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As for name connections... Edward Marcus Despard (1751 – 21 February 1803) was an Irish soldier who served in the British Army. During the American War of Independence Despard led a force to victory at the Battle of the Black River, securing the British presence on the Mosquito Coast. Following the war Despard was appointed Superintendent of what became British Honduras. He was recalled to London in 1790 after questions were raised about his conduct. Despard soon found himself in jail for debt. He later took up revolutionary politics, becoming involved with the United Britons movement, and was executed for high treason for his part in the failed Despard Plot. Wikpedia
And there is the fictional foreign wizard named Dragomir Despard, in the 7th Harry Potter novel by J.K. Rowlings, and in the movie "Deathly Hallows Part 2." Ron Weasley is disguised as Despard when, with Hermoine, disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange, and Harry, in his cloak of invisibility, they break into Gringotts. Hermoine introduces Dragomir thus, "This is Dragomir Despard. He speaks very little English, But he is in sympathy with the Dark Lord's aims. He has travelled here from Transylvania to see our new regime."
with your neo-Brechtain subversion of the diegesis
Bertolt Brecht (10 February 1898 – 14 August 1956) was a German poet, playwright, theatre director, and Marxist. Most likely Pynchon is referring to one of Brecht's most important principles called the Verfremdungseffekt (translated as "defamiliarization effect", "distancing effect", or "estrangement effect", and often mistranslated as "alienation effect"). This involved, Brecht wrote, "stripping the event of its self-evident, familiar, obvious quality and creating a sense of astonishment and curiosity about them". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertolt_Brecht#Theory_and_practice_of_theatre Oh, and diegesis means a narrative or plot found in film. (Greek orgin. diēgēsis means 'narrative'). http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/diegesis
- More than one Pynchon commentator has discussed how especially Pynchon's perennially crazy names can be interpreted as an example of Brecht's alienation effect. Benvolio (talk)
Rhymes with "Bleeding Edge."
Hotbot and Altavista were early search engines, before Google became popular. LexisNexis was, and remains, a specialized search engine for legal, business, and journalistic information.
Stuyvesant H.S. is a magnet school in Manhattan. The school is noted for its many Nobel Laureates in math and science. http://www.stuy.edu/ The school moved from its old building at 345 E 15th street (near 1st Avenue) to 345 Chambers Street (right next to Ground Zero). The first day of classes in the new building was September 10, 2001.
Eric Outfield may refer to Eric Lander, 1974 Stuyvesant H.S. graduate. He was captain of the math team, a silver medalist at the International Math Olympiad and winner of the Westinghouse Prize for a paper on quasiperfect numbers. In H.S. he started a cult around the number 17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Lander
In an essay, Pynchon once defined a badass:
- "There is a long folk history of this figure, the Badass. He is usually male, and while sometimes earning the quizzical tolerance of women, is almost universally admired by men for two basic virtues: he is Bad, and he is Big. Bad meaning not morally evil, necessarily, more like able to work mischief on a large scale. What is important here is the amplifying of scale, the multiplication of effect." From Pynchon, Is it O.K. to be a Luddite?
A hash slinger is a cook or food server in a cheap restaurant, especially one who is discourteous or inattentive to customers. However "hash" has a very different meaning on the Internet:
Producing hash values for accessing data or for security. A hash value (or simply hash), also called a message digest, is a number generated from a string of text. The hash is substantially smaller than the text itself, and is generated by a formula in such a way that it is extremely unlikely that some other text will produce the same hash value. Hashes play a role in security systems where they're used to ensure that transmitted messages have not been tampered with. The sender generates a hash of the message, encrypts it, and sends it with the message itself. The recipient then decrypts both the message and the hash, produces another hash from the received message, and compares the two hashes. If they're the same, there is a very high probability that the message was transmitted intact. Hashing is also a common method of accessing data records. Consider, for example, a list of names:
- John Smith
- Sarah Jones
- Roger Adams
To create an index, called a hash table, for these records, you would apply a formula to each name to produce a unique numeric value. So you might get something like:
- 1345873 John smith
- 3097905 Sarah Jones
- 4060964 Roger Adams
Then to search for the record containing Sarah Jones, you just need to reapply the formula, which directly yields the index key to the record. This is much more efficient than searching through all the records till the matching record is found.
Price-earnings ratio. Market price per share divided by annual earnings per share.
Except maybe for 666
"This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666." (Revelation 13:18)
Also, for what it's worth, some biblical scholars agree that 666 is in fact gematria for Nero.
paranoia's the garlic in life's kitchen . . .
Maybe we can add this to the Proverbs for Paranoids in Gravity's Rainbow?
"Loeffler" is the German name of a bird, the Eurasian Spoonbill. Wikipedia
tramp container vessel M/V Aristide Olt
A "tramp" vessel means that a ship has no fixed schedule or published ports of call. "Hungarian" may be a joke as Hungary, a landlocked country, has no ports. Aristide Olt was a stage name used by Bela Lugosi when he made silent films in Hungary. Source The Marshall Islands is an island country located in the northern Pacific Ocean, part of the larger island group of Micronesia.
Pynchon here continues his display of camera wonk knowledge and reference to popular, populist cameras, see Frenesi's Canon Scoopic 16  The SonyVX2000 was a popular model of the time first among skate videos of the 90s before its aesthetic appeal expanded and the convenience of digital video made it the shooting standard. Fits perfectly with Reg's listed filmography.
Dating back to 1909, this was one of the first "bargain basements", with locations throughout New England. Separate from (but affiliated with) Filene's Department Store, the Basement bought and resold surplus, factory clearance, overstock, or closeout merchandise, with an aggressive, fixed schedule of price reductions to ensure rapid turnover.
Pynchon mentions rare stamps and stamp collecting in many of his works. Bill Gross is a a billionaire fund manager who owns a leading stamp collection. Apparently duck stamp collecting is a real thing. Robert Steiner is an American artist known as the master of duck-themed stamp artwork. An article on Steiner
Season 1 of the soap opera Dynasty (1981) features the protagonist Krystle pawning her jewelry. This recalls the gaggle of 1980s TV references in Pynchon's Vineland, and David Foster Wallace's funny comment that "I get the strong sense [Pynchon] spent twenty years smoking pot and watching T.V." during the years between GR and Vineland.
"the 301 point 83"
301.83 is the classification number of borderline personality disorder in the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the U.S. So if it's not in the DSM, it's either not considered "real", or not distinct from another, similar disorder.
walked away from the table with enough, had it been real money, for a short trip to Saks
Popular and pricey clothier and luxury department store chain, with a flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Just shopping at Saks is itself a status symbol among New Yorkers.
literal geographic borderlines
Geographical borderlines are a fundamental thematic concern of Pynchon's novel "Mason & Dixon", mentioned here.
the Perejil Massacre
Also called the "Parsley Massacre." A 1937 massacre of Haitians living on the border, ordered by Dominican President Rafael Trujillo. It resulted in the death of 20,000 ethnic Haitians.
According to Wikipedia, Dominican soldiers would hold up a sprig of parsley to someone and ask "What is this?"; how the person would pronounce the Spanish word for parsley (perejil) would determine his/her fate. French and Haitian Creole pronounce the word differently than Dominicans, so if the person could pronounce "perejil" with a trill, the person was considered to be Dominican and allowed to live, but if the person pronounced "perejil" without the trill, the person was considered to be Haitian and executed.
Manzanillo Bay . . . Pepillo Salcedo
This is a port in the Dominican Republic.
AKA "Johnnycakes" (also jonnycake, johnny cake, journey cake, shawnee cake and johnny bread) is a cornmeal flatbread that was an early American staple food and is prepared on the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to Jamaica. The food probably originates from the native inhabitants of North America. It is still eaten in the West Indies, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Colombia, and Bermuda as well as in the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnnycake
Possibly a misspelling of "chimichurris"? The Chimichurri burger (usually called "Chimi burger", "Dominican burger", or simply "chimi") is a traditional snack dish (sandwich) served in the Dominican Republic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimichurris
A drink from the Dominican Republic that is concocted by allowing rum, red wine, and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs. The taste is similar to port wine and the color is a deep red. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mama_Juana
Love, exciting and new, as they used to sing on The Love Boat
The Love Boat was an American TV show (1977-86) about a cruise ship. The first words of the theme song were "Love, exciting and new . . ." You can hear it here.
Leptandra is a plant used in herbal medicine as a laxative. This may be saying something about her personality, but it is more likely referring to her name, as Leptandra's common name is Veronica
In Judaism, a biblical commandment. Also, more colloquially, a good deed.
real estate injustice
By way of explanation to readers unfamiliar with NYC real estate, many people live in apartment buildings where rent is controlled and managed by co-op boards, which can have large amounts of control over things like transferring the property. NYC is famous for long, protracted legal battles involving co-op boards, divorces, and/or trusts. RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) is a law used to combat organized crime.
in Dante's Inferno, the eighth circle of hell was reserved for those who commit fraud or treachery.
... jittery mess, the atomic clock...
I think this is playing on Heisenberg's uncertainty relation. There is no real fix point in the jittery world of quantum mechanics.
Perhaps an allusion to the 1992 NC-17 film starring Harvey Kietel, a gritty crime-drama with heavy religious overtones about a corrupt NYC policeman's struggles to change his ways.