Fifty-Eight: Pointsman, As We’ve Pointed

04.31: Gravity’s Rainbow

In which be begin the final section of Gravity’s Rainbow – The Counterforce! This episode covers the first two chapters of Book Four.

Alan offers an explanation of the musical concept called the tone row here’s the Wikipedia article. If you would like a little more detail, .

If you want to listen to Joni Mitchell’s “Cactus Tree,” lines from which were in the original Gravity’s Rainbow galleys as the epigraph for The Counterforce, you can do that here.

8 thoughts on “Fifty-Eight: Pointsman, As We’ve Pointed

  1. Enjoyed the latest. The “Committee on Idiopathic Archetypes”(Viking p. 625) rewards reflection as more than a throwaway gag on “C.I.A.” “Idiopathic” is medicalese for “of unknown cause or origin” — more broadly, “Patient Bo has this recognized condition/syndrome/disease, but does *not* fit the usual pattern [wasn’t exposed to pathogen X, doesn’t have gene Y, never suffered deficiency of vitamin Z] , so we don’t know how/why he got it.” etc.

    “Archetype” comes close to being just the opposite: for Plato, the original pattern or model on which all things of the same kind are based; for Jung, an inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, or image, which we expect to find in all individual psyches. So to say “archetype” is to *presume* an origin, either philosophical or evo-psychological ; one thing an archeype *can’t* sensibly be is idiopathic, i.e. inexplicably found in this particular case.

    Which would be just a free-floating oxymoron, if the real [heh] CIA weren’t both (1) our agency for uncovering The Other Guys’ dark convoluted plots, and (2) the center for much of our own home-grown paranoia, from Dealey Plaza to Trumpzilla vs. the Deep State.

    1. Great stuff, Monte!

      I think your explanation is also relevant to Slothrop and Their attempts to pin down his connection to the Rocket (if it exists at all). He takes on various roles (via costume or framings by the narrator) and there are multiple theories about him tossed around (including the map – the debunking of which you yourself emphasized, if I remember correctly), but in the end there is no definitive answer and he seems to become more and more disconnected from any sort of archetype/framing/etc., which may or may not be a sort of salvation for him.

      Always enjoy and value your perspective. Thanks!

    2. More importantly, though. I am extremely in favor of the immediate and indefinite quarantine of Patient Bo, a plague on society. #BubbleBo

  2. Patient Bo: “The thought of him lost in the world of men, after the war, fills me with a deep dread I cannot extinguish . . . .” (144)

  3. I’m not sure if this was passed up on…but I once read other people’s synopsis/interpretations that Mexico is on acid when he’s confronting and on his way to Pointsman…although I also didn’t find anything to solidify this; maybe the milk bottles? This is also one of my favorite scenes and speeches in the book.

    1. I love the scene too. I’m not sure about Mexico being on acid, though. The text doesn’t support it. Maybe – maybe – if there’s mold in the baby-food jars, maybe the mold could influence him somehow. But I’m not sure about the acid idea.

  4. Margaret Dumont played the “straight man” in the most famous of the Marx Brothers movies. She specialized in playing a stuffy, pearl-clutching “Oh! My! Word!” character whom Groucho would spent most of the film annoying (she would have been right at home in the upcoming section with Bodine and Mexico ruining a dinner party). I felt there was a strong Marx Brothers element to this whole book, especially since there were roughly popular at the same time as Fritz Lang’s, which the podcast has already covered in detail. Harpo and Chico were often paired up a la Speed and Perdoo, while Zeppo always had a painfully boring side plot with an actress who almost never interacted with Groucho and the others, very similar to Roger and Jessica. There were even random very short musical numbers. Slothrop serenading Katje with one of the few non “joke” songs in the book is very much a Zeppo Marx scene.

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