Gravity's Rainbow - by Thomas Pynchon

Psi Section, a colony dégagé and docile, with no secular aspirations at all.

Ernest Pudding was brought up to believe in a literal Chain of Command, as clergymen of earlier centuries believed in the Chain of Being. The newer geometries confuse him.

Dr. Rozsavölgyi tends to favor a powerful program over a powerful leader. Maybe because this is 1945. It was widely believed in those days that behind the War—all the death, savagery, and destruction—lay the Führer-principle. But if personalities could be replaced by abstractions of power, if techniques developed by the corporations could be brought to bear, might not nations live rationally? One of the dearest Postwar hopes: that there should be no room for a terrible disease like charisma... that its rationalization should proceed while we had the time and resources...

Together they are a long skin interface, flowing sweat, close as muscles and bones can press, hardly a word beyond her name, or his.

He turns away as we do from those who have just made some embarrassing appeal to faith there's no way to go into any further.

Big globular raindrops, thick as honey, begin to splat into giant asterisks on the pavement, inviting him to look down at the bottom of the text of the day, where footnotes will explain all. He isn't about to look. Nobody ever said a day has to be juggled into any kind of sense at day's end.

It isn't clear whether the Americans are here on Russian sufferance or vice versa.

Zwitter: stocky, dark hair parted down the middle, eyeglass lenses thick as the windows of a bathysphere, the fluorescent hydras, eels, and rays of control equations swimming seas behind them...

In the mountains around Nordhausen and Bleicheröde, down in abandoned mine shafts, live the Schwarzkommando. These days it's no longer a military tide: they are a people now, Zone-Hereros, in exile for two generations from South-West Africa. Early Rhenish missionaries began to bring them back to the Metropolis, that great dull zoo, as specimens of a possibly doomed race. They were gently experimented with: exposed to cathedrals, Wagnerian soirees, Jaeger underwear, trying to get them interested in their souls.

What's a colony without its dusky natives? Where's the fun if they're all going to die off? Just a big hunk of desert, no more maids, no field-hands, no laborers for the construction or the mining—wait, wait a minute there, yes it's Karl Marx, that sly old racist skipping away with his teeth together and his eyebrows up trying to make believe it's nothing but Cheap Labor and Overseas Markets... Oh, no. Colonies are much, much more. Colonies are the outhouses of the European soul, where a fellow can let his pants down and relax, enjoy the smell of his own shit. Where he can fall on his slender prey roaring as loud as he feels like, and guzzle her blood with open joy. Eh? Where he can just wallow and rut and let himself go in a softness, a receptive darkness of limbs, of hair as woolly as the hair on his own forbidden genitals. Where the poppy, and cannabis and coca grow full and green, and not to the colors and style of death, as do ergot and agaric, the blight and fungus native to Europe. Christian Europe was always death, Karl, death and repression. Out and down in the colonies, life can be indulged, life and sensuality in all its forms, with no harm done to the Metropolis, nothing to soil those cathedrals, white marble statues, noble thoughts... No word ever gets back. The silences down here are vast enough to absorb all behavior, no matter how dirty, how animal it gets...

Between these two, even routine greeting does not pass without some payload of meaningfulness and the hope of Blitzing the other's mind.

He had salesman reflexes, knew to steer automatically along lines of least indifference.

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.

What happens when paranoid meets paranoid? A crossing of solipsisms. Clearly. The two patterns create a third: a moire, a new world of flowing shadows, interferences...

If he must curse Weissmann, then he must also curse himself. Weissmann's cruelty was no less resourceful than Pökler's own engineering skill, the gift of Daedalus that allowed him to put as much labyrinth as required between himself and the inconveniences of caring. They had sold him convenience, so much of it, all on credit, and now They were collecting.

In a corporate State, a place must be made for innocence, and its many uses. In developing an official version of innocence, the culture of childhood has proven invaluable. Games, fairy-tales, legends from history, all the paraphernalia of make-believe can be adapted and even embodied in a physical place, such as at Zwölfkinder. Over the years it had become a children's resort, almost a spa. If you were an adult, you couldn't get inside the city limits without a child escort. There was a child mayor, a child city council of twelve. Children picked up the papers, fruit peelings and bottles you left in the street, children gave you guided tours through the Tierpark, the Hoard of the Nibelungen, cautioning you to silence during the impressive re-enactment of Bismarck's elevation, at the spring equinox of 1871, to prince and imperial chancellor... child police reprimanded you if you were caught alone, without your child accompanying. Whoever carried on the real business of the town—it could not have been children—they were well hidden.

The first week in April, with American units supposed to be arriving at any moment, most of the engineers were packing, collecting addresses of co-workers, drinking farewell toasts, drifting through the emptying bays. There was a graduation feeling in the air. It was hard not to whistle "Gaudeamus igitur." Suddenly the cloistered life was about to come to an end.

Slothrop perceives that he is losing his mind. If there is something comforting—religious, if you want—about paranoia, there is still also anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long. Well right now Slothrop feels himself sliding onto the anti-paranoid part of his cycle, feels the whole city around him going back roofless, vulnerable, uncentered as he is.

"It is gone where the woodbine twineth."

She is prey to interior winds he never felt. He moves to put as much of their bodies in touch as he can. He holds her. The tremor is strong, and maybe uncalmable: after a while Slothrop has started to tremble too, in phase. "Please, take it easy." Whatever possesses her needs touch, to drink touch insatiably.

It is the warm, romantic summer of'45, and surrender or not, the culture of death still prevails: what Grandmother called "a crime of passion" has become, in the absence of much passion over anything today, the technique of preference in resolving interpersonal disputes.

The house by the river is an enclosure that acts as a spring-suspension for the day and the weather, allowing only mild cycling of light and heat, down into evening, up again into morning to the midday peak but all damped to a gentle sway from the earthquake of the day outside.

"I doubt she had a father. It was parthenogenesis, she's pure Margherita, if pure is the word I want."

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.

Slothrop, as noted, at least as early as the Anubis era, has begun to thin, to scatter. "Personal density," Kurt Mondaugen in his Peenemünde office not too many steps away from here, enunciating the Law which will one day bear his name, "is directly proportional to temporal bandwidth." "Temporal bandwidth" is the width of your present, your now. It is the familiar "At" considered as a dependent variable. The more you dwell in the past and in the future, the thicker your bandwidth, the more solid your persona. But the narrower your sense of Now, the more tenuous you are. It may get to where you're having trouble remembering what you were doing five minutes ago, or even—as Slothrop now—what you're doing here, at the base of this colossal curved embankment.

It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted... secretly, it was being dictated instead by the needs of technology... by a conspiracy between human beings and techniques, by something that needed the energy-burst of war, crying, "Money be damned, the very life of [insert name of Nation] is at stake," but meaning, most likely, dawn is nearly here, I need my night's blood, my funding, funding, ahh more, more... The real crises were crises of allocation and priority, not among firms—it was only staged to look that way—but among the different Technologies, Plastics, Electronics, Aircraft, and their needs which are understood only by the ruling elite...

Pirate is surprised to find Sir Stephen Dodson-Truck more fit than he ever looked in his life. The man is actively at peace, in the way of a good samurai—each time he engages Them fully expecting to die, without apprehension or remorse. It is an amazing change. Pirate begins to feel hope for himself.

Nobody wanted to hear about all the Preterite, the many God passes over when he chooses a few for salvation. William argued holiness for these "second Sheep," without whom there'd be no elect. You can bet the Elect in Boston were pissed off about that.

She knows he's a gambler too. A good pair, wired front-to-front: she picked it up the first time he touched her. The man knows his odds, the shapes of risk are intimate to him as loved bodies. Each moment has its value, its probable success against other moments in other hands, and the shuffle for him is always moment-to-moment. He can't afford to remember other permutations, might-have-beens—only what's present, dealt him by something he calls Chance and Graciela calls God. He will stake everything on this anarchist experiment, and if he loses, he'll go on to something else. But he won't hold back. She's glad of that. He's a source of strength.

How is it both of them kept from vanishing from each other, into the paper cities and afternoons of this strange peace, and the coming Austerity? Could it be there's something about ad hoc arrangements, like the present mission, that must bring you in touch with the people you need to be with? that more formal adventures tend, by their nature, to separation, to loneliness?

"The object of life is to make sure you die a weird death. To make sure that however it finds you, it will find you under very weird circumstances. To live that kind of life..."