Fifty-Three: This Part of Hell Is Its Own Weird Hell

04.27: Gravity’s Rainbow

In which we continue our discussion of Gravity’s Rainbow with a look at chapters 23, 24 and 25 of Book Three.

Errata: For a while during this episode, Bo had a bad set-up that caused some extra noise in the recording. We apologize profusely for this.


The myth of Tantalus is mentioned. You can read about him here.

You can view Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights in all its wonderfully demented glory here.

The song that Chris tries to remember is “By Torpedo or Crohn’s” by the band Why? on their album Alopecia. The lyrics he wanted to recall are:

I’ll be okay
Cool as a rail
If they just let us have health food in hell.

As always, thank you for listening.

5 thoughts on “Fifty-Three: This Part of Hell Is Its Own Weird Hell

    From BBC Radio4 Science Stories, Pavlov and his Dogs.

    A bit of mythbusting: Pavlov didn’t actually use a bell. He conditioned the dogs to metronomes, music chords, light flashes. At one point in a talk in London, years later, he may have mentioned a bell, but that’s what was reported in the papers. That’s what everybody remembers, like the ‘fifty words for snow.’

    More to the Pynchon point, “Conditioned Reflex” was a bit of a mistranslation from the Russian. The word is closer to “conditional,” as in “sometimes true, but with conditions.” The presenter mentioned a 2014 article that set off this Pavlovian revisionism. I was listening to the podcast in heavy, aggressive traffic and did not catch all the footnotes.

    Pavlovian Conditioning in GR is, if not the Central Theme, it is at least the Central MacGuffin, the creaky plot device that propels the action forward. I’ll need to reevaluate Slothrop’s deconditioning ‘beyond the zero’ in light of this new information.

  2. My wife stopped at Goodwill yesterday to stock up for a trip the the shore.
    “You like this author, don’t you?” She handed me a first edition of Mason & Dixon.

    I googled “First Edition Mason Dixon”. A bunch of $150’s popped up from rare book dealers.
    However, Abe’s Books started at $3.98 and slowly crept up from there. At least I won’t have to worry about getting sand in the spine and ruining the value. Haven’t read this one yet.

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