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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Chapter 34: 341-348 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Mason & Dixon

Chapter 34: 341-348

Page 341

Lancaster Town
See page 340.

murder of 26 Indians, Men, Women and Children
See page 305 - Paxton Boys entry

January 10, 1765

Page 342

the Weapon depicted, Black upon White, is notable for the Device upon its Stock, a Silver Star of five Points, revers'd so that two point up and one down... universally recogniz'd as the Horns of the D--l
See an example of the inverted pentagram HERE. The narrator mentions that they saw similar inverted stars (as well as right-side-up) on rifles at the Cape (see page 101).

Jabez
“And Coz begat Anub, and Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel the son of Harum. And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested” -- 1 Chronicles 4:8-10 (King James Version)

Page 343

Frizzen and Flint
The frizzen is an "L" shaped piece of steel hinged at the rear used in flintlock firearms. It is positioned over the flash pan so to enclose a small priming charge of black powder next to the flash hole that is drilled through the barrel into where the main charge is loaded. When the trigger is pulled, the hammer or cock -- which includes a shaped piece of flint held into a set of jaws by a scrap of leather or thin piece of lead -- snaps forward causing the flint to scrape down the face of the frizzen, throwing it back to expose the black powder in the pan. The flint scraping the steel causes a shower of sparks to be thrown into the pan, igniting the black powder and sending flames through the touch hole, which in turn ignites the main charge of black powder in the breech of the barrel, shooting the projectile out the barrel. From WIKI

page 344

Mystickal Toilette
This is in reference to the scent of the German, or mystical perfume coming from him. See this LINK and then search page for "toilette".

'Cigar'
WIKI entry

Page 345

'Stogie'
WIKI entry

...a Ring like a length of Ribbon clos'd in a Circle, with a single Twist in it, possessing thereby but one Side and one Edge...
“The Möbius strip or Möbius band (pronounced [ˈmøbiʊs]) is a surface with only one side and only one boundary component” – Wikipedia

Topologically, as the correct definition from Wikipedia indicates, a Mobius strip has only one edge. Create the shape as indicated in the text, and run your finger around the "edge". You will see that the former edges are now one continuous 'edge". MKOHUT 07:47, 10 August 2007 (PDT)

Prester John
“The legends of Prester John (also Presbyter John), popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries, told of a Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Written accounts of this kingdom are variegated collections of medieval popular fantasy. Reportedly a descendant of one of the Three Magi, Prester John was said to be a generous ruler and a virtuous man, presiding over a realm full of riches and strange creatures, in which the Patriarch of Saint Thomas resided. His kingdom contained such marvels as the Gates of Alexander and the Fountain of Youth, and even bordered the Earthly Paradise. Among his treasures was a mirror through which every province could be seen, the fabled original from which derived the "speculum literature" of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, in which the prince's realms were surveyed and his duties laid out. At first, Prester John was imagined to be in India; tales of the "Nestorian" Christians' evangelistic success there and of Thomas the Apostle's subcontinental travels as documented in works like the Acts of Thomas probably provided the first seeds of the legend. After the coming of the Mongols to the Western world, accounts placed the king in Central Asia, and eventually Portuguese explorers convinced themselves they had found him in Ethiopia. Prester John's kingdom was the object of a quest, firing the imaginations of generations of adventurers, but remaining out of reach. He was a symbol to European Christians of the Church's universality, transcending culture and geography to encompass all humanity, in a time when ethnic and interreligious tension made such a vision seem distant” – Wikipedia

Yet must the Sensorium be nourish’d
sensorium – the brain, especially in reference to its capacity as the seat of the mind or sensation.

Page 346

The next day...
January 11, 1765

"Acts have consequences, Dixon, they must"
Might be of interest that this passage has a predecessor in Vineland: "What was she [DL] complaining about? Only that acts, deeply moral and otherwise, have consequences - only the workings of karma." (Vineland, p. 132)

Lethe-Water
See page 253.

Page 347

The Ghastly Fop
See page 178.

"Whom are we working for, Mason?"
"I rather thought, one day, you would be the one to tell me."
See page 315.

Page 348

Each milestone passes like another Rung of a Ladder ascended
This would seem to equate Mason and Dixon’s trip away from Lancaster with a vertical climb away from hell and towards heaven. Note that by linking parts of Earth with heaven and hell. Has Pynchon conjured forth an image of geomantic loci, wherein the Paxton Boys have soiled their lot on earth with festering sins that haunt and stain any souls who draw near -- and the Harlands have carved a blessed space?

If you can don your hip-waders and bear with me while I attempt to stretch this metaphor a bit, read on.

For me, this metaphor also conjures the image of the Great Chain of Being, (which is explicitly mentioned in subsequent chapters); this somewhat more complex metaphorical image aligns M & D’s physical journey with a movement towards moral purity alongside beings shackled to the Great Chain, no more able to increase their base goodness than dirt is able to transform itself into gold. (You are wearing your hip-waders, right?) So I wonder: Are M & D alchemists, able to travel freely up and down the Great Chain? Is alchemy simply the exercising of free will? Do the Paxton Boys have free will? Have they chosen their evil lot in life anymore than the Harlands have chosen theirs?

And further: To what extent does the invisible past linger around us physically, as if wrenched out of time to remain fixed in place like beings shackled to the Great Chain? Are we haunted by the past? Can a place be damned: America by slavery, Indian slaughter, ley-lines scarred across her earth? Or are the Harlands some vision of salvation—and if so, how is it obtained? Perhaps by the alchemistic exercising of free will?

Like I said, it’s a stretch, but hip waders be doffed: Since this metaphor concludes M & D’s Lancaster expedition, it’s worth pausing here to consider the role this trip-within-a-trip plays in the greater narrative.

One final question: As the chapter concludes with M & D scaling the ladder, who is “Voicing disconsolate, of Regret at their flight?”

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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