Manicheanism and Nestorian Christianity . . . At the time the Kalackra appreared in India, the kingdom of Khocho probably possessed the most advanced civilization of any country in Central Asia. Well-irrigated fields and orchards produced enough surplus food to allow the Uighurs to run welfare programs for the poor. Living together in peaceful harmony, people of different races, relgions and languages stimulated each other's thought and culture. Paintings found in the ruins of Turfan show houses built in the Chinese style, men and women dressed in embroidered silk, and a chamber ensemble complete with harps, guitar, and flutes. Even the Chinese, the most fastidious connoisseurs of culture, were impressed by the grace of Uihur society." (pp.42-43)
Bernbaum's The Way to Shambhala: A Search for the Mythical Kingdom Beyond the Himalayas is an excellent resource and a likely backgrounder for Pynchon when writing about Shambhala in Against the Day.
Interesting connection between Shambala and bi-location: According to the Kalachakra Tantra, the King of Shambhala requested teaching from the Buddha that would allow him to practice the dharma without renouncing his worldly enjoyments and responsibilities. In response to his request, the Buddha appeared in two places at once to teach the first Kālachakra tantra. (Wikipedia)
Urumchi or Ürümqi, is the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. With a population of 2.1 million (75% are Han Chinese) and located in the northwest of the country, it is the largest city in the western half of China. Ürümqi is the most remote city from any sea in the world at a distance of about 1,400 miles from the nearest coastline.
lowlands of Dzungaria
A region of 300,000 sq mi in Xinjiang, NW China. It is a largely steppe and semidesert basin surrounded by high mountains: the Tian Shan in the south and the Altai in the north. Urumchi and Yining are the main cities with other smaller oasis towns dot the piedmont areas. The region passed to the Chinese only in the mid-18th century.
Lake Zaisan, in Russian Central Asia near the Chinese border, is located in an open valley between the Altai range on the northeast and the Tarbagatai on the south at an altitude of 1,355 ft.
The Irtysh . . . the Ob
The Irtysh is the chief tributary of the Ob which is a major river in western Siberia. The Ob is Russia's fourth longest river. The Ob-Irtysh form a major basin in Asia, encompassing most of western Siberia and the Altai Mountains.
Novosibirsk lies along the Ob river in the West Siberian Plain. It is Russia's 3rd largest city, after Moscow and St.Petersburg. It was founded in 1893 as the future site of the Trans-Siberian Railway bridge crossing the Ob. In early 20th century the Turkestan-Siberia Railway, connecting Novosibirsk to Central Asia and the Caspian Sea, was completed.
The Paris of Siberia
By 1900 Irkutsk (Cf page 763: Irkutsk) had been nicknamed as such.
Russian: the merchant community.
A suburb in Irkutsk across the Irkut river.
A golomyanka is a viviparous fish of the perch family, unique to Lake Baikal.
As translated in the text.
1895 model Nagant revolver
Nagant revolver was designed in Belgium by Nagant brothers in the late 1880s and was adopted by numerous countries. The major user and manufacturer was Russia which adopted it in 1895.
British gold sovereigns
The world's most popular gold coins, British gold sovereign first came to existence in 1489 under Henry VII. There was a major change in 1816 for the so-called Modern Soverign which are continure to the present day. It has a value of one pound sterling (but with a much higher trading market value) and is made of 15.55 grams of standard gold coinage alloy of 23 carat, equal to 95.83% pure gold. (Another source British gold sovereigns2 said they have a 91.7% gold.)
The Royal Mint at Tower Hill, London, between 1812-1968. Now the Royal mint is at Liantrisant (10 miles west of Cardiff), Wales.
Image of young Queen Victoria on the British sovereign (1 pound) piece. The first portrait for Queen Victoria was the "Youg Head", which was used on sovereigns from 1838 to 1887 inclusive. For a picture for this coin see Victoria Young Head.
Contrast with Old Vic, the theater, originally the Royal Coburg, renamed Royal Victoria in 1833—when Vic was Young. The name Old Vic "eventually" became customary and is now official. This is the house that Kevin Spacey runs.
Upper Tunguska, Stony Tunguska, Lower Tunguska
They are the three eastern tributaries of the Yenisei River in Siberia. They cut across the swampy forests of east-central Siberia, draining the Tunguska Basin. Furthest north is the Lower Tunguska (1,590 mile long). The Stony Tunguska (980 mile long) rises west of the headwaters of the Lower Tunguska. The Upper Tunguska is the name given to the lower course of the Angara and it joins the Yenisei at Strelka. The area of the three rivers is the home of the Tungus. (Tunguska).
Presumably the Ilimpeya River, a left-bank tributary of the Lower Tunguska, is named for them.
- It refers to the Tungus people from the Ilimpiya river.
A clan of the Tungus people who lives along the Stony Tunguska.
Shaman of the Ilimpiya clan, also spelled Magankan. His greatest feat was summoning a huge flock of agdi, the birds made of iron that produce the thunder, for the explosion over the land of the Shanyagir clan. It flattened nearly a thousand square miles of forest and started a fire that burned for weeks, sending ash so high that it circled the Northern Hemisphere, making sunsets bright. See shaman.
Standard spelling sibiryaki. Russian: Siberians.
Bratsk, located on the Angara River near the vast Bratsk Reservoir, is a city in Irkutsk Oblast, Siberia, Russia.
Yeniseisk, on the right bank of the Yenisei, is a Siberian city 170 miles northwest of Krasnoyarsk, capital of the government of the same name.
French word denoting the conformation of the mouth (in speaking, playing the clarinet, etc.).
Agvan Dorjiev (1853/54–1938) was an ethnic Buriat who trained as a Buddhist monk in Tibet.He was one of the tutors of the 13th Dalai Lama and was his representative at the Russian court. More »
Coniferous boreal forest; supports logging, trapping, hunting/gathering.
iron creatures of Agdy . . . their eyes flashing . . .
"The Tungus have only one expression for the thunder - agdy-, by which they also describe the old man, the lord of the thunder as well as all the thunderbirds that come down to earth and cause the thunder. The Agdy birds are as big as black grouses, are made of iron, and their eyes are fiery. The thunder arises from their flight above the earth and their eyes flash like lightning." (from a quotation in
Tungus eye-witnesses reports of Tunguska Event).
Hindu fire-god Agni
Fire-god Agni is a Hindu and Vedic deity. The word Agni is Sanskrit for "fire". Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods. He is ever-young and immortal, because the fire is re-lit every day.
Cf page 765: Ogdai.
The Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England, and acts as the "mother" and senior branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, as well as a founding member of the Porvoo Communion.
Decentralized religion. The village shaman engaged in spirit travel and communicated with animals, ancestors, etc., for the benefit of the people, often using bizarrely excessive amounts of drugs.
The Cherokee are a people indigenous to North American, who at the time of European contact in the 16th century inhabited what is now the Eastern and Southeastern United States. Most were forcibly moved westward to the Ozark Plateua. They were one of the tribes referred to as the Five Civilized Tribes.
The Apache is the collective name for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the US. They formerly lived over eastern Arizona, north-western Mexico, New Mexico, parts of Texas.
the massacre of the Sioux Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee
They were the largest and most important Indian tribe north of Mexico, with the exception of Chippewa, who, however, lack the solidarity of the Sioux. The Sioux actually came to North America from Asia about 30,000 years ago. The name Sioux means "little snake". They were generally nomadic, typically followed the pattern of the buffalo. The Sioux Indians occupied the vast domain extending from the Arkansas River, in the south, to the western tributary of Lake Winnipeg, in the north, and westward to the eastern slopes of the Rocky. The Sioux battled the white men and fought against the government in orer to keep their land. There was a general uprising in 1862. Later there were many more fierce armed conflicts involved the Sioux. One of the better known was The Battle of Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, in which General Custer and all of his immediate command were killed. This was one of the most significant victories, led by Sitting Bull (1831-1890), of the Indian Nations.
A new Indian's religion that promised to rid the land of white people and restore the Indians' way of life evolved in 1880s-1890s as a reaction to the Indians being forced to submit to government authority and reservation life. The new religion was called the Ghost Dance by the white because of its ceremonial ritual dance and its precepts of resurrection and reunion with the dead. The Sioux were the most enthusiastic believers. But the Bureau of Indian Affairs banned the Ghost Dance feared that the swelling numbers of Ghost Dancers and believed that the ritual was a precusor to renwered Indian militancy and violent rebellion. The confrontation led to The Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890 in which over 350 Ghost Dancers were slained. And this was the last major armed conflict between the Indian Nations and the US Government.
A heavenwide blast of light
It refers to the greatest cosmic impact of the century, the Tunguska Event, happened at 7:17 A.M. on June 30, 1908 near the Stony Tunguska River at Tunguska basin in central Siberia, Russia. With no warning, a small comet or meteor about 100 ft in diameter, coming from the direction of Western China and glowing with the heat of 5,000 degrees, hurtling through space about 3-6 miles above the Earth and exploded in the sky 40 miles north of Vanavara settlement by the Stony Tunguska. It was so powerful that the seismograph at Irkutsk, some 550 miles away, registered what looked like an earthquake. The impact had a force of 20 million tons of TNT, equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima bombs. It is estimated that 60-80 million trees were felled over an area of 830 square miless but left no obvious crater. If the explosion had occurred over St Petersburg hundreds of thousands of people would have been killed. But the Event occurred at such a remote and isolated location that no scientist bothered to investigate the "rumors" of the event for 13 years. (See also Tunguska Event from UnMuseum.)
- Check your TV schedule for a History Channel special, Siberian Apocalypse, which presents old movie footage of Soviet explorations (my guess: re-enacted in the 1930s) and analyses by present-day scientists and UFOlogists, along with the usual Slo-Mo Channel animations repeated ad nauseam. The program ran on March 18, 2007. The best current information, according to a team from the University of Bologna, points to a stony asteroid (a "carbonaceous chondrite") that disintegrated some miles above the surface, leaving no fragments to be found but loading the local vegetation with elements not typical of the taiga.
- Two of the stranger hypotheses about the Event have special AtD connections. (1) The cosmic object was a chunk of antimatter, and the energy it released was due to annihilation when it came into contact with terrestrial matter (air). This would make the object, in a sense, the Anti-Stone (p. 78). (2) The Event was the explosion produced by dissipation of a huge ball lightning (p. 73). Both these notions are pretty remote, though, and the stony asteroid holds up better.
Russian measure of weight. One pood = 16.38 kilograms; 30 poods = 491 kg = 1081 pounds, pretty close to half a ton.
Russian: crew, team.
Russian: all right!
Russian design philosophy
. . . which is perpetuated in Soviet and Russian space technology.
Russian: intelligence (in the military-political sense).
Terror campaigns, usually against Jews.
Russian: science officer.
The Tunguska Event. Cf 779: A heavenside blast of light.
Russian: clever man.
Vladimir Alexandrovich Sukhomlinoff (1848-1926), Russian cavalry officer, Chief of General Staff 1908-9, Minister of War 1909-15, imprisoned 1917-18 for failure to prepare the Russian Army for World War, emigrated to Finland and then to Germany.
Might be an error. "Wait" in the imperative mode is zhdi or podozhdi in Russian.
butterfly . . . angel
The description of the damage pattern is accurate; see Tunguska Event.
Russian: group of regulars.
Impolite Russian: cock!
The name derives from Russian bezumets: madman.
Russian: as translated in text. In keeping with the sources he must have used—many of them contemporary—Pynchon applies a bewildering assortment of rules in transliterating Russian words.
"potentially a hole in the earth"
One of the theories regarding the real Tungaska Event is that a small black hole entered the earth. Flaw in theory: an exit has never been found. See Wikipedia (Tunguska Event).
. . . at any moment, directly beneath St Petersburg . . .
"According to the Guinness Book of World Records (1966 edition), if the collision had occurred 4 hours 47 minutes later, it would have wiped out St. Petersburg, the starting point of the Bolshevik revolution." See (Wikipedia article, Tunguska Event).
Tsarskoe Selo, Tsar's Village, was the "country" home of the Russian Tsars. It is now part of the town of Pushkin about 15 miles south from the center of St.Petersburg.
This is probably an error, deliberate or not, as the plural of apparatus in Latin and English is also apparatus. (In Italian, the plural of apparato is apparati but there's no indication it was meant to be Italian.) The wrong plural here contrasts with Cyprian's being peculiar about the ablative of Latin limbus on p. 814.
Vanavara is the adminstrative center, a settlement with a population of 3,000, of Tungusko-Chunsky region. It is situated on the right bank of the Stony Tunguska river. Vanavara was 40 miles south of the Tunguska Event blast center.
Cantor's mathematical concept of transfinite numbers, indefinitely large but distinct from one another.
...to reaffirm allegiance to its limits, including mortality...
That is, to reaffirm the allegiance of the inhabitants of this world to the "something's" limits, remind Man of mortality and transcendent laws and limits.
A dungur is a shamanic drum.
homeopathic echoes to protect from its return
The homeopathic principle is that small doses of what kills will cure or prevent; drumming prevents return of the huge sound.
Russian: schismatics, dissenters. Raskol'nikov in Crime and Punishment derives his name from this word.
Tchernobyl . . . Wormwood
Now rendered more commonly as Chernobyl (Russian), Chornobyl (Ukrainian).
Wormwood, a star that falls onto the Earth poisoning the fresh water sources per Book of Revelation 8:10-11.
Absinthe, Neville and Nigel's favourite spirit, "comes from the medicinal plant Artemisia absinthium, also called grand wormwood or Absinth wormwood."
Reindeer discovered again their ancient powers of flight, which had lapsed over the centuries since humans had invaded the North. Some were stimulated by the accompanying radiation into an epidermal luminescence at the red end of the spectrum, particularly around the nasal area.
In other words, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and his airborne squadron mates. Seriously: magic and the possibility of change is reintroduced into the world.
heat . . . tended to flow unpredictably
The Laws of Thermodynamics have taken a brief holiday.
Or Old Church Slavonic; liturgical language of Russian Orthodox Church, closely related to Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Serbian (Tesla's father was a Serbian priest who worked in this language).
Aspects of the landscape of Tierra del Fuego . . . sea ernes
Not exactly. The White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), also known as the Erne or the Sea Eagle, is actually a bird of Eurasia.
In Burkhanism, a Russian religious movement that flourished among the indigenous people of Russia's Gorno Altai region between 1904 and the 1930s, Ak-Burkhan ("White Burkhan) is a deity who is depicted as an old man with white hair, a white coat, and white headgear, who rides a white horse, and is possibly analogous to the Mongolian "white old man," Tsagan Ebugen. The Buryat language (or Buriat) is a Mongolic language spoken by the Buryats of Siberia. 
Sacred white reindeer parallels Native American's reverence for white buffalos.
And the white stag as Christ-symbol in Renaissance paintings.
A more accurate romanization of Ssagan would be "Tsagaan", reflecting the long vowel present in the original Mongolian Цагаан.
The Sayan is a mountain range in southern Siberia. The eastern Sauan extends 600 miles from the Yenisei to the southwest end of Lake Baikal, and the western Sayan forms the eastern continuation of the Altay Mountains.
The Tannu-Ola mountain range is in southern Siberia extending east-west direction and curves along the Mongolian border.
Tuva is located in extreme southern Siberia bordering with Mongolia. Its eastern part is forested and elevated, and the west is a drier lowland.
if a fellow was going to come riding in anywhere on a white reindeer
Suggestive of Jesus riding an ass into Jerusalem
an unearthly guttural singing
Overtone singing, also known as throat singing, overtone chanting, or harmonic singing, is a type of singing in which the singer manipulates the harmonic resonances created as air travels from the lungs... The best-known of the traditional forms comes from Tuva... Ethnomusicologists studying throat singing in these areas mark (it) as an integral part in the ancient pastoral animism that is still practised today. (Wikipedia)
It is unearthly and fascinating. Tuvan throat singing can be seen and heard in the movie "Genghis Blues," a documentary about American musician Paul Pena's trip to Tuva to compete in a throat singing contest.
- In the early 1970s the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen got some students together and made a one-piece album called Stimmung (German: tuning up). It's choral overtone singing. "Unearthly" is right.
The Wikipedia entry linked in the previous annotation mentions, but doesn't describe, a style of overtone singing called borbangnadyr. Same letters arranged differently. It doesn't follow that there is a typo; transliteration from languages like Tuvan without "literary" histories is often controversial.
"the heart of Earth"
"all's I see's a bunch of sheep"
This is Shambhala. Sheep may safely graze.
the Wheel of Life
The Wheel of Life is a complex symbolic representation of "continuous movement" in the form of a circle, used primarily in Tibetan Buddhism. "Continuous movement", samsāra, is the continuous cycle of birth, life, and death from which one liberates oneself through enlightenment.
"Are you kind deities? or wrathful deities?"
Here the interaction between Prance and the Chums of Chance resembles that between Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. After descending from the sky in a pink bubble and encountering Dorothy in Munchkinland, Glinda asks "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" Dorothy replies that she's not a witch at all, just as Randolph St. Cosmo replies that the Chums "endeavor to be kind." Darby's reference to Bo Peep seems Munchkinlandian too, as Glinda is a sort of shepherd to the Munchkins themselves. --Jpicco
Also a reference to the Buddhist hierarchy of enlightened beings. A notable feature of Tibetan Buddhism is the emphasis on wrathful deities, often alternative manifestations of normally peaceful deities. They symbolize the dynamic activity of an enlightened being, brought forth to tame negative or unsettling impulses in the human mind. (Wikipedia)
she who has lost her sheep, as in the rhyme.
"Never work,", muttered Darby. "They'll squash you like bugs."
Darby, now a lawyer, now cynical, presents the archetypal response to Prance's visiting " deities" as in classic sci-fi books and movies.
Cf page 766: Tengyur.
band of brodyagi
This entire passage is a reference to Don Quixote, namely the incident with Gines de Pasamonte and the galley slaves. In Don Quixote, Gines acts as a metafictional representation of Cervantes, as well as a symbol of the author/writer. Here, Topor acts as Gines, representing TRP (notice the name similarity). The hallucinogenic mushrooms represent the Quixote--with a two part narrative, the first pleasant and wonderous, the second full of horrors--as well as AtD and novels, generally. The urine-drinking seems to be a crack at literary critics and literature fans who write about books and read what others write--essentially, drinking each other's urine: the after-products of the consumption of books. --Specklebelly
Yes, and urophagia is certainly prevalent around here.
Russian: The Ax.
Cf page 756: fusel oils.
Toxic byproducts of fermentation, sometimes still present in bad liquor.
strange mottled red mushrooms
Amanita muscaria, an hallucinogenic mushroom. Wikipedia entry.
drank one another's urine
Shamanistic practice also observed in some "mystery" religions. The person who ingests the drug (e.g., toxic mushroom) partly metabolizes it and excretes it; followers can get a, hrmm, watered-down dose by drinking his urine. Source: The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by John M. Allegro (1970).
See page 788.
Christian propaganda mill down south
Pacific Coast League
Minor league (Triple-A) baseball league that at the time was the only professional baseball league west of St. Louis. Wikipedia entry.
Perhaps Colfax Vibe has become Sandy Koufax, pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1960's.
barmaid from Oakland
Oakland has a Pacific Coast Brewing Company with some very sweet barmaids.
the wilderness Creature that feeds on all other creatures . . .
Described by Captain Padzhitnoff on p.124
Krasnoyarsk, the third largest city in Siberia, is on the Yenisei River upstream of Yeniseisk. It is an important junction on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Misspelling of arrival.
A man living on remittances, i.e. family funds from home, a trust fund, etc. It is also time to note that a Fleetwood is a model of Cadillac.
the Vormance people
The Vormance polar expedition was mentioned on page 130 and elsewhere.
The Light Over the Ranges
Against the Day
Rue du Départ