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The Important One Is Mauve
March 10, 2012 2:35 AM   Subscribe

Un Hommage à Thomas Pynchon's Rainbow [PDF, NSFW (language)]

From the introduction:

One of the great novels of the 20th century is Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.
For those interested in the use of color as a code in literature it is a positive goldmine.
Consequently, many erudite essays have been written about this aspect of the work.
My activity in this area has involved an examination and compilation of the phrases in
which these color codes appear. Using this database I have constructed a reading of the
novel based on these phrases.

In carrying out this process I set myself the following constraints;

. Each phrase abstracted from the novel must contain at least one color term.
. The words in each phrase must be in the order used by Pynchon.
. The phrases subsequently used to construct sentences to be in the order in
which they occur in the novel.
. The only freedom to be in the selection of appropriate punctuation.

Published by Eclipse [Previously]
posted by chavenet (12 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this where I go to brag about how my former landlord is Thomas Pynchon's niece? Is that even worth bragging about?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:57 AM on March 10, 2012


So he likes colour, hmmm. He should really watch The Shining.
posted by Fizz at 4:35 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So is this an analysis of Gravity's Rainbow or conceptual art in written form? Is there some conclusion to be drawn, some knowledge derived from this extraction of particular paragraphs? Or is it just a list (after all, this is thirty pages of quotes directly from the book)? Do the colours follow or emphasise the narrative in some sense? If colours are a "code" for this book, or even more substantially, "for literature" in general, as the author claims, what is revealed by breaking the code?

Is there more to this than a presentation of Pynchon's excellent prose (which is, of course, a worthy goal in its own right, to be repeated endlessly)?

From the first paragraph: "My activity in this area has involved an examination and compilation of the phrases in which these color codes appear.

Or in other words: any post about Pynchon is a good post, and for this reason I'm going to ignore what I just said and read the very excellent excerpts, and once again savour in Pynchon's excellence.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 7:29 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this where I go to brag about how my former landlord is Thomas Pynchon's niece? Is that even worth bragging about?

It is if you saw Pynchon himself and could update us on the status of his dentures.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 7:41 AM on March 10, 2012


Kind of a neat abridgment. Reading through this document reminded me of what a great, weird, and downright cool book GR is.
posted by georg_cantor at 7:49 AM on March 10, 2012


many erudite essays have been written about this aspect of the work.

Bibliography much?
Do recommend!
posted by lipsum at 10:05 AM on March 10, 2012


Clicked the link and all I got was "error: Not a PDF or corrupted."
posted by IndigoRain at 10:15 AM on March 10, 2012


Oh, I enjoyed that a lot. Thanks, chavenet, for the post.

It's somewhere between poetry and a Cliff Notes version of that immense and fabulous book. Thomas Pynchon, wherever you are in the world, thank you for writing so marvelously.

Reading Gravity's Rainbow was life changing for me, way back in 1974. It gave me permission to savor and be immersed in the vast and sumptuous complexity of life, to imagine the immense details and many dimensions of any situation and especially the strange, often unbelievable, interconnections of life.

Reading this patchwork of the narrative's colors was revisiting the wonderfulness of the book in some brief, Zen form.

A shorter version of Peter Bamfield's very cool edit:

sienna:1
coral:1
ivory:1
lapis lazuli:1
mahogany:1
heliotrope:1
navy:1
ecru:1
carmine:1
bronze:1
sepia:1
sandy:1
tangerine:1
plum:1
vermilion:2
taupe:2
fawn:2
salmon:3
slate:3
wine:3
ginger:2
ruby:2
peach:3
sorrel:3
emerald:3
cherry:3
apricot:3
aqua:4
saffron:4
lime:4
crimson:4
maroon:5
drab:6
violet:7
beige:7
pearl:7
rose:7
indigo:8
lemon:8
mauve:8
khaki:9
lavender:10
rust:10
olive:11
amber:12
magenta:12
cream:15
blonde:16
scarlet:18
tan:24
golden:32
pink: 37
orange:41
ash:43
silver:45
purple:52
gold:99
brown:103
yellow:115
gray:136
blue:158
green:207
red:241
black:362
white:445


Interestingly, from the many possibilities, no teal, raspberry, cobalt, turquoise, ultramarine, cinnamon, topaz, lilac, fuschia, celadon, almond, camel, amethyst, puce, azure, or bisque.
posted by nickyskye at 11:51 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


lipsum: "many erudite essays have been written about this aspect of the work.

Bibliography much?
Do recommend
"

I did see this before, which explains some of the "code" idea. I don't really understand the significance of this particular thing, which seem to be simply pulling out color references and putting them together. And "hommage"? Really?

You will note, the Rainbow ends with a lot of gold, however.
posted by Red Loop at 12:47 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is a rainbow after all, the colors of the spectrum produced by dispersion of light, grounded by gravity...or maybe by levity?
posted by nickyskye at 9:21 PM on March 10, 2012


I'm pretty certain that in the context of describing the color of pantyhose, the color is named "nigger". If my memory is correct and your adumbration, nickyskye, is complete, then this database-driven quotation machine is missing some parts.
posted by mistersquid at 9:30 PM on March 10, 2012


mistersquid, I don't think it's a quotation machine as much as an hommage.

But, you are right, I searched the text of Gravity's Rainbow online.

There it is on page 94: She has posed before the mirrors too often today,knows her hair and make-up are perfect, admires the frock they have brought her from Harvey Nicholls, a sheer crepe that flows in from padded shoulders down to a deep point between her breasts, a rich cocoa shade known as “nigger” in this country, yards and yards of this delicious silk spun and thrown, tied loosely at the waist, soft pleats falling to her knees.
posted by nickyskye at 10:27 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


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