NABOKV-L post 0008845, Wed, 29 Oct 2003 11:19:42 -0800

Fw: pynchon-l-digest V2 #3627
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Subject: pynchon-l-digest V2 #3627

> pynchon-l-digest Wednesday, October 29 2003 Volume 02 : Number
> RE: VLVL Prairie and DL
> VLVL2(8) White Lincoln Continental
> Re: VLVL Prairie and DL
> Re: VLVL The Sisterhood: evil capitalist fascists?
> Re: The intellectual origins of America-Bashing
> Re: The intellectual origins of America-Bashing
> Re: Critical Realism
> Re: The intellectual origins of America-Bashing
> Re: VLVL Prairie and DL
> Re: VLVL Prairie and DL
> Re: VLVL Prairie and DL
> NPPF - Finishing commentary to canto two
> Re: VLVL Prairie and DL
> Re: VLVL Prairie and DL
> Re: VLVL Prairie and DL
> Re: VLVL Prairie and DL
> ------------------------------
> Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 16:09:24 -0500
> From: "Jasper Fidget" <>
> Subject: NPPF - Finishing commentary to canto two
> p. 215
> "a BIC language", "crafty system (invented in the chief BIC country)"
> BIC: Behind the Iron Curtain.
> p. 215-16
> "Headquarters thought it understood that letters from the King divulging
> whereabouts could be obtained by breaking into Villa Disa and rifling the
> Queen's bureau"
> This conclusion is reached through the inability of Gradus and
> to communicate -- and yet it proves accurate. I doubt VN had any
> in mind regarding KGB code systems (which were anything but an "obstacle
> race in the dark") but possibly on systems of communication intended to
> obscure rather than communicate (not unlike some 20th century fiction).
> That sometimes the interpretation proves valid is the result of chance
> rather than design -- or possibly just a product of the reader? -- for it
> may as easily prove false (as Gradus waits for his "consignment of canned
> salmon"). Gradus' conclusion from this interaction is to prefer mediation
> to direct communication.
> p. 215
> "bureau", "letter"
> The scene (a pair of scenes actually) concerning the theft of Charles'
> letter from Disa's villa has some parallels in Poe's "The Purloined
> a story in which a letter is stolen from a Queen and a detective is hired
> retrieve it. For a full summary of the story look here:
> In Poe's story, the eponymous letter is from the Queen's lover, whom she
> wishes to keep secret from the King. Since she saw the Minister D-- steal
> the letter from her table, she enlists the aid of the police to tear apart
> the Minister's apartments. They are unable to locate it, so the police
> Prefect enlists the aid of M. Dupin to find the letter, who first has the
> Prefect search the apartments again. The police still can't find it, and
> month later Dupin produces the letter on his own. He explains to the
> Narrator how he visited the Minister at his hotel and wore green
> to conceal his eyes so that he could socialize while covertly studying the
> room's interior, eventually finding the letter in plain sight amid a
> card-box of correspondence over the mantel-piece. Later, during a
> prearranged diversion in the street outside, Dupin replaces it with one of
> his own.
> The parallels to _Pale Fire_ are mostly fragmentary: The Queen's table and
> Disa's "rosewood writing desk;" the police who tear apart the Minister's
> hotel in their vain search for the letter and the two Russian experts who
> tear apart the royal palace in Zembla in their vain search for the crown
> jewels (and eventually find Disa's letter at the villa); Dupin's green
> spectacles (a color associated with the greater Shadow Izumrudov who
> produces Disa's letter for Gradus); even Gradus' communication with
> headquarters: "G-- detailed to us his mode of searching the premises at
> Hotel D--." Individually they don't impart much, but the Poe story itself
> might be useful in offering a strategy for understanding Pale Fire as a
> whole.
> In explaining to the Narrator his reasoning in locating the letter, Dupin
> describes a puzzle game which uses a map: one player picks a name from the
> map, and the other tries to guess which name it is. "A novice in the
> Dupin explains, "generally seeks to embarrass his opponents by giving them
> the most minutely lettered names; but the adept selects such words as
> stretch, in large characters, from one end of the chart to the other."
> reason is that they are "excessively obvious; and here," Dupin says, "the
> physical oversight is precisely analogous with the moral inapprehension by
> which the intellect suffers to pass unnoticed those considerations which
> too obtrusively and too palpably self-evident." The transparency and
> simplicity of the case involving the purloined letter thwarts the police
> Prefect because he is accustomed to opacity and complexity. Dupin says,
> certain set of highly ingenious resources are, with the Prefect, a sort of
> Procrustean bed, to which he forcibly adapts his designs." In seeking to
> find what he expects, he ignores what is readily there.
> Similarly (one might argue), understanding Pale Fire eludes the efforts of
> experts who seek to discover more between its covers than exists there,
> focusing on the most minute details while ignoring what is "too
> and too palpably self-evident." Like Poe's police Prefect, like
> and Niagarin, like Charles Kinbote, they ultimately fail to find whatever
> is they set out to discover. And sometimes they realize they've built
> own private Zembla in the process.
> Which is not to suggest PF is a simple read. Just as Dupin has the
> "re-research" the Minister's hotel before he can confidently settle on his
> plain-sight theory, the diligent reader must work through Pale Fire's many
> false leads and exterior and interior references before settling on the
> obvious. Sometimes one must pass through complexity in order to realize
> simplicity. Recall the glyphs at the end of Poe's "Narrative of Arthur
> Gordon Pym" which seem to allude to great complexity but ultimately are
> nothing more than a hoax on the part of the author. Quite a few Poe
> have a secret joke at the end as a reward for diligent and attentive
> (and which often subvert the entire story).
> What's the secret joke at the end of Pale Fire?
> In "The Purloined Letter," Dupin concludes his explanation to the Narrator
> by anticipating Minister D--'s embarrassment when the letter in his
> possession turns out to be from Dupin and not the Queen's lover. "[It]
> not seem altogether right to leave the interior [of the replacement
> blank," he says. "That would have been insulting."
> p. 220
> "falling, falling, falling is the supreme method"
> As if distancing himself from the immediacy of it, Kinbote gives an
> encyclopedic list of suicide methods. Hamlet's "bare botkin [sic]" points
> to Kinbote himself, while "drown with clumsy Ophelia" may suggest Hazel.
> expert parachutist, he contemplates departing from some nearby ledge: "not
> fall, not jump -- but roll out as you should for air comfort." But
> Kinbote's European politeness makes him reluctant to become somebody
> problem, so he fears landing on someone; he says that landing on the "roof
> of an old tenacious normal house" might be better, "where a cat may be
> trusted to flash out of the way" (as with Hodge in the epigraph). "The
> ideal drop is from an aircraft" (p. 221), he notes, just as Charles the
> Beloved arrived in America for the final phase of his exile (but this time
> sans chute).
> The three fallings are interesting though, since we've been trained to
> associate thrice repetition with fairy tales in K's personal mythology, as
> with the three nights at the Haunted Barn (p. 190). Adding this to the
> reference to "Grimm" earlier on the same page might give some cause for
> suspicion.
> Kinbote's residence in Cedarn and the three times repetition might
> Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" (1798):
> [...]
> Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
> [...]
> Weave a circle round him thrice,
> And close your eyes with holy dread,
> For he on honey-dew hath fed,
> And drunk the milk of Paradise.
> The idea of weaving a circle thrice comes from an old practice of
> emphasizing a prayer or sacred ritual (as with "three times the charm"),
> here implies an attempt by others to restrain or alienate the crazed poet
> he returns from his vision. Kinbote may feel similarly exiled in the
> presence of others who find him strange or even insane, not to mention the
> social response to his homosexuality.
> There's also a fountain in that poem similar to Poe's cataract and Shade's
> "tall white fountain" (ln 707). Also analogous to PF is the abrupt
> intrusion of the author into the text: "A damsel with a dulcimer / In a
> vision once I saw." There is a loud amusement park right in front of my
> present lodgings.
> p. 220
> "room 1915 or 1959"
> 1915 is the year of Kinbote's birth.
> 1959 is the year of his probable death.
> p. 221
> "/shootka/ (little chute)"
> Russian for "joke."
> Jasper Fidget

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