Monday, December 04, 2006

Launch the Good Ship Inconvenient!

Now, Everybody!
the Chum of Chance is a pluc-ky soul
Who shall neither whine nor ejac-u-late,
For his blood's as red and his mind's as pure
As the stripes on his bla-a-zer immaculate!
And we're off!

Our Against the Day reading group, The Chumps of Choice (one of Will's, one of Will's!), has a spanking-new blog, and we're ready to begin the festivities!

Everyone who expressed interest in our little Online Pynchonian Experiment is invited to pop over to the Chumps of Choice blog and prepare for devilment and spifflication!

Your Humble and Ob't Servant will kick off proceedings next Monday, Dec. 11, sharp. Our first week we will be examining pp. 1-25 of Pynchon's latest doorstop, moderated by li'l old moi. The second week, with the sure hand of Will Divide on the tiller, we'll delve into pp. 26-56.

At this rate, we'll steam into the Aerodrome at the annual convention of the Garçons de '71 at approximately this time next year -- bloodied but unbowed, and replete with knowledge won and friendships solidified.

Will and I do have one major-ish concern: We need folks to step up and take over moderator roles. The duties will be as light as they can possibly be: You'll be asked to introduce a small (20-30 pages, max.) section of the novel, elucidate what you can, and throw out discussion questions to the group. You will not be asked to lead any discussions, mediate in any disputes, answer any imponderable questions, or pose nude for overhead balloonists' delectation. If you'd like to help with these tasks, please email me at neddiejingo at aol dot com -- or, for that matter, just indicate your interest in Comments either here or at the Chums of Chance blog, which you could do worse than bookmark right now.

I've begun a calendar for moderator duties (best viewed in "Month" mode); if you see an opening you'd like to volunteer for, please let us know through the methods outlined above.

We will do two weeks before the holiday break. We'll go dark from Dec. 24-Jan. 7, and pick up again after we've all thanked God for the delivery of Baby Jesus.

Later Edit: QRED poses an interesting question -- one that is quite revelatory about attitudes toward Pynchon:
Speaking as someone entirely unfamiliar with this author beyond the first 5 pages of this book, which I do not yet own, I have this one innocent question: Am I likely to relysh Pynchon if I could not finysh Myst?
Fascynatingly, the answer in Yes. Pynchon is not a puzzle to be solved. He quite deftly refuses to be solved. He is a novelist, not a game-maker. What he does, rather than set puzzles, is to ask questions that have no answer. In the words of Pynchon for Newbies:
Against the Day is a large and complex work. But one must be reminded that beneath the wide-ranging erudition and complexity there beats a rock 'n' roll heart, and the daunting mystery and "high seriousness" is counterbalanced by flights of zany (and often quite dark) humor. And, of course, there is simply the sheer beauty and breathtaking power of the writing, the subtly interwoven plots and themes, the rich detail and, as Penny Padgett (who helps maintain the Thomas Pynchon Home Page) put it, "the way you can find something amazing on just about every page, the way these amazing things have a way of connecting to each other, giving you that 'aha!' experience every time you look closer."
Yes, Myst, but so, so, so much more than Myst.


Anonymous said...


Did you get my email today?

XTCfan said...

Well, when you put it that way, he sounds a lot like Melville, whom I thoroughly enjoy ... but only because I had the time and opportunity in college to really study and savor him (thanks to a great professor, too).

I'm in.

Anonymous said...

Damn it, I'm in. I wouldn't miss this for the world.

xtcfan -- Melville was on my mind, too, as I read Neddie's post -- especially this passage from Moby-Dick, about the harpooner Queequeg:

With a wild whimsiness, he now used his coffin for a sea-chest; and emptying into it his canvas bag of clothes, set them in order there. Many spare hours he spent, in carving the lid with all manner of grotesque figures and drawings; and it seemed that hereby he was striving, in his rude way, to copy parts of the twisted tattooing on his body. And this tattooing, had been the work of a departed prophet and seer of his island, who, by those hieroglyphic marks, had written out on his body a complete theory of the heavens and the earth, and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth; so that Queequeg in his own proper person was a riddle to unfold; a wondrous work in one volume; but whose mysteries not even himself could read, though his own live heart beat against them; and these mysteries were therefore destined in the end to moulder away with the living parchment whereon they were inscribed, and so be unsolved to the last. And this thought it must have been which suggested to Ahab that wild exclamation of his, when one morning turning away from surveying poor Queequeg -- 'Oh, devilish tantalization of the gods!'

Anonymous said...

Don't mind me as I lurk behind the arras. I read V after three attempts; I read Lot 49 with great glee; and I read Vineland. But Gravity's Rainbow and Mason Dixon I found completely impenetrable. Thanks for the links to other Pynchonalia sites.