Sunday, November 26, 2006

Against the Blog: 1-6

Lew is assigned to look after the Archduke Ferdinand while he's visiting the exhibition. The Archduke turns out to be kind of a little punk, and also quite violent: "What I am really looking for in Chicago is something new and interesting to kill" (46). He suggests that he might be permitted to shoot some migrant Hungarian workers in the stockyards.

Lew pals around with the Archduke's Austrian security officer, Max Khäutsch, and we get an amusingly anachronistic joke about cops eating doughnuts:

They got into the habit of early-morning coffee at the Austrian pavilion, accompanied by a variety of baked goods. "And this might be of particular interest to you, Mr. Basnight, considering the widely known Kuchenteigs-Verderbtheit or pastry-depravity of the American detective..." (47)

The Archduke visits a black bar called the Boll Weevil Lounge, where he provokes the clientele with various racist comments, and several yo mamma jokes. Lew is barely able to get him out alive.

After the Archduke's departure, Lew is assigned to survey various alleged anarchist groups, which mostly consist of workers' unions. "There was a kind of general assumption around the shop that laboring men and women were all more or less evil, surely misguided, and not quite American, maybe not quite human" (50). Anarchy is a frequent theme of the novel so far, starting with the dog Pugnax reading The Princess Cassamassima and going on from there. We all know what ends up happening to the Archduke Ferdinand, of course.

Lew dutifully observes the groups to which he is assigned, but ends up more or less sympathetic to the workers--they don't tend to fit the anarchist stereotype. But anarchism is apparently booming, and Privett ultimately assigns him to take charge of a newly-minted Denver branch of the operation. When he tells the Chums and Vanderjuice he's leaving, we segue into a discussion of how the West has been corrupted by mechanization and factory farming.

The Chums are getting more and more glum, and we learn that suicide is not unknown among the group. This clashes pretty dramatically with both the genre from which the Chums emerge, and from how they've been portrayed previously. Finally, they are assigned to a new, unknown mission, somewhere to the southeast. It seems that ballooning is being changed and corrupted by mechanization as well.



Blogger Jorn pontificated to the effect that...

Expo closed 30 October 1893

4:54 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home