Monday, November 02, 2009

Gravity's Rainbow Read-Along: Week 7 (p 421-490)

Hi everybody! Time for the weekly Gravity's Rainbow chat.

What did everyone think about this week's pages?

9 comments:

moonrat said...

I for one am caught up this week, finally (it took me all weekend).

But boy, did I find certain (several) passages in this page set really, really disturbing...

John said...

I fell behind! This afternoon, I'll gain some ground. This section definitely has some disturbing stuff in it, and I think Slothrop's sexual escapades might be a little bit of projection. I mean, come on: every single woman he comes across can't wait to sleep with him? Is he James Bond?

The bit about Polker giving the ring to the woman outside of the concentration camp was really haunting, I thought. That whole section was intense.

aych said...

All sorts of spoilery if you aren't caught up:

I hear ya, moonrat. I was fine with Slothrop running around bedding the world, but I'm still having problems, several days on, with the Bianca episode. There have been plenty of unsavory sexual interludes, but I've always felt that Pynchon was with me, that he was layering a compositional veneer of disgust over obvious episodes of abuse or pedophilia. Not so much with Bianca, who is, uh, 11. Prepubescent.

It's such an off note that it's making me dislike and distrust Slothrop. I've been fond of him thus far even when he's acting like an idiot. That, on top of that scene being rather lovingly described, is seriously messing with my enjoyment of the book right now (I've been loving it the last couple of weeks). I'm hoping in a hundred pages that it will have been a dream or something ridiculous.

Is this a product of its time and I'm looking at it through future eyes? Did Pynchon make Bianca that enthusiastic and adult-responsive for some reason that is escaping me? If anyone can come up with good answers here, I would appreciate it.

moonrat said...

ex.act.ly my thoughts.

i think this kind of highly sexualized depiction is socially irresponsible as well as icky. some people would say that makes me a prude--but for me there's a line. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, of whom i used to be a huge fan, lost me when i realized there was an incidence of pedophilia (condoned pedophilia) in every book of his. i really strongly believe there is no justification for the sexualization of young children.

Kate said...

Amen, sister!

J.J. Bennett said...

Moonrat stop by my blog and pick up your blogger award! Great Job!

Lisa said...

I've been giving the increasing depravity in this book a lot of thought and I have a couple of notions which may be entirely off the mark, but I'll share them anyway -- who else will listen to me?!

The deeper I get into this book, the clearer and more repetitive the themes become:

They vs. Us
Elect vs. Preterite or the Powerful vs. the Powerless
Zero vs. One
War vs. Peace
Technology vs. ?

It seems to me that Pynchon is rubbing our noses in shit and depravity (I know -- sorry) and that the further we go into the post-war world, the worse it gets.

With regard to all the "shit", it seems to be tied to both debasement and fertility (it fertilized the banana tree at The White Visitation and has been referenced as fertilizer a number of other times). It also seems to be associated with blackness and appears to represent racism.

Sexual decadence and depravity seem to be getting worse and worse in the post-war timeframe and Slothrop is getting more and more lost and perverse. He had ties to places and people at the beginning and although he was somewhat of a womanizer, he wasn't as perverted as he became as the war went on and then ended. Somehow his sexuality seems very much tied to death and destruction and the rocket.

I find the pedophilia and other kinkiness disturbing, although I don't think it bothers me quite as much as it does some of the rest of you guys because I think it's integral to the story.

Or probably I have no idea what I'm talking about...

moonrat said...

Lisa, I think you're totally right. Certainly Slothrop's experiences are getting both zanier and a little more off-base (nose sex?)--the pedophilia one makes me personally angry and disgusted, but the trajectory itself is emerging from the narrative.

the themes I get tied up in are:

racism
science
warfare/destruction
sex
big industry

all of which are pulled together in a paranoid/solipsistic confabulation. You're right, I think, to identify "vs" scenarios--1 and 0 definitely have been coming up since Roger Mexico, who now feels long lost to me.

I like that you've worked shit (literally) into the thesis; that hadn't occured to me, but I see it's true. Two prominent episodes now with toilets alone, never mind... well, everything else.

Jane Steen said...

I actually turn the pages cautiously when I'm eating and reading (a shameful, but ingrained, habit) lest I encounter excrement once again. It's everywhere in this book. It all seems very Freudian, and therefore instantly outdated - I thank heaven for the millenial concept of Overshare or TMI. My generation were encouraged to Get It All Out There - I think my kids' generation may be trying to Put It All Back In, and our writing may be all the better for that.