Tag Archives: Pynchon

Lest We Forget: The Ludlow Massacre One Century Later

One hundred years ago, on the afternoon of April 20, 1914 William Snyder and his children made the mistake of climbing out of the pit they had dug under their tent in Ludlow Colorado. Outside, the Colorado National Guard and striking coal miners were engaged in a war that had raged since morning. For much of the day the pit had been their shelter from the indiscriminate gunfire that had ripped through the tent city that striking coal miners had erected near the town. The immediate reason for the battle has been lost to history, and both sides have claimed that the other started shooting first. Whatever the cause, the fighting seemed to be letting up and the Snyders took the opportunity to escape their pit and return to the relative comfort of the tent itself. Frank Snyder, a young boy of eleven, went to sit in a chair and his sister joined him on the floor between his knees. According to his father, Frank was in the act of leaning forward to kiss or caress his sister when the bullet that killed him ripped through the family tent and struck Frank in the head (Snyder 133). In his affidavit to the Commission on Industrial Relations William reported, “I was standing near the front door of my tent and heard the impact of the bullet striking the boy’s head, and the crack of the bullet as it exploded inside of his head” (133).

Elsewhere in the tent colony a strike leader named Louis Tikas was arrested and confronted by the militia leader, Karl Linderfelt, about who was at fault for the violence. According to Scott Martelle, as the argument escalated “Linderfelt grabbed his rifle by the barrel and swung it hard at Tikas, striking him in the head and breaking the gunstock” (175). Incapacitated by this attack Tikas and two other striking miners were murdered moments later by the mob of militiamen that surrounded them (176). Tikas was killed by three shots in the back. As Tikas was murdered, the tent colony was going up in flames. How the fires started remains a matter of contention. Guard members claimed that they started thanks to sparks caused by stray bullets and fueled by explosives hidden by the miners in the camp. The strikers contended that that attacking militia purposefully set the fires. Whatever the cause, the fire was deadly. In another pit under a tent like the one the Snyders had sheltered in, hid a group of women and children: twenty-seven year old Fedlina Costa her two children, Onafrio age six, and Lucy, age four, Rodgerio Pedregone, age nine, Cloriva Pedregone age four, Frank Petrucci, age six months, Lucy Petrucci, age three, Joe Petrucci, age four, thirty-seven year old Patria Valdez and her children Rudolph, age nine, Eulala, age eight, Mary age seven, and Elvira, age three months (223). In all, two women and eleven children remained hidden as the fires spread through the tents. They suffocated to death as the fires above them ate the oxygen in their supposed safe haven. They were not found until the morning after the gun battle (2).

Collectively these atrocities have come to be known as the Ludlow Massacre. Read more of this post

V. Chapter Six – In which Profane returns to street level

Destitute_man_vacant_store

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.  Read more of this post

Errant Reader: Reminiscences & Reflections on V.

V reflection post poster

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the blog: I’ve been a bit remiss in posting lately. The next few months are bound to be pretty busy (as has been the last month). I’ll be doing my best to keep up a semi-regular schedule of posts while my work and personal life settle down.

Read more of this post

Rumor mill

Apparently there is some new rumors swirling around all things Pynchon today. I’ve heard mention about the Inherent Vice adaptation, but the rumor of a new book is a new one for me. Could it be? That would be three novels within the span of a decade. One would guess that it would be a smaller novel rather than a tome like Against the Day. Another historical novel? Also, Bleeding Edge? What’s it all mean?

…I just lost all ability to be productive in 2013 didn’t I?

[Edit]: I forgot to add that the picture at that link has to be one of my favorite photos of Pynchon ever.

Errant Reader: “Low-Lands” – Thomas Pynchon (1960)

“Low-Lands” is an early artifact of Pynchon’s work where you’re immediately aware of that signature sense of revelation waiting just beyond the horizon of the text. Sadly this sense ultimately gets lost amongst all the mixed signals permeating the text. Rather than hinting at greater revelations upon multiple readings, its pat conclusion destroys the sense of wonder that the earlier portion of the text builds.

Perhaps I shouldn’t say pat. There’s very little in Pynchon’s work that the word pat could be used as a description. Maybe I’m just reacting to the let down after reading the story. Coming back to “Low-Lands” made me long for the works that I’ll be getting to further down the line. There’s good reason for this reaction though. “Low-Lands” gives all the signals of early Pynchon at his esoteric best: long passages exploring the mysteries of ennui, the inexplicable nature of life, hijinks and humorous asides, our interconnected existence, psychology and the unhinged doctors who occasionally practice it, dream-like journeys through unlikely settings, and (though the list could go on) Pig Bodine.

While all the pieces are set for the game, the reader is likely to be left wondering if this is the game she or he thought it was. Sadly, this question doesn’t come up in the usual way it does with Pynchon either. Rather than realizing that you’re in three-dimensional chess, you realize that you’re playing checkers. Again, I’m being too harsh. Prior to V., and Gravity’s Rainbow, “Low-Lands” really does have a good deal going for it. Read more of this post

Errant Reader: “The Small Rain” – Thomas Pynchon (1959)

This post marks the restart of an experiment I gave up on ages ago in the midst of graduate school. Back then any attempt at a regular series of posts about what I was reading was a bit of a wasted effort. It was, after all, a continuation of my “day job” and I didn’t see a lot of point in talking about books online when I could do it in real life with my fellow grad students every day. Given that I’m now a bit removed from my usual debating partners about literature, I thought it might be nice to revisit the idea. Oh, and give the series a better title (Textual Detritus…what the hell was I thinking?)

Given that I’m hitting the restart button I should point out some of the ground rules I’ve decided to use: first, I have some overarching goals, but there’s no set list of what I have to read for a given post. I want to keep this fun, spontaneous, and keeping with the “errant” title. I do want to do one post in the series every week. I guarantee that I will eventually miss this goal. So it goes.

What about those overarching goals? Well, this post is the start of goal number 1. For the last few years I’ve wanted to go back and read all of Pynchon’s work from start to finish. My dissertation work focused on his more recent novels and Gravity’s Rainbow. I read his work out of order though and I’ve been dying to go back and revisit everything in order of publication (or as near as I can manage). I’m starting out with the stories in Slow Learner (but crucially I’m not reading Pynchon’s Introduction to the book. I’ll get to that between Gravity’s Rainbow and Vineland.) I’ve always been drawn to Pynchon’s work, and I can’t think of a better way to start out this particular series. As they say: Go big or go home.

Read more of this post

Light to Matter

I wanted to post a few links I’ve come across today. Sadly (due to lack of equipment and a fairly cloudy day) I’ll be watching this online. Still, I’m endlessly fascinated by this sort of thing. In another life (one where I was actually decent at math) I’d be an astronomer.

Everything you need to know about the transit according to Io9

Everything you need to know about the transit according to Bad Astronomy

A look back at the 1882 transit at Bad Astronomy

Also, because I’m a fan of Thomas Pynchon, I couldn’t help but turn to this passage from Mason & Dixon this morning:

“ – You’ve seen her in the Evening Sky, you’ve wish’d upon her, and now for a short time will she be seen in the Day-light, crossing the Disk of the Sun, – and do make a Wish then, if you think it will help. – For  Astromers, who usually work at night, ‘twill give us a chance to be up in the Day-time. Thro’ our whole gazing-lives, Venus has been a tiny Dot of Light, going through phases like the Moon, ever against the black face of Eternity. But on the day of this Transit, all shall suddenly reverse, – as she is caught, dark, embodied, solid, against the face of the Sun, – a goddess descended from light to Matter.”

Charles Mason in Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon

Pynchon Novels Flow Chart

Wondering what Pynchon novel to end your summer with? Cracked.com has provided a handy flow chart that may help you in making your decision.

The Inherent Vice Soundtrack

Inherent Other

Oh if I could just get to Poland…

Of Pynchon And Vice: America’s Inherent Other (International Pynchon Week), June 09-12, 2010, Lublin, Poland

full name / name of organization:
Zofia Kolbuszewska, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
contact email:
zofkol@kul.lublin.pl
cfp categories:
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
science_and_culture
theory
twentieth_century_and_beyond

While focusing on AGAINST TH DAY and Pynchon’s eagerly awaited most recent novel, INHERENT VICE, the conference is open to engagement with any aspect of Pynchon’s oeuvre and any Pynchon-related subject. The organizers hope to provide a forum for scholars in various disciplines, ranging from literature through cultural studies to the exact sciences, taking any critical or theoretical approach. There is no participation fee.

All presentations will be in plenary session. Each speaker will be allotted thirty minutes (including discussion). Presentations may take the form of individual papers, media presentations, or panels. Please submit proposals/abstracts (in English) of 500-750 words for individual presentations, or of 1,000-1,500 words for panels.

Deadline for proposals: November 30, 2009
Decisions by January 15, 2010
Proposals/abstracts should be e-mailed to
Zofia Kolbuszewska: zofkol@kul.lublin.pl

All information at http://amstud-lublin.edu.pl/pynchon/