Forty Eight: Is He They?

04.22: Gravity’s Rainbow

In which we continue our discussion of Gravity’s Rainbow with a careful look at the second half of Book Three, Chapter Eleven – the Pökler chapter.

Alan mentions The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse. Here’s a link to it in Google Books, and here’s the summary on Wikipedia.

Chris mentions a concept called “the deep state.” Here’s Bill Moyers with a fairly detailed explanation.

Playing a game with death in The Seventh Seal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yXBIigZbg.

Playing games with death in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg-IG7V5eZg.

Death playing bass with Bill and Ted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0WsqcmdjVo.

On the possible origin of the name Zwölfkinder, Alan mentions the Grimm’s Fairy Tale “The Twelve Brothers.”

3 thoughts on “Forty Eight: Is He They?

  1. Possibly you’ve covered this already, but I’ve always wondered about the connection between Zwölfkinder and Disney Land. It always felt very Disney to me…and it’s reported that Disney had some tenuous, weird connection (or at least appreciation of) the Nazis….

    1. I think we brought it up a little in one of our discussions, and think it’s maybe meant to give readers a Disney Land vibe. (Mickey Mouse and Dumbo have already been mentioned in the book, so maybe that’s a clue.)

      I am personally not aware of any connection between Walt Disney, or the Disney corporation, and Nazis. I know I’ve seen old Disney cartoons that put the Nazis in a pretty poor light. In fact, he helped created training videos after America entered the war, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Donald Duck toons promoting war bonds. Plus, I know that a good number of his studio staff at that time were Jewish or of Jewish descent. So, as I said, I’m not aware of any sort of positive alliance between them, and I tend to think none existed. But I’ve never read a Disney bio and never looked into it. Just speaking off the cuff here.

      Thanks for listening!

  2. For me, this chapter is kind of the heart of Gravity’s Rainbow. It feels very real and serious in a way that a lot of the other chapters don’t.

    At first, the chapter seems very standalone, but it connects to so many other parts of the book. It’s a very paranoid theory, but I like to imagine that some of the other chapters (like the Blicero oven chapter from Part1, for example) are only the imagination of Pökler. All the mathematical imagery the narrator is using would be very fitting for him.

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