Fifty-Nine: The Robot Crab Who I Absolutely Love Now

04.32: Gravity’s Rainbow

In which we finally discuss the long-awaited story of Byron the Bulb, as featured in chapter 3 of Book Four of Gravity’s Rainbow.
To hear Pavarotti sing “La Dona e Mobile,” here it is on YouTube.

Chris mentions this rather famous picture of a Buddhist monk self-immolating in protest.

Chris also mentions a song by Pere Ubu called “Mister Wheeler.” You can check that out on their Bandcamp page.

One thought on “Fifty-Nine: The Robot Crab Who I Absolutely Love Now

  1. I feel “Bulb Baby Heaven” a play on the “stork” cartoons, where babies — who are inexplicably fully formed and possessing all regular baby physiology — are nonetheless waiting around in clouds to be “born” (or in Byron’s case, “manufacturing day.”) The science of how a woman would be physically pregnant with a baby that is also existing somewhere else entirely, fully formed is never addressed by the trope (any more than stories that feature Santa Claus as real entity address how Santa-denying adults account for their children’s Christmas presents magically appearing on time), but I wonder how much of Pynchon’s more fantastical scenes that make no sense to us are referencing well known tropes that have just fallen out of common usage. Sometimes I think he is being less brilliant and insightful than we’re inclined to give him credit for and is literally just riffing on a cartoon he saw.

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