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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Chapter 9: 87-93 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Mason & Dixon

Chapter 9: 87-93

Page 87

"Bull's Eye"
(Pic?) The Oxford English Dictionary confirms the definition provided in the text: "10. Naut. ‘A little dark cloud, reddish in the middle, chiefly appearing about the Cape of Good Hope’ (Chambers Cycl. Supp. 1753), supposed to portend a storm; hence the storm itself." The OED's usage sample relates the bull's eye to a tornado, thus, perhaps, explaining the fear of the girls on page 91.

actually, twain
I think he's implying that it's not really in two pieces, but that the ends are no longer attached

Page 88

Elytra
[R] Leathery fore wings of Coleoptera, meeting in a straight line and serving as protective covers for the hind wings when at rest; unfolded in flight; jointed in families whose adults (imagines) are apterous and incapable of flying.

The beetle's elytra visually echo the ripping of the bodice mentioned in the previous line, i.e. separating in twain to reveal that which lies beneath.

the English kiss
Flirting with Mason and his reticence re the amorous.

Page 89

Data of Biography
all that material excretion which slaves see in handling our stuff.

lixiviated
Purified via lye-bath.

Or, "healed" usually through the process of leeching.

hangs there in Misery
Cf Buster Keaton's comic persona.

Beetle
(Pic?)

Page 91

Light?...hellish red
light darkening image that is right at home in ATD. Note that the change in light is blaimed on the Bull's Eye.

Kommando
anachronous allusion to 20th Century NazI Germany and its Aryan beliefs? The Kommando Spezialkräfte (Special Forces Command, KSK) is part of Germany's Special Forces. It is closely modelled on the British Special Air Service (SAS).

Droster Republick
South Africa.drosters - runaways from service contracts. South African usage.

Page 92

Cape Madeira... violet
Probably a fake Madeira from South Africa, the genuine article coming from the Azores; a very heavy improperly made sweet fortified wine.

Transit of Venus
A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, obscuring a small portion of the Sun's disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours (the transit of 2004 lasted six hours). A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon, but, although the diameter of Venus is almost 4 times that of the Moon, Venus appears much smaller because it is much farther away from Earth. Before the space age, observations of transits of Venus helped scientists using the parallax method to calculate the distance between the Sun and the Earth.
Venus is also the Roman goddess of love and beauty after which the planet was named.

Fescue... simple Indication does not quite exhaust

The OED defines "fescue" as "a small stick, pin, etc. used for pointing out the letters to children learning to read; a pointer." The fescue is ebony, hefty enought to be rapped on a table, and is used literally (for "simple Indication") and figuratively ("does not quite exhaust" - there is some phallic suggestiveness in the passage). Or perhaps sinister-looking fescue = riding crop in the naughty minds of the pleasingly squirming Vroom daughters. Cf Margarita Erdmann thrashing her daughter Bianca with a steel ruler in GR.

Page 93

gravid Earth
Gravid - "pregnant, heavy with young" (OED)

the Fescue become a widthless Wand of Light"
'Widthless' - a perfect Euclidean line. Mason's ebony fescue simply "becomes" a widthless wand of light in the mind's eye as Mason instructs the girls on celestial mechanics. However, there's an interesting black/white reversal (black ebony becoming white light) that recalls imagery from AtD.

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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