In the echo, there was silence.

The sky changed, the entire translucent dome stunned by the swiftness of the shimmering atomic flash. The light drove their once tiny shadows to a terrifying distance in the desert, making them seem like titans. Then it shrank, the aurora crashing insanely backward, like a film in reverse, toppling, swimming into a single white-hot bulge, a humming lump, festering core. It hovered inches above the horizon, dancing, waiting almost as if it were taking a stoked breath, then swelled in puffing spasms, poking high into the stratosphere, edging out the pale skyrocket vapor trails at either side, the ball going sickly yellow, the shock wave releasing its roar, the entire spectacle catching fire, blazing chaotically, shaming the paltry sun.

In the echo, there was silence.

—Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Fariña

Still he was in love.

Still he was in love.

And love was a consolation. Like a sideshow panacea for symptomatic ills, it soothed anxiety, pain and doubt; eased fear and insomia, purged the more accessible demons, and apparently acted as a mild laxative. Above mach 1, of course, control systems were likely to reverse. Anxiety might come crawling back on six prickly legs, pain might return with a prodigal scream to the inner ear, fanged demons might drop from the darkness, doubt might creep whispering from a mildewed closet, insomia might collapse weeping between his eyes, constipation might close insidiously in. But speeds were still relatively moderate and Gnossos liked it down where he could hear the sound of his own exhaust.

—Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Fariña

“Here’s to money”

“Here’s to money,” he said, not quite aloud. After a time you discovered that it was all that was important, because with it you could buy liquor and food, clothes and women, and make more money. Then, after a further time, you went on to discover that liquor was unnecessary and food unimportant, that you had all the clothes you could use and had had all the women you wanted, and there was only money left. After which there was still another discovery to be made. He had made that by now, too.

— Warlock by Oakley Hall (1958)

Chase Music

At long last, after a distinguished career of uttering, “My God, we are too late!” always with the trace of a sneer, a pro-forma condescension—because of course he never arrives too late, there’s always a reprieve, a mistake by one of the Yellow Adversary’s hired bunglers, at worst a vital clue to be found next to the body—now, finally, Sir Dennis Nayland Smith will arrive, my God, too late.

Superman will swoop boots-first into a deserted clearing, a launcher-erector sighing oil through a slow seal-leak, gum evoked from the trees, bitter manna for this bitterest of passages. The colors of his cape will wilt in the afternoon sun, curls on his head begin to show their first threads of gray. Philip Marlowe will suffer a horrible migraine and reach by reflex for the pint of rye in his suit pocket, and feel homesick for the lacework balconies of the Bradbury Building.

Submariner and his multilingual gang will run into battery trouble. Plasticman will lose his way among the Imipolex chains, and topologists all over the Zone will run out and stop payments on his honorarium checks (“perfectly deformable,” indeed!). The Lone Ranger will storm in at the head of the posse, rowels tearing blood from the stallion’s white hide, to find his young friend, innocent Dan, swinging from a tre limb by a broken neck. (Tonto, God willing, will put on the ghost shirt and find some cold fire to hunker down by to sharpen his knife).

“Too late” was never in their programming. They find instead a moment’s suspending of their sanity—but then it’s over with, whew, and it’s back to the trail, back to the Daily Planet. Yes Jimmy, it must’ve been the day I ran into that singularity, those few seconds of absolute mystery … you know Jimmy, time—time is a funny thing … There’ll be a thousand ways to forget. The heroes will go on, kicked upstairs to oversee the development of bright new middle-line personnel, and they will watch their system falling apart, watch those singularities begin to come more and more often, proclaiming another dispensation out of the tissue of old-fashioned time, and they’ll call it cancer, and just won’t know what things are coming to, or what’s the meaning of it all, Jimmy …

—Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

… and their mission in this world is Bad Shit.

Well, if the Counterforce knew better what those categories concealed, they might be in a better position to disarm, de-penis and dismantle the Man. But they don’t. Actually they do, but they don’t admit it. Sad but true. They are as schizoid, as double-minded in the massive presence of money, as any of the rest of us, and that’s the hard fact. The Man has a branch office in each of our brains, his corporate emblem is a white albatross, each local rep has a cover known as the Ego, and their mission in this world is Bad Shit. We do know what’s going on, and we let it go on. As long as we can see them, stare at them, those massively moneyed, once in a while. As long as they allow us a glimpse, however rarely. We need that. And how they know it—how often, under what conditions … We ought to be seeing much popular-magazine coverage on the order of The Night Rog and Beaver Fought Over Jessica While She Cried in Krupp’s Arms, and drool over every blurry photo—

Roger must have been dreaming for a minute here of the sweaty evenings of Thermidor: the failed Counterforce, the glamorous ex-rebels, half-suspected but still enjoying official immunity and sly love, camera-worthy wherever they carry on … doomed pet freaks.

They will use us. We will help legitimize Them, though They don’t need it really, it’s another dividend for Them, nice but not critical.

—Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Listening to the Toilet

The basic idea is that They will come and shut off the water first. The cryptozoa who live around the meter will be paralyzed by the great inbreak of light from overhead … then scatter like hell for lower, darker, wetter. Shutting off the water interdicts the toilet: with only one tankful left, you really can’t get rid of much anything any more, dope, shit, documents, They’ve stopped the inflow/outflow and here you are trapped inside. Their frame with your wastes piling up, ass hanging out all over Their Movieola viewer, waiting for Their editorial blade. Reminded, too late, of how dependent you are on Them, for neglect if not good will: Their neglect is your freedom. But when they do come on it’s like society-gig Apollos, striking the lyre
Everything freezes. The sweet, icky chord hangs in the air … there is no way to be at ease with it. If you try the “Are you quite finished, Superintendent?” gambit, the man will answer, “No, as a matter of fact … no, you nasty little wet-mouthed prig, I’m not half finished, not with you …”
So it’s good policy always to have the toilet valve cracked a bit, to maintain some flow through the toilet so when it stops you’ll have that extra minute or two. Which is not the usual paranoia of waiting for a knock, or a phone to ring: no, it takes a particular kind of mental illness to sit and listen for a cessation of noise. But—

—Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (p708, Penguin Deluxe Edition)

Coming in the door, first thing Bodine notices is this string quartet that’s playing tonight.

Coming in the door, first thing Bodine notices is this string quartet that’s playing tonight. The second violin happens to be Gustav Schlabone, Säure, Bummer’s frequent unwelcome doping partner, “Captain Horror,” as he is affectionately but not inaccurately known around Der Platz—and playing viola is Gustav’s accomplice in suicidally depressing everybody inside 100 meters’ radius wherever they drop in (who’s that tapping and giggling at your door, Fred and Phyllis?), André Omnopon, of the feathery Rilke mustaches and Porky Pig tattoo on stomach (which is becoming the “hep” thing lately: even back in the Zone of the Interior the American subdebs all think it’s swoony). Gustav and André are the Inner Voices tonight. Which is especially odd because on the program is the suppressed quartet from the Haydn Op. 76, the so-called “Kazoo” Quartet in G-Flat Minor, which gets its name from the Largo, cantabile e mesto movement, in which the Inner Voices are called to play kazoos instead of their usual instruments, creating problems of dynamics for cello and first violin that are unique in the literature. “You actually need to shift places from a spiccato to a détaché,” Bodine rapidly talking a Corporate Wife of some sort across the room toward the free-lunch table piled with lobster hors d’oeuvres and capon sandwiches—“less bow, higher up you understand, soften it—then there’s also about a thousand ppp-to-fff blasts, but only the one, the notorious One, going the other way….” Indeed, one reason for the work’s suppression is this subversive use of sudden fff quieting to ppp. It’s the touch of the wandering sound-shadow, the Brennschluss of the Sun. They don’t want you listening to too much of that stuff—at least not the way Hayden presents it (a strange lapse in the revered composer’s behaviour): cello, violin, alto and treble kazoos all rollicking along in a tune sounds like a song from the movie Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, “You should see me dance the Polka,” when suddenly in the middle of an odd bar the kazoos just stop completely, and the Outer Voices fall to plucking a non-melody that tradition sez represents two 18th-century Village Idiots vibrating their lower lips. At each other. It goes on for 20, 40 bars, this feeb’s pizzicato, middle-line Kruppsters creak in the bow-legged velvet chairs, bibuhbuhbibuhbuh this does not sound like Hayden, Mutti!

—Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

“The Triumph of Bullshit” by T.S. Eliot

Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited
If you consider my merits are small
Etiolated, alembicated,
Orotund, tasteless, fantastical,
Monotonous, crotchety, constipated,
Impotent galamatias
Affected, possibly imitated,
For Christ’s sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward, insipid and horribly gauche
Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous
Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche
Floundering versicles feebly versiculous
Often attenuate, frequently crass
Attempts at emotion that turn isiculous,
For Christ’s sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies who think me unduly vociferous
Amiable cabotin making a noise
That people may cry out “this stuff is too stiff for us”—
Ingenuous child with a box of new toys
Toy lions carnivorous, cannon fumiferous
Engines vaporous- all this will pass;
Quite innocent, —“he only wants to make shiver us.”
For Christ’s sake stick it up your ass.

And when thyself with silver foot shall pass
Among the theories scattered on the grass
Take up my good intentions with the rest
And then for Christ’s sake stick them up your ass.

On the Phrase “Ass Backwards”

“Why do you speak of certain reversals—machinery connected wrong, for instance, as being ‘ass backwards’? I can’t understand that. Ass usually is backwards, right? You ought to be saying ‘ass forwards,’ if backwards is what you mean.”

“ ‘Ass’ is an instensifier,” Seaman Bodine now offers, “as in ‘mean ass,’ ‘stupid ass’—well, when something is very backwards, by analogy you’d say ‘backwards ass.’ ”

“But ‘ass backwards’ is ‘backwards ass’ backwards,” Saüre objects.

“But gee that don’t make it forwards,” blinks Bodine with a sincere little break in his voice as if somebody’s just about to hit him—

Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon (pp. 696 & 698 Penguin Deluxe edition 2006)

They have a contest, for Mother of the Year

They have a contest, for Mother of the Year, breast-feeding, diaper-changing, they time them, casserole competitions, ja—then, toward the end, they actually begin to use the children. The State Prosecutor comes out on stage. ‘In a moment, Albrecht, we are going to bring your mother on. Here is a Luger, fully loaded. The State will guarantee you absolute immunity from prosecution. Do whatever you wish to do—anything at all. Good luck, my boy.’ The pistols are loaded with blanks, natürlich, but the unfortunate child does not know this. Only the mothers who get shot at qualify for the finals. Here they bring in psychiatrists, and judges sit with stopwatches to see how quickly the children will crack.

—Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon