Wednesday, December 9, 2009

animals notes

'fustI love animals

So. We've got the professor and the shetland. (And whose croft do they retire to, anyway? If it were hers, wouldn't it be north Scotland, and not north England?) Also Ruperta's dog, Mouflette.

In v, Veronica the rat. In GR, Grigory the octopus (granted, not love so much, but still).

As pals, we've got the common-sense camel who takes Lindsay to the Chums ("[o]r was it the camel they were trying to lure?"), and, of course, Pugnax.

old notes

One: The Light Over the Ranges

1 (p. 3-9)
The Chums of Chance--I'm seeing Bobbsey Twins meet some kind of boys' pre-1960s serial. Other references?
The Chums of Chance and the Evil Halfwit. It's set in the nation's capital. And then, some of the references are absolutely contemporary. I'm sure that the town of Thick Bush, which appears on page 8, is pure coincidence.

Princess cassamassima - It's a real book, by Henry James. 1886. Young innocent involved in assassination plot. it's political. (Cassimassima is a town and commune in south-eastern Italy; it's just above the boot heel.)

2. p. 10-20
As they came in low over the Stockyards, the smell found them, the smell and the uproar offlesh learning its mortality

the vast herds of cattle adrift in ever-changing cloudlike patterns across the Western plains, here saw that unshaped freedom being rationalized into movement only in straight lines and at right angles and a progressive reduction of choices, until the final turn through the final gate that led to the killing-floor.

Frederick Jackson Turner wrote in 1893 about the closing of the American frontier, about the shift in the American identify that had always had somewhere else to go, to settle--somewhere else that wasn't at right angles and didn't reduce choices. Think Huck Finn. Think Little House on the Prairie. Hell, think Donner Party. In any case, we've got stockyards being likened to the closing of the frontier.

herr Riemann - mathematician.

the Chum of Chance is a plucky soul
Who shall neither whine nor ejaculate
For his blood's as red and his mind's as pure
As the stripes of his blazer immaculate!

Kentucky hemp suit - Google finds nothing relevant for kentucky "hemp suit" "19th century." Contemporary hemp suits in Kentucky are lawsuits, not clothing.

I love Randolph's warning about the dangers of "unprofitable delights" of the midway.

cubebs - it's a pepper grown in Java and Sumatra. It was popularly used as a medicinal in the 19th century. Later uses included flavoring gin and cigarettes. This being Pynchon, it's worth noting that among cubeb's traditional (Umani) uses was to intensity sexual pleasiure during sex--and later, in England during the 19th century, it was a treatment for gonorrhea. (

Keeley Cure - . It was an residential alcoholism treatment program that used proprietary (and apparently never specifically identified) "drugs" as well as behavior modification. 1879-1965. Founder was Leslie Keeley, site was Dwight, Ohio. It was a very big deal through the turn of the century.

p. 21-25

So was the Chicago Exhibition actually literally racially stratified? White stuff in the center and darker folks on the edges?

SPECIAL REINDEER SHOW. This must have been fun to write. SPECIAL REINDEER SHOW.

p. 26-35
Young DeForest, a regular wizard with the electricity -- who did DeForrest Kelly play on star Trek? Why is it that decades in the software industry didn't teach me this by osmosis?

Ray Ipsow and Scarsdale Vibe -- this, in a nutshell, is a great explanation of the attraction of socialism or the evils of a completely market-based economy. Again, he's not just talking about 1893. (AtD was published in 2007, so any coincidence between the Panic of 1893 and contemporary current events --and there's a lot of coincidence there, far more than any similarity with 1929 IMO--would have to be coincidental.)

-[I]n these times, 'need' arises directly from criminal acts of the rich, so it [need] 'deserves' whatever amount of money will atone for it. Fathomable enough for you?
-You are a socialist, sir.
-As anyone not insulated by wealth from the cares of the day is obliged to be. Sir.

"Old Zip Coon" - Real song. Sung to the tune of Turkey in the Straw. for links to a contemporary recording. Zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day. Like zippadee doodah.
I tell you what will happen now very very soon
united states bank will be blown to the moon
their general jackson we'll him lampoon
and the very next president will be zip coon

Jackson as in Andrew Jackson. As president he closed the Bank of the United States, in 1833 (three years before its founding charter ended), as an agrarian, anti-centralist, populist measure. Essentially, the closure of the bank led to the Panic of 1837. Note that despite the name and despite the fact that it was a federal government creation, the bank was privately owned. This Panic was about paper money without backing by specie (gold/silver) and the contraction of real estate (land, not houses) loans. see

I don't know what to think about coon as a racial slur wrt our current president; I can't see any parallel between jackson and shrub (who was anything but populist in his policies).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Where We're At: Part 5: Rue du Depart

End: Dally, Kit; Reef, Yashmeen; Frank, Stray, Jesse; the Chums.

  • Dally is in Paris. She broadcasts (once) to Merle on the radio (she doesn't exactly KNOW that he's listening)--tells him all she's done since she left Telluride. She's appearing in a Wilshire Vibe-produced operetta. Earlier (1915), she'd married Kit. They'd lived in Torino; the war had begun and they were miserable together; she ran into and gotten back together with Clive Crouchmas (never mind that he'd tried to sell her into white slavery). Kit's in Ukraine or somewhere now "off on some grand search after she didn't know what". He keeps sending letters, and sometimes sounds like he wants to come back; she's not sure she wants him.
  • Earlier in Torino, Kit went to the address Mulciber had given him and got work doing aircraft aerodynamics. He'd run into people from Gottingen. He'd invited Dally to come with him flying--she said no, didn't realize how important it was at the time. Divebombing a biplane at Torino factory strikers with his friend Renzo, Kit realized that it was all political; the strike was crushed, strikers killed.
  • [Remaining in earlier in Torino] Dally had randomly seen Yashmeen and Reef, with Ljubica, walk by her building; they were refugees and had come looking for Kit; Kit and Reef made up; Reef worked for the Italian army rigging cableways (against Austria).
  • Colfax Vibe showed up in Torino, too.
  • Kit began flying for Italy. The nosedives are like bombing in Colorado. After a fight which started about who the real enemy was, Dally had left for Paris. She sent Kit a postcard with her address when she got there.
  • Reef, Yashmeen, and Ljubica left Torino (and Kit), sailed to America claiming to be Italian immigrants. They made their way west looking for "someplace, some deep penultimate town the capitalist/Christer gridwork hadn't got to quite yet" and in Montana ran into Frank, Stray, and Jesse who are looking for the same thing. They join up. Jesse's a bit uncomfortable; he's been calling Frank "Pa". Yashmeen becomes pregnant again (daughter Plebecula); Stray and Frank's daughter Ginger is around Ljubica's age. Yashmeen and Stray may become lovers--it's not clear.
  • Dally, Paris. She randomly runs into Kit's old friend Policarpe, from Belgium. He says that peace and plenty are the illusion; they're still in Hell and have been since 1914. And there's Kit. He'd seen Vanderjuice in Lvov after the war; Vanderjuice had earlier intended to kill Scarsdale and been saved by the Chums (who would take him or Kit wherever either would want to go). One day Vanderjuice vanished. Kit left and wandered and somehow was in Shambhala; he'd been on one of their stamps; and somehow he's also in Paris.
  • The Chums watch postwar Paris from the sky. The wives are still there; they all become pregnant; the ship has expanded into a whole city; there are kids, dogs, pets. The Inconvenience has become its own destination "where any wish that can be made is at least addressed, if not always granted. For every with to come true would mean that in the known Creation, good unsought and uncompensated would have evolved somehow, to become at least more accessible to us. No one aboard Inconvenience has yet observed any sign of this. They know... it is there, like an approaching rainstorm, but invisible. Soon they will see the pressure-gauge begin to fall. They will feel the turn in the wind. They will put on smoked goggles for the glory of what is coming to part the sky. They fly toward grace."


Where We're At: Part 4.20: Against the Day

Lew, Merle
  • Lew has a swanky office in LA (he came back to the US after the war); his assistants are movie extras. He's been drinking.
  • Chester Perkins comes to Lew's office--his boss, Tony Tsangarakis, who has a club (bar/music/dance) sent him. Lew had worked for Tony during the Syncopated Strangler case. Back then, Jardine Maraca, the house band's singer had been the roommate of one of the Strangler's victims, Encarnacion; Jardine had left town and gone to Santa Barbara and now has called Tony to tell him that her Encarnacion isn't dead but someone's after her (Jardine) now.
  • Lew goes to Jardine's shabby hotel room; she's checked out, but he calls one Emilio, who's a seer who reads toilet bowls. Emilio reads an address which he gives to Lew--it's bad news, lots of bodies.
  • Meanwhile, Merle Rideout has been frantically calling Lew; Lew agrees to meet Merle and sends one of the girls to drive by the address.
  • Before the war, Merle had randomly run into Luca Zombini, who was painting special effects at a studio. Merle sees Luca and Erlys, who filled him in on how well Dally was doing in London. Merle has forgiven Erlys. Merle became a friend of the family.
  • Merle and Roswell Bounce meet with Lew. They use their machine on a photo of Jardine Maraca; they see her driving around LA somewhere and going to a motel (not the one she'd been living at).
  • Roswell explains that their machine can also look at photo subjects' pasts--such as who killed a photographed corpse. (Except that unless they do something exactly right the past they see can diverge from what actually happened.) This reminds Lew of bilocation. (Meanwhile, Lew will protect Merle and Roswell, whose invention threatens the movie studios.)
  • Lew goes to the address Emilio gave him and Lake answers the door. Lake and Deuce had regularly seen the dead girl, Encarnacion, at Hollywood orgies ("I believe it's a soft g but that's the idea")--she disappeared when the Strangler showed up. Deuce is working security for a studio. He's still anti-union, anti-Anarchist; the marriage is cold. Lew gets rude-ish with Deuce, who pulls a gun; one of Lew's girl assistants shows up with her gun and saves him.
  • Lake is vaguely unhappy; Deuce's been having dreams ("trying to awaken from his own life"). Either he dreams he wakes up next to a corpse or he actually does. He's questioned and released.
  • Lew goes to the motel he saw in the photo regression; there he sees a party of all the people (or people like the people) he'd once chased after; they're all survivors of some cataclysm; it's a reunion of outlaws and Jardine is there visiting her father. He tells her that's he's been hired to find her; she doesn't want to be found. She says that the killer is Deuce Kindred. She leaves town.
  • Lew later brings a photo of Troth, his wife from way back when, to Merle.
  • Merle runs a photo of Dally; she's broadcasting on the radio from Paris; he tunes in.
(page 1062, end of Part 4.)

Where We're At: Part 4.19: Against the Day

The Chums
  • The Chums are independent now; like many affiliates, they've disaffiliated with the National Office. Also, they've expanded the ship considerably; they've got money now. Their income is mostly from investments and advertising now, not so much from missions.
  • Ksenjia is now flying with them.
  • There's a massive updraft over northern Africa. They go there and almost crash into Counter-Earth. They're on Counter-Earth yet still on earth. ("[T[he boys could almost believe some days that they were safely back home on Earth--on others they found an American Republic whose welfare they believed they were sworn to advance passed so irrevocably into the control of the evil and moronic that it seemed they could not, after all, have escaped the gravity of the Counter-Earth.") They can look but they're not permitted to interfere.
  • In autumn 1914, a Russian agent who calls himself Baklashchan (it's an alias) visits to tell them that Padzhnitoff has been missing for months; the Russians can't find him--given the world situation, maybe someone in his own line of work can. The Chums know nothing about the European war or the Russian revolution; Baklashchan doesn't explain.
  • They look for Padzhnitoff. More and more of the sky is off-limits; they see explosions on earth' there are food shortages.
  • Turns out everywhere Chums had been, Padzhnitoff had been, too. Where they hadn't been, he wasn't. Were they hunting themselves? A ghost of their own dead selves?
  • They fly over Flanders; Miles sees the trenches and the war--"as if some blindness had abruptly healed itself".
  • Then over France they see Padzhnitoff and the new Bolshai'a Igra.
  • Padzhnitoff's crew has gone independent as well, no more connections with Okhrana. Instead of dropping bricks, they're dropping food, clothing, and medical supplies (for the influenza epidemic the Chums weren't aware of). They're fugitives from whoever's in power and based out of Switzerland now. The Chums agree not to turn in Padzhnitoff to whoever's looking for him.
  • The Chums travel with the Bolshai'a Igra to Geneva; both sides' wounded prisoners of war are travelling home through neutral Switzerland. There's a big black market, but also kindness of the local people to the war injured. Padzhnitoff passes his crew's extra work to the Chums. They start distributing cargo and are promoted to moving politically sensitive internees (in/from the Balkans and Siberia). Their involvement in the war began when they landed on neutral ground.
  • After the armistice, the Chums are receiving contract work again on their own (but they also continue doing relief and repatriation). They receive a job offer from California--lots of money do do unspecified tasks. Randolph apologizes to Padzhnitoff for leaving.
  • They have trouble negotiating the Rockies and end up over Mexico, where they fly into the Soladality of Aetheronauts, a pool of girl fliers. The five girls match up with the five Chums. And they arrive, with the girls onboard, in Los Angeles.
  • Crossing America they'd noticed how much more lit up it was now--"a triumph over night whose motive none could quite grasp." They talk about the early church teaching that Lucifer is the bearer of light.
  • The Californian check bounces and the lawyer who'd sent it doesn't exist. But they're in LA anyway.
  • Chick randomly runs into his father, Dick Counterfly.
  • Dick's got some massive machine that does... something. He introduces the Chums to two "elderly eccentrics," Merle Rideout and Roswell Bounce. They're being bothered by someone; he gives them Lew Basnight's card.
  • Merle and Roswell have invented a machine that reverses the fixed-in-time process of photographs--they can start with the still photo and "integrate" it and release it back into action, into life. It's based on integrating electricity, because electricity and light are similar, just different wavelengths. The machine uses Lorandite, from Macedonia--it's a crystal. Merle's on a mission to set free the images in photographs--his own photos and others'.

(p. 1040)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chums of Chance Books: Read 'Em All!

The Chums of Chance and the Wrath of the Yellow Fang ("the boys' unheralded but decisive activities in the Boxer Rebellion")

Where We're At: Part 4.18: Against the Day

Frank; Stray
  • Scarsdale Vibe addresses a convention of owner types. "We will buy it all up,,, all this country,...[T]he good lowland townfolk will come up by the netful into these hills, clean, industrious Christian, while we, gazing out over their little vacation bungalows, will dwell in top-dollar palazzos befitting out station, which their mortgage money will be paying to build for us,,, [W]ho will be left anymore to remember the jabbering Union scum, the frozen corpses whose names... have gone forever unrecorded? who will care that once men fought as if an eight-hour day, a few coins more at the end of the week, were everything...."
  • Vibe sees an apparition (big, malevolent, face corroded) of his own destruction. He tells Foley that he looks forward to being "one of the malevolent dead."
  • Ewball tells Frank about the unquiet dead----it's about unfinished business, accounts to be balanced.
  • In Trinidad, Frank sees a big malevolent figure--it's Foley Walker. So Vibe must be in town too. Frank and Ewball argue all in subtext about who gets to kill Scarsdale (and who gets Foley instead). They flip a coin to decide.
  • Mother Jones is in town.
  • Frank's been carrying around Webb's cartridges all these years. They were for Deuce, but Scarsdale would be a decent alternative. It's now ten years since Scarsdale had Webb killed.
  • Frank comes up to Scarsdale with a gun; Scarsdale tells Foley to take care of it; Foley shoots Scarsdale--many times--he empties his gun. He's been waiting for this.
  • Ewball wanted more; Frank's satisfied that Scarsdale is dead.
  • Stray's doing what she can at the Trinindad tent city. They're surrounded by guns.
  • Jesse shows up.
  • The Colorado militia is using searchlights on the strikers' camp.
  • The Rev. Moss Gatlin is here as well.
  • It's getting more violent. Jesse and his Friend Dunn see a Death Special--an armored rail car that lets the riders shoot machine guns without even seeing who they're shooting at. Jesse finally understands that these grownups, the ones guarding the railcar, would kill him.
  • Frank runs into Stray in town; she's dressed as a nun for camouflage (literally--the gray habits blend with the landscape). Ewball's left. Stray invites Frank to come stay with them, meet Jesse.
  • Linderfelt, who Frank fought against in Mexico, is leading the militia here.
  • They'll leave (with Dunn), save their own lives. Frank sends Jesse and Stray to her sister's where they'd been living; he's staying to fight.

Where We're At: Parts 4.16-4.17: Against the Day

Stray, Ewball, Mayva
  • Stray and Ewball are still together but they don't remember why anymore. Stray's got her own network of medical supplies, doctors, union hospitals, pharmacists, and she's getting food and medicine to where they're needed. She never realized that Ewball's motivation was just that he liked getting into trouble.
  • Ewball decides to bring Stray to meet his family, who he hasn't seen in years, in Denver. Ewball's been using rare, incredibly valuable stamps (link) on this letters home.
  • Mayva's working as the Ousts' housekeeper.
  • Stray and Mayva bond again. Mayva's mellowed; she's mostly pretty happy.
  • "[H]ow inevitable, right from the minute the first easterners showed up, would be the betrayal of everyday life out here, so hard-won, into the suburban penance the newcomers had long acceded to."
  • Frank has remained in Chihuahua even though the US government has warned all Americans to leave Mexico because of the revolution. He ends up fighting with an irregular unit on behalf of Pascual Orozco, in revolt against both the government and the Madero Revolution. They're winning battles and heading for Jimenez.
  • The land around Jimenez is famous for its meteorites. Frank recalls the piece of Iceland Spar from El Espinero that he used to see Sloat Fresno.
  • Frank helps his insurgents create a macquina loca-- a train loaded with dynamite and sent at high speed at the enemy. Just before he jumps from the lit-dynamite train, he wonders if this isn't the path that El Espinero foretold for him. But ultimately his side is losing: the other side has cannons; his does not. He realizes he has no real reason to be where he is, and leaves for Mexico City.
  • In Mexico City, Frank runs into Gunther, who's working in Oaxaca but stuck in the City because of the revolution. Gunther offers Frank a job mechanizing and maintaining the machines for his coffee plantation; Frank can train his crew. Besides, Gunther doesn't trust his foreman, and he really needs the help.
  • Frank sees the Monument to National Independence and recognizes the face of the angel. (It's Dally, we assume.)
  • Frank and Gunther return to Gunther's plantation.
  • In town, Melpomene tells Frank about cucuji, giant luminous beetles that the Indian women tame and name. These bearers of light are souls--Melpomene introduces Frank to his own, and Frank realizes that he's seeing the soul of everyone who's ever passed through his life. There's something here about light as indivisible and telepathy-- Melpomene and other Indians communicate instantaneously.
  • Frank has a vision that takes him back to his earlier vision with El Espinero. It takes him under a ceremonial arch into violence; he sees the Capital of Huerta coup. In real life, Frank's side has now definitely lost; Frank leaves Mexico rather than find out if someone's out to kill him.
  • Frank arrives in Denver and runs into Doc (Willis) Turnstone, who's married to Wren Provenance. Wren tells him that Turnstone also knows Stray--she's helping the coal strikers in the tent city outside Walsenburg. Frank heads there; Turnstone tells him that Ewball should be there as well.
  • Frank and Ewball meet; Ewball apologizes for messing with Stray, who Frank's been interested in forever. "But now she's all yours, pardner.....She always was." And he tells Frank where Mayva is. They travel to the Walsenburg tent city.

Where We're At: Part 4.15: Against the Day

Reef, Yashmeen, Cyprian

  • Reef, Yashmeen, and Cyprian are following the tourist casino circuit and end up at the Anarchist spa , Yz-les-Bains."It might have reminded Reef of a mining camp early in the history of a silver strike, except that these solemn young folks carried with them an austerity, a penultimacy before some unstated future, a Single Idea, whose power everything else ran off of. Here it was not silver or gold but something else. Reef could not quite see what it was." Ratty's there, and so are people Reef recognizes from the tunnels and (different) people Yashmeen recognizes from London/the TWIT. Cyprian's people killing Theign felt like release for a lot of operatives, including Ratty (now calling himself Reg); he's quit. The group is working toward "[t]he replacement of governments by other, more practical arrangements." There are many former TWIT people here--betrayed by TWIT.
  • Ratty tells them that they, the Anarchists, have received a map (in code) of the Balkan Peninsula (where Austrians, generally, are profiting off people who've lived, worked, and died there for centuries). It shows, coded, plans for gas attacks?
  • Coombs de Bottle is at Yz-les-Bains as well. The rate of self-inflicted bombing casualties among Anarchists is high and he wants to instruct them in basic bomb safety (he initially tried this while he was still working at the War Office; he was fired).
  • The map ultimately came from Renfrew, via former students.
  • If a general European war happens, the Anarchists will be the ultimate losers as the war provides reason for governments to further centralize in self-preservation--that's what war does--centralized government is arranged to facilitate war, not peace.
  • There's Renfrew and Werfner's Interdikt field again, running across the Peninsula, waiting to be triggered. Yashmeen, pregnant and concerned for the future, wants to go disarm it. Cyprian had vowed never to return to the Balkans ("'Of the earth were alive, with a a planet- shaped consciousness, then the 'Balkan Peninsula' might easily map on to whatever in this consciousness most darkly wishes for its own destruction'") but Ratty's convincing him that he's their best bet. Besides, Cyprian's been looking or heading for some bigger purpose since meeting Danilo's cousin Vesna--real, not Danilo's hopeful hallucination-- in Serbia.
  • Professor Sleepcoat is researching why the Lydian mode (F to B natural, rather than B flat) in missing in Balkan church and folk music. He's also looking into Pythagoreans. Since 1900 there have been song-gatherers all over Europe "as if somehow the work had to be done quickly, before each people's heritage of song was somehow lost for good." They'll travel as song-gatherers.
  • This is Yashmeen's quest for transcendence.
  • They meet Professor Sleepcoat and his party at Sofia and the whole group sets out.
  • Reef, Yashmeen, and Cyprian's main task is to locate and disable the Interdikt line. The countryside is full of misdirection and showing the map makes townspeople shut up and be wary: "'You don't look for them... if they want to, they will find you. Better if they don't find you.'"
  • They randomly run into Gabrovo Slim, whose life Cyprian saved. Gabrovo offers to house the trio at his farm--it'd be better for everyone including the baby. The farm is in the Rozovata Donlina, Valley of the Roses (which runs east-west bet ween the Balkans and the Sredna Gora), which Cyprian thinks is as good a place as any to look for the Interdikt. Cyprian asks whether anything's going on there-- there have been people there who shouldn't be, Germans, with machinery, dynamos, cables. People who've tried to see what they're doing have disappeared.
  • They split from Professor Slipcoat. "Maybe that gap in the musical continuum, that silence, is a first announcement of something terrible, of which this structural silence is only an inoffensive metaphor."
  • At Slim's farm is his wife Zhivka, who breeds, grows, and talks to her roses.
  • Cyprian's aware that he's searching for something--not sex.
  • The baby, a girl name Ljubica, is born.
  • While Yashmeen's on the farm with the newborn, Cyprian and Reef are going out looking for the "Austrian minefield." Gabrovo shows them a hundred-foot tower with an antenna--it wasn't there before. Reef recognizes it as a Tesla rig (radio).
  • A crowd of motorcyclists show up at the antenna house--they're Theign's elite shadowing unit, RUSH, including Mihaly Vamos, who's worked closely with Cyprian in Venice. Vamos tells Cyprian that they owe him for getting rid of Theign. He explains that the locals call the Interdikt the Zabraneno; whoever installed it is gone, and it no longer belongs to anyone--the Germans and Austrians disavow it, the locals are terrified of it, the Turks check it monthly, and the Brits, who RUSH still work for, just make sure no one triggers it by accident, because no one knows how to dismantle it, It acts as if it's alive and it protects itself. They take Cyprian and Reef to the thing; Cyprian senses something else there. The building is abandoned and holds hundreds of canisters of phosgene. But phosgene isn't especially exotic anymore--it can be made easily now by using light. The weapon is light, not gas. Super-bright light can be projected as destructive energy, causes blindness and fear. But there are no light sources there. It's another code; Cyprian is furious.
  • They decide not to tell Yashmeen or Ratty's people what they've found--it's not what it was supposed to be.
  • The trio leaves for Varna, on the Black Sea, to follow rich gamblers; Yashmeen assumes that like her, the men are focusing on the baby rather than Interdikt.
  • They stumble on a rogue monastery on a hill; Cyprian is home. He stays.
  • Reef and Yashmeen mourn Cyprian as they make their way west toward the Adriatic. They don't see much point anymore in heading toward the Black Sea. They head toward Macedonia. The sunlight is pitiless. Macedonia declares war on Turkey; as Serbs, Greeks, and Bulgarians invade, Reef, Yashmeen, and Ljubica see their choices narrow. This is what they were sent to stop, and clearly they didn't, so Yashmeen regards the mission as a failure and the assignment as over. They just want to get out.
  • They're part of a vast array of refugees. They don't know what's going on further away; all Europe could be at war.
  • They hear machine guns for the first time as Turkey falls and the history of Turkey in Europe ends. As they move west with the troops they find themselves wondering "if the permission they had felt when Cyprian was with them, the freedom to act extraordinarily, had come from residence in a world about to embrace its end--closer to the freedom of the suicide than that of the ungoverned spirit."
  • They arrive at the lake at Ohrid. Before leaving, they send picture postcards of the war to everyone they know or knew, certain that none will arrive.
  • They'll head for Albania. Cyprian had warned them to stay away and there's some sort of revolution in the north, but it's winter in the mountains and there's only one road.
  • In Albania, everyone's shooting at everyone. They find themselves in a farm outbuilding; Ljubica makes friends with a dog. Later, Reef will learn that this dog is Ksenjia, Pugnax's mate; the Chums have been "invisibly but attentively" been watching over Reef and his family as they leave the Balkans; it's Ksenjia's task to steer then to safety without appearing to do so. And here are three Albanians, ready to shoot-- and there's Ramiz, whose life Reef saved in a Swiss tunnel. Ramiz's village takes them in.
  • At last they reach the Adriatic; a fisherman gives them a ride to Corfu where they spend the rest of the winter and the spring. The Compassionate take steps to re-establish contact with Yashmeen. And there's Auberon--he got their postcard and figured they'd come through Corfu, so he's been waiting for them. Auberon's deserted and the English think he's dead. He's with Umeki Tsurigane, who he'd met when she was posted to the Japanese embassy at Constantinople--Kit introduced them; he'd been working there as a bartender. Auberon tells Yashmeen that Shambhala turned out to be "not a goal but an absence. Not the discovery of a place but the act of leaving the futureless place where I was." (And in the process he arrived in Constantinople and met Umeki.)
(p. 975.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where We're At: Part 4.14: Against the Day


  • Frank is still in Mexico; he's been injured fighting in the Revolution(?).
  • The shaman El Espinero sees Frank, wounded, and tells him that Stray is looking for him. And in walks Stray with a gorgeous man called Rodrigo. She's got him for a prisoner exchange but it's only partly business.
  • The next day Stray shows up again and has exchanged Rodrigo. Her new companion is Ewball Oust, who suggests she go back to arms dealing, and he and Frank tell her what they need.
  • The next day in walks Wren Provenance, the anthropologist.
  • Ewball and Stray fall for one another and eventually leave together.
  • El Espinero gives Frank hallucinogenic cacti. He has a vision of having escaped trespassers (lower-case "t") and defending against invaders.
  • A plane flies through; this is the first plane any of these people have seen; "[t]ownsfolk would reckon events for years to come as occurring before or after the airplane came."
  • Frank and Wren fall for one another.
  • Frank becomes invisible except, El Espinero tells Frank, to Wren--she'll always see him, Still, eventually she needs to get back to work and she leaves.
(p. 930)