Sixty-Five: Not Quite Assless Chaps

04.38: Gravity’s Rainbow

In which we have a go at the first half of the last chapter of Gravity’s Rainbow.

Bo mentions some early picture of Adolf Hitler wearing lederhosen. Here’s an example of why that maybe didn’t convey the authority he wanted it to.

Chris brings up the SHAEF symbol.

And lastly, you can read about and see the Hanged Man tarot card over at (appropriately),

9 thoughts on “Sixty-Five: Not Quite Assless Chaps

  1. The Hanged Man , head up/down — Christian folklore had it that St. Peter asked to be crucified upside down because he was unworthy of the same death as his Master. As you note, Peter founded and shaped the Church in an authoritarian/hierarchic way quite different from Jesus’ version… which may or may not be taken as “turning it upside down.”

    Chris sez P “never gives us a clean point… always undercutting it.” Reminds me of the Taolst Yin/Yang symbol, light and dark comma/tadpole shapes chasing each other’s tail – but with a dot of light in the dark and a dot of dark in the light. (AtD epigraph!) Closer to home, Coleridge liked the Greek idea of enantiodromia – that what looks like a straight line from extreme A to anti-extreme Z is often a circle in which things morph into their opposites. P hates to be pinned down: instead of straight dualism, or a Hegelian “thesis X vs. antithesis Y yields new synthesis X,” he likes “everything incorporates — couldn’t be what it is without! – some of its opposite.” Enzian and Tchitcherine don’t meet and fight. They don’t meet and embrace. They… pass by in the twilight. No resolution, you suckas!

    Kreplach story: maybe an undercutting of all the earlier Pavlov/Pointsman conditioning? One school of therapy for phobias says you can overcome a horror (“extinguish a reflex”) of snakes, confined spaces etc. by gradual, incremental exposure. But this anti-Pavlovian kid, belss him, knows that it’s STILL KREPLACH!

    Occupation of Mingeborough: think “Red Dawn,” or Upton Sinclair’s 1935 book “It Can’t Happen Here” (fascism in the US), or the “It Happened Here” (1964 mockumentary of Nazi occupation of the UK), or any Alex Jones black-helicopter militia fantasy. Think Crutchfield the Westwardman, and Major Marvy as an all-American SS officer. GR is full of reminders that 1945 triumph in the War Against Evil Systems didn’t settle anything for good.

    Agreed with Bo that the flourishing of tarot (and to my taste kabbala too) in Book 4 is Pynchon intermittently losing control of his 484-pipe, 128-register Mighty Wurlitzer. Not they aren’t thematically rich and relevant, but he’s already juggling so many overlapping themes and allusions and patterns that… many of us can’t even.

  2. Dear Crew:

    I used to joke that I was an expert on the first 200 pages of Gravity’s Rainbow owing to the fact that I’ve read it probably 5 times over the past 30 years. Unfortunately, I could never get past that mark. I bought that used paperback when I was a teenager and have carried it with me through the next 30 years of my life only to finish reading it a few days ago. I think it’s safe to say that this would not have been possible without all of you.

    As someone who fancies himself a pretty accomplished reader, GR has always eluded me…and Pynchon is my kind of writer! As with any effort of great endurance, the task seems more attainable if attempted with the company of others. Unfortunately, I know zero people who are serious readers. Everyone once is a while, I’ll come across someone who has read The Road, but never Blood Meridian…yeah, yeah, Life of Pi changed my life too.

    This podcast makes me feel like I have some friends who are also willing to dig deep into the more difficult corners of literature. Thank you so much for all of the time and effort put into the podcast…it has made a large positive impact on my life.

    Yours in Paranoia,


    P.S. One technical comment. Bo’s audio levels are consistently low. I enjoy Bo’s contributions but have an increasingly difficult time hearing him. I figure there can only be two possible reasons to explain this phenomena:

    1. This is yet another attempt by Chris to minimize Bo’s contribution and therefore undermine his position within the podcast dominance hierarchy.
    2. Bo is experiencing some type of Slothropian dissolution whereas his voice will dissolve entirely into the ether by the capstone episode.

    1. Thank you a billion times for this comment. It’s things that this that make all the work we do worthwhile. I’m so glad we could help you get through the book, and I hope we didn’t muddy it up too much!

      And thank you. I’m aware of the issue with my volume. I will amffirm nor deny either of your theories. It’ll be sorted out for next season.

      Thank you for listening, and thank you so much for your comment.

  3. fyi:
    Lederhosen are breeches made of leather; they may be either short or knee-length.

  4. I realize my comments are meaningless at this point, but I wanted to add that I thought “Item S-1729.06, Bottle…” and the other item listed, fragment of undershirt, could be items listed for an auction. Here is another example of Pynchon predicting the future – don’t people bid large amounts of money these days to buy, for instance, half a leftover sandwich with celebrity teethmarks?

    And another thing – I hit “send” a little too quickly on my lederhosen comment…I meant to add I copied that out of wikipedia. Once again I have first-hand knowledge due to two trips to Octoberfest in Munich. Or Oktoberfest in Munchen….lots of people wearing lederhosen there. They are leather (normally….that Hitler photo be damned.)

    Thanks again for the great podcast and I’m looking forward to Bleeding Edge.

  5. The podcast anti-climax (a call back to the book anti-climax of last chapter) is Bo not going off on the guy saying he’s not interested in “Slothrop qua Slothrop” after setting this up back in the Beethoven/Rossini episode.

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