27 February 2010
This is something new for me, an allusion to the Beatles in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 novel:
I paste the entire quote from Wikipedia:
The Crying of Lot 49 was published shortly after Beatlemania and the "British invasion" which took place in America and other Western countries. Indeed, internal context clues indicate that it is probably set in 1964, the year in which A Hard Day's Night was released. Pynchon, aptly, makes a wide variety of Beatles allusions. Most prominent are the Paranoids, a band composed of cheerful marijuana smokers whose lead singer, Miles, is a high-school dropout. The Paranoids all speak with American accents but sing in English ones; at one point, a guitar player is forced to relinquish control of a car to his girlfriend because he cannot see through his hair. It is not clear whether Pynchon was aware of the Beatles' own nickname for themselves, "Los Para Noias"; since the novel is replete with other references to paranoia, Pynchon may have chosen the band's name for other reasons.
Pynchon refers to a rock song, "I Want to Kiss Your Feet", a self-abasing version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand". The artist, Sick Dick and the Volkswagens, echoes such actual groups as the El Dorados, the Edsels, the Cadillacs and the Jaguars (as well as an early name the Beatles themselves were forced to use, "Long John and the Silver Beetles"). Sick Dick and the Volkswagens is also a play on words. "Sick Dick" may also echo Richard Wharfinger, author of "that ill, ill Jacobean revenge play" known as The Courier's Tragedy. On top of all this, the song's title also keeps up a recurring sequence of allusions to Saint Narcissus, a third-century bishop of Jerusalem.
Late in the novel, Oedipa's husband Mucho Maas, a disc jockey at Kinneret radio station KCUF, describes his experience of discovering the Beatles. Mucho refers to their early song "She Loves You", as well as hinting at the areas the Beatles were later to explore. Pynchon writes,
"Whenever I put the headset on now," he'd continued, "I really do understand what I find there. When those kids sing about 'She loves you,' yeah well, you know, she does, she's any number of people, all over the world, back through time, different colors, sizes, ages, shapes, distances from death, but she loves. And the 'you' is everybody. And herself. Oedipa, the human voice, you know, it's a flipping miracle." His eyes brimming, reflecting the color of beer.
"Baby," she said, helpless, knowing of nothing she could do for this, and afraid for him.
He put a little clear plastic bottle on the table between them. She stared at the pills in it, and then understood. "That's LSD?" she said.
Now I need to read this book…
14 December 2009
Oh, "Lot 49" is great! And fairly short, like 150 pages or so, which means it's nowhere near as dense as "Gravity's Rainbow" or Pynchon's other biggies which I found way-baffling and convoluted. (Not that "Lot 49" isn't plenty dense in its own write, Pynchon being Pynchon.)
Incidentally, I first read that book right around the time that Prince changed his name to that unpronounceable symbol, and I convinced myself that the book was a partial influence.
I had to read Gravity's Rainbow at university (postmodern American fiction course). I hated it. I read Lot 49 afterwards and, although it's an easier read, I can't say I enjoyed it either. His stuff is far too impenetrable for my liking – I don't really know why people might read it for pleasure.
I didn't know about the Beatles references – I can't remember if i spotted them at the time. I do know that Radiohead's mailing list, W.A.S.T.E, was named after it though.
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