CHAPTER 11

College of the Surf in Trasero County is located at the edge of a cliff, between the ocean and a large military base. It's a conservative Republican school with a compliant, no-nonsense student body. Weed Atman is a math professor with lots of ex-wives and girlfriends. One day, for no particular reason, someone lights a joint in Dewey Weber Plaza and all hell breaks loose. Instantaneously, CotS is radicalized, or more precisely hippie-ized, since (as was usually the case, as we recall) most of the kids just want to par-tay.

The cops move in to restore order by breaking people's heads. Weed is radicalized, and leads a group of students to safety at the apartment of a far more radical/political grad student, Rex Snuvvle. Snuvvle envisions himself counseling Weed and turning him into an exemplary revolutionary, but Weed (while a good non-violent leftie) is less interested in Marxist analysis than sex and rock 'n' roll.

Despite the cops, the uprising flourishes. CotS reconstitutes itself as the People's Republic of Rock and Roll. 24fps arrives to record the revolutionary event. Frenesi, we are told, is now shooting for (and sleeping with) Brock Vond. Shortly, she is sleeping with Weed as well. We witness the rapid progression of Frenesi's interest in Vond from relatively innocent cooperation (Vond pays the lab costs for extra dupes of her footage), to shackups in airport motels. Finally Frenesi flies to Oklahoma City for a major meeting with Vond: fucking and strategizing while a furious tornado gathers outside their hotel room. Frenesi seems to be in love with Vond, who urges her to betray Weed.

 

p. 204 "legendary Trasero County coast"    Why legendary? This is Pynchon's second reference to an unexplained "legendary" location. Is he just hot on this locution, or are we missing something? In any case, Trasero is probably San Clemente. Why else a statue of Nixon?

p. 204 "a military reservation"    Probably Camp Pendleton. However, military bases are everywhere in California, and especially everywhere in this novel. Note the shadowy Base in Chapter 6. The Base itself is unknown, but its periphery is marked by sub-communities like "Gate 9."

p. 204 "College of the Surf"    Probably Whittier College, Nixon's alma mater.

p. 204 "music...finding the ears of sentries...like hostile-natives sounds in a movie about white men fighting savage tribes."   Great writing, and a powerful vision of a "free" campus next to a military base.

p. 204 "the brand-new field of Computer Science"   Those zeros and ones again...

p. 205 "dissent from official reality...the same dread disease..."   Definitely. Still.

p. 205 "Dewey Weber"  David Earl "Dewey" Weber, a   legendary Sixties surfer and surfboard builder, known for his trademark red trunks, his peerless style, and his capacity for alcohol.  At one point in the mid-Sixties Weber was the largest surfboard manufacturer in the world.

p. 205 "Mike Curb Congregation records"   Curb, who later became lieutenant governor of California, worked at one point as an MGM Records executive—and while he was there he formed this vanity group. Its one and only hit was a tune called "Burning Bridges," a heavy-handed criticism of the hippie lifestyle. Before the song fell off the radar forever, it was featured in the film Kelly's Heroes. Funny that Pynchon never mentions this.

p. 205 "California mopery statutes"    Mopery = an obsolete term for loitering. Clearly an appropriate crime for California, where slow driving is close to a capital offense. Pynchon manages to work mopery into virtually every book he's ever written.

p. 206 "potent Vietnamese buds"    What a shock, to find that you can't fight a war overseas without some feedback back home!

p. 206 "long crowdwaves, carrying smaller bursts of violence that exploded like seeds in a surfer's cigarette"    That's a marijuana cigarette. Also a comically mixed-metaphor that combines mathematical/signal analysis and doper imagery.

p. 206 "a domain bounded by a set of points partway to the next person of height equal to or greater than..."    An extended conceit in mock geometric clothing. Like the example on p. 117, this is probably self-satire, as indicated once again by the concluding em-dash as Pynchon restrains himself. Ostensibly mathematician Weed is thinking this thought, but it's clearly Pynchon stepping in front of the curtain for a second.

p. 207 "...a throb of fear went right up his asshole..."   Another visceral fear reaction. See also pages 10, 45, 116, 299.

p. 207 "I'm just tall, that's all."    Borrowed from Jimmy Reed's blues, "Big Boss Man."

p. 207 "Greg Noll Lab"     Greg Noll, "Da Bull," is another legendary surfer, same vintage and hangouts as Dewey Weber.  See page 205.

p. 207 "Olympics Auditorium"   Presumably named for the singing group ("My Baby Loves the Western Movies," "I’m a Hog For You, Baby") rather than the Greek sporting event.

p. 207 "Las Nalgas Beach" = Spanish for "the buttocks," or "the spankings." More badasses.

p. 207 "Rex Snuvvle"    Another cool name.

p. 207 "lost tribe with failed cause"    Thanatoids? Hippies? Herreros and/or Gauchos in Gravity's Rainbow? It would be easy to come up with lots of other examples.

p. 208 "geist that could've been polter along with zeit"   Clever wordplay on poltergeist and zeitgeist, but essentially meaningless -- much like the chipmunks on page 180.

p. 208 "not much by Berkeley or Columbia standards"   These were the days of the Free Speech Movement, the Days of Rage, etc.

p. 208 "Rex did manage to place Weed in what looked like the emerging junta"   Notice how Rex is doing the maneuvering. It would seem as if he worked for Vond even before Frenesi.

p. 209 "A sudden lust for information"    Not often seen in SoCal, but it serves to reveal the usual sleazy land deals.

p. 209 "a 16mm Arri 'M' on a Tyler Mini-Mount"   Arri = Arriflex, a good, light, 16mm camera. Tyler Mini-Mount = a small, shock-absorbing camera mount, spring-loaded and counterweighted to soak up the low-frequency vibration of rotating helicopter blades (and not much use for anything else). All in all, this is state of the art hardware, guerrilla-film-wise.

p. 209 "He paid no more than the lab costs"   Suddenly Frenesi is shooting film for Vond. How come? This key plot event is never really explained.

p. 209 "zooming in and out every chance she got on Weed's crotch."   Apparently Frenesi is hung up on Weed too.

p. 210 "'Subtle,' remarked DL."    Cutback to DL and Ditzah watching footage. As before, this effect is both effective and striking.

p. 211 "She hitched a ride up to LAX with Jinx..."   Is Frenesi already "the latest girlfriend?"

p. 211 "just kept on writing equations"    Nice scene of the wives and girlfriends de-mystifying Weed's mathematical preoccupation.

p. 212 "gray mother storms..."    Fine, scary description of the gathering storm.

p. 212 "DOJ" = Department of Justice. Or maybe Department of Jesus (see p. 213).

p. 213 "For what? The fucking? Anything else?"   Maybe the old American weakness for authority.

p. 213 "I want his spirit..."    Here Vond is portrayed like the Devil, or at least a vampire. (See p. 217 and 376.) Or the snake in Sister Rochelle's feminist Eden fable (see p. 166).

p. 214 "She gave him the little-girl photofloods, 4800 degrees of daylight blue"   Pynchon is riffing on Frenesi's beautiful blue-on-blue eyes, her "wide invincible gaze....useful in a lot of situations, including ignorance." And sure enough, Daylight Blue Photoflood lamps do produce a color temperature of 4800 degrees Kelvin, with wavelengths short enough so you can shoot "outdoor," or daylight, film indoors.

p. 215 "a funnel cloud...swung slowly..."    The storm continues. Amazing. Usually storms in fiction signify. What does this one mean? The uprising at CotS? The larger social conflict: fuzz against junk? Or Dorothy Gale's cyclone, the agent of her not being in Kansas any more?

p. 216 "She might do it--not for him, but...because it looked like Brock's stretch of the river..."    Does this mean Frenesi "turns" for purely opportunistic reasons? Because she thinks Vond is gonna win? If so, she abandons her ideals amazingly easily. It might be that she feels so powerless and caught.

p. 216 "light she imagined as sun plus sky, with an 85 filter in"   An extended cinematic metaphor, seemingly designed to impress us with how much Frenesi knows about film exposure. An 85 filter lets indoor film, rated at 3200 degrees Kelvin, be used outdoors (in the light of Frenesi's 4800-degree K baby blues). The metaphor's deeper function is as a fantasy about getting Brock out from under his rock.

p. 217 "daylit commodity of the sixties"    daylit = Frenesi's blue orbs again.

p. 217 "to redeem even Brock"    Scarcely believable.

p. 217 "what she thought were closed eyelids had been open all the time"   Vampires sleep with their eyes open.