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[This guide was originally created around 1980, when I assigned Gravity's Rainbow as the final reading (on which a final paper was required) in a Williams College course called "Images of History in American Literature"--and then recognized that I'd better do more than I'd planned to help my students actually get through the book! The guide seemed to provide the help they needed and, circulating in photocopy form, seems to have helped many others since. I hope that now, via HTML and the World Wide Web, it will provide help, and maybe some random amusement, to a wider audience. -- MDB]
, 3-7. Captain Pirate Prentice dreams of an evacuation of London. He awakens at dawn, and shoves his bed beneath the balcony to break the fall of a sleeping Teddy Bloat. He climbs to a rooftop banana garden, sees the vapor trail of a rocket launch across the Channel ("incoming mail," he thinks), and proceeds to pick bananas.
, 7-16. The banana breakfast at Pirate's ("a spell, against falling objects"). A phone call informs him that the rocket he saw contained a message for him; he leaves to retrieve it. Pirate's "strange talent . . . for getting inside the fantasies of others." His proxy dealings with the Giant Adenoid.
, 17-19. Teddy Bloat to ACHTUNG office of Tantivy Mucker-Maffick and
Tyrone Slothrop. He photographs a map above Slothrop's desk, a map of London
to which stars
of various colors have been affixed.
, 20-29. Slothrop, trying to gain access to bomb-impact site, sees Pirate retrieve his message. We learn more about the map, about "operational paranoia," and a bit about Slothrop's New England family: "they did not prosper."
, 29-37. A séance: "Roland Feldspath (the spirit), Peter Sachsa (the control), Carroll Eventyr (the medium), Selena (the wife and survivor)." (Sachsa and Eventyr will become important to us later.) Milton Gloaming takes notes. Jessica Swanlake, rather bored, finally throws a dart. Pirate, also present, talks with the statistician, Roger Mexico (Jessica's lover). We learn about Operation Blackwing, PICSES, the "White Visitation." Pirate remembers his own lost love, Scorpia Mossmoon (whose husband, Clive, was in plastics). He both envies, and wishes to protect, Roger and Jessica.
, 37-42. Roger and Jessica, in car, discuss Roger's Pavlovian colleague, Ned Pointsman. Roger recalls his and Jessica's first meeting--a rocket-assisted pick-up. We learn about their (illegal) meeting-place in the stay-away zone. "They are in love. Fuck the war."
, 42-47. In bombed-out building, Roger and Pointsman (the latter's foot wedged firmly in a toilet-bowl) hunt a dog, for Pointsman's experiments (post-impact studies of saliva output, using implanted tubes). Roger and Jessica return Pointsman to St. Veronica's Hospital (of the True Image ["vera ikon"]). We hear of Kevin Spectro and The Book (by Pavlov).
, 47-53. Spectro and Pointsman, at St. Veronica's, discuss the case
of Tyrone Slothrop (who--and this is important to them--was as an infant
a patient or subject of Laszlo Jamf). Pointsman
envies Spectro; he lusts for human subjects. He does not want dogs any more,
not even the
octopus, Grigori, but "one, little, Fox!" (i.e., Slothrop.)
, 53-60. While Roger sleeps, Jessica gazes out the window of the stay-away zone house. We learn of Roger's map of London, dividing the city into squares, each one marked for number of rocket impacts. The frequency of such impacts obeys (as Roger has predicted) the Poisson distribution. Some oppositions emerge: science vs. love, war vs. love.
, 60-71. Slothrop, without being told why, has been transferred from ACHTUNG to St. Veronica's, for observation. He fantasizes on various permutations and combinations of the sentence, "You never did the Kenosha Kid." Stimulated by an injection of Sodium Amytal, and asked by a PISCES interrogator about "the Negroes, in Roxbury," he fantasizes about throwing up in the men's room of the Roseland Ballroom (sounds of "Cherokee" coming up from downstairs, watched by a shoeshine boy called "Red" [Malcom Little, later Malcolm X]). The harmonica (later, a kind of Slothrop signature) falls from his shirt pocket into the toilet; he follows it--"getting into some, oh really weird shit." Segue to the adventures of the singular hero, Crouchfield (or Crutchfield), and his decreasingly singular accessories (including an Afro-Scandinavian "Pard"--cf., later, Blicero and Enzian?). Back to the Kenosha Kid.
, 71-72. A pornographic fantasy-picture of Scorpia Mossmoon (How
did They know?)
produces from Pirate the semen necessary to expose the "kryptosam" message
sent over in the
rocket. The message: bring out operative (later identified for us as Katje
Dutchified contemporary Argentine writer in drag?]).
, 72-83. The White Visitation: mental hospital converted to ostensibly military purposes. Story of the suicide of patient, Reg le Froyd ("Bert is fine," p. 73--cf. Katje, p. 106). Operation Black Wing; its purpose: to exacerbate (by radio transmissions) German racial fears of African Hereros (hence research into Slothrop's racial fears). Create fiction of "Schwarzkommando" operating in Germany (Black Power Gonna Get Your Mutti?). Old Brigadier Ernest [Hemingway?] Pudding--World War I veteran, Pointsman's boss. His curious "briefings" (cf. Mrs. Quoad's candy "surprises" in , below)?
, 83-92. What is known about Laszlo Jamf's experiments (during his year at Harvard) on "Infant Tyrone." Response: erection. Stimulus? And was his reflex deconditioned, perhaps, beyond zero? The mystery of Slothrop's map, which has stars (and dates) to record where he has "scored" in London. It is identical with Roger Mexico's map of rocket impacts. Moreover, Slothrop's "scores" always precede (by two to ten days) the arrival of the rocket at the same location. Jessica: "What about the girls?" Pointsman (Pavlov, cause and effect) vs. Mexico (Janet, statistician, "anarchist"). Pointsman-Pavlov-Mefistofeles, nevertheless, to Mexico-Janet-Faust: "We both have Slothrop."
, 92-113. Katje Borgesius (the operative brought out by Pirate), alone with Osbie Feel and observing camera at Pirate's. He's cooking dope. Seeing him open the oven she recalls her assignment in Holland: with Captain Blicero (formerly, e.g., in Pynchon's V., Lt. Weissman) and Gottfried, at rocket-launching area. Their Hansel and Gretel game (cf. , below). Blicero's death-wish (the Oven)--his (switch in point of view) memories of Südwest Africa, the Herero boy he named "Enzian." Another switch (102) to Gottfried's point of view: he watches Katje's escape. Back to Katje (104): "The true war is a celebration of markets." Back to "present" (106), via reprise of Reg le Froyd (cf. 73), then Pirate's point of view. Story of Frans van der Groov (Katje's ancestor) and the killing of Dodoes in Mauritius in the 17th century. Pirate and Osbie alone (Katje has gone to the White Visitation, her version of "Bert"?). Schwarzkommando propaganda film, made by famous German director, Gerhardt von Göll. After showings, projector is taken downstairs (at "White Visitation") so that octopus, Grigori, can be shown film of Katje at Pirate's --whose filming opened this section (cf. first and last sentences, pp. 92 and 113).
, 114-120. Slothrop, again not knowing why, has been returned from "White Visitation" to ACHTUNG and London. Disappointed, he also feels that he's being followed (he is, by Pointsman's operatives). He visits Darlene and Mrs. Quoad: "the Disgusting English Candy Drill" (cf. Pudding's "briefings," above). Sex is followed (and revived) by explosion of rocket: "the rocket's rush comes swelling."
, 120-136. Roger and Jessica. His jealousy of her fiancé, Jeremy (Beaver). The day she took her blouse off, on a dare, in the car. Jessica thinks about life with Roger: "Isn't it safer with Jeremy?" Jessica and Roger stop at church, for Advent Evensong. Great passage on the War and Christmas (now fast approaching), on the rocket as "Christmas star," on "our stories, all false, about who we are," on "the path you must create by yourself, alone in the dark . . . the way home."
, 136-144. Pointsman (as "you"--i.e., as if we needed it now, a second-person singular narrative) dreams of "home." Wakes to "the news about poor Spectro," killed at St. Veronica's by rocket (brought in by Slothrop's visit to Darlene, nearby, two days before the fatal impact?). With Spectro's death only Pointsman and Thomas Gwenhidwy, of the original seven owners of The Book, now survive. Pointsman meditates on various "irreversible processes," then masturbates to fantasies about getting Nobel Prize ("Stockholm"), confronting ultimate dog-prey/ minotaur. Slothrop--who, Pointsman reflects, should be on the Riviera by now--is his new "Minotaur" (the subject, or "Fox," who may at last earn him the Prize).
, 145-154. Flashback (her point of view) to Nora Dodson-Truck's discovery that Carroll Eventyr is a medium (cf. , above; but also NB.: "Lewis Carroll" was the pen name of the mathematician and undressed-child photographer, Charles L. Dodgson. Is this information help, or only further harm? Do you think the lost "g" is important?) Eventyr's control on the Other Side is (remember?) Peter Sachsa. We learn about other "White Visitation" freaks, including Gavin Trefoil who, by metabolizing tyrosene and thereby producing melanin (cf. "kryptosam," p. 71), can alter his skin color (cf. the Afro-Scandinavian of Slothrop's "Crouchfield" fantasy? or Enzian?). There is a brief conversation (apparently) between veteran and neophyte skin pigments. We learn of Nora's assertion of the "Zero." Of the "Angel" seen over Germany by Basher St. Blaise. Peter Sachsa (the control), recalls (or at least the transcripts of Eventyr's sessions, which Eventyr cannot remember, report that he recalls) his life before death--including "Lt. Weissmann" (Blicero) and his "Herero aide" (his lover, his "Pard": Enzian). Peter's love for Leni Pökler, wife of chemical engineer. (All this transpired before 1930, when Peter was killed by a blow to the head from a policeman during a political demonstration.)
, 154-167. Leni's difficult (and possibly anachronistic) growth into feminism. Her fantasy of love vs. radical politics ("AN ARMY OF LOVERS CAN BE BEATEN")--and also vs. her husband, Franz ("You're the cause-and-effect man"). Franz--once a student, incidentally, of Laszlo Jamf--meets Kurt Mondaugen (a school chum and a character in the Südwest Africa episode in Pynchon's V., also involving Weissmann [Blicero]) who guides him to a job in rocket development. Leni leaves Franz (taking their daughter, Ilse) for Peter Sachsa, who--when she arrives--is conducting a séance (he, too, being a medium) to contact the spirit of Walter Rathenau. His message (166-67): "All talk of cause and effect is secular history, and secular history is a diversionary tactic."
, 167-174. The PISCES Christmas party. Pointsman and Maude Chilkes in the closet. Pointsman and Gwenhidwy go to the latter's flat. Gwenhidwy to Pointsman (on what we will learn to call the "preterite"): "How they persist." East London as the "City Paranoiac": Gwenhidwy imagines (or perceives?) that the poor and outcast have been placed here to absorb the brunt of rocket attacks from the Southeast.
, 174-177. Roger and Jessica have taken her nieces (whose father
has been lost to the War)
to a pantomime of Hansel and Gretel, interrupted by a rocket impact
(cf. ending of Gravity's Rainbow?). Penelope (one of the nieces,
whose name should recall Homer's
bitterly of fathers "leaving their children alone in the forest." Roger
is more and more afraid of
losing Jessica, and love, to the War or to Jeremy/Beaver who "is
the War." "Oh, Jess. Jessica.
Don't leave me."
2: Un Perm'au Casino Hermann Goering
[NB.: "perm'" = "permission," leave, furlough.]
, 181-189. Dawn: Slothrop awakens in his room at Riviera casino (cf. Pirate's awakening at dawn in London, which began part 1?). Tantivy Mucker-Maffick and his "friend" Teddy Bloat (who photographed Slothrop's map, remember?) share a room down the hall. From the balcony they pick up three girls, then head off for a sea-side breakfast picnic (cf. part 1's banana breakfast? or the "White Visitation" sea-side party that ends Part 2?). Slothrop sees, in water, another girl (Katje, placed here by Pointsman) who is attacked by an octopus (Grigori, ditto, trained by watching films) (cf. this intrusion to the rocket Pirate sees from his roof? After all, it was bearing a message from the same Katje.) Slothrop rescues her, using crab which Bloat just "happens" to have along. Slothrop's mounting suspicion of manipulation: his "Puritan reflex . . . paranoia."
, 189-205. His mission accomplished, Dr. Porkyevitch departs in boat, with his faithful octopus. Slothrop agrees to a midnight date with Katje, then confronts Tantivy with his suspicions of Bloat. He has his assignation with Katje, followed by a pillow and seltzer-bottle fight, then more sex. Morning: she lies "S'd against the S of himself." (198) Hearing his clothes being stolen he chases the thief and, after various adventures, finds his own room empty (even of identity cards). Tantivy, too, is gone. Paranoia is on the rise: "'Fuck you,' whispers Slothrop," to Them. He imagines the 1630 Puritan Migration as a film now run backwards. (204) Searching for Tantivy, he can only find Katje: "It's the only place I knew to come." (205)
, 205-226. Slothrop reading circuit-diagrams for German rockets. Sir Stephen (Dedalus?--i.e., Joyce? cf., also, their "Noras") Dodson-Truck sees in circuit-symbols evidence of organic linguistic evolution--seeing in one symbol the "sun" (as in "Oxen of the . . . "?). Slothrop detects in Sir Stephen "obvious membership in the plot"; yet he's drawn to the old man's "love for the Word." Time passes. Bloat now gone, Slothrop studies rocket manuals, which induce erections; Sir Stephen takes notes. Wanting more information, Slothrop sets up the drunken Prince of Wales game, after which, suitably drunk, Sir Stephen confesses what he knows. Shift (217) to Carroll Eventyr, to Leni Pökler and Peter Sachsa. Peter's death (220). Sir Stephen leaves. So, finally, does Katje: "they are not, after all, to be lovers in parachutes of sunlit voile, lapsing gently, hand in hand, down to anything meadowed or calm. Surprised?" (222)
, 226-236. Pointsman's poem, "spoken" by Pavlov at 83. A meeting of the Slothrop group at "The White Visitation." Pointsman, who has been meeting with Clive Mossmoon (Scorpia's husband--remember?--he's in plastics), assures them that Brigadier Pudding will continue to support the project (i.e., to expose Slothrop to the Rocket and observe his responses). All leave, save Webley Silvernail, in whose fantasy (apparently) the lab animals sing and dance to "Pavlovia (Beguine)." Afterwards Silvernail, departing, tells them of the false "freedom" of the elite--"using every other form of life without mercy to keep what haunts men down to a tolerable level." Pudding sneaks through the terrors (arranged by Pointsman) of D wing to his assignation with Katje (as "Domina Nocturna"--this, too, arranged by Pointsman, who has plumbed the Brigadier's fantasies for something that will keep him in line). Katje indulges Pudding's "need for pain"; her shit, which he carefully swallows, recalls to him "the smell of Passchendaele, of the Salient"--his horrified memories of mass death and putrefaction in World War I.
, 236-244. Spring, 1945, at "The White Visitation." Cut to Slothrop and the Riviera. The first of the "Proverbs for Paranoids." (237) In Slothrop's dream or "revery," "the late Roland Feldspath" (see 1: , above) meditates on the reduction of "the Rocket's terrible passage . . . to bourgeois terms." Slothrop, bothered by evidence of links between Allied and German corporations, debates conspiracy as vs. "coincidence" with Hilary Bounce (of Shell Oil, >
, 244-249. Raoul's party--including such things as hash in the hollandaise, inducing a rush on the broccolli. Slothrop is accosted by Blodgett Waxwing (cf. the first line of John Shade's poem in V. Nabokov's Pale Fire?), a famous forger and Western movie freak wearing a white zoot suit (which Slothrop admires). Waxwing gives Slothrop an envelope to hold for safe keeping. A "plot" is revealed (247: you figure it out). Tamara (part of the "plot") arrives in a tank, fires into party. Waxwing gives Slothrop a zoot suit, keychain, and his business card, "embossed with a chess knight and an address on Rue Rossini." (The chess knight might also recall Nabokov--or, perhaps, the card of the hired gun, Palladin, played by Richard Boone in the 1950s TV Western series, Have Gun, Will Travel.)
, 249-269. Begins with the information on "Imipolex G" that Slothrop has gotten (via Bounce's teletype) from London. It is a plastic developed in 1939 for I.G. Farben by, of course, Laszlo Jamf. We learn "Plasticity's central canon: that chemists were no longer at the mercy of Nature." (249: cf. Walter Rathenau, 166; also Slothrop's Plasticman comic, 206-7?) A brief history of the development of plastics, into increasingly complex molecular chains, is paralleled by a brief history of the development of interlocking "arrangements" among the corporations that manufacture them. (250-51) Slothrop fantasizes a commando raid on Duncan Sandys' office at Shell Mex House, London; at the heart of it all he finds only machines, talking to one another. Returned from fantasy (?), he finds a new clue on the parts list: "S-Gerät, 11/00000"--apparently the serial number of a special model rocket, using Imipolex G, somehow, for insulation.
Slothrop comes upon (by chance?) a copy (forged?) of the London Times, containing an obituary, by Bloat, for Tantivy, supposedly killed in heroic action. He flees to Nice (as, we learn later, he was supposed to), going to the address on Waxwing's card. During the night he is visited by various dead and/or departed. Next day, Waxwing's agents give him new papers, a new name (Ian Scuffling), and an address in Zürich. He arrives a week later, and contacts Waxwing's representative, Semyavin. He meets (in a musical "number") various "Loonies on Leave!" (259-60) Looking for sources of information in information-specific cafés, he meets Mario Schweitar, who tells him of Jamf's death.
Schweitar offers more information for a price, but Slothrop is broke. And seeing a strange Rolls Royce in front of his hotel, Slothrop recognizes that he cannot return, that he is also homeless. Proverb #4 (262). He pawns his zoot suit and wanders. At the Odeon Cafe (which is not information-specific) he meets an Argentine anarchist, Francesco Squalidozzi, who tells of hijacking a German U-boat (with Graciela Imago Portales) to seek asylum from Peron in, yes, Germany. Why Germany? Squalidozzi on Argentine history: "We are obsessed with building labyrinths, where before there was open plain and sky. . . . We cannot abide that openness; it is terror to us." Slothrop counters: "But-but . . . that's progress." Squalidozzi: "In the openness of the German zone, our hope is limitless." The Argentines need a courier, unknown to their enemies. Slothrop offers to help, for enough money to pay Schweitar for his information.
Slothrop takes a plane to Geneva (in plane encountering Richard Halliburton ). He exchanges messages with Squalidozzi's contact, then returns to Zürich. Squalidozzi is nowhere to be found. We learn of the Slothrop family's role in Shay's Rebellion. (268) Slothrop goes out to stay at Jamf's tomb, where he take delivery of Schweitar's information: "In the weeks ahead . . . he may even have time to wish he hadn't read any of it."
, 269-278. May: A "White Visitation" picnic by the sea (cf. opening
of part 2?). Pointsman
thinks about the disappearance of Slothrop, lost by British Intelligence
a month ago, in Zürich.
He thinks, as well, about his major blunder: authorizing Harvey Speed and
Floyd Perdoo to
investigate Slothrop's sexual adventures in London, the ones recorded on
the map (this operation
being known, acronimically, as SEZ WHO). Unfortunately there is no evidence
that any of his
"scores"-- not even Darlene (though there is a "Mrs. Quoad")--actually
existed. The War over,
Pointsman must confront efforts to dissolve PISCES (as well as more general
dissolve the stark polarities sustained by the War). He has begun to feel
"the solitude of a
Führer." Back to the sea-side, we get our first allusion to the Rossini
vs. Beethoven controversy--which, we're told (presumably, here, by the narrator),
will later erupt in Berlin. Pointsman,
facing his various dissolutions, begins to act "a bit mental"--he's hearing
a Voice. We learn, as
those at "The White Visitation" have recently learned, that there really
is a "Schwarzkommando"
operating in Germany, just as in the "fiction" created by Operation Blackwing.
All this following
a digression on King Kong. (Here, as with the Rocket [and Slothrop],
the order of cause and
effect seems to be getting reversed or confused: can fantasy
produce reality?) Edwin Treacle has
contended, to his consternated colleagues, "that their feelings about blackness
were tied to
feelings about shit, and feelings about shit to feelings about putrefaction
and death." (276)
Pointsman, hallucinating, sees need to get Jessica out of the way, in order
to secure control of
Roger for his continuation of the War into the Post-War. "'Yang and Yin,'
whispers the Voice,
'Yang and Yin. . . . '" (a Pavlovian breakdown?--a dissolution of "ideas
of the opposite"?).
3: In the Zone
, 281-295. Early morning (cf. dawn openings of parts 1 and 2?): Slothrop arrives at Nordhausen. He recalls meeting his first African (Enzian), and Major Duane Marvy. The "plot" [which will thicken, then, strangely, thin]: Schweitar's information on Imipolex G (see 2: , above) points to Franz Pökler (see 1:  and , above), who came to the Mittelwerke, an underground rocket factory at Nordhausen, in 1944. The Shell file on Jamf points to Lyle Bland of Boston, to Hugo Stinnes (a German financier), and to a banknote contract with the Slothrop Paper Company. All this recalls to Slothrop a smell ("the breath of the Forbidden Wing" [presumably Imipolex G, involved in Jamf's experiments on "Infant Tyrone"]); it also produces an erection. Bland ("Uncle Lyle") apparently sold his interest in the "Schwarzknabe enterprise" (next to this entry are the initials, "T.S.") to Grössli Chemical (later Psychochemie AG). From all this Slothrop concludes that his father Broderick ("B.S.") "sold" him to Bland, for Jamf's experiments, in return for money for Slothrop's education; and Slothrop's apparently been under surveillance ever since.
Slothrop--travelling in the Zone as a British journalist, Ian Scuffling--also recalls Marvy, on top of a moving railroad car, warning him about "niggers" in the next car, Southwest African rocket troops (the Scwarzkommando), who have now joined together, heading for Nordhausen. He then recalls Oberst Enzian appearing, and throwing Marvy off the train.
Cut back to "present," Nordhausen, morning. Slothrop meets Geli Tripping
(say it out loud), an
apprentice witch, part of the "harem" ("a girl in every rocket-town in the
Zone") of Soviet officer,
Vaslav Tchitcherine. After sex he begins worrying the Russian is about to
appear, but the noise
he hears is only Geli's owl, Wernher. It turns out she knows about the 00000
rocket, and the
"Schwarzgerät." Proverb #5 (292). She claims the Schwarzgerät
is for sale, in Swinemünde.
Despite misgivings, Slothrop stays the night.
, 295-314. Next morning, Slothrop, in a pair of Tchitcherine's boots (a gift from Geli), heads for the Mittelwerke. The entrance-arch is a parabola, designed by Etzel (cf. the unsuccessful American automobile?) Ölsh, a disciple of Albert Speer. Inside, joined by forty-four Stollen, are two parallel, S-shaped tunnels (a tribute both to the SS and to the double integral sign--but cf. 198). We are treated to a meditation on the importance of the double integral and Brenschluss (301). We learn Slothrop's reasons (cf. 2: , above) for editing and falsifying information, changing names, on his London map (302). Moving deeper into the tunnel Slothrop hears our first rocket limericks (305-7), sung at a drunken Russian-American party, which he soon joins. It turns out to be a going away party for Major Marvy who, when he sees Slothrop, takes off after him, with his men: "Marvy's Mothers." Taking cover in one of the Stollen, Slothrop meets Professor (of mathematics) Glimpf, with whom he achieves a crazy silent-movie escape, via railroad. They proceed to the castle-laboratory of Glimpf's former colleague, the mad scientist, Zwitter.
, 314-329. We now meet the Schwarzkommando, and learn about the history of the Zone Hereros, the "Erdschweinhöhle." We learn about the Empty Ones, "Revolutionaries of the Zero . . . [whose] program is racial suicide," and about the true (Marx notwithstanding) function of colonies (317). Enzian and Joseph Ombindi--the leader of the Empty One faction, and Enzian's main rival for power among the Zone Hereros--discuss suicide. "Sold on Suicide," song (320). Then we learn about various portions of Enzian's personal history: about his Russian sailor father, about the death of his mother (fleeing the Herero massacre), about his becoming the protoge and lover of Weissmann/Blicero. Responding to a radio call for help, from another band of Zone Hereros, he heads for Hamburg. We learn that Tchitcherine is his half brother.
, 329-336. Slothrop and Geli are on the top of the Brocken, awaiting sunrise. We learn about Slothrop's Antinomian-witch ancestor, Amy Sprue, hanged at Salem (329). Slothrop and Geli, as the sun rises, watch their gigantic shadows in the clouds. Since Marvy is still after him, Slothrop heads for Berlin (by Geli's arrangement), in a balloon, with one Schnorp--who's flying in custard pies to sell on the black market. They are pursued by Marvy and his Mothers in a plane. More rocket limericks (334-5). The balloon, after a custard-pie battle, escapes.
, 336-359. "The Zone is in full summer." Cut to Tchitcherine, who "is more metal than anything else." He has two missions in the Zone. Official: to recover rockets and hardware for the Soviets. Private: to annihilate Enzian (his half brother) and the Schwarzkommando. We then cut to his past in Kirghiz ("the town looked like a Wild West movie"), where his assignment was to enforce the NTA (New Turkic Alphabet) on the unlettered natives (cf. this linguistic imperialism to the organic theories of language propounded by Sir Stephen Dodson-Truck [inverted "Turk"?] 2: , above?). We learn about Galina, "the schoolmarm," and about Dzaqyp Qulan, the "native" schoolteacher, whose father was killed in the Kirghiz massacre of 1916 (cf. Fran van der Groov and the Dodoes, 1: , above? the Herero massacre, 1: , above? the attitude toward Indians implied by all the Western lingo here? Vietnam?). We learn, too, about Tchitcherine's horse, Snake, from the United States. There are various rumors (this flashback, like many in the book, is shifting into the present tense) about the reasons for Tchitcherine's banishment to Central Asia: an alliance with a "Soviet Courtesan"; an acquaintance with Wimpe, a German salesman for IG, with a special interest in "opium alkaloids and their many variations." Cut from this to the Chinese swamper, Chu Piang, with whom Tchitcherine smokes opium. Then we hear Wimpe discourse on Morphine research, on Laszlo Jamf (348). Or has Tchitcherine (as he thinks) been banished to Kirghiz (and Chekovian longing for return to the city) because of Enzian? We learn how Tchitcherine's sailor-father fled the horror of loading coal in a Southwest African port ("a conspiracy of carbon . . . he could smell Death in it") to the "honest blackness" of Enzian's mother (351). We then learn, in chaotic detail, about factional infighting at the NTA plenary session, and about the similarity of its committees to Soviet "Committees on molecular structure." (355) Tchitcherine and Dzaqyp Qulan ride into a village in time to hear a singing duel (cf. 387?)--and to hear an old aqyn (wandering singer) sing (we're into the Oral Tradition here, no writing) about seeing the "Kirghiz Light/In a place where words are unknown." Following his instructions the Russian and his sidekick travel to It, but Tchitcherine's "heart was never ready." "But in the Zone . . . the Rocket is waiting. He will be drawn the same way again."
, 359-371. Slothrop lies sick (he drank the water!) in a Berlin basement. He recalls his second encounter with Enzian; the Schwarzkommando were dredging for pieces of rocket. He sees their symbol. Their disappointment at the serial number on what they dredge up reveals that they, too, are looking for the 00000 rocket. Enzian tells him the Herero mantra (since the massacre): "'Mba-kayere . . . 'I am passed over.'" Back in the basement, Slothrop considers his own quest: "The Schwarzgerät is no Grail, Ace." (364) He "will meet," we're told, Greta Erdmann, a former movie actress. "This is how they meet," we're told. Then we're told of Slothrop's meeting with Emil ("Säure" ["acid"]) Bummer, notorious cat burglar and doper, whose girls give Slothrop a Wagnerian opera costume (cape, helmet), transforming him into "Raketemensch" (Rocketman). They all proceed to the Chicago Bar, a dopers' hangout, decorated with photos of John Dillinger. A song, "The Doper's Dream" (369), is sung by Seaman Bodine (known as "Pig" Bodine in V.). Slothrop, now as Rocketman, is asked to go to Potsdam (where the Allied conference to work out the division of Germany is now taking place) to retrieve six kilos of hashish Bodine has buried there. For one of the kilos, and a million counterfeit marks printed by Bummer, he agrees. (NB. We're still waiting to find out just how Slothrop meets Greta Erdmann.)
, 371-383. Next morning, Bummer explains that the hash is buried across from Potsdam, "in Neubabelsberg, the old movie capital of Germany." Slothrop learns of the death of "his president," Roosevelt. (373) At mention of Schwarzgerät, Bummer suggests that Slothrop talk to "Der Springer." Now alone, with papers identifying him as "Max Schlepzig," Slothrop heads for Potsdam. His boots (Tchitcherine's, given to him by Geli) lead to interrogation by Russians, but they finally let him pass (it turns out, though, that they've been in touch with Tchitcherine). He arrives at his destination, only to discover that during the Conference it's serving as Truman's residence. Digging up the hash beneath a balcony, he is suddenly staring face-to-face at Mickey Rooney (who, we're assured, will repress all memory of the encounter). Then, leaving, he is captured: "You were followed all the way."
, 383-390. Cut to the hijacked U-boat of the Argentine anarchists (see 2: , above, Squalidozzi--remember?). We learn the story behind Squalidozzi's disappearance from Zürich. He was pursued by British Military Intelligence (Slothrop's Rolls Royce). He came upon a group of zoot-suited gangsters, Blodgett Waxwing's people, watching a Bob Steele Western in an abandoned harmonica factory, and meets Gerhardt von Göll ("Der Springer"), a German filmmaker (who made the Schwarzkommando film for Operation Blackwing--see 1: , above). He now offers to make a film of Martin Fierro, an epic whose gaucho hero is regarded by the anarchists as a saint. This has now become the major project of the U-boat anarchists, but there is a problem: will they shoot only part one, or will they also do part two, in which the hero sells out? There is a fantasy of a scene from the (as yet unmade) film: Fierro's withdrawal from General Roca's attempt to exterminate the pampa Indians (cf. all the other genocidal massacres thus far: Dodoes, Hereros, Central Asian "natives"?). We learn about von Göll's connections with IG Farben, with Laszlo Jamf, about his best known film, the "immortal Alpdrücken." His interest in Martin Fierro stems mainly from the chance it offers to shoot a scene of a singing duel (387--cf. 3: , above?). The plan, then: to get to the Lüneberg Heath, meet von Göll (who will arrive separately), and shoot the movie there. The U-boat fires a torpedo at the U.S.S. John E. Badass (Seaman Bodine's ship); but it misses, apparently because Bodine has added Oneirine ("Laszlo Jamf's celebrated intoxicant") to the coffee.
, 390-392. Tchitcherine (it was he who captured Slothrop at Potsdam) has released him, after taking some hash for himself--which he is now smoking with a companion, getting more and more stoned. He put Slothrop, whom he likes, through a Sodium Amytal session: "Black runs all through the transcript." He finds Slothrop's lone pursuit of the 00000 rocket curious, and plans to have him followed.
, 392-397. Coming off Sodium Amytal, Slothrop dreams of being little and worried about little birds in a storm, being reassured by his father: "Don't worry, son" (cf. Slothrop's reassurance of Ludwig, worried about his lost lemming Ursula, 553-4, below? cf. the quite different attitude of Pointsman toward his "foxes," or of the Germans toward their horses and cows--337, above?). Slothrop leaves the white room in which he has been interrogated (after noting that some of the hash has been taken) to find himself in an abandoned movie set, where he meets (at last--see 3: , above) Margherita (Greta) Erdmann, the movie actress, who is looking for her lost daughter, Bianca. They come to the set of von Göll's Alpdrücken, in which she (as victim) played opposite Max Schlepzig (as torturer), and during the filming of which, she believes, Bianca was conceived. Slothrop is bothered by the coincidence (?) of names--his papers identify him, after all, as "Max Schlepzig" (and the handwriting on the pass, Greta claims, is that of the "real" Max). Anyway, Slothrop and Greta act out the scene from Alpdrücken (on the set of Alpdrücken), Slothrop as "Schlepzig," Greta as "Greta": bondage, whipping, sex. The transition from Greta's stocking to her bare thigh leads the narrator (apparently) to a meditation on "singular points" (396).
, 397-433. (This long chapter, consisting mostly of one long
recollection, narrated in the past
tense, tells the story of Franz Pökler--see 1:  and , 3: ,
above. cf. the story of Franz's
loss of Leni and Ilse to the story of Roger and Jessica?) It was his arousal
Alpdrücken that inspired the conception of Franz and Leni's
daughter, Ilse (cf. Ilse, therefore, to
Margherita's daughter, Bianca, conceived during the shooting of
Alpdrucken?). "That's how it
happened," he reflects. "A Film. . . . Isn't that what
they made of my child, a film?" (398)
Franz is now (in "present") at the ruin of an amusement park-city,
Zwölfkinder (cf. Disneyland?),
waiting for Ilse's annual summertime return. He recalls his fear of the
(the street) to which he lost Leni; he recalls an argument they had over
the meaning of the
Rocket, which he has come in his way (and out of his fear) to worship (400).
He turned to the
Rocket, in earnest, to pull himself together after Leni left him. He recalls
of Kurt Mondaugen (see 1: , above). His memories of early rocket days
Weissmann (Blicero) and Enzian. He moved to Peenemünde (where rockets
were tested) in
1937, but he couldn't quite forget his old Berlin self; he was torn between
"personal identity and
impersonal salvation." (406) We learn of the connection linking the Rocket,
film, and calculus
(407). Then, one summer, "Ilse" appeared at his cubicle, for a visit, reporting
that she and Leni
were living at an SS "reeducation" camp. Pökler dreamed about the history
of Friedrich August
Kekulé, father of organic chemistry (410-13), and about Kekulé's
dream: a serpent with its tail in
its mouth. We learn how this dream was misused by the System, as the foundation
understanding the benzine ring. All this is lectured on by "Pökler's
old prof," Laszlo Jamf. Ilse's
fantasy was to live on the moon. Then one evening, returning from work,
Pökler found her gone.
He was crushed: "Victim in a Vacuum," song (414-15). Mondaugen advised
that he wait, rather
than rebel; and Pökler agreed.
As war approached Pökler became more enmeshed in the life of the Rocket (his life is often recalled, indeed, in terms appropriate to the rocket's flight). "It is the grim phoenix," we are told, "which creates its own holocaust . . . delibeate resurrection. . . the planet of National Socialism." (415) The next summer, again apparently arranged by Weissmann, there was another visit from "Ilse" (as before, he could not be certain it was she). This time he was granted a two-week furlough; they went to Zwölfkinder, whose exhibits recapitulate many motifs from earlier portions of Gravity's Rainbow. Pökler fantasized incest and escape (420-21), but instead accepted "Ilse" as his daughter: "It was the real moment of conception, in which, years too late, he became her father." (421) Then, the two weeks over, she disappeared again. And "so it has gone for the six years since," his need of her used by Weissmann (cf. Pointsman/Pudding/Katje, 2:, above?) to keep Pökler in line. He compares her regularly repeated appearances to the regular repetition of frames in film: she is "the moving image of a daughter." (422)
He was transferred, in 1944, to Nordhausen, where he dreamed about a light
bulb (426-27: cf.
"The Story of Byron the Bulb," 4: , below?). He became increasingly aware
concentration camp, Dora, next to Nordhausen. Which, he learned, was where
imprisoned. Then Weissmann, whom Pökler had not seen since leaving
Peenemünde (though he
had heard rumors of a break with Enzian), appeared to get Pökler to
work on modifications for a
special rocket, the 00000. His job was to produce an insulated plastic fairing,
something called a "Schwarzgerät." He never saw Weissmann again; but
his reward for this
special work (apparently) was a letter from Weissmann, promising that "Ilse"
would be freed,
that she would meet him at Zwölfkinder (which is why he is there "now,"
waiting for her). With
defeat approaching, and the Mittelwerke being evacuated, he finally got into
Dora, next door. He
was appalled at what he saw: endless stacks of bodies, the others near death,
Onto the finger of "a woman lying, a random woman," he slipped his gold wedding
, 433-447. Slothrop and Margherita Erdmann have come to Berlin. Slothrop, awake alone at night, begins to lose touch with his quest, to flirt with "anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything [cf. The Waste Land, lines 301-302?], a condition not many of us can bear for long. . . . Either They have put him here for a reason, or he's just here. He isn't sure that he wouldn't, actually, rather have that reason . . . ." (434) Leaving Margherita asleep, he takes five kilos of the hashish liberated from Potsdam (keeping the depleted sixth kilo for himself) to the Chicago Bar (see 3: , above), then to Säure Bummer's cellar. It is abandoned, but he finds a white knight (symbol of Der Springer), made out of plastic (guess which kind?), with a message from Säure. He finally, at dawn, finds Bummer, and delivers the hash. His task accomplished, Slothrop retires to a mattress with Trudi, for an episode of polymorphous perversity--he "does not feel obliged to have a hardon"--and, finally, nasal sex! (439) We learn about the ongoing debate about the relative merits of Beethoven (supported by Gustav) and Rossini (supported by Säure (439ff.). They have just learned of the death of Anton Webern, shot (by "accident"?) by an American soldier, in Vienna. Säure and Gustav engage ("jointly"?) in a grass-tasting ritual (442). Slothrop, as Military Police break down the door, escapes; he returns to Margherita, who, frightened and angered by his absence, proceeds to cry all day. As time passes, she is consoled, really, only by whippings, self-abasements, in which Slothrop, despite misgivings, participates: "Whatever it is with her, he's catching it." He dreams of a woman fucked by a multitude of animals; in death (witnessed by "Old Squalidozzi, ploughman of the deep") she becomes a figure of abundant fertility. (446-7)
, 448-456. Cut to the Toiletship ("a triumph of the German mania for subdividing") Rücksichstlos (determined? relentless?) in the Kiel Canal. Horst Achtfaden, lately stationed at Peenemünde, has been imprisoned in the Chief's Head by the Schwarzkommando. Recalling his work on the rocket, he assures himself his guilt is limited: he was only a small part of a large operation (cf. the self-defense of Adolph Eichmann and others?). The Schwarzkommando (cf. the location of their interrogation to what Treacle says on page 276?) want to know about the Schwarzgerät, but he claims total ignorance; though he did work on the 00000 rocket he dealt only with weight control. Nevertheless he finally tells them the name of a friend who worked on guidance and might know, thus betraying Klaus Närrisch.
, 457-468. Slothrop, still as Rocketman, and Greta are heading for Swinemünde--he to find the Schwarzgerät, she to find her daughter, Bianca, who's supposed to be with "a yachtful of refugees." They come to Bad Karma (can you find it on a map?). Margherita flees at the sight of a woman in black, one whom Slothrop "could have ignored, passed over." (458) Some time after Greta's reappearance, her flight remaining unexplained, they watch the arrival of the yacht, Anubis (cf. the jackal-headed Egyptian dead god, worshipped to placate tomb-ravaging jackals?). Greta goes on board but Slothrop, hesitating, falls in the water. To keep from sinking he slips out of his Rocketman outfit (cf. the ending of Melville's White-Jacket?). He finally gets aboard, though, helped through a porthole by Stefania Procalowska, the wife of the yacht's owner, Antonio. She tells Slothrop about the scene in Alpdrücken, cut from the release print, during the filming of which Bianca was conceived: the gang-rape of Margherita by a horde of black-hooded "jackal men" (461). She also mentions "Karel," and Margherita's husband, Miklos Thanatz ("Thanatz" being the Egyptian god of intelligence or learning--but cf., also, "thanatos"?). During the war, Stefania continues, Margherita and Thanatz had a touring sado-masochist pornography show, which entertained SS troops at concentration camps and rocket sites.
Her story over, Stefania gives Slothrop some evening clothes, which "fit perfectly." He proceeds to the bar, where the assembled company sings "Welcome Aboard!" (462-3) In the midst of what seems to be an ongoing orgy, Slothrop catches sight of Bianca, who is eleven or twelve, "a knockout." A woman tells how Margherita, meeting Wimpe in Berlin (see 3: , above), discovered her now favorite drug, Oneirine (developed--remember?--by Laszlo Jamf; see 3: , above--and NB.: "oneiric" means "of or relating to dreams"). Slothrop then meets Thanatz, who describes witnessing the "Max Weber charisma" of the rocket, which "the State bureaucracy could never routinize." (464) Thanatz also remembers a boy he saw at "the Heath" (which he visited with Margherita and the S/M show): "Gottfried. God's peace, which I trust he's found." (465; see 1: , above.) He begins to describe Blicero's breakdown and the "last day" (465), but he's interrupted by Margherita and Bianca, who go into their own S/M act. The crowd is so smitten with this act that they form a circle of sorts, held together by some pretty complex (covalent?) sexual bonding (467; cf. Kekulé's benzine ring, 410-13, above?). Everybody comes, except for a "jap liaison man" who just watches. As the orgy continues, the Anubis--a golden jackal under its bowsprit--heads toward Swinemünde.
,468-472. Slothrop dreams about Llandudno, "where Lewis Carroll wrote that Alice in Wonderland." Bianca appears at his bedside, ready and willing. After sex, she asks him to escape with her: "I'm a child, I know how to hide. I can hide you too." (470) Slothrop agrees; but as he leaves (in "a bureaucracy of departure") "coming back is something he's already forgotten about." (470-71) Her look "has already broken Slothrop's seeing heart," but he does leave.
, 473-482. Climbing a ladder, Slothrop meets the "jap liaison man," Ensign Morituri (which doesn't mean much in Japanese, but cf. Longfellow's poem, "Morituri Salutamus"?: "'O Caesar, we who are about to die [Morituri]/Salute you!' was the gladiators' cry/In the arena, standing face to face/With death and with the Roman populace"). He tells "Ensign Morituri's Story" (474-9), which is, however, narrated in the third person. After failing to make it in Hollywood, Margherita returned to Germany. She was becoming convinced that she was part Jewish. She ended up in Bad Karma, with one Sigmund, for the mud cure--this famous mud being "hot and greasy with traces of radium." (475) Morituri, also visiting Bad Karma, learned from Sigmund of Margherita's strange absences; curious, he took to following her. One night he discovered she had been murdering Jewish children ("Little piece of Jewish shit. Don't try to run away from me."), burying them in the mud. Morituri rescued the last victim, but he did not report Margherita to the police. Next day, Margherita and Sigmund left Bad Karma.
His story over, Morituri tells of his longing to return to his home and family, when the Pacific war is over, "never to leave Hiroshima again" (480; cf. 693, below). Slothrop decides he has to get back to Bianca; but he learns she's disappeared, and Margherita has locked herself in the head. After finding a piece of Bianca's frock in the engine room (cf. 3: , below?), Slothrop confronts Margherita. And then, listening to her story (which is given to us, in a different form, in the chapter that follows), he is overcome by nausea (cf. the beginning of the Sodium Amytal fantasy in 1: , above?).
, 482-488. We begin with episodes from Greta's (here, "Gretel's") film career. For instance in Sandwüste von Neumexiko (cf. Roger?) she rode a colt named "Snake" (see 3: , above; small world). We move gradually to her memories of her visit, with Thanatz, to "the Heath." "Something was being planned, it involved the boy Gottfried." She left the firing battery with Blicero, who called her (natch) "Katje," for a building she agreed to call the "Castle," where she watched a meeting at a distance, including something gray, plastic--which, she was told, was for the "F-Gerät . . . or some letter." Dressed in an outfit of Imipolex, open at the crotch, and tied down, she submitted to one Drohne, wearing "a gigantic Imipolex penis over his own." She awoke much later, outside, naked and alone. The battery was abandoned, but something had happened there.
, 488-491. As a storm batters the Anubis, Slothrop searches for Bianca. He is beginning to suspect that the "Schwarzgerät" is not a clue, but bait, manipulated by "Them." And he is changing: "He is growing less anxious about betraying those who trust him." (490) Thinking he sees Bianca going overboard, he lunges--and goes overboard himself.
, 492-505. Slothrop is rescued by Frau Gnahb and her son, Otto, in a fishing smack. They are heading for Swinemünde. Arrived there, Slothrop uses his white chess knight (see 3: , above) to make contact with Der Springer, Gerhardt von Göll, the film-director-turned-black-marketeer from whom he hopes to obtain (or at least learn about) the "Schwarzgerät." Von Göll, Slothrop, and Otto are then joined by Klaus Närrisch (see 3: , above), who is now working for von Göll. Der Springer, after discussing the relationship of "elite and preterite," sings "Bright Days (Fox-Trot)" (495). They board Frau Gnahb's boat--together with musicians, chorus girls, vodka, and a troupe of performing chimpanzees--for an expedition up the coast. As they depart, Frau Gnahb sings her "Sea Chanty" (497-8). They are heading for Peenemünde. Närrisch and von Göll, in a pastiche of soap opera dialogue, discuss Tchitcherine (499-500)--who, they think, may be at Peenemünde himself. They are met, at the dock, by Russian soldiers, led by Major Zhdaev, who take von Göll away with them. Amid a growing chaos of Russians, musicians, chorus girls, and drunken chimpanzees (they got into the vodka), Slothrop, Närrisch, Otto, and Otto's girl (Hilde) go ashore, to rescue von Göll. Otto explains the Mother Conspiracy, and the Mother of the Year contest. (505)
, 505-518. The makeshift rescue party prepares to attack the Soviet Assembly Building (a "holy center"). Slothrop, we learn, "has begun to thin, to scatter," in accordance with Mondaugen's Law: "Personal density . . . is directly proportional to temporal bandwidth." "And likewise groweth his Preterition sure." (509) He and Närrisch disarm a gay Soviet sergeant. Then they rescue von Göll who, being under Sodium Amytal, has to be dragged or carried. They meet, and change clothes with, Zhdaev and Tchitcherine. Frau Gnahb being late for the planned rendezvous, Närrisch falls back to hold off the pursuing Russians. When Frau Gnahb arrives they leave, but without Närrisch (Slothrop tries to go back for him, but he's forced into the boat).
We cut--via a brief evocation of the death of John Dillinger (516; cf. 368, above)--to Närrisch's point of view. He prepares for death, conceived as a kind of Brenschluss point: "B, B-sub-N-for-Närrisch, is nearly here." (518)
, 519-525. Enzian and two Herero subordinates, Andreas and Christian, burst into an abandoned room. They are too late; Christian's sister, Maria, has already been abducted by Joseph Ombindi and the Empty Ones (see 3: , above), for an enforced abortion. As Enzian and his cohorts head for the (Jamf) refinery on motorcycles, Enzian begins to see the bombing of factories not as random destruction but as deliberate modification--"part of a plan both sides--'sides?'--had always agreed on." (520) The true War, he now speculates, was "dictated . . . by the needs of technology." (521; cf. 105, above?) Another song, "Just a daredevil Desox-yephedine Daddy" (522) At the refinery the motorcycle trio finds Pavel, Maria's husband, hallucinating, high from sniffing Leunagasolin. Again, Enzian thinks of his mission: to find the center (whether rocket, refinery, Volkswagen factory), the "true text." He fantasizes an address to all the assembled Erdschweinhöhle (see 1: , above): "My people, I have had a vision" (525; cf. M.L. King, Jr.?). "Somewhere," he thinks, formulating the ideology of his "new Search," ". . . is the key that will bring us back, restore us to our Earth and to our freedom." (525) From Pavel, finally, the three Hereros get the address of "Ombindi's medical connection."
, 525-532. Back on Frau Gnahb's boat, Slothrop, waking, berates von Göll for abandoning Närrisch: "Springer, this ain't the fuckin' movies now, come on." "Not yet," von Göll replies, and the narrative turns, briefly, into basic travelogue. In spite of his anger at the betrayal of Närrisch, Slothrop makes another deal with von Göll: he will pick up a package von Göll is after in return for discharge papers, to be delivered at Cuxhaven. They approach, ram, and board the Anubis (the package is on board). Slothrop is dispatched to the suddenly darkened engineroom, where he is attacked, and then bumps into "something hanging from the overhead. Icy little thighs in wet silk swing against his face. . . . and the smell of . . . of . . ." (531; cf. 285, above?). When the lights come on he finds the package; but he does not look up. At Stralsund he leaves the boat, urging von Göll to get the papers to Cuxhaven soon.
, 532-536. We cut to "The White Visitation." Brigadier Pudding died in June, of a massive E. Coli infection (contracted, presumably, during his sessions with Katje/Domina Nocturna--see 2: , above). Left alone, Katje finds the film that was shot of her, secretly, at Pirate's (see 1: , above--and cf. Katje, here, to Margherita Erdmann). She then screens a film of the octopus, Grigori, watching and responding to the first film (cf. Grigori, here, to Franz Pökler responding to Alpdrücken?--see 3: , above). Spliced to the end of this is a film of Osbie Feel, narrating into the camera the scenario of his film, "Doper's Greed" (534-5; is this, perhaps, a model of the narrative technique of the book we're reading?). Katje interprets "Doper's Greed" as an allegorical prophecy (as we, perhaps, are to interpret Gravity's Rainbow?) of Pointsman's fall. She leaves "The White Visitation" (cf. her departure from Blicero's Hansel and Gretel "game"?). Once again, she goes to Pirate's maisonette. Osbie is there, shooting up; Katje learns that they are getting organized, to work against Pointsman. "Dialectically, sooner or later, some counterforce would have had to arise." (536; NB. title of Part 4.)
, 537-548. Pirate dreams (cf. 1: ? Is this, in some sense, a continuation of the dream that opens the book?) of arriving, as a "novice," at a kind of Guilt-Convention. Father Rapier discourses on Death and Them, on the hope "that some chance of renewal, some dialectic, is still operating in History." (540) It is a Purgatory (or maybe an Inferno) of former employees of the Firm, employees who have repented or "turned." (NB. to "turn" an agent, technically, means to convert him or her into a counter-agent, one who will then betray, covertly, his or her former "side." But cf. all the talk here about "turning"--e.g., "turn again" --to T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday"?) Pirate meets, among others, Sir Stephen Dodson-Truck (see 2: , above). He then comes to recognize that there can be, for him, no mercy, that he is doomed "to stay down among the Preterite, . . .impossible to locate or to redeem." (544) Katje arrives. There is debate about the guilt of Frans van der Groov (545; see 1: , above). "But the People will never love you," she says to Pirate, who is holding her, "or me. . . . Do you know where that puts us?" (548) They begin to dance, as do the others around them, dissolving "into the race and swarm of this dancing Preterition." (548)
, 549-557. Slothrop, wearing Tchitcherine's uniform (see 3: , above), is now walking alone in the Zone. "The Nationalities are on the move." The potato fields have been stripped by the SS, to make alcohol for the rockets. Slothrop dreams about Tantivy (551-2). He is becoming sensitive to the presence of animals, trees--which his family made money cutting down, for paper. "That's really insane," Slothrop says to himself (553). We are given his "Partial List of Wishes on Evening Stars for This Period " (cf. 760, below?), and we learn of his meeting with a fat kid, Ludwig, who's looking for his lost lemming, Ursula (553; cf. the racial suicide program of the Empty Ones?). Slothrop reassures Ludwig (cf. 3: , above?) and joins him in his search. As they look for Ursula, Slothrop thinks about his "first American ancestor William," a dissenter from "the Wintrop machine" (cf. Amy Sprue, 329, above?). William fled from Boston to the Berkshires, where he raised pigs (cf. 3: , below?) with his son John. (NB. Nathaniel Hawthorne's first American ancestor was also named William, and also had a son named John. Is it relevant that the family whose history provides the subject of Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables is named "Pyncheon"?) William also wrote a theological treatise, burned in Boston, entitled On Preterition--which argued for the importance of "the Preterite, the many God passes over when he chooses a few for salvation . . . without whom there'd be no elect." (555) Because of orthodox hostility to this work, he moved back to England. "Could he have been the fork in the road America never took, the singular point she jumped the wrong way from? . . . It seems to Tyrone Slothrop that there might be a route back" (556; cf. Enzian, 525, above?), via the temporary anarchy of the Zone. Slothrop gets separated from Ludwig in a town near the sea, when they chance upon--of all people--Major Duane Marvy, warming himself in front of a fire (see 3: , , and , above).
, 557-563. Marvy--seeing the Russian uniform, and worried about his black market activities in the Russian zone--does not recognize Slothrop. With Marvy is Clayton ("Bloody") Chiclitz (a magnate, later in his career, in V. and The Crying of Lot 49), at this point into the black market, and manufacturer of such curious toys as "Juicy Jap" and "Shufflin' Sam." After declining a taste of Marvy's "Atomic Chile," Slothrop accompanies them on a visit to a rocket site, where he learns of their plan (with Tchitcherine) to raid a nearby Schwarzkommando camp at midnight. He sets out to find and warn the Schwarzkommando; he is also losing his ability to focus on his Schwarzgerät quest. At the camp he meets Andreas (Enzian is absent) and delivers his warning. He also tells Andreas what he learned about the Schwarzgerät from Thanatz and Margherita. Andreas explains the Herero mandala, and the relation of the Hereros' being "passed over" to their quest for the Rocket.
, 563-566. With Marvy and Chiclitz, Tchitcherine has raided the Schwarzkommando camp, only to find it empty. He recalls what he learned from interrogating Närrisch (who was not killed after all). There was a special oxygen hook-up, from which Tchitcherine concludes that the "Schwarzgerät" was some sort of after-burner. He's also worried about the "Soviet intelligence officer" Marvy met (i.e., Slothrop, in Tchitcherine's uniform); do his superiors know about his vendetta against Enzian? Listening to Marvy and Chicklitz talk, Tchitcherine (like Enzian--see 3: , above) begins to suspect a conspiracy: "A Rocket-cartel transcending national boundaries, a "Rocket-state whose borders he cannot cross." (566)
, 566-577. Slothrop is on his way to Cuxhaven. Stairstep gables on the houses he passes lead the narrator (apparently) to a meditation on "film and calculus, both pornographies of flight. Reminders of impotence and abstraction." (567) As he approaches a village, children tell Slothrop the legend of "Plechazunga, the Pig-Hero," who held off a Viking invasion in the tenth century. They ask him to take the part of the hero in their annual festival. This he does, next day, dressed in a pig suit. Later, the police brutally break up the village's black market (cf. the death of Peter Sachsa?--see 1:  and , 2: , above). Slothrop is rescued from the ensuing riot by a girl with whom he hides (cf. Bianca?), and who then helps him escape. Back on the road, alone, he befriends a fellow pig. Song: "A pig is a jolly companion." (575) Next day, they enter Zwölfkinder (see 3: , above). Slothrop meets the pig's owner, Pökler. Realizing suddenly that he's heard of Pökler (see 3: , above), Slothrop asks him about the Schwarzgerät. But Pökler, first, tells him about Ilse.
, 577-580. Pökler tells Slothrop about Jamf's last phase, "National Socialist chemistry," which he confuses with memories of his film-actor idol, Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Central to the appeal of both are fantasies of brutally transcendent power. Klein-Rogge played Dr. Mabuse (a film projection of Hugo Stinnes--see 3 , above), "the savage throwback, the charismatic flash." (579) Pökler recalls Jamf's last lecture: "move beyond life toward the inorganic." (580) But Jamf himself stayed with carbon, and moved to America, "under the sinister influence of Lyle Bland" (Slothrop's "Uncle Lyle"--see, again, 3:, above).
, 580-591. (The story of Lyle Bland and the Masons.) We learn about Bland's "nefarious tricks," including covert encouragement of "genital obsession" among workers. His business downfall began when he befriended Alfonso Tracy, Princeton '06, who had been stuck by the Chicago mob with a consignment of wildly messed-up pinball machines. Visiting the Masonic Temple at Mouthorgan, Mo., to see the machines, Bland then calls in his German "expert," Bert Fibel--who works for General Electric in Pittsfield, Mass., as Bland's agent (to keep an eye on local boy, Tyrone Slothrop). Fibel fixes the machines, which is how Bland joined the Masons; they gave him membership out of gratitude. We then learn something of the history of the Masons, as a conspiratorial force behind much of American History (587-8). They have now lost touch with their former magic, becoming simply a businessman's club, but Bland gets in touch with the old magic. He learns to leave his body. He took to leaving it for longer and longer periods. Getting into it he finds "that Gravity, taken so for granted, is really something eerie, Messianic, extrasensory in Earth's mindbody" (590; his mysticism is compared to that reported by the late Walter Rathenau to Carroll Eventyr--see 1: , above). Finally he announced to his family: "Tonight, I am going out for good." And he did.
, 591-610. Doctors Muffage and Spontoon are in Cuxhaven. They're working for Pointsman--who, Muffage thinks, is "losing his grip." And they're looking for Slothrop--who, they learn from a British corporal, is in town, wearing a pig suit. At an alcohol dump, the fuel now fuelling a party, Seaman Bodine (see 3:  and , above) is promoting a runciple spoon fight. Slothrop's nearby, in a trailer, still wearing his pig suit. As the police close in he escapes with one Albert Krypton. They find Bodine who--the runciple spoon fight over--flees with them, the MP's (and Muffage and Spontoon) in hot pursuit. They hijack a Red Cross canteen truck, which takes them to a bar-casino-opium den-whorehouse, "Putzi's," where Slothrop hopes to meet up with Der Springer. Bodine introduces Slothrop to a whore named "Solange," who offers to take him to the baths. She explains to a by now very paranoid Slothrop that the Zone is not one Plot but, as he reflects, "a network of all plots," which "may yet carry him to freedom." (603) As they head for the baths Bodine goes off to make a cocaine delivery--to, as it turns out, Major Marvy. Marvy then gets set up with a Spanish whore (a victim of Franco), Manuela, who hangs his uniform in a closet and leads him to the baths. An MP raid is suddenly announced; Marvy, fleeing, finds only Slothrop's pig costume in the changing room. He puts it on, and is then captured. He is taken off in an ambulance, in which Muffage and Spontoon--thinking he's Slothrop--remove his testicles, for Pointsman. Marvy, too, as "Slothrop," is to be taken back to Pointsman.
Meanwhile, back at Putzi's, Slothrop is asleep in bed with Solange, dreaming of Zwölfkinder and Bianca. "Solange," who is in fact Leni Pökler, is also dreaming--of her Bianca, Ilse. "Leni's early dream for her is coming true. She will not be used." (610) Upstairs, one Möllner explains to Bodine that von Göll is very busy; there are, in any case, no papers (the discharge von Göll promised to Slothrop--see 3: , above) for the sailor's friend.
, 610-616. Tchitcherine has traced Weissmann's rocket battery to the Lüneberg Heath; but what he has found there is the set of Martin Fierro (see 3: , above), which he's never read. But the singing-duel is now being filmed, and he recognizes its similarity to the one he saw in Central Asia, on the way to the Kirghiz Light. He knows that Weissmann in fact fired the 00000 rocket nearby. But now he must wait; "there is a counterforce," he believes, "in the Zone." He hopes he might meet Enzian here. Felipe--one of the Argentine anarchists involved in the filming of Martin Fierro--meditates (in the cinematic terms that have become popular in the group) on the true nature of history (612-13). This set, we learn, will remain as a permanent village. And we learn about new, strange villages springing up in the Zone, including the Hund-Stadt, populated by trained killer-dogs who, since their masters have died or disappeared, cannot be pacified. A study on how to induce factionalism (master-cults) among these dogs, in order to facilitate the re-taking of the village, has been contracted to Pointsman. He is now in official disgrace, since the castrating of Marvy. Clive Mossmoon (see 1:  and 2: , above) and Sir Marcus Scammony discuss what is to be done about Pointsman--and about "the American" (i.e., Slothrop). Sir Marcus's "idle and bitchy faggotry" is contrasted with the loving homosexuality of the World War I battlefields (cf. Pudding's memories, 2: , above?). "Homosexuality in high places is just a carnal afterthought now, and the real and only fucking is done on paper." (616)
4: The Counterforce
, 619-626. Bette Davis, Margaret Dumont and Tyrone Slothrop (waking) hear the overhead passage of a P-47 Thunderbolt ("it sounds . . . like a kazoo"), piloted by Pirate Prentice. Others (Osbie Feel, Webley Silvernail, Katje) are also on Slothrop's trail. Since V-E day Pirate has lost "his odd talent for living the fantasies of others," but he's still "haunted" by Frans van der Groov (see 1: , above). Beneath him, Gustav and Säure Bummer (see 3: , above) are still arguing about Beethoven vs. Rossini (621-2). Slothrop, elsewhere in the Zone, finds his harmonica, soaking in a stream--the same harmonica, in fact, that he lost at the Roseland Ballroom in 1938 or 1939 (see 1 , above); but he doesn't remember. "Yup, still thinking there's a way to get back . . . America. Poor asshole, he can't let her go." (630) Eventually, wandering, drawing diagrams of the rocket as graffiti, "he becomes a cross himself, a crossroads." (625) He dreams of a dog, killed by the noise (cf. the rocket?) as he retrieves a mandrake-root for a magician (cf. Pointsman?). Then (as it will be put later) he is "dispersed"; he "sees a very thick rainbow here, a stout rainbow cock driven down out of pubic clouds into Earth [cf. 693, below?], green wet valleyed Earth, and his chest fills and he stands crying, not a thing in his head, just feeling natural." (626)
, 626-640. Roger Mexico (been a long time, hasn't it?) is driving on the Autobahn. He recalls Jessica's last visit to "The White Visitation," his own need (which, however, wanes at times) to do "what's right" about Slothrop--whom Jessica regards mainly as a monster. The war over, Jessica was leaving--and left, to go to Cuxhaven, with Beaver (see 1: , above). Milton Gloaming (see 1: , above), back from the Zone, filled Roger in on "the great struggle for the IG's intelligence machinery" (630), to which Slothrop seemed quite important. Mexico arrives (still a flashback here, but now in the present tense) at Twelfth House, to confront Pointsman. Geza Rózsavögli (a "White Visitation" veteran) is there, in the reception room; backed into Pointsman's "shadow-corner," he enters a bizarre Hawaii fantasy (634-5; a Slothropian "appearance"?--note the language, and cf. Slothrop's shirt, 2: , above?). Mexico finds Pointsman in the office of Clive Mossmoon (see 1: , 2: , above), where a meeting is in progress. He leaps on the conference table, and pisses all over the assembled elite--except Pointsman, whom he curses, elaborately. Then, after escaping, he goes to Pirate's, to be told about "Creative Paranoia," the need to combat the "They-system" with a "We-system." "Well," replies Roger, "you're playing Their game, then." (638) Sir Stephen Dodson-Truck is there (see 2: , 3: , above); we learn about the fate of his wife, Nora (see 1: , above): she has identified with Gravity, and become victim to practical jokes from her friends. (639) Thomas Gwenhidwy (see 1:  and , above) is also there. And in spite of his doubts, Roger joins them. Which is why (back to this chapter's opening "present") Roger is on the Autobahn, driving into Cuxhaven.
, 640-655. In Thuringia, at night, Pfc. Eddie Pensiero, "amphetimine enthusiast" and expert reader of shivers, is giving a haircut to his colonel. An overhead bulb is kept lighted by a hand generator, cranked by Paddy ("Electro") McGonigle, an expert reader of strobing frequencies. They hear somebody "playing blues on a mouth harp" in the dark (624; another Slothropian "appearance"?). The colonel is from Kenosha, Wisconsin (cf. 1: , above?). We shift (in the colonel's fantasy) to a dialogue between "Skippy" and "Mister Information"--about "Happyville," the "pointsman," the persistence of the War in which, still, "the right people are dying." (644-46) Then "Skippy" (turning back, more or less, into the colonel) meets Dr. Jamf. Then we learn that the bulb run by Paddy's generator is the same bulb that Franz Pökler slept under at Nordhausen (see 426-7, above): "This bulb is immortal"! Which brings us to "The Story of Byron the Bulb" (647-55), told to "Skippy" by "Mister Information." Byron's early dreams of power set him against "Phoebus"--the agency of the international light-bulb cartel which "fixes the prices and determines the operational lives of all the bulbs in the world." After 1000 hours, with a Phoebus hit-woman on her way to get him, Byron is bulb-snatched, and dispatched on a series of travels too bizarre to detail here. We learn, meanwhile, about the working arrangements between Phoebus and "The Grid." (654) Byron survives, but his early ambition has been thwarted; he "is condemned to go on forever, knowing the truth and powerless to change anything." (655; cf. Pirate's hopes for "Creative Paranoia," 4: , above?) The story over, Lazslo Jamf ("Mr. Information"?) walks away; "the colonel is left alone in Happyville." Then, his throat is wholly exposed to Eddie's razor, to the strobing of the bulb.
, 656-663. Katje, in a white tennis dress, on a stolen bicycle, meets the Hereros, in white sailor suits, singing "Pa-ra-noooiia" (657; "ooooi"?). She was not ready for the "blackness." She meets, for the first time, Enzian, who talks to her about the "Raketen-Stadt" (660; cf. 4: , below?), and about Weissmann: "Whatever happened at the end, he has transcended." (660-61) He recalls what Weissmann, in a letter, said about Katje (662). He tells her the Hereros have someone "who was with Blicero in May" (this being, we learn in the next chapter, Thanatz--see 3: , above). Katje is invited to attend the interrogation.
, 663-673. "You will want cause and effect. All right." (663) Thanatz fell off the Anubis in the same storm that sent Slothrop overboard (see 3: , above). He was rescued by a Polish undertaker, trying (in order to make him better in his particular line of work) to get struck by lightning--seeking to "experience a singular point." After setting Thanatz ashore, he gets his wish (664-65). Thanatz then encounters a village of male homosexuals, liberated (or, as they see it, "banished") from Dora (see 3: , above). They have reproduced, in their "freedom," a "phantom SS command," modelled on their fantasy of the Rocket-structure at the Mittelwerke. They are waiting for Blicero, of whom they've only heard, to be their leader. Thanatz has come to be haunted by his memories of Blicero (see 3: , above). He seeks him out, however, at a nearby gasworks--recalling, meanwhile, Peter Sachsa's prewar séances (668; see 1: ,  and , above). Thanatz is nabbed by the Russians, then freed (by mistake) by Polish guerillas. So begin his "lessons in being preterite" (668). He travels the Zone as a DP. His memory of the last rocket-firing grows clearer--which he is now (i.e., in the "present" of the close of the previous chapter) relating to the Schwarzkommando. He's coming to see that "the two children, Gottfried and Bianca, are the same." (672) Telling all he remembers to the assembled Erdschweinhöhlers, "he is the angel they've hoped for." They have already assembled their own rocket from scavenged fragments (cf. Mexico to Pointsman, 88, above?). And by the time he's done "they will all know what the Schwarzgerät was, how it was used, where the 00000 was fired from, and which way it was pointed." (673) All this brings the various Herero factions together, reconciles them. Maria has even appeared in a dream to Christian (see 3: , above), saying she seeks no revenge on Ombindi.
, 674-700. (This long, bizarre chapter may give us [see, for instance,
682, below] what's left
of Slothrop's "point of view," since his "dispersal.") We are in the
Raketen-Stadt, "where the
Father ["Broderick"--see 3: , above] plots constantly to kill
his son." Tyrone sets out to
rescue the "Radiant Hour," stolen from the day's 24 by "colleagues of the
Father, for sinister
reasons of their own." (674) The "Floundering Four"--Tyrone, Myrtle Miraculous
perform miracles), Maximillian ("a Negro in a pearl-gray zoot suit and Inverness
Marcel ("a mechanical chess-player") set out to combat the "Paternal Peril."
Each has a flaw (cf.
Dorothy's three companions in The Wizard of Oz?). Song, "How-dy
neighbor, how-dy pard!"
(677; cf. various details to 760, below?) They gradually infiltrate their
own audience (or
someone else's). Maximillian is reading "the Closet Intellectual Book, The
Wisdom of the Great Kamikaze Pilots, with illustrations by Walt Disney."
Then, as parts
of the "nonstop revue,"
watched by the now-infiltrated-audience, various sketches. "The Low Frequency
Listener" (681-2): Slothrop, for reasons he can't remember, is trying to
get through to the Argentine anarchists.
He's at Magdeburg, site of a low-frequency antenna. He's having trouble
parents, "as Broderick progresses into Perilous Pop and Nalline into ssshhhghh
. . ." (682) Next
(in the "revue"), "Mom Slothrop's Letter to Ambassador Kennedy" (682): she
and drunkenly, for news of Tyrone. Then, "On the Phrase 'Ass Backwards'"
Bummer, talking to Slothrop, attacks the illogic of this phrase. We learn
about the umlaut-deficient robbery victim (female) who, meaning to shout
"Hübsch Räuber ("cute-looking
robber"), instead came out with "Hubschrauber" ("helicopter," which had not
yet been invented)
(683-4). Seaman Bodine, after defending "Ass Backwards," sings "My Doper's
Cadenza" (685-6). Then (still the "revue"), "Shit 'n' Shinola" (687-8):
their color is contrasted with the white of
toilets--"Odorless and Official Death." Next, "An Incident in the Transvestites'
Slothrop's dressed in drag, as Fay Wray. An ape hands him a sodium bomb,
when flushed down the toilet by an Asian--also in drag, as Margaret O'Brien.
Next, "A Moment
of Fun with Takeshi and Ichizo, the Komical Kamikazes" (690-92): they keep
learning from "old
Kenosha (cf. 1:  and 4: , above?) the loony radarman" that no American
targets are within
range. Then, "Streets" (692-94): Slothrop finds (he doesn't know where)
a newspaper fragment--"a wirephoto of a giant white cock, dangling in the
sky downward out of a white pubic bush" (cf.
626, above?) under a partial headline: "MB DRO / ROSHI (cf. 480, above?
But NB., also,
"Roshi" is the title of the highest Zen master.) Then, "Listening to the
Toilet" (694-97): on
waiting to hear the sound of the toilet shut off (by Them), waiting for brief
cessations of "the
roaring of the sun," in towns which turn out to be "on the borders of Time
"Kenosha, Wisconsin?" (696)--where the Kenosha Kid is caught in a "sound-shadow"
(cf. 4: ,
above?). Then, "Witty Repartee" (697-98): more of Ichizo and Takeshi, then
on the Hotchkiss machine gun. Then, "Heart-to-Heart, Man-to-Man" (698-99):
"Tyrone" discuss the latter's growing "electrofreak" addiction to "screwing
in," "waves." Next
(and last), "Some Characteristics of Imipolex G" (699-700): "the first plastic
that is actually
erectile." (Hmmmmm?) Various theories about the necessary stimulus:
"a thin matrix of
wires," "a beam-scanning system . . . analogous to the well-known video electron
projection of an "electronic 'image,' analogous to a motion picture."
, 700-706. Tchitcherine is alone now; Soviet intelligence officer, Nicolai (yes) Ripov, is closing in. Tchitcherine remembers what Wimpe (see, for instance, 3: , above) once said to him: "Marxist dialectic s? That's not an opiate, eh?" (701) The peculiarity of Oneirine: "Pökler's singularity" (702)--a "haunting," dull and difficult to distinguish from reality, but leading to "the discovery that everything is connected" (703). Then comes "Tchitcherine's Haunting," an interrogation by Ripov. "Why were you hunting your black brother?" "I thought," Tchitcherine replies, "I was being punished. Passed over. I blamed him." (705) He then learns his future from Ripov: a 30-days' leave, then back to Russia, then to Central Asia with captured German rocket personnel.
, 706-717. The Gross Suckling Conference (named after the inn where it was held): Ensign Morituri (see 3: , above), Carroll Eventyr (see 1:  and  above), Thomas Gwenhidwy (see 1: , above), and Roger Mexico. They deduce the firing direction of the 00000 rocket--true north; but where was it fired from? Roger recalls (another flashback shifting into present tense) Jessica telling him, in Cuxhaven, of her decision to marry Jeremy. Jeremy, at lunch, invites him to dinner, at the home of a former Krupp manager, Stefan Utgarthaloki. Roger brings along Seaman Bodine, who's wearing an extraordinary zoot suit (cf. 2: ), above?). Arriving, they notice four musicians--including Gustav and Anton (see 3: , above)--scheduled to play Haydn's suppressed "Kazoo" quartet (711-12). Slothrop, we learn, "has become one plucked albatross. Plucked, hell--stripped. Scattered, all over the Zone. It's doubtful if he can ever be 'found' again, in the conventional sense of 'positively identified and detained.'" (712) We learn about the Counterforce's abiding awe of "the man"--who "has a branch office in each of our brains." (712) At table, seeing a huge barbecue pit at the end of the dining room, and realizing that they themselves are to be the "Überrashungbraten" ("surprise roast"), Roger and Bodine proceed to gross out the other guests by inventing disgusting, alliterative menu entries (e.g., "menstrual marmalade," "clot casserole"). "Commando Connie" Flamp, war correspondent, joins the game ("discharge dumplings"), as do the musicians ("wart waffles," "puke pancakes, with sweat syrup"). The others begin to vomit uncontrollably. Jessica leaves with Jeremy. "Does Roger have a second of pain right here? Yes. Sure. You would too." (716) Then Bodine and Roger, followed by the musicians, escape--as Connie continues the game alone.
, 717-724. Geli Tripping (see 3:  and , above) is looking for Tchitcherine; she's "the only one in the Zone who loves him completely." She is alive to Titans, to "the green uprising," to the primal energy which we deny, instead promoting death (720). Cut (721) to Gottfried and Blicero (see, for instance, 1: , above). Blicero tells Gottfried about his search for "the edge of the World," and about earlier "edges," such as America, Africa--gifts, ways of "returning," which Europe refused, establishing instead "its order of Analysis and Death." "In time," he explains, "the death-colonies grew strong enough to break away [cf. Brenschluss?]. But the impulse to empire, the mission to propagate death, the structure of it, kept on." (722) "I want," he says, "to break out--to leave this cycle of infection and death." (723)
, 724-733. Enzian is transporting the Hereros' rocket (see 4: , above), the 00001, constructed from scavenged parts. We move into "scholasticism . . . , Rocket state-cosmology." (726) Enzian talks to Christian--to whom, he reflects, he must tell "everything he knows." Katje is with them. And nearby is fat Ludwig; he has found his lemming, Ursula, who peers out of his pocket (729; see 3: , above). Tensions between Enzian and the Empty Ones have reemerged, but Enzian maintains control. Ludwig follows on the periphery of the Herero march. "They have," he senses, "somewhere to go."
, 733-735. Geli finds Tchitcherine at last. She has put a spell on him: "May he be blind now to all but me." Later, the Herero convoy passes by. Tchitcherine, waking, stops them--and hustles some American cigarettes and three potatoes from Enzian, whom he does not recognize. "This is magic. Sure--but not necessarily fantasy. Certainly not the first time a man has passed his brother by, at the edge of the evening, often forever, without knowing it." (735)
, 735-760. We move from a fantasy elevator of the future (strange noises as it passes abandoned floors), through "The Lederhoseners" singing about "the beatings Mutti gave to me," to Ludwig and Thanatz--the latter explaining "Sado-anarchism" to the former (737). They have reached the Lüneberg Heath, where the Hereros are assembling the 00001 rocket. We learn the story of "the kid who hates kreplach" (737). Slothrop was to be "present at . . . his time's assembly"; but "he is being broken down instead, and scattered." (738. Is this a defeat, a fall? Or has Slothrop's plastic ego turned out to be, as it were, in a positive sense bio-degradable?)
Seaman Bodine looks up and sees Slothrop; he's one of the few still able to see him at all, "to hold him together, even as a concept": "Rocketman, Rocketman. You poor fucker." (740-41) He gives Slothrop a piece of a shirt soaked in the blood of John Dillinger, outside the Biograph Theater (see 368, 516, above; and cf. the cloth with which St. Veronica [see, for instance, 1: , above] wiped Christ's face?). Later, Bodine began, "helpless, in shame, to let Slothrop go." We learn of Slothrop's last appearance--on the cover of the only album released by an early-'60's rock group, the Fool (742). Dzabajev (earlier, a sidekick of Tchitcherine, see 3: , above) and his friends are at a convention of village idiots. They are shooting wine--defying gravity with a "wine rush" (743). Which, apparently, sets off the series of titled sub-chapters that conclude the book: "The Occupation of Mingeborough" (744): back in Massachusetts, a memory which is also a look into the future; "it may be too late to get home." "Back in Der Platz" (745-6): at Säure's, Gustav and Anton have converted kazoos into hashish pipes; Gustav screws a light bulb into his--turns out to be our friend, Byron. We're told about "the movie under the rug," in which various irreversible processes are reversed. "Weissmann's Tarot" (746-49): "He is the father you will never quite manage to kill. The Oedipal situation in the Zone these days is terrible" (747). Weissmann's present condition is set forth by the Tower, over whose significance there is considerable debate. Others of his cards are analyzed. "The Last Green and Magenta" (749): on the Heath. "The Horse" (749): the last horse in waiting to be sacrificed (cf. 337, above?). "Isaac" (749-50): at the moment he was about to be sacrificed by his father, Abraham, Isaac saw the antechambers of the Throne.
"Pre-Launch" (750-51): Weissmann has bound and dressed the boy prettily, before placing him in the Rocket; "the 00000 is the womb into which Gottfried returns." (750; i.e., we are now learning directly what happened on "the Heath"). The Rocket is the Oven (see 1: , above). And Gottfried himself is the "Schwarzgerät." "Hardware" (751): Gottfried is encased in Imipolex. There is an earphone for communications from Weissmann, but there is no return channel. "Chase Music" (751-53): various aging super-heroes (e.g., Superman, The Lone Ranger, Philip Marlowe) begin arriving "too late." "He [i.e., Pointsman] actually misses the dogs." He has missed his chance. "He'll be left only with Cause and Effect, and the rest of his sterile armamentarium . . . his mineral corridors do not shine." "Countdown" (753-54): the rocket countdown was actually first invented for a movie, Die Frau in Mond (1929; cf. Ilse's dreams, 3: , above?) by Fritz Lang. It is interpreted by "Kabbalist spokesman Steve Edelman:" it "appears to be serial, [but] it actually conceals the Tree of Life, which must be apprehended all at once, together, in parallel" (cf. Leni Pökler to Franz, 159, above?).
"Strung Into the Apollonian Dream" (754): Gottfried waits in the Rocket, gazing at his Imipolex shroud, lulled by the familiar smell. "Come, wake," it says. "All is well." "Orpheus puts Down Harp" (754-57): Richard M. Zhlubb (cf. the source of the epigraph to Part 4?), manager of the Orpheus Theater, Los Angeles, complains to "our" reporter about harmonica-playing in movie lines. Steve Edelman is one of the principal trouble-makers. Zhlubb takes our reporter for a drive in his black Volkswagen, with its special laugh-track cassette system. They pass a funeral (JFK? RFK?). Zhlubb has a fantasy of being smothered, while driving, by a dry-cleaning bag: "a plastic shroud." They hear a siren, but "the sound is greater than police." (cf. the opening of Gravity's Rainbow?) "The Clearing" (757-58): the Rocket is launched. "Ascent" (758-60): Gottfried, in the rocket, moves past Brenschluss, rushes into growing whiteness. "Descent" (760): in the Orpheus Theater the screen has just gone blank. The rocket is poised, in its last delta-t above the roof of the theater. For our last moment's diversion we are offered a hymn, written by William Slothrop. "Now everybody--."