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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Chapter 37 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Bleeding Edge

Chapter 37

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

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Page 408

hex thistle
Hex (hexidecimal) values are used to define colors in website coding and each hex value also has a corresponding descriptive name. There are 4 hex-colors called "thistle": #FFE1FF (Thistle 1), #EED2EE (Thistle 2), #CDB5CD (Thistle 3) and #8B7B8B (Thistle 4). Each of the previous values are colored their corresponding hex value. As you can see, "hex thistle" ranges from a bright to a dark lavender.

Page 409

she has 'loided her way in
To "loid" is to open (a locked door) by sliding a thin piece of celluloid or plastic between the door edge and doorframe to force open a spring lock.[1]

Page 410

De al-liga-tuh purse...
"The Lady with the Alligator Purse" is a nonsense skipping-rope rhyme with a number of variations on this version:

Miss Lucy had a baby,
His name was Tiny Tim.
She put him in the bathtub,
To see if he could swim.

He drank up all the water.
He ate up all the soap.
He tried to eat the bathtub,
But it wouldn't go down down his throat.

Miss Lucy called the doctor,
Miss Lucy called the nurse.
Miss Lucy called the lady
With the alligator alligator purse.

"Mumps," said the doctor.
"Measles," said the nurse.
"Hiccups," said the lady
With the alligator alligator purse.

Out went the doctor.
Out went the nurse.
Out went the lady
With the alligator alligator purse.

Page 412

one of those first-person-shooter kinds of towns
First-person shooter (FPS) is a video game genre centered on gun and projectile weapon-based combat through a first-person perspective; that is, the player experiences the action through the eyes of the protagonist. Wikipedia Pynchon obviously means that the town seems to be an infinite space.

a pillar of salt
"As soon as they had brought them out [of Sodom and Gomorrah], one of them said, 'Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!' . . . But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt." (Genesis 19: 17-26)

Page 413

Back in Manhattan meatspace
Hmm. So does Maxine's return to meatspace begin here, or as Chapter 37 (page 408) begins, with her choosing the Walther PPK to take to where Windust is supposed to be?

At best, it's somewhat ambiguous, as the visit to "the place" where Windust is to be waiting is described in a quite surreal, over-the-top way, eg the Lady with the Alligator Purse, the possibly sentient dogs (shades of the Learnèd English Dog, on page 18 of Mason & Dixon), the phone message threatening her kids, and so forth.

Although it seems that Maxine actually returns to meatspace beginning with Chapter 37, I find the whole thing quite ambiguous, particularly regarding whether or not Windust is really dead!

Scooby Goes Latin! (1990)
This seems to be an invention of Pynchon, which leads to the great pun, "if it hadn't been for those Medellín kids!” instead of the usual "meddling kids."

Page 414

He's in the Duane Reade around the corner
Duane Reade Inc., a subsidiary of the Walgreen Company, is a chain of pharmacy and convenience stores, primarily located in New York City, known for its high volume small store layouts in densely populated Manhattan locations. The headquarters is located along Ninth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

The original store was in downtown manhattan, between Duane and reade streets.


[2]

"Private contractor?"
"What I was thinking."
Definitely phasing into videogame territory here.


Page 416

nobody pays us to be Shirley Temple
A puzzling reference. It is natural to assume at first that the "floral bouquet heavy on the roses" sent anonymously to Emma Levin has actually come from Maxine herself, as a gesture of thanks. But their conversation on the phone, which includes this reference to Shirley Temple, seems to hint in a roundabout way that it's neither Emma's boyfriend Naftali nor Maxine, who had sent the flowers but someone else. (Who, though?) And what is the connection suggested here between a bouquet of roses sent to reassure someone after a successfully foiled act of aggression (or perhaps even to make amends of sorts) and Shirley Temple? According to this clearly anti-semitic article [3], there is a passage in Shirley Temple's autobiography, "The Child Star. An Autobiography" (1988) in which, it is claimed, she writes of receiving a bouquet of roses from a movie producer the day after he tried to sexually assault her. (And presumably Temple and her mother would have kept quiet about the assault at the time, even if it had actually happened and wasn't just a malicious rumour, because the studio was paying the child actress a lot of money for appearing in the movie.) Could this anecdote be the background to Pynchon's Shirley Temple reference? And who is it, then, who is similarly trying to 'bribe' Emma Levin with a bouquet of roses?

Page 418

never-distributed Marx Brothers version of Don Giovanni
The opera in the Marx Brothers classic A Night at the Opera was Verdi's Il Trovatore.

In operas of this period, a recitative is when the principals stop singing and sort-of talk, usually with harpsichord accompaniment. Even in operas, sometimes you need talking to get the plot moving again.

The Catalogue Aria is one of the most famous in opera. You can view one version here [4], but there are lots of other versions available on youtube, all handled a little bit differently. (In this clip, Leporello's preamble starts around 2:15, and the actual aria starts around 2:45). Note that this is probably one of the first descriptions of a relational database, with Don Giovanni's (Don Juan's) conquests searchable by country, age, size, hair color, birth rank, etc.

And here's a version of "Deh, vieni alla finestra". [5] If you're not familiar with this opera's plot, this takes place a bit later than the Catalogue Aria scene. Don Giovanni has his servant Leporello switch clothes, so that while it appears Don Giovanni is serenading Donna Elvira from beneath her window, it is Leporello in disguise. Mozart's sense of humor would not be considered politically correct in Western society today.

Margaret Dumont, in the role she was born for
In the opera, Donna Elvira has an obsessive love for Don Giovanni, and this love is not returned, or only insincerely or mockingly. In the Marx Brothers movies, the Margaret Dumont character usually has an obsessive love for the Groucho Marx character, and it is usually returned similarly. Margaret Dumont did train as an opera singer before becoming an actress, and the role of Donna Elvira is sometimes performed by a mezzo. Here is Cecilia Bartoli's version of Ah, chi mi dice mai [6]so you can decide for yourself.


John Garfield
Real actor who made a fair number of appearances in Inherent Vice.

endless prosecution, cop cop cop
Ernie's railing about too many cop shows on TV echoes Doc Sportello's rant against TV cop shows on page 97 of Inherent Vice. Both characters lament the disappearance on TV of great Private Investigators and the emergence of heroic cops. In Inherent Vice, Doc sees it just beginning ("the tube is saturated with fuckin cop shows"). In Bleeding Edge Ernie is looking back to when Maxine and her sister were kids watching TV — which would be the early 1970s when Inherent Vice takes place — and he'd ground them if he caught them watching a "cop show."

Likudnik
Likud is the major center-right party in Israel. A secular party, it was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had lost power. In addition, it was the first time in Israel that a right wing party won the plurality of the votes. However, after ruling the country for most of the 1980s, the party lost the Knesset election in 1992. Nevertheless, Likud's candidate Benjamin Netanyahu did win the vote for Prime Minister in 1996 and was given the task of forming a government after the 1996 elections. From WIKI.

Page 419

DARPAnet
Also mentioned on Page 54 of Inherent Vice.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of many technologies which have had a major effect on the world, including computer networking, as well as NLS, which was both the first hypertext system, and an important precursor to the contemporary ubiquitous graphical user interface. DARPA began as the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) created in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for the purpose of forming and executing research and development projects to expand the frontiers of technology and science and able to reach far beyond immediate military requirements. The administration was responding to the Soviet launching of Sputnik 1 in 1957, and ARPA's mission was to ensure U.S. military technology be more sophisticated than that of the nation's potential enemies. From WIKI.

make a little change playing Ping-Pong
This seems to be an intriguing allusion to a history of ping-pong playing for bets in New York in the 1950s to 1960s, the Cold War period under discussion (specifically the Eisenhower presidency, 1953-1961). For more detail see this article cum obituary on Marty Reisman (1930-2012), a New Yorker and a well-known table tennis player [7].

RAND Corporation
RAND Corporation (Research ANd Development) is a nonprofit global policy think tank first formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces by Douglas Aircraft Company. It is currently financed by the U.S. government and private endowment, corporations including the healthcare industry, universities and private individuals. The organization has long since expanded to working with other governments, private foundations, international organizations, and commercial organizations on a host of non-defence issues. RAND aims for interdisciplinary and quantitative problem solving via translating theoretical concepts from formal economics and the physical sciences into novel applications in other areas; that is, via applied science and operations research. Michael D. Rich is president and chief executive officer of the RAND Corporation. From WIKI.

Page 420

NCIC database
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is the United States' central database for tracking crime-related information. Since 1967 the NCIC has been maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, and is interlinked with similar systems that each state maintains. Data is received from federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as tribal law enforcement agencies, railroad police, and other agencies, such as state and federal motor vehicle registration and licensing authorities. From WIKI.

Page 422

don't mourn, organize
Often (and incorrectly) cited as the last words of activist Joe Hill.

Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in Gävle, Sweden, and also known as Joseph Hillström (October 7, 1879 – November 19, 1915) was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as the "Wobblies"). A native Swedish speaker, he learned English during the early 1900s, while working various jobs from New York to San Francisco. Hill, as an immigrant worker frequently facing unemployment and underemployment, became a popular song writer and cartoonist for the radical union. His most famous songs include "The Preacher and the Slave", "The Tramp", "There is Power in a Union", "The Rebel Girl", and "Casey Jones—the Union Scab", which generally express the harsh but combative life of itinerant workers, and the apparent necessity of organizing to improve conditions for working people. From WIKI.



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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