Authors: David Carr , John M. Krafft , Khachig Tölölyan , Bernard Duyfhuizen

  • Notes



    Authors: , , ,


One of the interesting points that William McCarron et al. make is that, when allusions are made to items of popular culture, it is, sometimes, hard to pin the connection down to a particular film, song, comic book and so on. Rather, the text contains layers of references which reenact the feel of particular genres. An example that springs to mind is the Webley Silvernail dancing rodents episode. A dialogue reminiscent of the film Angels with Dirty Faces, in which Jimmy Cagney plays a gangster who is a hero to young men who fail to see his conviction for murder and his execution as anything more than proof of his toughness and status as an anti-establishment figure (as if it had been made by the Disney cartoon studio), segues into a Busby Berkeley routine mixed with images from the infamous Triumph of the Will propaganda film. This may be naturalized as a reflection of Silvernail's point of view, his love of movies, especially the technical aspects of film, his support of the outsider, the preterite, and, finally, his feeling of powerlessness within the bureaucracy of the White Visitation. (Possibly that cigarette stub he took from the ashtray contained more than just tobacco?) The overpowering irony is that Silvernail's "guest star" appearance is in the role of Hitler, who promised the Germans an escape from the shackles of the Versailles Treaty. The German people exchanged one kind of subservience for another, to follow the Nazi dream of world domination. (Another level of allusion, for example, is the song, a "beguine" [a slow–not a fast-tempo as Steven Weisenburger would have it–sensual, South American song genre], which concerns the story of ill-fated love couched in the terminology of Pavlovian experimentation.)

How to Cite:

Carr, D. & Krafft, J. M. & Tölölyan, K. & Duyfhuizen, B., (1993) “Notes”, Pynchon Notes , 202-204. doi:

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Published on
22 Sep 1993