Gravity's Rainbow QuotesSince there are so many quotes I wanted to mention, and since many of them are quite long and some are worthy of comment, I have separated them from the main review. I suppose you could say that there are "spoilers" below (inasmuch as GR can have spoilers) so read on at your own risk. I also don't know that I would say that what is below is representative of the novel as a whole - these are just some passages that I liked. Beneath some of the quotes are brief comments...
A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.This is the first sentence in the novel, and it is quite good. It's almost as if Pynchon is telling you that this novel won't compare to anything you've ever read. I doubt this was a conscious choice on his part, as that would be awfully pretentious, but it seems to fit anyway.
Death is a debt to nature due,Slothrop family epitaphs. The second one was for Tyrone's "grandfather Frederick (d. 1933), who in typical sarcasm and guile bagged his epitaph from Emily Dickenson, without a credit line"
Shit, money, and the World, the three American truths, powering the American mobility, claimed the Slothrops, clasped them for good to the country's fate. But they did not prosper... about all they did was persist
They have found a house in the stay-away zone, under the barrage balloons south of London. The town, evacuated in '40, is still "regulated"still on the Ministry's list. Roger and Jessica occupy the place illegally, in a defiance they can never measure unless they're caught. Jessica has brought an old doll, seashells, her aunt's grip filled with lace knickers and silk stockings. Roger's managed to scare up a few chickens to nest in the empty garage. Whenever they meet here, one always remembers to bring a fresh flower or two. The nights are filled with explosion and motor transport, and wind that brings them up over the downs and a smack of the sea. Day begins with a hot cup and a cigarette over a little table with a weak leg that Roger has repaired, provisionally, with brown twine. There's never much talk but touches and looks, smiles together, curses for parting. It is marginal, hungry, chilly-most times they're too paranoid to risk a firebut it's something they want to keep, so much that to keep it, they will take on more than propaganda has ever asked them for. They are in love. Fuck the war.
Who can find his way about this lush maze of initials, arrows solid and dotted, boxes big and small, names printed and memorized? Not Earnest Puddingthat's for the New Chaps with their little green antennas out for the usable emanations of power, versed in American politics (knowing the difference between the New Dealers of OWI and the eastern and moneyed Rupublicans behind OSS), keeping brain-dossiers on latencies, weaknesses, tea-taking habits, erogenous zones of all, all who might someday be useful.This might be my favorite quote from the book. First, its sort of letting the reader know that the reason he/she doesn't understand what's going on with all the various characters and organizations is because its all so mind numbingly complicated and that you really don't need to. Even the characters don't understand! Second, it struck me because, though it's in reference to the confusing proliferation of secret governmental agencies in war-torn Europe, it could just as easily be applied to today's technology industry. It probably applies to any number of things, each having their own set of acrynyms, lingo, and politics and each ordered in a mezmerizing hierarchy. I know I sometimes wish I understood the "lush maze of initials, arrows solid and dotted, boxes big and small, names printed and memorized" of my company, that's for sure! Third, the name Earnest Pudding is brilliant. Right out of the Dickensian naming tradition. Fourth, as always, his language is just beautiful.
On he goes, gabbing, gabbing, recipes for preparing beets in a hundred tasty ways, or such cucurbitaceous improbabilities as Earnest Pudding's Gourd Surpriseyes, there is something sadistic about recipes with "Surprise" in the title, chap who's hungry wants to just eat you know, not be Surprised really, just wants to bite into the (sigh) the old potato you see, certainly not some clever nutmeg "Surprise!", some mashed pulp all magenta with pomengranates or something...
Perhaps the black girl is a genius of meta-solutionsknocking over the chess board, shooting the referee.Nothing particularly earth-shattering about this one, but it just struck me, as many of his sentences do...
Through the tears, he can't see it too well, but he can hear Mrs. Quoad across the table going "Yum, yum, yum," and Darlene giggling. It is enormous and soft, like a marshmallow, but somehowunless something is now going seriously wrong with his brainit tastes like gin. "Wha's 'is," he inquires thickly.This is perhaps a little too out of context, but the entire episode (of which this is only a small part) is one of the first instances where I laughed out loud at something. I don't know what's so funny about marshmallows that taste like gin, but it just made me laugh...
Yet who can presume to say what the War wants, so vast and aloof it is... so absentee.
...look at the forms of capitalist expression. Pornographies: pornographies of love, erotic love, Christian love, boy-and-his-dog, pornographies of sunsets, pornographies of killing, and pornographies of deduction -- ahh that sigh when we guess the murderer -- all these novels, these films and songs they lull us with, they're approaches, more comfortable and less so, to that Absolute Comfort.
He has, had, this way of removing all the excitement from things with a few words. Not even well-chosen words: he's that way by instinct.One of Pynchon's interesting talents is his ability to sum up a character with a single sentence like this. I've known people like that, and I knew everything I needed to know about this character from reading this one sentence.
Proverbs for Paranoids, 1: You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures. (page 237)Pynchon has a rather well developed sense of paranoia and proverb 3 is often quoted (for obvious reasons, it makes a great way to start an arguement), but I find proverb 5 to be just as poignant.
Just for the knife-edge, here in the Rue Rossini, there comes to Slothrop the best feeling dusk in a foreign city can bring: just where the sky's light balances the electric lamplight in the street, just before the first star, some promise of events without cause, surprises, a direction at right angles to every direction his life has been able to find up till now.
One of the sweetest fruits of victory, after sleep and looting, must be the chance to ignore no-parking signs.And you get to leave the keys in the car too...
Tchitcherine has a way of getting together with undesirables, sub rosa enemies of order, counterrevolutionary odds and ends of humanity: he doesn't plan it, it just happens, he is a giant supermolecule with so many open bonds available at any given time, and in the drift of things... in the dance of things... howsoever... others latch on, and the pharmacology of the Tchitcherine thus modified, its onwardly revealed side-effects, can't necessarily be calculated ahead of time.
Simple talion may be fine for wartime, but politics between wars demands symmetry and a more elegant idea of justice, even to the point of masquerading, a bit decadently, as mercy.Nowadays talion doesn't cut it during wartime, but its an interesting quote nonetheless.
He thought of himself as a practical man. At the rocket field they talked continents, encirclementsseeing years before the General Staff the need for a weapon to break ententes, to leap like a chess knight over Panzers, infantry, even the Luftwaffe.
If there is something comfortingreligious, if you wantabout paranoia, there is still also anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long.
Gustav tends to sneer, but Säure really turns out to be an adept at the difficult art of papyromancy, the ability to prophesy through contemplating the way people roll reefersthe shape, the licking pattern, the wrinkles and folds or absence thereof in the paper."You will soon be in love," sez Säure, "see, this line here."
The hand of Providence creeps among the stars, giving Slothrop the finger.
Wars have a way of overriding the days just before them. In the looking back, there is such noise and gravity. But we are conditioned to forget. So that the war may have more importance, yes, but still... isn't the hidden machinery easier to see in the days leading up to the event? There are arrangements, things to be expedited... and often the edges are apt to lift, briefly, and we see things we were not meant to....An excellent quote, I commented on this in the blog a while back.
Yes but Technology only responds (how often this argument has been iterated, dogged and humorless as a Gaussian reduction, among the younger Schwarzkommando especially), "All very well to talk about having a monster by the tail, but do you think we'd've had the Rocket if someone, some specific somebody with a name and a penis hadn't wanted to chuck a ton of Amatol 300 miles and blow up a block full of civilians? Go ahead, capitalize the T on technology, deify it if it'll make you feel less responsible--but it puts you in with the neutered, brother, in with the eunuchs keeping the harem of our stolen Earth for the numb and joyless hardons of human sultans, human elite with no right at all to be where they are"
So it comes to Tchitcherine here in the clearing with these two fools on either side of him, among the debris of some numberless battery's last stand, cables paralyzed where the winch-operators levered them to stillness, beer bottles lying exactly where they were thrown by the last men on the last night, everything testifying so purely to the shape of defeat, of operational death.
Non-Masons stay pretty much in the dark about What Goes On, though now and then something jumps out, exposes itself, jumps giggling back again, leaving you with few details but a lot of Awful Suspicions. Some of the American Founding Fathers were Masons, for instance. There is a theory going around that the U.S.A. was and still is a gigantic Masonic plot under the ultimate control of the group known as the Illuminati. It is difficult to look for long at the strange single eye crowning the pyramid which is found on every dollar bill and not begin to believe the story, a little.Imagine the fun certain folks could have if Bush was a Mason. Alas, he is not... yet the conspiracy theories march on. There is a "Masonic Home" about a mile down the road from me. Very strange buildings; they look almost majestic, yet forbidding. I wonder sometimes if I should worry about that.
Only a few months ago they felt themselves as fully mobilized as any British civilian, and thus amenable to most Government requests. About the present mission, though, both now are deep in peacetime second thoughts. How quickly history passes these days.
There's something still on, don't call it a "war" if it makes you nervous, maybe the death rate's gone down a point or two, beer in cans is back at last and there were a lot of people in Trafalgar Square one night not long ago... but Their enterprise goes on.Note "Their" not "their".
"You're a novice paranoid, Roger," first time Prentice has ever used his Christian name and it touches Roger enough to check his tirade. "Of course a well developed They-system is necessarybut it's only half the story. For every They there ought to be a We. In our case there is. Creative paranoia means developing at least as thorough a We-system as a They-system"
"The basic problem," he proposes, "has always been getting other people to die for you. What's worth enough for a man to give up his life? That's where religion had the edge, for centuries. Religion was always about death. It was used not as an opiate so much as a technique--it got people to die for one particular set of beliefs about death. Perverse, natürlich, but who are you to judge? It was a good pitch while it worked. But ever since it became impossible to die for death, we have had a secular version--yours. Die to help History grow to its predestined shape. Die knowing your act will bring a good end a bit closer. Revolutionary suicide, fine. But look: if History's changes are inevitable, why not not die? Vaslav? If it's going to happen anyway, what does it matter?"
Like other sorts of paranoia, it is nothing less than the onset, the leading edge, of the discovery that everything is connected, everything in the Creation, a secondary illumination -- not yet blindingly One, but at least connected, perhaps a route In for those... who are held at the edge....
And that about wraps it up. What's amazing is that I could easily find several additional quotes, if I were so inclined. Alas, I must stop at somepoint and we have reached that point.
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