Gravity's Rainbow

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Gravitysrainbow

You wouldn't fucking believe the amount of fucking that goes on in this book.

“What the fuck.”
~ Oscar Wilde on Gravity's Rainbow
“In Soviet Russia, the sky comes screaming across YOU!!”
~ Russian reversal on Gravity's Rainbow

Gravity’s Rainbow is a novel by American author Thomas Pynchon, and is often considered his best and most fucked up work. It is notable for three things:

  • Being long as fuck.
  • Being confusing as fuck.
  • People fucking a lot.

Gravity’s Rainbow won several prestigious book awards, and is a favorite among weirdoes, drug addicts, and pretentious, elitist snobs everywhere.

edit Plot Overview

Gravity’s Rainbow is unique among novels in that it forgoes traditional elements—things like "plot" and "characterization"—in favor of heavily complex, multi-layered episodes of symbolism that often occur as the result of two or more people fucking. There are some bits that involve a vaguely characterized man named Slothrop looking for a vaguely defined plot device called the Schwarzgerät, but these are of relatively little importance compared to the novel's other elements.

Gravity's Rainbow deals with a great range of subjects; including paranoia, racism, imperialism, predestination, fucking, free will, destiny, death, fucking, sacrifice, fucking, drug use, conspiracy, manipulation, warfare, fucking, perception, history, context, magic, science, tarot, ingenuity, journey, identity, mortality, psychology, moral ambiguity, dominance, submission, violence against harmonicas, the cause-and-effect relationship, the linear understanding of time, and random aspects of 1940s American popular culture. All of this, however, is overshaddowed by the main theme of Gravity’s Rainbow: fucking. It cannot be stressed enough just how much fucking happens in Gravity's Rainbow.

There are plenty of instances of regular, man-woman sex, and if the novel were confined to that and only that it would be more than satisfactory. Pynchon, however, stretches the term ‘sex’ to its very limit, and includes many orthodox—as well as certainly unorthodox—instances of coitus. There obligatory scenes of man-man, woman-woman, woman-Jewess, man-child (male), man-man-child (male), man-child (female), and father-daughter incest (for what novel would be complete without them?), but if you were to be so naïve to think that the author stops here you would be mistaken. Pynchon, for instance, gives his readers a fairly vivid description of the ‘nose fucking’ that occurs when Slothrop gets a ‘nose erection’ (it is worth noting that both characters were high as fuck at the time). The brief—albeit effective—description of two lesbian elephants sixty-nining with their trunks ranks among the most acclaimed passages in the book. The rather graphic description of the mostly senior-citizen orgy that takes place aboard the ship Anubis is often considered one of the best such scenes in postmodern literature. In short, to understand Gravity’s Rainbow, you must understand fucking; its mechanics, its implications, and its consequences.

edit Structure

It is a little-known fact that Gravity’s Rainbow was initially planned as a group of four separate television series—each one being a spin-off of each other—that would all air simultaneously. After being turned down by all the major networks, however, Pynchon turned the manuscripts into a novel instead. The frequent uses of standard script formatting that are found throughout the novel are in fact uncorrected sections from the original scripts.

Katje

Katje and Blicero flirt it up on the set of Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering.

  • Beyond the Zero: A relationship-based British comedy that deals with Tyrone Slothrop’s sexual (mis)adventures, his friend Roger Mexico’s own relationship troubles, causality, the flow of time, perception, advanced mathematics, and fucking (21 episodes).
  • Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering: A soap opera dealing with Slothrop’s torrid sexual encounters with the exotic Katje, the life and times of Octopus Grigori, manipulation, conspiracy, and fucking (8 episodes).
  • In the Zone: A drama in the vein of The X-Files, involving Slothrop’s romp about post-war occupied Germany, his quest for the mysterious Schwarzgerät, his relationship with pornographic actress Margherita and her daughter Bianca, run ins with a buffoonish military figure named Marvey, goings-on aboard the Anubis, paranoia, drug use and culture, classical music, international cartels that may or may not exist, Them, They, espionage, witchcraft, self-destruction, sexuality, and fucking. (32 episodes).
  • The Counterforce: A thriller akin to 24, revolving around incoherent shit, immortal light bulbs, salesmen from Romania, krazy kamikazes, mental instability, the occult, sexual sacrifice, and fucking. There's also a really crazy hallucination about Chiquita Banana and, yes, it too involves fucking.(12 episodes).

Live studio audiences were expected to cheer at the entrance of a Fonzielike character named Byron, who was also a light bulb. It should be pointed out that the whole damn thing ends with a rocket falling out of the sky on unsuspecting dipshits. In what may be a historical coincidence but is more likely an attempt to convince you this all means something, the whole damn thing also starts with a rocket falling out of the sky and an unsuspecting dipshit dipshit wonders what it would be like if it fell on him.

edit Inspirations

Bouncywikilogo9
For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about Gravity's Rainbow.

In an episode from the first season of "The Brady Bunch," Bobby Brady wondered what it would be like if a rocket fell on his head, then learned a valuable lesson when Mike Brady taught him about why that wasn't a good thing to wonder about. Pynchon has yet to comment on whether or not this served as a point of inspiration.

A lot of the book resembles Joseph Heller's novel "Catch 22 Baby Ducklings." Coincidentally, a lot of "V." resembles Jack Kerouac's novel "On the Road and in the Sack and...Gimme Some More Bennies Man. I Gotta Finish This Novel By Tomorrow," a lot of "Mason & Dixon" resembles John Barth's novel "The Sot-Weed Factory That May or May Not Have Existed" and, in the ultimate postmodern twist, Pynchon's own "Against the Day the Earth Stood Still" resembles this very novel you're reading a fake article about. That's right. It really is a big conspiracy, man.

References are made to numerous films from the Pre-War period. German Expressionism is referenced quite often, probably because it too didn't make much sense.

On his web-based talk show, Tommy Pynchon's Media Circus, Pynchon cited the Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom, Walt Disney's Dumbo, and The Beatles' song "She Loves You" as among the novel's inspirations. In the same interview, Pynchon claimed that the novel is "twice as paranoid and three times more perverted than anything James Ellroy's come up with."

edit Important Characters

Slothrop

Tyrone Slothrop.

  • Tyrone Slothrop: The ‘main’ character. Slothrop is notable for two main reasons—the fact that he’s more-or-less totally mentally unstable and the fact that he’s an insatiable sexual monster that fucks everyone and everything in his path without remorse.
  • Roger Mexico: Roger Mexico spends a great deal of time essentially stalking Slothrop, and fucking this bitch named Jessica who is basically a total fucking bitch.
  • Jessica Swanlake: The woman Roger Mexico fucks for most of the novel. She is a total fucking bitch and stops fucking Mexico for her husband. What a bitch!
  • Katje Borgesius: A really hot Dutch chick that Slothrop fucks a ton. When not fucking Slothrop, Katje spends her time fucking Captain Dominus “Blicero” Weissmann.
  • Captain Dominus "Blicero" Weissmann: A Nazi Captain who is in charge of a sizeable portion of the V-2 rocket program. He fucks Katje and his sex slave Gottfried, a malnourished German boy (sometimes simultaneously!). He’s a fucking bastard, and is responsible for bringing Oberst Enzian to Germany.
  • Oberst Enzian: A German officer who is leader of the Scwartzkommando and a Herero from German Southwest Africa. He doesn’t fuck anyone, but has a blood-feud with Tchitcherine, his Russian half-brother.
  • Vaslav Tchitcherine: A Russian intelligence officer and Enzian’s half-brother via a one-off instance of fucking. He is obsessed with hunting out and destroying Enzian for…some reason. He also fucks Geli Tripping a lot.
  • Duane Marvy: An American major who hates blacks for some unexplained reason, though it's probably because Enzian threw him off a train once. He leads a gung-ho army unit known as "Marvy's Mothers" that should not (or should they?) be confused with "Hogan's Heroes." Despite his distaste for non-white people, he, like everyone else in the novel, loves fucking and he especially loves fucking black women. Again, it's never really explained why.
  • Geli Tripping: A German witch who fucks both Slothrop and Tchitcherine.
  • Franz Pökler: A German engineer who works on the Schwarzgerät. He fucks his wife Leni and his daughter (or is it?) Ilse. Fucked up shit. Or…is it? It should be noted the only reason he fucks his daughter is because he is only allowed to see her once a year and grows paranoid about whether or not the girl he sees is in fact his daughter or not.
  • Leni Pökler: Franz’s wife. She fucks Franz, some random Jewish woman at a party, and Slothrop as a prostitute after the war.
V2

V-2 on his day off, recreationally burning liquid oxygen fuel.

  • Ilse Pökler (or…is it?): Daughter of Franz and Leni. She fucks her dad (or…does she?). Once again, fucked up shit. Or…is it?

(It is)

  • Margherita Erdmann: A washed-up German pornographic actress from the 1930s. She is a sadomasochist, and fucks Slothrop a million billion times. She has a daughter named Bianca.
  • Bianca Erdmann: Margherita’s twelve-year-old daughter. She, like her mother, is a whore and a tease. Slothrop fucks her. Later, she dies.
  • Edward Pointsman: A weirdo who spies and observes Slothrop via Roger Mexico and Katje.
  • The V-2 Rocket: A German vengeance weapon that basically serves as the driving force of the novel. It is a total sexual symbol, by virtue of looking like a giant flying penis with fins. It enjoys breaking the sound barrier and killing people without warning.

edit Literary Significance

Gravity’s Rainbow ranks among one of the best novels ever written. No one is really sure why. It is also notable for being "illustrated" by avant-garde artist/porn star Zak Smith. He, not too surprisingly, focused on the ‘fucking’ aspects of the novel.

edit Adaptations

Gravity's Rainbow was adapted into a children's book by Dr. Seuss shortly after his death. Much of the exposition was cut to allow for the space allotted. Certain liberties were taken with small details, such as Slothrop being given a colorful hat and Edward Pointsman being changed to Sam I Am. The Zone strongly resembles the topography found in "Cat in the Hat", though some amateur enthusiasts claim that strong elements of the landscape in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" have been gravely overlooked by the Seussian establishment. The Cat in the Hat also plays the role of Captain Blicero and Gottfried is played by the Red Fish. The brother and sister from "Cat in the Hat" show up in the roles of Roger Mexico and Jessica Swanlake respectively.

Famed weirdo Alejandro Jodorowsky announced in 2001 that he was going to make a 12-hour, expressionistic adaptation of the book, with Marilyn Manson as Tyrone Slothrop, Jenna Jameson as Katje Borgesius, Vladimir Putin as Vaslav Tchitcherine and Snoop Dogg as Oberst Enzian. However, his financial backers from United Fruit pulled out because they felt the project was "too French." When asked how he felt about this by Howard Stern, Jodorowsky said "Phooey!" and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

edit See Also

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