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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Chapter 11: 105-115 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Mason & Dixon

Chapter 11: 105-115

Page 105

The St. Helena...mourn
Paradise lost---and mourned. Thematic?

Page 106

what is never to be named directly
darkness? see page 107. Darkness as the void? See ATD also.

the terrible Authorization?
to murder? by the Seamen? to go aboard ship ??? A closer reading suggests that it is the 'swinging boots', not the seamen, whose destinies include homicide; presumably by kicking victims to death, taking their tempo from the 'Brutal Pulse'.

Pynchon frequently uses the word terrible when referring to death. See page 436 of ATD: "Such to the dead might appear the world of the living - charged with information, with meaning, yet somehow always just, terribly, beyond that fateful limen." Pynchon also uses the word after Brigadier Pudding eats shit on page 239 of GR: "The pain is terrible." Interesting that a writer of such vocabulary keeps returning to the word to describe things that are, well, terrible.

Page 107

no change here is gradual
A Pynchon motif....rapid change is not good, not natural. And, next line, distances should not be vast....life 'goes for nought" then. see page 122 and the Dutch clocks' "that strike without warning" and their effect on M & D.

Page 108

a Company of Giant rob'd Beings, risen incalculably far away over the horizon
These robed figures at the edge of the world can be found in Gravity's Rainbow, on page 217, after Slothrop gets Sir Stephen Dodson-Truck drunk: But out at the horizon, out near the burnished edge of the world, who are these visitors standing...these robed figures

Page 109

Black Hole of Calcutta
See Alphabetical Entry

Page 110

In lower-situated imitations of the Hellfire Club
The Hellfire Club was the popular name for a number of supposed exclusive clubs for high society rakes established all over Britain and Ireland in the 18th century. These clubs were rumoured to be the meeting places of "persons of quality" who wished to take part in immoral acts, and the members were often very involved in politics. The very first Hellfire Club was founded in London in 1719, by Philip, Duke of Wharton and a handful of other high society friends. The most infamous club associated with the name was established in England by Sir Francis Dashwood, and met irregularly from around 1749 to around 1760, and possibly up until 1766. Other clubs using the name "Hellfire Club" were set up throughout the 18th century. Most of these clubs were set up in Ireland after Wharton's was dispelled. The club motto was Fais ce que tu voudras (Do what thou wilt), a philosophy of life associated with François Rabelais' fictional abbey at Thélème and later used by Aleister Crowley. Wikipedia

Although here used as a nice periphrase for a brothel or a house of loose morals, note that the Hellfire Club concept is very pynchonian: a place outside the laws and rules of society, hidden away from the eyes of authorities, which has it's own, different kinds of laws. There are many examples of these places all throughout Pynchon's work.

Page 111

Hanging of Lord Ferrers
Lord Ferrers killed Mr Johnson, his land-steward, was tried, condemned for murder and hanged at Tyburn on 5 May 1760. He is the last British peer to die a felon's death. See WIKI.

Page 112

Kalee

Probably means Kālī, the Hindu goddess of time and destruction. WIKI

Page 113

Mr. Bubb Dodington
English politician and nobleman, see WIKI.

Page 114

There's one, says Pearse, as he fell in the Well
According to a speech attributed to the president of the Bristol and Glouchestershire Arcaeological Society in July 1880, this is an old proverb from Glouchester, with a story behind it:

I came across, also, another quaintly told story the other day, which supplied evidence as to another tradition. We have at Bisley an ancient cross, somewhat celebrated in its way. Tradition says

it is erected over a well into which a man accidentally falling was drowned. There is in the Bodleian Library at Oxford a manuscript History of Gloucestershire, by Abel Wantner, citizen of Gloucester, dated 1714.

Writing of Bisley, he says : " I shall conclude my discourse of Bisley with a Gloucester proverb : viz., " There is one, says Pearse, when he fell into the well," which saying was thus occasioned. " The church of Bisley was out of repair, and the officers of the parish set some men at work to mend what was amiss ; amongst those labourers there was one whose name was Pearse, who, with the rest at dinner time, came into the churchyard where was a winch-well, and where they usually sate round whilst they did eat their victuals. Now it fortuned that as they were just waiteing for the strikeing of the clocke to go to worke, that as the clocke struck Pearse replyed ther's one, which word was no sooner spoken but he fell backwards into the well and was there drowned. Whereupon the church-yard was excommunicated, and the parish did bury their dead at Bibury which is eight miles a Sunder, & the Burial way thereunto, was over Biers-way (or Burials way) Bridge, the same that is now called Bearwoods (or Barrods) Bridge, which was no more than a foote path before, though now it be become the maine Roade way from Gloucester to London."

Charles Mason was born in Oakridge Lynch, which is about 2 miles away from the Bisley in the story, so it makes some sense he would use such a phrase. According to B.H. Blacker's "Gloucestershire notes and queries" (1881), Abel Wanter's book was never published. So barring a trip to the local archives in Gloucestershire (not out of the question), TP probably found this saying from reading old archaeology logs.

The entire speech is available here, and has many pynchonian accents to it.

Annotation Index

One:
Latitudes and Departures

1: 5-11, 2: 12-13, 3: 14-29, 4: 30-41, 5: 42-46, 6: 47-57, 7: 58-76, 8: 77-86, 9: 87-93, 10: 94-104, 11: 105-115, 12: 116-124, 13: 125-145, 14: 146-157, 15: 158-166, 16: 167-174, 17: 175-182, 18: 183-189, 19: 190-198, 20: 199-206, 21: 207-214, 22: 215-227, 23: 228-237, 24: 238-245, 25: 245-253


Two:
America

26: 257-265, 27: 266-274, 28: 275-288, 29: 289-295, 30: 296-301, 31: 302-314, 32: 315-326, 33: 327-340, 34: 341-348, 35: 349-361, 36: 362-370, 37: 371-381, 38: 382-390, 39: 391-398, 40: 399-409, 41: 410-421, 42: 422-435, 43: 436-439, 44: 440-447, 45: 448-451, 46: 452-459, 47: 460-465, 48: 466-475, 49: 476-483, 50: 484-490, 51: 491-498, 52: 499-510, 53: 511-524, 54: 525-541, 55: 542-553, 56: 554-561, 57: 562-569, 58: 570-574, 59: 575-584, 60: 585-596, 61: 597-607, 62: 608-617, 63: 618-622, 64: 623-628, 65: 629-632, 66: 633-645, 67: 646-657, 68: 658-664, 69: 665-677, 70: 678-686, 71: 687-693, 72: 694-705, 73: 706-713

Three:
Last Transit

74: 717-732, 75: 733-743, 76: 744-748, 77: 749-757, 78: 758-773

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