In V., Chapter 14, Pynchon made passing references to the Dreyfus Affair - a social controversy that divided France near the end of the 19th century. Just by coincidence, I read something about it earlier this year. The Father Brown story “The Duel of Dr Hirsch” by G.K. Chesterton is a very odd detective story, because it’s really a commentary on the Dreyfus Affairs. The other historical figure that plays a more significant role in V.Read more
Idea: a Python dialect called Pynchon (after Thomas Pynchon). A pynchonic code is probably not very pythonic. Brevity is highly discouraged. Variable names should be all puns. In fact, Pynchon should be a concatenative language like Forth. This way, statements can be chained together into a longer and longer statement… until the entire program is one single statement.
An obscure historical note from Thomas Pyhcon’s novel V.: there is a Chopin museum in the Spanish island of Mallorca, where you can see a cast of Frédéric Chopin’s hand. Chopin spent a winter there in 1838.
In Thomas Pynchon’s first novel V., there is a subplot involving rhinoplasty. A surgeon in the story (“being a conservative”) refers to his own profession as the “Art of Tagliacozzi”. This is reference to the 16th century surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi, who pioneered surgical techniques for nasal reconstruction. He was a professor of anatomy at the Archiginnasio of Bologna, whose famous anatomical theatre houses a statue of Tagliacozzi holding a nose. I visited Bologna in 2015.Read more
It’s interesting that two favourite writers of mine had worked for big tech companies. Kurt Vonnegut worked for the PR department of GE. His portrayal of the genius scientist in Cat’s Cradle was based on his interview of Nobel Laureate Irving Langmuir of GE Research. Thomas Pynchon was a tech writer for Boeing. Yoyodyne, a defence contractor in The Crying of Lot 49, is a caricature of Boeing. Dec 4th 2020 update: I also learned that William Gaddis worked for Kodak and IBM.Read more