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Review: “Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon

July 30, 2016


Posted here because of Goodreads character limits on reviews…

[note: pretty good chance I’ll be playing fast-n-loose with plot points, themes, and major developments in the book with this review; I’ll try to hide spoilers, but if you’re seriously planning to read this book and want to go in Downy fresh, consider this your warning.]

One of my favorite books about music and the musician behind it is Graham Lock’s Forces in Motion: The Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton. It’s a book I recommend to anyone, not just fans of Mr. Braxton’s considerable musical oeuvre. Lock follows Braxton and his then-current band (his legendary ‘80s quartet) though their financially unsuccessful but artistically brilliant tour of the UK in 1985. Lock speaks to the band, follows the tour, and, mostly, lets Braxton speak at length about his music and his life. He allows much room to explore the workings of Braxton’s incredible musical and philosophical mind. As a composer, Anthony Braxton sifts through jazz, avant-garde composition (Cage, Stockhausen, Xenakis, etc.), serialism, free improvisation, gospel, court musics of East Asia and many, many other forms into a knotted polyglot of voices and inspirations. But most importantly, Braxton keeps referring to the fact that he’s just scratching the surface of his intentions.

A phrase common to Forces in Motion is “Upper Partials.” It’s a term that I believe Mr. Braxton invented himself (he has dozens of these self-made concepts: tri-axium structures, multi-language musics, gravallic weight), and it refers specifically to the ungraspable nature of his own writing and thinking. When Braxton refers to future compositions, “in which orchestras on different planets, operating via interplanetary interlink, will perform together, conducting an individual concert for people who will each have their own planet in the galaxy,” it sounds like a joke, but Braxton is dead serious. “Of course, I can still compose this knowing that it might not happen in my lifetime.” In particular, Braxton refers to Upper Partials when explaining his hieroglyphic-like (and ever-refining) collection of symbols and diagrams that he uses to title his works (for ease of reference, he also assigns them alphanumeric titles, i.e. Composition #96 or Composition #23B). Lock attempts to understand these titles as they relate to the music (go to and look at the Braxton discography section to see dozens of examples), and doesn’t get the answer he hopes for. Braxton tells him that even *he* doesn’t understand them all!

“Upper Partials,” in other words, refers to forces, energies multi-directional musical approaches that Braxton is attempting to harness in his own music, symbols and systems of energy and tonality and rhythm and harmony and movement that he hopes will coagulate into new ways of thinking the feeling that will uplift the human race, that will be understood by future generations (insert now-standard cynic’s footnote: “…if we’re still here….”) and used to build new artistic movements, new systems of thinking and living, new modes of empathy and universal understanding.

Now that that’s out the way, let’s talk Gravity’s Rainbow.

Y’see, I just finished it this morning. I read the final words, read the last of Weisenburger’s notations, re-read his section intros (definitely save those until you’ve finished that section of the book – spoilers ahoy!), skipped past the last of the Pynchonwiki entries, scrolled around the huge flow-chart detailing the ways the major characters are related (sadly, Joaquin Stick did not warrant a mention), and kept thinking about Upper Partials. Weisenburger makes a pretty good case that GR is intensely circular in its structure: circular like a Mandala, circular like the 12 Test-Stands (rocket launch stations) arranged in a ring at Peenemünde, and, in one of the book’s most confusing explanations of ballistics, circular like a rocket’s path in the absence of ground – without an impact site to stop it (replaced perhaps by a perfectly-constructed tunnel back to the launch site), a rocket’s path would, in theory, loop back around under the earth and form a perfect circle.

Pynchon uses circles and cyclical narratives as well as reversals of cause and effect as structural aids. Over them, he layers religion and ritual from some very specific, obscure sources – the Kabbalah, Teutonic mythology, the Tarot, Rosicrucianism, Herero legends, Native American storytelling – over his story and characters. He finds the overlapping circles in each and overlays them on atop another. He does this to zero in on a target he can’t quite locate – how we as a species have become so desperate to fire missiles and drop bombs on one another.

Like Anthony Braxton, Pynchon is happy to let his reach exceed his grasp. The pieces fit together in an architecturally complex (even staggering) way, and the result is a piece of art and thinking that’s founded its own industry of fact-finders and theorists, but there’s no real end-point. Maybe that’s because human thinking (especially male thinking) hasn’t gotten beyond its obsession with the intermingling of sex and death, penetration and dominance. Perhaps that’s the only point, the point of any art created in response to war: not to stop war (what art could do that?), but to poke at the sore spot in the brain and the soul that the body (humankind) seeks to soothe by redirecting its pain outward, toward other human beings. The solutions aren’t big, they’re small, and they’re ultimately doomed. As a tree recommends in one of the book’s many flights of fancy – if you see bulldozers ready to knock down a forest and nobody’s keeping watch, jump up on that tractor and grab the oil filter. Anything to slow down the system. (“The Counterforce” in a nutshell.)

Beyond the Zero

Much of part one of GR is girded with strong Pavlovian and Freudian psychology. We see a wartime London bombarded by metal penises (the dreaded V-2), violence seemingly at perfect random, a Poisson distribution that, according to statistician Roger Mexico, shows no repeating pattern whatsoever, and therefore offering no way to predict the next strike, to get people to safety, to ward off this evil spell (hence the terror of the opening page. “It’s too late.”). Roger belongs to “The White Visitation” (always in quotes), an organization made up of psychics, occultists, soothsayers, telekinetics, statisticians, and other cranks tasked with predicting the pattern of the V-2 attack. It’s a perfect metaphor for the fear of the future, of war and violence – people turning to mysticism, magic, and math to try to predict the source of future pain and death and misery. But that’s hardly all – “The White Visitation” soon shows itself to be [spoiler, highlight to read]just another government agency protecting its funding even when the V-2s have stopped falling[/spoiler], just like so many other heroes in the book. Like Tyrone Slothrop, the books nominal protagonist, they seek to find the cause-and-effect mechanism of our current problems, but soon find that, somehow, forces higher than themselves have reversed it, gone “beyond the zero” (an insanely difficult to comprehend Pavlovian term that I now understand maybe 10% of) to a point where not only does the stimulus not produce the response, but the opposite occurs: the response causes the stimulus. In this, we see the horror of the V-2, a rocket so much faster than the speed of sound, it makes impact seconds before the sound of its arrival is heard by the victim. (British sources repeatedly report survivors of V-2 attacks who said you would see the explosion first, and only 1 or 2 seconds later did you hear the “screaming come[s] across the sky.”

The mysticism in part one is already overshadowed by much scarier forces in part two, as Slothrop begins to read and learn about how business cartels like IG Farben, Siemens, and the Bayer Company (yep, where the aspirin comes from, kiddies) often worked with US corporations, even in the heat of WWII, to standardize prices on gas, weaponry, and new plastic polymers. Slothrop’s inner narrator stammers into near-mania when he realizes that the missiles that are aimed at London (seemingly right at his erection) were launched from Germany, but with the assistance of radio guide towers in neutral countries. In the midst of war, corporations German and American alike gleefully click away on their adding machines, calculating profit in the face of unending loss. It may have seemed a radical belief in 1973, but our current, far more transparent (FOIA and all that) era has proved it to be true, time and again.

In the Zone

One of the most surprising things about GR as a novel is that it almost completely manages to avoid the key scenes of any WWII novel. There’s no ground battles, no monologues from generals, no tank movements across trenches, no moments of soldiers, sacrifice, and glory. GR completely subverts the WWII novel framework: there’s no beaches of Normandy, no Pearl Harbor, no Ostfront. We open on the tail end of the V-2 blitzkrieg on England, and from there, the bulk of the book takes place between V-E Day and the Atomic Bomb drop on Hiroshima, [spoiler]an event that effectively dissolves and scatters, philosophically speaking, our protagonist[/spoiler].

In this space, Pynchon treats us to the places of WWII few novelists (and not even that many historians) show us – the end of German occupation of Europe, yes, but also a time in which all of the smoking lands and resources left behind are furiously scooped up the allied forces, and, more importantly, small groups and individuals.

The true war is a celebration of markets. Organic markets, carefully styled “black” by the professionals, spring up everywhere. Scrip, Sterling, Reichsmarks continue to move, severe as classical ballet, inside their antiseptic marble chambers. But out here, down here among the people, the truer currencies come into being.

This is the entire thrust of part three, “In The Zone,” and a good portion of Pynchon’s interest from book to book. It’s one of the most fascinating things about this book – it lives almost entirely in the shadow left behind a war (with the battle in the Pacific still in full swing for a bit longer). It’s hard to imagine that “In the Zone” didn’t have a significant influence on that other, more explicit Vietnam allegory, the film Apocalypse Now. Sure, the plot is mostly based on Heart of Darkness, but it shares a lot of its weary trudging through wilderness-as-war-metaphor with GR. Slothrop traverses the gutted landscape of Europe, dressed in different disguises (including the superhero Rocketman and, later, in a colorful, stylized pig costume from a village’s parade ritual), seeing what the war machines left behind. In micro, we see small folks hustling dope (it’s hard to think of this as the “head book” it was marketed as until at least 500 pages in, when the hashish and amphetamines really start to flow) and “services,” Russian agents arguing about classical music, Spanish anarchists, a sex-crazed frigate called the Medusa, and a rundown German version of Disneyland called Zwolfkinder. Stranger in a Strange Land, indeed. It’s the war-time id, refracted through all of its most mindless pleasures (Mindless Pleasures was an early consideration for the title of the book).

Then there are the bigger hustles. Corporations can again collude in semi-public, V-2 scientists are expatriated to Russia and the US, V-2 schematics are hunted and found abandoned in shit-caked lavatories and self-sabotaged laboratories. The tool of such suffering, the V-2 rocket, has been stolen by the Allies, who use Von Braun and others to try and reconstruct it. War isn’t about stopping the V-2. It’s about grabbing it and turning it in the other direction, from the edge of the mandala and back into the center again.

Between Zero and One

Two of the most potent stories (there are at least 24 separate subplots running through this book) are the search for the mysterious Rocket #00000, and, later, the assembly and firing of Rocket #00001. The first is fired by Captain Weissman (aka Blicero, the “white destroyer” of Teutonic mythology – as with other reversals, Pynchon uses the Teutonic symbolism in which white, not black, is the color of death [one of many reasons why adding Weisenburger’s guide to your experience is 100% vital]) early in the book, though the launch itself is only explicitly shown on the final pages. There are several horrifying elements to the rocket and the launch that I won’t recount here (more for spoilers than for your gentle disposition). Weissman (who, like a dozen other characters in GR, first appear in Pynchon’s debut, V.) is an embodiment of the Nazi leadership in their final days, gripped with the inevitability of capture, defeat, and probably violent execution. His sex urge and death urge are comingled in a reverie of hysteria and homicidal impulse, a desire to win, but also to lose on his own terms. The firing of Rocket #00000, containing the mysterious polymer Imipolex G (possibly a key element of Slothrop’s Pavlovian conditioning as a baby by Dr. Laszlo Jamf), is seen as some sort of finale, a final stab from the hand of death, but it’s really not. We hear that Weissman/Blicero goes West, the way of all explorers, and our narrator warns us, “if you’re wondering where he’s gone, look among the successful Academics, the Presidential advisors, the token intellectuals who sit on boards of directors. He is almost surely there. Look high, not low.” More chilling than all the buggery and shit-eating in this book, combined.

And then there is counterpoint, his brother, his opposite, the Herero commander Enzian, of the Schwarzkommando (Black Command), who are assembling Rocket #00001, aimed seemingly in the exact opposite direction as #00000, the direction of whose trajectory is opaquely described in the last paragraphs of the book. Its purpose, other than as a symbolic counterpoint to Blicero’s sacrifice to the god of Death, is uncertain. <spoiler, highlight to read>Weisenburger’s guide convincingly posits that it is aimed toward the heart of Germany, a final destruction of the country that brought Von Trotha’s extermination order to the Herereo (a West African tribe that was subject to brutal, genocidal German rule in the late 1800s and early 1900s) people. Another possibility is that the Herero, committed as they are to a final tribal suicide, perhaps aim it straight up in an attempt to eliminate themselves.</spoiler> For more on Hereros and their part in this saga, go read V. (You should do that anyway…it’s a great book.)

Two-Stage Launch

Part of the joy of reading GR is to read it after having read Pynchon’s debut, V. The realization that Lot 49 was almost certainly a stopgap meant only to keep food on the table while working on GR is all the more obvious after we see all the ropes (tendrils? Ha ha) lashing the first and third books together. The Herero struggle, as mentioned before, is covered in a chapter of V., and several of its main characters (Weissman, Kurt Mondaugen) make appearances again. Favored Pynchon character “Pig” Bodine (here only referred to, earlier in his career of sleaze, as “Seaman Bodine”) has appeared in both V. and the short story “The Low-Lands,” and his ancestor appears, I believe, in Mason & Dixon. Like David Mitchell, Pynchon likes to let his characters spill from book to book, and in this case, a number of the scenarios begun in V. are extended philosophically as well. V. stabs into the past with each alternating chapter, sometimes as far back as the 1800s, sometimes as far forward as the lead-up to WWII. If V.’s main point was the inability to escape the endless cycle of decadence into conflict, then GR turns the microscope to 1000x magnification, focusing precisely on the tail end of conflict and its return to a period of calm which will almost certainly lead to a complacency leading to newfound violence – V. predicted the Suez Canal Crisis as the next shock point, but it would only be a few years before bombings in Cambodia and the intimations of Communist subversion in former French Indochina that would prove to be the fire under Pynchon’s anvil.

Porky Pig vs. the Anarchist

Never one to tell a joke only once, Pynchon recycles his best references from book to book. In The Crying of Lot 49, a bookstore owner tells Oedipa Maas about a cartoon in which Warner Brothers favorite Porky Pig meets a bomb-throwing Anarchist. It sounds like one of Pynchon’s usual flights of fancy (like “The White Visitation,” a government-sponsored psychic agency, or Lot 49’s alternate postal system, W.A.S.T.E.), but this one is really true. There was such a cartoon! It’s called “The Blow Out,” and it’s from 1936. You can see it at DailyMotion here:

Pynchon’s knowledge runs both deep and wide, he researches fanatically, and his interests have very little in the way of high/low distinctions. Steven Weisenburger, in his GR reader’s guide, notes again and again the depth of Pynchon’s understanding of the intricacies of V-2 production, the chronology of widespread collusion between worldwide chemical conglomerates, and the intricacies of religious and mystical systems ranging from the Tarot to Kabbalah to Teutonic myth (as chronicled by Grimm, he of the fairy tales). Yet, with nearly every head-scratching list, every realistically-plotted historical re-creation, every multilayered machination of war machine, profit center, and side-hustler, Pynchon can’t help add just one fictional element to reminder that you’ll never find every clue, and that Gravity’s Rainbow, as a book, isn’t meant to be solved like a 50-story Rubik’s Cube. It’s a parable, a movie in book form, a magic spell against future cravenness and corruption, a call to action, a big, horrible blast-mirror meant to incinerate (or at least embarrass) the homicidal, rabbit-brained profiteers in our midst.

(aside: a lot of novelists who came up in the ‘60s and the ‘70s alluded to capital-f Film as a primary influence. But in my experience, most of them only used the language of the script and the dialogue of actors, the language itself rather than the mis-en-scene as a whole. Pynchon, especially in this book, really does write a film before your eyes. Scenes open on an empty landscape, lovingly described. Sunrise over a field, a cloudy shore, a ruined flat in London. And then, several descriptive pages later, a character walks into frame, over a hill, from off-camera, like a ‘70s Altman movie, like Lawrence of Arabia slowly approaching from the endless expanse of desert. The tone shifts from sub-section to sub-section are a genre-busting mega-movie in which characters break into song one moment and deliver blood-chilling monologues about war the next, who engage in pie fights from hot air balloons and then engaging in gaggingly visceral bouts of coprophagia (talkin’ about eatin’ a poo-poo there, folks) immediately after. The scene in which Slothrop is subjected to various horrible British candies is as hilarious as Weissman’s subjugation of his slave, Gottfried, is nauseating. And through it all, we hear song after song, erupting with the non-sequiturial brilliance of Busby Berkeley, while still focusing on personal suffering as clear and unflinching as Bresson in Au Hausad Balthazaar.)

This overstuffing of research is a deliberate stylistic move. It would be perfectly possible to capture London during the Blitz without expecting the reader to have an encyclopedic knowledge of who was performing on the BBC the night of December 19. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life certainly doesn’t suffer from this lack of embedded detail, but its goal lies elsewhere. Similarly, Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful The Signature of All Things barely troubles the waters at all with the fact that you’re reading about a person from the 1800s – Alma Whittaker, for all her Victorian repressions and circumscribed opportunities, could just as easily be working in the 1920s, or in certain parts of the 1950s.

Pynchon’s obsessive construction, ESPECIALLY in the first section (it’s no surprise that most people who give up on GR say that they put the book down within the first 200 pages) is a specific choice on his part. At this point, with missiles falling all around us, fear makes time go slow. Every second we wait for the next explosion, we examine our surroundings with obsessive details, looking at every piece of furniture, every stained piece of silverware, every radio program as though it’s the last time we’ll ever see it. Once Slothrop begins his cross-continent excursion through The Zone (Pynchon’s term for the shattered conglomeration of countries [including Germany] and the countries occupied by it, now entering the first days of their reconstruction and regrouping), there’s time to think as you make your way from place to place, days spend walking and without seeing anyone. The narrative slows to reflect this, and, like long-distance communications, the reports from other characters (Russian agent Tchticherine, Enzian and the Schwarzkommando, Franz and Leni Pökler and the flashbacks to Peenemünde) take on slower, more linear dispatches. Like the legendary MC5 documentary (MC5: A True Testimonial), Pynchon increases and decreases the density of information as a form of tone and shading in the narrative to stunning effect.

Beyond Beyond the Zero

There’s a notion that books like GR aren’t really a thing anymore because we as a culture have moved on from wanting or needing them. The so-called Post-Postmodernists like Wallace, Chabon, Diaz, Atkinson, and others have grown past this meta-textual deck of cards, and that characters with deep backgrounds and real feelings have trumped Pynchon’s stock players and grandiose sets. But I don’t think it’s just novels. I think there was something about the late ‘60s and early ‘70s that made people want to suck up every influence and make them into these huge, nearly-toppling rococo structures that left nothing out. If you think about GR as a mirror of its time, you also need to think about The Firesign Theatre’s avant-garde radio plays, each of the first four albums as deep and multi-layered as each of GR’s four sections. Or the dense, meta-textual historical films of Ken Russell (The Demons, The Music Lovers) and Peter Watkins (The Battle of Culloden, Edward Munch). Or even long-form PBS mini-series’ like “I, Claudius.” There was something about that specific time, that specific cycle of decadence leading to conflict anew that lead artists and documentarians toward the grandiose. When people talk about GR’s declining influence now, they speak about the fact that WWII is no longer in recent memory, its final veterans leaving the earth via natural means, and Vietnam allegories of protest no longer resonant in the modern age.

It’s interesting that, as we stand face to face with an enormous, seemingly limitless, array of information about both the past and the present – the great, hoary old series of Tubes we call the internet – art’s tendency (as far as I can see) is plunging ever inward, singular, personal. Which could be awesome, if the plunge inward tended toward philosophical transcendence from technological dependency or moral uncertainties rising from the overwhelming flood of information the internet has brought us. Think about Delillo’s “Joycean book of America…the book in which nothing is left out” in Libra. A book like that, with the resources available via the internet, would be more possible now than ever. Where are the novels dealing with the complexities of the vastly more complex-than-1972 military-industrial complex? What would a GR of 2016 look like? What would its mystic touchstones be? Scientology? Corporatism? In some ways, I think of Robert Ashley’s mountainous operas from the last three decades as a continuance of Pynchon’s book. Much more so than the novels of Mark Danielewski, which appear to be raw data in search of a guiding principle.

“It Has Happened Before, But There Is Nothing To Compare It To Now”

Certainly, plenty of other things date GR. Its depiction of women, for starters, not to mention most non-whites in the book. It’s a pretty standard trick from the early ‘70s, white dudes talking Black or Mexican to show they’re not like those regular bigots – they know the score, man! The Firesign Theatre have this for days. It was meant well – I sincerely believe is was done as a gesture of solidarity, an extension of Lenny Bruce – but as the years go on, it sounds weirder and uglier, a poor way to show solidarity with those who have less privileges in this world than you.

And yeah, when Pynchon talks about “high magic to low puns,” he also means a lot of emphasis on the lower organs. There’s a lot of rape, lotta buggery, lotta sexual slavery, lotta women giving up BJs to random dudes under the guise of “there’s a war on, and we’re all scared, let’s let off some steam!” Maybe so. This, again, is a tactic that has started to fade into obscurity, which I call “it’s gettin’ so bad, they’re even rapin’ our WOMEN!” Rape’s been a shorthand from male writers for decades to represent any escalation of decadence or war atrocity, and it’s not hard to see why it might push female readers away. As a fairly coarse, privileged white dude myself, I plowed through it with ease, but I would, wouldn’t I? I still think there’s plenty of reason to use horrific material in literature, but even Pynchon’s later books seem to approach these same topics without the nihilistic fervor on display here.

At the same time, I hope these reasons aren’t used to explain why it’s not worth approaching GR on its other merits. This is such a philosophically enormous, morally focused book, it would be a shame to see it relegated to the status of something like Memories of Things Past.

Why We Fight (and How)

No matter how smart or clued-in you are to Pynchon’s weirdo wavelength, you’ll never encompass this book in a single reading. It is an enormous, durable set of moral and philosophical inquiries (encased in a bizarre, hurtful, hilarious story) that are capable of absorbing ideas about the world and centering them to their targets, like the radio tower in Belgium directing the V-2 strikes. Already, as I start reading other people’s thoughts on GR and the whole of Pynchon’s “German Period” of writing, I see that people far smarter than me find all sorts of possibilities in this book, and many of them are pretty damn right on! I especially enjoyed Alan J. Friedman and Manfred Puetz’s “Gravity’s Rainbow: Science as a Metaphor” from Harold Bloom’s excellent compendium of essays on Pynchon’s work to 1986. “Science as Metaphor” ties all of the novels – V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity’s Rainbow – as well as the early short story “Entropy,” and specifically ties notions of the scientific principle of Entropy to each of them in Pynchon’s understanding of how to order a world, the implications of a world of chaos, and the way that energy must be expended to induce order. It’s a pretty head 12 pages; I highly recommend it. Most important to my own understanding is the way that resisting entropy, i.e. adding energy to a system in order to reverse the flow toward stasis and inaction, full breakdown and energy dispersal to the universe.

One of my big questions from the book was about section four, specifically the activities of The Counterforce. What did they actually do, or accomplish? Are they only doing Merry Prankster activities like Bodine at the dinner party, grossing out executives, or peeing on boardroom tables like Pirate Prentice? Is resistance to an unacceptable system only accomplished through small, futile gestures? Is all we really have to work with the possibility of stealing the oil filter from the bulldozer? We do know, after all, that someone’s going to find another oil filter sooner than later, and the destruction of the forests will continue. The essay argues that a tremendous amount of energy must be expended to reverse the will of entropy, but that re-ordering an existing system (one that may be slowing toward total collapse itself) requires even more. They note a telling line from a person tending mice in a testing lab: “I’d set you free but I don’t know how. It’s not very free out there.”

Whether The Counterforce makes real changes or only keeps putting the blocks on top of one another, resisting the efforts of the universe to move toward complete heat death, is almost beside the point. The struggle is the thing, above all. “It’s not just a resistance/it’s a war.”

Then We Came to the End of another Dull and Lurid Year

Much like my experience reading V. last year, the immersive experience of Gravity’s Rainbow was beyond words. It made me think not just about literature, not just about the money and corporate influence behind the war machine (though that…yes. Very much of that. War is a racket. That must never be forgotten.), but in the way one immerses into the creation of a world, a master statement. The way writing is architecture, and when executed properly, architecture can make you cry and laugh and be a better person in the world. Like James Ensor’s massive, multi-panel work The Temptation of St. Anthony, it’s a testament to the desire to leave nothing out, to take a concept that seeps into our lives and pick at it from every conceivable angle, religious to scientific to philosophical to mystical to profane.

I already can’t wait to re-read it, but I’m going to wait for a while. I’m taking a few months off from Pynchon on Weekends, partly to simulate the 17-year gap between GR and Vineland, and partly so that I can do some other reading (August will be spent with Eleanor Catton’s enormous historical novel The Luminaries, an experience I expect will inform my 2017 reading of Pynchon’s next doorstop, Mason & Dixon), and partly to read some criticism about Pynchon’s first three novels and stories – when he returns in 1990, he’s a changed man. There’s hope, and light, and family, and further retreat from dull, craven society amidst the paranoia. Hopeful hopelessness?

Like Gravity’s Rainbow, I’ll end on a song:

I’m so glad we had this time together,
Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.
Seems we just got started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, ‘So long.’


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