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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Chapter 26 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Bleeding Edge

Chapter 26

Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.

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Page 275

formaldehyde
Clothing is coated with formaldehyde to make them "wrinkle free". Formaldehyde is also used to preserve corpses. Most people are familiar with the miasma from frog dissection in high school biology.

The Thug, here rendered in fuchsia and optical green
That is, looking a lot like the Hulk.

There is a moment in Against the Day where this color combination is used; does anyone remember where and if there is a significance between these two items?

Page 276

a mural-size screen grab from the opening of The Letter (1940) in which Bette Davis is pretending to pump six rounds into...
Image and film info at allmovie. Bette comes out with gun blazing at 1:18 into this clip.

David Newell
Supporting actor turned makeup artist. IMDB makes it appear he spent much of his career being uncredited for his work.

Page 277

It's what, legal in Utah for three people to get married?
Despite being illegal, in Utah today, those living in polygamist families number about 40,000 people(about 1.4 percent of the population). Polygamists are difficult to prosecute because many only seek marriage licenses for their first marriage, while the other marriages are secretly conducted in private ceremonies. Thereafter, secondary wives attempt to be seen in public as single women with children.

The mainstream Mormon church (LDS) turned away from polygamy many years ago. But there are still many 'fundamentalist' Mormons practising polygamy, often living in closed communities. See Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven for more on the (very) dark side of polygamy. [1]

DITS <br\> pun on ditz

Page 278

Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray
Dr. Brown's is a brand of soft drink made by J&R Bottling. It is a popular brand in the New York City region and in South Florida, but it can also be found in Jewish delicatessens and upscale supermarkets around the United States. Dr. Brown's dates back to 1869 when their famous Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda was commonly sold in New York delicatessens. [2]

a bit on the demi-sec side
"Demi sec" is a French term for the sweetness of a wine. It translates to "semi-dry" or medium-dry. [3]

If you're used to brut, demi-sec tastes pretty sweet. So I'd interpret this as Cornelia's tactful way of saying the Dr Brown's is a bit too sweet for her taste

folie à deux
French: "madness for two" — a shared psychotic disorder between two people who are extremely close. Normally it's two people sharing the same delusion, but in this case, it's two people sharing complementary delusions.

Page 279

Far from the Channel 13 upper-class dynasty
Channel 13 is a New York City PBS station, PBS being the preferred network for the educated and well healed.

well east of the Nassau line
That is, not in Nassau County which is the 13th wealthiest county in the US with a median income of $93K+. [4]

neorealist films
Also known as Italian Neorealism. "A national film movement ] characterized by stories set amongst the poor and the working class, filmed on location, frequently using non-professional actors." Source: Wiki

The Muffya
A bad pun on The Mafia... "Muff" is slang for pussy etc.

Perhaps more to the point here, "Muffy" is also a paradigmatic WASP and/or preppy female nickname.

Donna non vidi mai
Italian: "I have never seen a woman" - So Rocky is watching Cornelia shower while he eats a pizza and sings this tenor aria from Act 1 of Puccini's Manon Lescaut. A love-at-first-sight soliloquy. "I have never seen a woman like this!" Pynchon referenced the Act 3 tenor solo in Chapter 3 of V.


Down in K-Town they call him '4-D'
Koreatown is an ethnic Korean enclave in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, centered on the block of West 32nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. [5]

Page 280

Chandler Platt
Interesting name which could be a nod to detective-fiction writer Raymond Chandler [6] who wrote the Philip Marlowe series from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. When Chandler was in his twenties, he worked at the Los Angeles Creamery whose owner, George E. Platt, was found guilty and fined for selling a mixture of milk and condensed milk as "cream" and was also involved in many other corrupt schemes. Someone Chandler Platt could have worked with! [7]

the high-muzzle-velocity law firm of Hanover, Fisk
Nice little pun on "hand over fist", as in making money hand over fist... Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. So a high-powered firm (with a suggestion of violence), handling big cases. This rifle reference connects to the to the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle mentioned on page 282, the high-muzzle-velocity rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate President Kennedy in 1963.

New Zealand kauri
WIKI tells us kauri forests are some of the oldest in the world, that individual trees often live longer than 600 years, and that they are very large trees with volumes, but not heights, often rivaling sequoias. When kauri trees fall over, they are usually submerged in an anoxic swamp environment, which prevents them from rotting. They used to pull ancient kauri logs out of the swamps to make super-high-end furniture, but I don't know if they still do. With their large diameters, a table made from a cross-section of a single kauri could fit quite a few secretaries under it.

Page 281

Skadden, Arps
A real law firm in Washington, DC.

friends, in the pre-Internet sense of the term<br\> Facebook didn't allow tagging contacts as "friends" until 2005. Weren't they among the first (ie is this an anachronism)?

Page 282

Mannlicher-Carcano . . . Jackie and I were dear friends
A Mannlicher-Carcano is a high-muzzle-velocity rifle and what Lee Harvey Oswald used to assassinate John F. Kennedy in 1963. Jackie was, as most are aware, JFK's wife and the first lady.

"Jay-Z?" "Well, actually I'm more of a Nas person. As you may know they're in this feud at the moment, that old Queens-versus-Brooklyn thing again, hate to take sides, but---"The World Is Yours," how can anything even compare?
Probably splitting hairs here, but the feud between Jay-Z and Nas didn't become widely known until Jay-Z's "Takeover" was released on his "Blueprint" album, which came out on September 11. Jay-Z did dis some rappers at the Hot 97 Summer Jam 2001 held in late June, but the hardest hit was Nas' friend and Queens resident Prodigy of Mobb Deep, while Nas was only briefly mentioned. You'd probably had to have been close to the inner circles of these rappers to be conversationally aware of the feud which became heated in the months to come. As for "The World is Yours," reference, I agree with the sentiment, and wonder if it was used since Jay-Z sampled it on "Dead Presidents II" from his 1996 debut album. Anyone else have thoughts on this? H2oetry (talk)h2oetry

Also, it was pretty much universally accepted that Nas won the beef with "Ether," on Stillmatic which would be released in December 2001. Nas's Illmatic, from 1994, is by many, considered the greatest rap record of all time, and extremely rare these days, only contains one guest appearance for a single verse (AZ on "Life's a Bitch"). The above question in regard to the use of "The World is Yours," is indeed possible, though most likely it's used here because the phrase references Scarface, which kind of ties into the theme of this part of the book, I'd say.

Tryin to do Tupac and Biggie thangs ... Mort and Pell—
A brilliant rap about the racism against Asians implicit in Caucasians playing Asians in 1930s-40s Hollywood films, and asssociated stereotypes. Darren sets out to do what Tupac and Biggie did, i.e., promoting his own cultural values and decrying societal injustices via the rap idiom.

And these two rappers represent yet another Rap Rivalry — East Coast (Biggie) vs. West Coast (Tupac). [8]

The set up is when Chandler Platt's intern Darren who we assume is Asian when Maxine wants to avoid using "inscrutably" to describe his expression, "inscrutable" being a stereotypical characteristic of Asians. Thus, the trope of Asian stereotypes is introduced, and leads to Darren kicking off his rap with "Dig it..."

Tryin to do Tupac and Biggie thangs
Like Tupac (aka 2Pac) Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls), two very successful rappers in the 1990s, Darren wants to be a rap warrior for his people, his culture.

Mao-bank.jpg
With red velvet Chairman Mao piggy banks

Nice rhyme: Biggie thangs / piggy banks ... Darren wants to be a Big Rap Star, but he wants to do it the Asian way. Perhaps using Chairman Mao here is Darren's way of using a homegrown and authentic Asian icon to represent his way. Interesting that it's a Chairman Mao piggy bank, Mao being iconic of Marxism, as opposed to the blatantly capitalist pursuit of fame and money by American rappers. Down the page a bit, when asked by Platt how he expects to make money, Darren replies that making money is "not the point."

Of course, Darren's cute little piggy bank will be an ineffective tool to challenge the injustices represented in the old Hollywood movies and which persist to the present, when Platt returns to his office and starts "pullin rank" on Darren, ordering him around.


Page 283

like Screamin Jay in Hong Kong / jumpin to wrong conclusions
Screamin' Jay Hawkins recorded "Hong Kong" (1958), a paranoid & non-sensical lament ("Standin' on a corner in Hong Kong / My baby was down in Hong Kong / Worried about you baby / You been down too long / in Hong Kong") . I assume it's Screamin' Jay who's "jumpin to wrong conclusions" about his baby and about how scary Hong Kong is. His hysterical delivery, paranoia about his baby's fate, and his fake-Chinese babbling (including the name-checking of common Chinese-American food dishes) indicate a frightened Western man in an Eastern land with a strong whiff of racism. A wacky tune, for sure:


old-movie confusions
The "old-movie confusions" are confusion about both the general characterization and stereotyping of Asia and Asians in the 1930s-era Hollywood films, and about Caucasian actors (specifically Scandinavians, the whitest people on the planet) playing Asian characters (aka Yellowface [9]), such as in the four American films referenced in Darren's rap — "The Adventures of Marco Polo" (1938) [10] where both Kubla Khan and his daughter Princess Kukachin are played by Caucasian actors; The "Charlie Chan" films [11] in which Swedish-American actor Warner Oland played detective Charlie Chan for 15 of the films, until his death in 1938; "The Letter" (1940) [12] where Gale Sondegaard, an American actress born to Danish-American parents, plays the role of Mrs. Hammond, the asian wife of Davis's manservant whom Davis murders; and "The Bitter Tea of General Yen" (1933) [13] where all the Asian characters are played by Caucasians. (Yes, Pynchon spells it "General Yan" — but this covers both an anime character (General Yan) and the 1933 film (General Yen), or perhaps it's just a typo.)

yo, who be dat Scandinavian brand of Azian
Why, it's Sigrid Gurie (Norwegian American), of course, who played Kubla Khan's daughter in "The Adventures of Marco Polo"! But, of course, it's all the actors in the lead Asian roles in the films referenced in this rap.

Spelling "Asian" as "Azian" derives from early Internet chatting where "Asian" was abbreviated "AZN".

Gary Cooper & Sigrid Gurie in "The Adventures of Marco Polo"
ya dig wid some Sigrid be / the daughter of Kublai Khan...

In "The Adventures of Marco Polo," the character of Kublai Khan (spelled "Kubla" in the film credits) is played by George Barbier, and Khan's daughter Princess Kukachin is played by Norwegian-American actress Sigrid Gurie. Most of the other Chinese characters in the film are played by Caucasians. Kublai Khan was the ruler of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294, and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty. Marco Polo was the first European to visit China and publish a detailed chronicle of his experience. [14]

Here's a clip from the film, just some stills accompanied by the film's soundtrack:


Warner Oland as Charlie Chan
Warner Oland, Charlie Chan

Warner Oland (1879-1938) was a Swedish American actor who played the detective Charlie Chan in the popular film franchise of the 1930s. Yet another Caucasian playing an Asian and reinforcing stereotypes. Oland also played another Asian, Fu Manchu, in the first three films of that franchise. [15] (See also, "a gong from a hitherto-unreleased Fu Manchu movie goes off" - page 99)

General Yan / bitter tea
"The Bitter Tea of General Yen," is a 1933 dramatic film directed by Frank Capra where most of the Asian actors are played by Caucasians, most notably Danish actor Nils Asther in the role of General Yen. (It's possible this is also a reference to General Yan, the former Commander-in-Chief of the GHQ in the Guilty Crown anime franchise, although it's more likely a typo!)

Here's a fan-made trailer:


Gale Sondegaard in "The Letter"
for her stupidity pullin rank / Bette Davis shanked by Gale Sondegaard

Reference to "The Letter" [16], an American noir film directed by William Wyler, where Bette Davis in the role of Leslie Crosbie is the social superior to Gale Sondegaard's — Sondegaard parents were Danish — Mrs. Hammond who is the wife of Davis's manservant and lover whom Davis murders. As for "pullin rank," Bette Davis was not only Sondegaard's social superior in the film, she was also the lead actress and Sondegaard the supporting actress. In "The Letter" Davis's character is stabbed (shanked - prison-yard slang) by Sondegaard's character.

Here's the trailer for "The Letter":


like they was on the yard / or down in some forgotten cell
A prison yard, of course.

far, far from the corner of / Mott and Pell—
The heart of New York City's Chinatown. [17] Indeed they are very far away as "The Letter" takes place in Malaya.

And get Hugh Goldman for me over there?" "Mad cool, yo"
Sadly, after Darren's performance, Platt comes in and begins "pullin rank" on Darren, brusquely cutting him off and ordering him about, to which Darren hiply but subserviently replies, "Mad cool, yo" and scoots off to do Platt's bidding.

Darren is aware of the inequities of power, of capitalism, rails against it, but remains, at least at this point, a slave — a pet — beholden to his corporate master. This is reminiscent of Bryon the Bulb in Gravity's Rainbow; at page 654-655 in the original Viking edition, who ended up knowing The Truth but unable to effect any change:

Someday he will know everything, and still be as impotent as before. His youthful dreams of organizing all the bulbs in the world seem impossible now—the Grid is wide open, all messages can be overheard, and there are more than enough traitors out on the line. Prophets traditionally don’t last long—they are either killed outright, or given an accident serious enough to make them stop and think, and most often they do pull back. But on Byron has been visited an even better fate. He is condemned to go on forever, knowing the truth and powerless to change anything. No longer will he seek to get off the wheel. His anger and frustration will grow without limit, and he will find himself, poor perverse bulb, enjoying it . . . .

And on page 713, Roger Mexico reflects on the Counterforce as the Corporate Masters' "doomed pet freaks," and wonders "which is worse: living on as Their pet, or death?"

Thus Darren's "red velvet Chairman Mao piggy bank" will be his cute but feckless weapon to fight injustice.

Gongsta Rap
AKA the Asian version of Gangsta Rap. Another cute Pynchon Pun...

They gonna be give me all rice-nigga remarks and shit, this way I beat 'em to it.
"Rice nigga" is, as you might suspect, a derogatory/racist term for Asians. Darren anticipates these kinds of remarks when he starts performing out, so he writes this rap that lampoons American stereotypes of Asians, starting with Screamin' Jay Hawkins' paranoid and racist "Hong Kong."

Page 284

chomping into it and scattering crumbs... Grabbing another, two or three actually
Chandler Platt has become the Cookie Monster.

I could rely without hesitation upon young Darren...
Darren is not only Platt's slave, but also his protector!

Page 285

as Larry Talbot into the Wolf Man
Larry Talbot, played by Lon Chaney, Jr., was the main character of the horror film The Wolf Man (1941) [18].

Trivia alert: Chaney played Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man. Though Chaney was in a fair number of monster movies, he was never, contrary to what Warren Zevon may have led us to believe, in a film titled "The Werewolves of London." The 1935 film Werewolf of London starred Henry Hull.

Page 286

flaneur
Term for a certain type of character found in literature, especially the works of 19th century France. WIKI tells us "Drawing on Fournel, and on his analysis of the poetry of Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin described the flâneur as the essential figure of the modern urban spectator, an amateur detective and investigator of the city. More than this, his flâneur was a sign of the alienation of the city and of capitalism. For Benjamin, the flâneur met his demise with the triumph of consumer capitalism."








Chapter 1
pp. 1-7
Chapter 2
pp. 8-19
Chapter 3
pp. 20-29
Chapter 4
pp. 30-40
Chapter 5
pp. 41-52
Chapter 6
pp. 53-67
Chapter 7
pp. 68-79
Chapter 8
pp. 80-86
Chapter 9
pp. 87-95
Chapter 10
pp. 96-111
Chapter 11
pp. 112-120
Chapter 12
pp. 121-133
Chapter 13
pp. 134-144
Chapter 14
pp. 145-159
Chapter 15
pp. 160-171
Chapter 16
pp. 172-184
Chapter 17
pp. 185-197
Chapter 18
pp. 198-210
Chapter 19
pp. 211-218
Chapter 20
pp. 219-229
Chapter 21
pp. 230-238
Chapter 22
pp. 239-246
Chapter 23
pp. 247-255
Chapter 24
pp. 256-264
Chapter 25
pp. 265-273
Chapter 26
pp. 274-287
Chapter 27
pp. 288-300
Chapter 28
pp. 301-313
Chapter 29
pp. 314-326
Chapter 30
pp. 327-337
Chapter 31
pp. 338-346
Chapter 32
pp. 347-353
Chapter 33
pp. 354-364
Chapter 34
pp. 365-382
Chapter 35
pp. 383-394
Chapter 36
pp. 395-407
Chapter 37
pp. 408-422
Chapter 38
pp. 423-438
Chapter 39
pp. 439-447
Chapter 40
pp. 448-462
Chapter 41
pp. 463-477
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