V. Chapter 4 – In which Esther gets a nose job

I’ve decided to keep this post short. The fact that I’m on vacation has nothing to do with this decision.

Is anyone buying this? No? Ok, fair enough. Truth is, it has been so long since I’ve had a real vacation that I’m forcing myself to take it easy. There is a lot to dig into in this chapter, but I’m keeping it simple. Here are a couple quick points on this week’s chapter:

– I’ve turned into a softy since I first read this book. I found myself skimming Schoenmaker’s detailed description of the operation much as I would quickly excuse myself from hearing the details of gruesome injuries and other misplaced dinner conversation topics.

– I found most of my attention on Schoenmaker’s back-story. Admittedly, the fist thing I thought of was a desperate desire that Scheonmaker was a partial inspiration for the character Woodhouse on Archer. That may have influenced my reading for a little bit. After I got over the wished for connection, I started paying a bit more attention to the decay that corrupts Schoenmaker’s ostensibly pure designs for becoming a plastic surgeon. After seeing Godolphin’s die through his rejection of the inanimate materials used to rebuild his face after the war, Schoenmaker turns to medicine to counter the actions of doctors like the one that kills Godolphin. The narrator notes, “if alignment with the inanimate is the mark of a Bad Guy, Schoenmaker at least made a sympathetic beginning” (101). The emphasis on “bad guy” through the capitalization indicates that we’re not expected to read this as easy categorizations of good and evil. Schoenmaker’s turn is described specifically as a decay, which in turn is intriguing since decay and rejection were exactly what destroys Godolphin, Schoenmaker’s inspiration. That decay is itself a turn away from the natural – in the case of Schoenmaker this means destroying noses to create more appealing, if unnatural, shapes. For V. it suggests the insidious move away from the natural and towards the mechanical. As I recall, Profane’s stint at Yoyodyne will expand on this theme.


Black Dresses

Currently listening to The Builders and the Butchers.

Here’s a video of a live performance of “Black Dresses.” I’m really drawn in by the intensity of Ryan Sollee in this performance.

V. Chapter 3 – In which Stencil, a quick-change artist, does eight impersonations

In light of the episodic nature of this week’s chapter, I thought I’d try something a little different: Eight points for eight impersonations. Stenci’s journey into conjecture about Porpentine hinges upon perspective so let’s look at where the quick changes take us. Read more of this post

Links 7/12/13

Justin Davidson on the history and the future of the New York waterfront.

Two stories from Ars Technica on the struggle to avoid junk when flying in space: One of Fermi and another of the ISS.

Gotta Go


Currently Listening to Quasi’s “You Can Stay But You Got To Go” from their upcoming album Mole City available for download over at Pitchfork. I’m not a big Quasi fan (I just can’t get into Sam Coomes’ style), but I love Janet Weiss on drums. Overall, I’m really digging this track.

(Image via: Wikimedia Commons.)


V. Chapter Two – The Whole Sick Crew

Chapter 2 uses the setting to move the narrative over to Rachel Owlglass in a generally subtle way. This is perhaps in part to tie the novel more closely together early on given its disparate elements and the larger jumps that are to appear as the narrative progresses. The effect is compelling, small though it may be. The element that stands out to me the most in this chapter is, surprisingly, not the clues about V. or Stencil’s history. I say surprising because I recall this was what captivated my attention the first time I read the book (or, more accurately, the time I finally read the book all the way through). Certainly the chapter heads in that direction by giving Stencil a major position in the middle of the chapter and it’s introduction to the Whole Sick Crew. The mystery is undeniable. Nevertheless, Rachel’s role as den mother to the Whole Sick Crew was what really drew my attention this time through. Read more of this post

Links 7/5/13

A gallery of computing machines at io9.

Jayson Greene examines the samples on Kanye West’s Yeezus at Pitchfork.

Why Miami is doomed by Jeff Goodell from Rolling Stone.

Also from Rolling Stone: 20 songs that are 20 years old. (I am so very very old…)

Finally, because I’m old, I’m going to include the following clip from Teen Titans Go! due to its thorough explanation of VCRs, VHS tapes and Betamax.

Blue Eyes

Currently Listening to Middle Brother’s “Blue Eyes.”

V. Chapter One – In which Benny Profane, a schlemihl and human yo-yo, gets to an apochair

Blog V title pic

I want to admit something at the very start: getting back into this series is going to be a little rough. I read the first two chapters of V. about three months ago. As my long absence from the site may suggest, life got in the way of blogging. Suffice to say, work was a little overwhelming. There’s an odd symbolism to the timing of my return to writing longer pieces for the blog though. I’m actually sitting in the exact same spot at my parent’s house where I did the last bit of serious writing. That was back in December and I was writing a eulogy for my Grandpa. I’ve been slowly building up steam to return to Pynchon over the last few weeks, but it’s fitting that I’m hitting the reset button now.  Read more of this post

Links 6/25/2013

For your consideration:

Verlyn Klinkenborg at the New York Times on the decline of the English major.

Lee Hutchinson at Ars Technica has the story of how NASA rebuilt the F-1 “moon rocket.”

Adam Johnson tells the story of Kim Jong-il’s sushi chef at GQ.

Finally, Atlas Obscura takes a tour of the “Ruins of Super Science.”