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ENGL 1201W Midterm I

Terms in this set (122)

Yet at least he had believed in the cars. Maybe to excess: how could he not, seeing people
poorer than him come in, Negro, Mexican, cracker, a parade seven days a week, bringing
the most godawful of trade-ins: motorized, metal extensions of themselves, of their
families and what their whole lives must be like, out there so naked for anybody, a stranger
like himself, to look at, frame cockeyed, rusty underneath, fender repainted in a shade just
off enough to depress the value, if not Mucho himself, inside smelling hopelessly of
children, supermarket booze, two, sometimes three generations of cigarette smokers, or
only of dust—and when the cars were swept out you had to look at the actual residue of
these lives, and there was no way of telling what things had been truly refused (when so
little he supposed came by that out of fear most of it had to be taken and kept) and what
had simply (perhaps tragically) been lost: clipped coupons promising savings of 5 or 10c,
trading stamps, pink flyers advertising specials at the markets, butts, tooth-shy combs,
help-wanted ads, Yellow Pages torn from the phone book, rags of old underwear or
dresses that already were period costumes, for wiping your own breath off the inside of a
windshield with so you could see whatever it was, a movie, a woman or car you coveted, a
cop who might pull you over just for drill, all the bits and pieces coated uniformly, like a
salad of despair, in a gray dressing of ash, condensed exhaust, dust, body wastes—it made
him sick to look, but he had to look. [...] Endless, convoluted incest.
Were the squatters there in touch with others, through Tristero; were they helping carry forward that
300 years of the house's disinheritance? Surely they'd forgotten by now what it was the Tristero were to
have inherited; as perhaps Oedipa one day might have. What was left to inherit? That America coded
in Inverarity's testament, whose was that? She thought of other, immobilized freight cars, where the
kids sat on the floor planking and sang back, happy as fat, whatever came over the mother's pocket
radio; of other squatters who stretched canvas for lean-tos behind smiling billboards along all the
highways, or slept in junkyards in the stripped shells of wrecked Plymouths, or even, daring, spent the
night up some pole in a lineman's tent like caterpillars, swung among a web of telephone wires, living in
the very copper rigging and secular miracle of communication, untroubled by the dumb voltages
flickering their miles, the night long, in the thousands of unheard messages. She remembered drifters
she had listened to, Americans speaking their language carefully, scholarly, as if they were in exile
from somewhere else invisible yet congruent with the cheered land she lived in; and walkers along
the roads at night, zooming in and out of your headlights without looking up, too far from any town to
have a real destination. And the voices before and after the dead man's that had phoned at random
during the darkest, slowest hours, searching ceaseless among the dial's ten million possibilities for that
magical Other who would reveal herself out of the roar of relays, monotone litanies of insult, filth,
fantasy, love whose brute repetition must someday call into being the trigger for the unnamable act,
the recognition, the Word. How many shared Tristero's secret, as well as its exile?
(Pynchon 149)
If I take a chamois and rub real hard on the bone, right on the ledge of your cheek bone, some of the black will disappear. It will
flake away into the chamois and underneath there will be gold leaf. I can see it shining through the black. I know it is there...
How high she was over his wand-lean body, how slippery was his sliding sliding smile.
And if I take a nail file or even Eva's old paring knife—that will do—and scrape away at the gold, it will fall away and there will
be alabaster. The alabaster is what gives your face its planes, its curves. That is why your mouth smiling does not reach your eyes.
Alabaster is giving it a gravity that resists a total smile.
The height and the swaying dizzied her, so she bent down and let her breasts graze his chest.
Then I can take a chisel and small tap hammer and tap away at the alabaster. It will crack then like ice under the pick, and
through the breaks I will see the loam, fertile, free of pebbles and twigs. For it is the loam that is giving you that smell.
She slipped her hands under his armpits, for it seemed as though she would not be able to dam the spread of weakness
she felt under her skin without holding on to something.
I will put my hand deep into your soil, lift it, sift it with my fingers, feel its warm surface and dewy chill below.
She put her head under his chin with no hope in the world of keeping anything at all at bay.
I will water your soil, keep it rich and moist. But how much? How much water to keep the loam moist? And how much loam will I
need to keep my water still? And when do the two make mud?