Forty: Quantum Mechanics and Football

04.14: Gravity’s Rainbow

In which we take a look back at the entirety of Book Two of Gravity’s Rainbow.

We’ll be back soon with our discussion of Book Three. Stay tuned!

3 thoughts on “Forty: Quantum Mechanics and Football

  1. Just catching up on Book Two capstone, and wishing that yuou’d given more than a puzzled shrug to Speed & Perdoo (SEZ WHO)’s discovery about Mrs. Quoad & Darlene. That’s the 5th or 6th clue that Slothrop’s map stars and V2 impacts DO NOT match up reliably –which radically undermines the obsession of Pointsman (and all higher Theys) with his “gift” as a potential avenue of warning , control, whatever.

    I stress this because it was nailed down as early as 1981
    … but in the 35+ years since, nearly all readings of GR have still presented “Slothrop’s liaisons match up with rocket strikes” as a fact, which lends weight to all the thematic elements about Their omniscience and control. But it *isn’t* a fact — which suggests that They are in the grip of a belief system as flawed and flaky as any character’s. That’s a pretty big deal, isn’t it?

    1. Thanks Monte. We did try to talk about the possibility that Slothrop’s map isn’t an accurate reflection of his “conquests” and that said “conquests” may not be real. You’re right that we generally assume that his map lines up with the rocket strikes, but that information comes from Roger Mexico, one of the novel’s most reliable characters.

      That being said, we don’t claim to be experts on Pynchon or any of his books. And while we do value scholarly criticism, we generally try not to bring too much of it to a given episode (hence the “ban” on research). Our goal with this podcast is to help people read Pynchon’s books. We try to hint at some of the nuances found in scholarly discussions, and try to give listeners their own clews to follow, if they choose, for that’s part of reading Pynchon too.

      Plus, Michael’s calling Mrs. Quoad the “usurper” was simply too funny and probably distracted us from delving further into the issue.

      I’ll have a look at the article you sent and maybe we can bring this issue up in a later episode. Thanks for listening and for the comment. Always appreciated!

  2. From 04 October 2019 see too “The flying bomb and the actuary” by Liam P. Shaw & Luke F. Shaw: Abstract: “[the authors] follow in the footsteps of R. D. Clarke, a British actuary who sought to determine whether the apparent clustering of V‐1 strikes on London during the Second World War was the result of targeting or random chance. Link:
    “…How does this [result] compare to the distribution in Gravity’s Rainbow? At one point, Roger Mexico counts his squares: ‘A chance of 0.37 that … a given square on his map will have suffered only one hit, 0.17 that it will suffer two’ (p. 55). From this second value for k = 2, we can tell from Table 1 that instead of Clarke’s actual data (93/576 = 0.16 to two decimal places), Pynchon has used the theoretical Poisson function values (98.54/576 = 0.17). In Gravity’s Rainbow, if not in real life, the distribution of the bombs is perfectly Poissonian.”

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