Footnotes from Beyond the Zero, part IV

Yet another entry in an ongoing project to collect interesting tidbits, quotes, and footnotes for Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Gravity’s Rainbow. Strangely, the novel has begun to take form for me, actually being coherant at times with some sort of plot now apparent (albeit not a linear or traditional one). See also: [part I | part II | part III]

  • Qlippoth : Usually described as a plane or planes containing living souls which unwillingly became demons and are thus known to the main sequence of Western Magic as Qlippoth, Shells of the Dead. The Qlippoth can be viewed as a negative reflection or counterbalance to the Sephiroth (the Tree of Life). Just as the Sephiroth depict progressive evolution and eventual reunion with God, the Qlippoth symbolize progressive degeneration, entropy, and disintegration.
  • Metatron : In Kabbalistic lore, the highest angel who sits next to Yahweh’s throne. He acts as the voice of God and it’s Metatron’s task to sustain mankind. He has been known as the link between the human and the divine. The burning bush, pilars of fire, and any other time a human thought they were talking to God, they were actually talking to Metatron. You can also see him perform these functions in Kevin Smith’s film Dogma.
  • There are several passages that reminded me of Fight Club: “But tonight he lies humped on the floor at her feet, his withered ass elevated for the cane, bound by nothing but his need for pain, for something real, something pure… pain. The clearest poetry, the endearment of greatest worth…”
  • Funny concept: “He will learn to hear quote marks in the speech of others.”
  • Werewolf : Not just a lycanthrope, but, rather, an underground army recruited and trained in 1945 for guerilla warfare against the Allies who were in the process of occupying Germany. Technically spelled Wehrwolf (meaning, literally, “defence wolf”), the term actually has a long association with irregular warfare in Germany. The Nazi variety preferred the English spelling, as it sounded more feral and it distanced them from previous Wehrwolf movements.
  • Lord Acton : English historian at Cambridge. In a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, he infamously wrote “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Another Acton quote: “History is not woven by innocent hands.”
  • A nice Pynchonian quote: “…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.”
  • What kind of mustache would you grow? “‘Bad-guy,’ sez Slothrop. Meaning, he explains, trimmed, narrow, and villainous.”

That does it for this installment of Footnotes from Beyond the Zero (which, since I’ve finished the “chapter” labeled “Beyond the Zero”, has become a bit of a misnomer, but I like the name anyway, so I’ll stick with it). See also: [part I | part II | part III]