I have never completely read a Pynchon novel, and I don’t have to thanks to Wikipedia, and what I will Christen ‘PYNCHAPEDIA’. I just discovered Thomas Pynchon authored his own Wikipedia after recognizing a fellow Bottomless, all Consuming, rival.

I am going to put forth a daring and startling theory here, I suspect the Brotherhood of Eternal Love approached Mary Ann who they met when Thomas and her were living on Manhattan Beach. The Brotherhood had read the Pynchon novels she leant them, and they became extremely alarmed.

“We hate to be the harbingers of bad news, but your husband is working for the CIA. We know this due to the latest batch of Orange Sunshine we got from up North.”

After having one of the most interesting conversations in human history, the Brotherhood convinces Mary Ann to put poison in Pynchon’s Margareta replicating the assassination of King Albion, by Queen Rosamond, that turned the world upside down, almost forever.

I highly suspect Pynchon’s mummified body is propped up at the end of large Spanish table in a faux adobe house with a view of the Channel Islands, his mouth forever agape, the giant Burrito Mary Ann bought him from Taco Hell, a shriveled up symbol of the glory days. Then there is that damned bottle of Ketchup.

“You’re sick! No one put’s Ketchup on Tacos! NO ONE!” screamed my wife to be! “I want a divorce! I can’t live like this!”

At this table, they gather, The Sunshine Surfer Revenge Cluster, to crank out another Pynchon novel. All’s well, that ends well, until some moron forced Mary Ann Tharaldsen to drag out her End of Days series, that she promised Thomas she would destroy.

No one had the guts to sweep up the shattered pink porcelain pig that lie on the floor, that Thomas affectionately named ‘Rosebud’: that he reached for with his last dying breath, he often telling his wife – as he set Rosebud by his paper plate;

“Rosebud is my taster, just incase someone wants to poison me.”

“There’s some bad karma, there!”

Ladies and gentleman, I am no longer in charge of my writing and this blog. It has been hijacked by the Sisterhood of Eternal Love. We are on the Hindenburg heading for New York. Here is my SOS to those in the know;

M Marks the Spot! M M-arks the SPOT! Go there now!

“Oh the huManity!”

Jon the Nazarite Judge

“Besides appearing within the book itself, the novel’s title apparently refers to a verse in the Bible (2 Peter 3:7) reading “the heavens and the earth … [are] reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”[1]

William Faulkner, whose diction frequently echoes the King James Bible, liked the phrase, and many reviewers have traced it to a speech of Faulkner’s against racism. Perhaps as relevant is a passage in Absalom, Absalom! in which Sutpen, a Faustus character of the sort that Pynchon deploys everywhere, seeks “a wife who not only would consolidate the hiding but could would and did breed him two children to fend and shield both in themselves and in their progeny the brittle bones and tired flesh of an old man against the day when the Creditor would run him to earth for the last time and he couldn’t get away.” The Creditor there is Mephistopheles, to whom Faustus/Sutpen would owe his soul. (The passage in Gravity’s Rainbow about the “black indomitable oven” with which the witch-like Blicero, another Faustus character, is left once the Hansel-and-Gretel-like children have departed, alludes to another passage in Absalom, Absalom!.)

Nonliterary sources for the title may also exist: Contre-jour (literally “against (the) day”), a term in photography referring to backlighting. There are also two uses of the phrase “against the day” in Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon,[2] and, anecdotally, three uses in William Gaddis’s J R.[3] One may assume that Pynchon has read his Walter Benjamin, who in his famous Theses on the Concept of History XV quotes a satirical ditty composed on the occasion of the July Revolution of 1830, when it was reported that several clock towers across Paris had been fired on: Who would have believed it!/ we are told that new Joshuas/at the foot of every tower,/ as though irritated with time itself*,/ fired at the dials/ in order to stop the day. – * The French makes it clearer: “qu’irrités contre l’heure” [4]

A 1998 children’s novel by Michael Cronin uses the same title: it tells an alternate history of a Britain occupied by Nazis.
Last but not least, the novel’s epigraph from Thelonious Monk would appear to comment on the title: “It’s always night, or we wouldn’t need light.”

Speculation prior to publication[edit]

As Pynchon researched and wrote the book, a variety of rumors about it circulated over the years. One of the most salient reports came from the former German minister of culture, and before that, the publisher of Henry Holt and Company, Michael Naumann, who said he assisted Pynchon in researching “a Russian mathematician [who] studied for David Hilbert in Göttingen”, and that the new novel would trace the life and loves of mathematician and academic Sofia Kovalevskaya. Kovalevskaya briefly appears in the book, but Pynchon may have partly modeled the major character Yashmeen Halfcourt after her.

Author’s synopsis/book jacket copy[edit]

In mid-July 2006, a plot-synopsis signed by Pynchon himself appeared on’s page for the novel, only to vanish a few days later. Readers who had noticed the synopsis re-posted it.[5] This disappearance provoked speculation on blogs and the PYNCHON-L mailing list about publicity stunts and viral marketing schemes. Shortly thereafter, Slate published a brief article revealing that the blurb’s early appearance was a mistake on the part of the publisher, Penguin Press.[6] Associated Press indicated the title of the previously anonymous novel.[7]

1893 Chicago World’s Fair

Pynchon’s synopsis states that the novel’s action takes place “between the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the years just after World War I”. “With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.” Pynchon promises “cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi and Groucho Marx”, as well as “stupid songs” and “strange sexual practices”.

The novel’s setting

“moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York City, to London and Göttingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.”
Like several of Pynchon’s earlier works, Against the Day includes both mathematicians and drug users. “As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it’s their lives that pursue them.”

The synopsis concludes:

If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.
The published jacket-flap of the book featured an edited-down version of this text, omitting the last three sentences, references to specific authorship (as well as misspelling Nikola Tesla’s first name as “Nikolai”; Pynchon had previously spelled it correctly).[8]

“Western Revenge cluster, which is told through an array of western narrative voices…”
Examples: Edward S. Ellis, Bret Harte, Jack London, Oakley Hall


Sloat Fresno, one of the murderers of Webb Traverse, along with Deuce Kindred

Pynchon] was apparently thinking what he usually thinks, which is that modern history is a war between utopianism and totalitarianism, counterculture and hegemony, anarchism and corporatism, nature and techne, Eros and the death drive, slaves and masters, entropy and order, and that the only reasonably good place to be in such a world, given that you cannot be outside of it, is between the extremes. “Those whose enduring object is power in this world are only too happy to use without remorse the others, whose aim is of course to transcend all questions of power. Each regards the other as a pack of deluded fools,” as one of the book’s innumerable walk-ons, a Professor Svegli of the University of Pisa, puts it. Authorial sympathy in Pynchon’s novels always lies on the “transcend all questions of power,” countercultural side of the struggle; that’s where the good guys — the oddballs, dropouts, and hapless dreamers — tend to gather.

Pynchon is mostly concerned with how decent people of any era cope under repressive regimes, be they political, economic or religious. […] ‘Capitalist Christer Republicans’ are a recurring target of contempt, and bourgeois values are portrayed as essentially totalitarian.”[19]
Jazz (or, as Pynchon refers to it in one variant spelling of the novel’s time period, “Jass”) provides a non-hierarchical model of organization that the author relates to politics about a third of the way through the novel, according to Leith, who quotes from the passage, in which ‘Dope’ Breedlove, an Irish revolutionist at a Jazz-bar makes the point. Breedlove characterises the Irish Land League as “the closest the world has ever come to a perfect Anarchist organization”.[20]
“Were the phrase not self-contradictory,” commented ‘Dope’ Breedlove.
“Yet I’ve noticed the same thing when your band plays — the most amazing social coherence, as if you all shared the same brain.”
“Sure,” agreed ‘Dope’, “but you can’t call that organization.”
“What do you call it?”
In a Bloomberg News review, Craig Seligman identifies three overarching themes in the novel: doubling, light and war.[17]

Reviewer Tom Leclair notes light in various flashy appearances:
God said, ‘Let there be light’; Against the Day collects ways our ancestors attempted to track light back to its source and replaced religion with alternative lights. There is the light of relativity, the odd light of electromagnetic storms, the light of the mysterious Tunguska event of 1908, when a meteorite struck Siberia or God announced a coming apocalypse. […] the dynamite flash, the diffracted light of Iceland spar, the reflected light of magicians’ mirrors, the ‘light writing’ of photography and movies, the cities’ new electric lighting that makes the heavens invisible at night.[1]

Scott McLemee sees connections between light, space-time and politics:[21]
The “mythology” governing Pynchon’s novel (enriching it, complicating it, and giving the untutored reader a headache) involves the relationship between the nature of light and the structure of space-time. It’s an effort, perhaps, to imagine something beyond our familiar world, in which “progress” has meant a growing capacity to dominate and to kill.

“Political space has its neutral ground,” says another character in what may be the definitive passage of the novel. “But does Time? is there such a thing as the neutral hour? one that goes neither forward nor back? is that too much to hope?” (Or as Joyce has Stephen Dedalus say in “Ulysses”: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”)
It remains unclear whether Pynchon himself regards such escape or transcendence as really possible.

The Traverse passages recall the social realism of Steinbeck at times, with a dose of the moralizing we might find in Upton Sinclair. There’s also a heavy dash of Ambrose Bierce’s cynicism, and something of Bret Harte’s milieu here.

A kind of ballast for Pynchon’s flightier whims? Not sure.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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