Monday, April 02, 2007

Against the Blog: 4-5

Prance stayed back in Irkutsk, but Kit and Hassan reach lake Baikal. But the REAL goal is to get to "the greaet stone at the mouth of the Angara, where the river flow[s] out of the lake," sez Hassan. What about the Doosra's master? asks Kit. You've already spoken to him, sez Hassan. And then he's gone. Dood.

Back in time a bit: to get where they were going, they had to pass through a big ol' stone gate--otherwise, you won't be able to go where you're going, allegedly. A metaphysical thing. And as they pass through, Kit has a vision, accompanied by deafening choral sound,of terrain leading to a mysterious city. And that's that.

So they tramp onwards. It's kind of picaresque. Hassan cultivates marijuana or something like from plants found along the way. The wind howls; wolves howl. Onward.

Irkutsk is "a peculiar combination of rip-roaring and respectable" (773). There, they're meant to report to a British smuggler named Swithin Poundstock. Hassan is gone, but he left a bag o' hemp for Poundstock, who pays them in large, counterfeit coins.

So the geopolitical situation in the area: there are three Tunguska river basins, the Upper, Stony, and Lower, each with a different warring clan. And there's a shaman named Magyakan who acts on behalf of the inhabitants of the Lower. So...onward and upward, I guess.

Search search search. Prance (who I thought wasn't supposed to be here; either I'm misreading, or Pynchon screwed up slightly) suggests that

"Differences among the world religions are in fact quite trivial compared to the common enemy, the ancient and abiding darkness which all hate, fear, and struggle against without cease"--he made a broad gesture to indicate the limitless taiga all around them--"Shamanism. There isn't a primitive people anywhere on Earth that can't be found practicing some form of it. Every state religion, including your own, considers it irrational and pernicious, and has taken steps to eradicate it." (777 fever!)

As it turns out, Prance is working for the British government in some undefined way. And that is seriously all.



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