It might have been appropriate to begin this post with a declaration about my vacation. Something like: “I’m back from vacation refocused, reenergized, and ready to jump into the writing process.” I woke up about two hours earlier than I’m used to this morning in an effort to get back into a work schedule and I’m far too bitter with the universe about consciousness to exude such frivolities. Instead, while I try to get some coffee in my system, let’s just say that my vacation was superb and I’m in mourning about my vacation’s passing. I’ll get around to writing about it once I move through the stages of grief.
So, in the meantime, it’s back to writing about Pynchon and this is a fitting chapter to return with. Just as I’m returning from a sojourn away from the troubles of the world, Benny resurfaces in New York in this chapter. Admittedly, I didn’t go on vacation in the sewers where I explored the remains of a mad priest’s chapel and shot an albino alligator / Stencil in a diving suit. We can’t have everything though. Continue reading “V. Chapter Six – In which Profane returns to street level”
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.
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. Continue reading “V. Chapter 3 – In which Stencil, a quick-change artist, does eight impersonations”
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. Continue reading “V. Chapter Two – The Whole Sick Crew”
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. Continue reading “V. Chapter One – In which Benny Profane, a schlemihl and human yo-yo, gets to an apochair”