Sunday, July 7, 2019

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story

She's got everything she needs, she's an artist, she don't look back.
- She Belongs To Me

Where have you been, my blue-eyed son
and where have you been, my darling young one? 
- A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

I've spent considerable time reading reviews and news items on the new Martin Scorsese/Bob Dylan Netflix film based on Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder tour of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and up into Canada, and have found that most of the journalists and bloggers don't know what to make of it; it fails to fit into their preconceived categories, their tunnel realities, of what they think it should be.  It appears they can't handle or process the cleverly seamless blend of fiction injected into and interwoven with a historical document.  One publication went so far as to call it an anti-documentary.  I disagree, it doesn't seem against documentaries because it blends fact and artifice.  As Dylan scholar Thomas Palaima put it: "Truth to Dylan, to people who really understand, is not factual information, which quickly evaporates. Truth is something that's essential to the human experience."

I consider this story a postmodern film, a work of art intended to provoke thought and emotion like any great art.  It has many of the qualities attributed to postmodern literature including multiple perspectives  and levels of meaning.  The fictional characters create credible additional perspectives giving truthful insights into different facets of this tour despite not being literally factual.  The money man/tour promoter shares his perspective, the seventeen-year-old fan who joins the tour helping with the costumes, the Rolling Stone reporter doing his job and dealing with his corporate editor, the prisoner and subject of a song protesting injustice, the limo driver, a politician,various fans etc., all reflect different angles of this business we call show.  Some of these characters came from a writer's pen, others known to be historically accurate, and you can't tell the difference between the two unless told.  The fictional and factual characters mingle, blend and interweave their stories between each other.

Multiple levels: This film seems almost as much about the United States of America as it does Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder tour.  It begins on Bicentennial Day, July 4, 1976, with footage that has absolutely nothing to do with the tour, which finished over 6 months before, except that they both celebrate America.  In a film that boasts an extremely rich and varied expression of music — not only the concert footage — the rehearsals, impromptu sing-alongs, jams at parties etc., etc, — the first music we hear is The Stars and Stripes Forever from a marching band. The first singing fragment, almost a throw-away, comes from "Uncle Sam" singing a quirky version of The Star Spangled Banner, "dedicated to the future of the Republic, God bless America."  Cut to a solo Dylan singing  Mr. Tambourine Man in concert, then to a Fourth of July parade, marching majorettes displaying a huge Revolutionary era U.S. flag as Dylan sings the line: "Though I know the evening's empire has returned into sand," given a new interpretation especially when considering current events. 

That's followed by an audio, then visual crossfade to Richard Nixon orating a Bicentennial speech, pointing out America's importance in the world, while also implicitly endorsing immigration.  It's hard not to compare his righteous rhetoric, Nixon of all people! with the farce currently going down in Washington, D.C. This marks the first temporal anomaly in the film, another postmodern trait. Nixon resigned in the summer of 1974, a year and a half before the Bicentennial, yet the way this is edited makes you think he's giving the speech, as President, in 1976. "We act not just for ourselves but for all mankind."

This misdirection should come as no surprise.  The film begins with old footage of a stage illusionist making a woman disappear then bringing her back.  It seems part of the film's mission to ontologically shake-up assumptions about exactly what is going on.  Editing and using sound and visuals in this way to create new contexts and factual illusions reminds me strongly of Orson Welle's F is for Fake "documentary" that looked at art forgery through using the techniques of film forgery. Robert Anton Wilson wrote an excellent account of the sleight-of-hand in that film that could give some insight into how Scorsese constructed this Bob Dylan story

Like other postmodern historical documents, the Rolling Thunder story appears as much a comment on the current state of affairs as it does the period it covers.  This seems an incredibly beautiful, hopeful and elegant protest against the current presidential administration; a pièce de résistance.  The President of the United States becomes a subtextual theme without ever mentioning the current pretender.  We are told that Stefan van Dorp, the original film maker of the tour, made a film called The American Presidents, by shooting Madame Tussaud's wax effigies of Presidents; we get creepy footage of the wax presidential figures to accompany the story  Much is made, documented with old recordings, about Dylan's influence on Jimmy Carter.  We see Carter giving a speech where he says, "in Bob Dylan's words, America is busy being born, not busy dying," in what appears a direct rebuke to the current political climate.  At one concert someone yells out: "Bob Dylan for President." Dylan responds, "President of what?"

Paradox appears part and parcel of a postmodern piece and we encounter a great deal here.  On the question of wearing masks onstage, Dylan opines that there should have been more masks in the production because wearing a mask lets you tell the truth.  He's not wearing any visible mask when he says this, is he telling the truth?  More sage advice from Mr. Tambourine Man comes early in the film when he says Life isn't about finding yourself or finding anything, it's about creating yourself."  Near the end, in response to Hurricane Carter always asking what he's searching for, Dylan tells him he's "searching for the Holy Grail, like Sir Galahad."

I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met one woman whose body was burning 
I met a young girl she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man wounded in hatred.
- A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

After a long segment showing how close President Jimmy Carter is to Bob —he calls up Dylan to get his buddy into a show (another time anomaly)— it cuts to Dylan asking from the stage, "If anyone knows someone with political pull to get this man out of jail."  You have the paradoxical irony of Dylan saying there's absolutely nothing left of the Rolling Thunder Revue,"it's ashes!" in a film that uses a large stock of recorded remnants and personal reminiscences of the tour to create a brilliant political and artistic statement.  The film's promoters bill it as "alchemic," and I fervently agree.  A careful blending of substances to encourage the transformational process.  Thank the Gods of Music and Magic that it didn't literally become ashes.

Confronting paradoxes forces the viewer to think in different ways as opposed to passively accepting everything on a superficial level.  It challenges and provokes interested participants to dig deeper.   Paradox helps to wake up out of conditioned, associative thinking; it forms the basis of a Zen koan. The digging deeper of a working mystic has a musical expression in the song Dark As A Dungeon played at most Rolling Thunder performances. 

Postmodern works demand that the audience engage actively to co-create the experience.  Jaques Levy: "I get asked so many times what is the significance of the 5th day of May (first line of Isis)? I say, make up your own significance." "It's a swirling circus of provocations that illuminates and obfuscates like a Dylan song." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone magazine.

Another level this film operates on is that of the Bardo and Magick. The very first image shows a sailing schooner in New York Harbor to symbolically indicate embarking upon a voyage;  every scene presenting a different chamber along the way.  Scorsese cuts in a recurring image of Dylan in otherwordly, diffuse sunlight leading a single file of people up a hill while blowing on a bugle; the Hierophant, pied piper, or psychopomp leading the way.  Violinist Scarlet Rivera has a small picture of the Grateful Dead violinist from the cover of the album Blues for Allah taped on her violin. "This is my friend, he keeps me company.  He's playing the dance beyond his limits ... something that most people would say is impossible, but artists like to challenge the impossible."

Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, the tour's poet laureate and resident Holyman, visit Jack Kerouac's grave. "He wrote a lot about being dead," Ginsberg on Kerouac, then they read a poem about Life and Death from Kerouac's Mexico City Blues.  Early in the film Patti Smith delivers a passionate, surrealistic poem touching upon esoteric themes vis-a-vis Dylan's work and their relationship:  "I move in another dimension, I move in another dimension ..."

Playwright Sam Shephard served as the tour's screenwriter.  Dylan:  "Sam, how did you write all those plays? He said, 'man, it's like I commune with the dead.'
Yeah, you'd have to to write plays like that.  So I asked him if he would write the screenplay to the film van Dorp was making." (i.e. this film)

Was that the thunder that I heard?
My head is vibrating I feel a sharp pain
Come sit by me, don't say word
Can it be that I am slain?
                                           - Romance in Durango

When he died I was hoping that it wasn't contagious
But I made up my mind that I had to get on.
                                                                              - Isis

* * * * * * 

Like at least three great masterpieces of postmodern literature, Finnegans Wake, Gravity's Rainbow, and Nabokov's Pale Fire, The Rolling Thunder Revue symbolically references the archetypal Fall from Grace almost immediately in its narrative.  The first scene pans up to show one of the World Trade Center towers from ground level almost right below it, where it would collapse a little more than 35 years later after getting attacked by terrorists.  "Saigon had fallen, people had seemed to have lost their sense of conviction for ... for just about anything." A contemporary Bob Dylan's first interview words about three minutes in.  All of these great works of art have some kind of thread that goes through a labyrinthian journey toward a path of Redemption.  A way out of the pit or prison.  "Maintain the thread of consciousness," the Tibetan Lamas instruct the voyaging souls on their trips through the Underworld.

This symbolism speaks on a macrocosmic scale: the fall of America and hope for recovery on a socio/political level; the fall from Paradise and return to the Garden on a spiritual level. We recognize and apply the Hermetic formula: As above, so below.  On a microcosmic scale, the fall from Grace and hope for Redemption plays out in a song that expressed a prime mission of Dylan's at the time — Hurricane,  a song about freeing the boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter who got framed and unjustly imprisoned for murder.  The fall:

Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood
Cries out, "My God, they've killed them all

The hope for redemption:

Now all the criminals in their coats and ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a 10 foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell.

That's the story of the Hurricane
But it won't be over until they clear his name
And give him back the time he's done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a-been
The champion of the world.

                                                         - Hurricane, words by Jacques Levy

This dynamic gets foreshadowed in the title, Rolling Thunder.  At least three different explanations are given in the film concerning the significance of this name and how it came to represent the tour.

I heard the sound of thunder, it roared out a warning
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
                                                                            - A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

We see a segment in the film narrated by Chief Rolling Thunder talking about the injustices done to the American indigenous people: "the worst of all ... they took our way of life."  Dylan says the tour was named after him though former Rolling Stone journalist Ratso Sloman testifies that Dylan chose the name after hearing rolling thunder while ruminating on what to call the tour.  Sloman also points out that Rolling Thunder was the U.S. Army's mission name for the bombing operation of Cambodia, the planes took off from Guam — coincidentally, the name of Dylan's backing band for this tour.

Dylan admits to reading James Joyce.  For the significance I bring to this party, I wish to connect Rolling Thunder with the thunderwords from Finnegans Wake:

"There are ten thunders in the Wake. Each is a cryptogram or codified explanation of the thundering and reverberating consequences of the major technological changes in all human history. When a tribal man hears thunder, he says, 'What did he say that time?', as automatically as we say 'Gesundheit.'" -- Marshall McLuhan

A great John Carpenter film from the mid '80s, Big Trouble in Little China uses the imagery of thunder to roar out warnings.  It's used throughout with great effect - one of the evil sorcerer's sidekicks, known as the Storms, is named Thunder, the other two being Lightening and Rain.  The last lines of the film sum up this imagery:

You just listen to the ole pork chop express here now and take his advice on a dark and stormy night when the lightning is crashing and the thunder is rolling and the rain coming down in sheets as thick as lead.  Just remember what old Jack Burton does when the earth quakes and the poison arrows fall from the sky and the pillars of Heaven shake, yeah Jack Burton just looks at the big ole storm square in the eye and says, "give me your best shot, I can take it." 

Trump America seem one such storm.  The Rolling Thunder Revue appears crucially relevant to the current political and social situation in America and the World. It portrays a history pointing at the present story.  It presents a problem and offers a solution.

* * * * * * 

One scene in particular expresses authentic magical realism: the intro to I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine plays under Richard Nixon's resignation speech, the verse starts immediately after Nixon resigns — making a very powerful wish and intention.  Though only a fragment of the song is used, the expertly editing film sequence presents a montage of President-in-crisis footage; the music fading in and out strikes a resonant gravity's rainbow effect, tragedy juxtaposed against the direction of redemption, the problem thrown in your face against the occult background of a solution.  Listen to the whole song or even just read the lyrics to amp up the effect. If you've ever read William Burroughs on using sound and image to magically project a different reality, a line of flight, then you may appreciate the magical expertise Scorsese puts into play.

Pay attention and follow the sequence of scenes as if they comprise a series communicating a coherent sense of something; a path toward transcending current conditions.  Joni Mitchell teaches her newly recorded song Coyote to Roger McGuinn, Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot in Lightfoot's Toronto apartment: " ...  a prisoner of the white lines on the freeway ..." cut to the band bus driving between two thick lines of snow on a frozen Canadian highway; an impromptu sing-a-long of Love Potion Number 9 by The Searchers breaks out - extremely profound if you listen to the lyrics.  Much earlier in the drama, Patti Smith gives a poetic, impressionistic account of the Great Work to an attentive and receptive Bob Dylan, clearly enraptured in this intimate scene.  More confirmation that this film rightfully gets billed as Alchemic.

After much prompting by Hurricane Carter, Dylan states directly that he's searching for the Holy Grail.  For those who know this subject and Dylan's work, this sounds blatantly obvious, a monumental understatement, yet it's nice to hear him say it.  This search becomes clear listening to his songs repeatedly, but also gets artistically underscored and illustrated by Sharon Stone's part in the film, particularly in the story of the song he says he wrote for her.  Scarlet Rivera gives other examples that reinforce the point.  The Grail comprises the central feature in the Tarot card The Chariot, beautifully illustrated in the Thoth deck.  In a series of short YouTube interviews with Scarlet Rivera by Prism Archive in 2017, in the 4th one, Scarlet talks about how protective Dylan acted toward her and how it seemed like he deliberately lifted her up.  It's worth seeing for an excellent example of the Chariot archetype put into action.

Diving deep, we find a short subtextual thread addressing the Timothy Leary issue.  Leary had a complicated, adversarial attitude toward Dylan in the 70's.  Jesse Walker writes of how Leary directed "pages of bile" against Bob in William F. Buckley's National Review (reprinted in Neuropolitics) going so far as to blame him for Squeaky Fromme's assassination attempt against President Gerald Ford.  That assassination attempt and a close-up of Fromme are in The Rolling Thunder Revue:  A Bob Dylan Story. Leary also made Dylan the protagonist of his book, What Does WoMan Want? and later publicly apologized for his harsh comments.

In one of the more artistic narratives, film maker Stefan van Dorp talks about how important L.S.D. became to him.  We then see an artistic rendition of a profile that looks like Leary at the time.  I thought of him immediately.  Then we get a montage of how psychedelics influenced van Dorp's work beginning with a video of Venus by Shocking Blue.  I consider it a great pop song, but it has nothing to do with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue.  This whole segment seems non sequitur, like taking an unexpected turn in the bardo, until you realize that it provides a context for Bob to dish on his feelings toward Leary.  Not that everything Dylan says about van Dorp necessarily applies to Leary, the viewer gets to exercise their discernment about that.  The van Dorp character shouldn't been seen as only representing Leary, just that it overlaps.  The lyrics for Venus do conceptually resonate with Dylan's search.

Scorsese closes the film with Knockin' On Heavens Door concert footage.  This became the penultimate song in their concerts.  Dylan often improvised with the opening verse:

Mama wash the blood from my face
I can't see through it anymore
I need someone to talk to and a new hiding place
Feel like I'm knockin' on Heaven's door

I suspect McGuinn wrote the second verse, because it's new, not in the original, and he always sings it:

Mama I can hear that thunder roll
Echoing down from God's distant shore
I can hear him calling out for my Soul
I feel I'm knockin' on Heaven's door.

The intensity of the invocation upon the two singers at this point has to be seen to be believed. Where the third verse would go, Scorsese cuts to Allan Ginsberg offering a final prayer that sounds like his version of 'Do what thou wilt' — very inspiring.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Gravity's Rainbow, Timothy Leary and the Occult Part 5

In our last episode, we examined the linguistic coding in the name of GR's primary protagonist, Tyrone Slothrop.  We found two anagrams by arranging his name appearing to go in opposite directions. 1) Sloth Entropy - sounds like something with much gravity. 2. Try One Porthol(e)s - that signals hope, like a rainbow.  We called Sloth Entropy, the signifier and Try One Porthol(e)s the signified.   This arises from invoking Deleuze to analyze these two anagrams as two simultaneous series related to one another.  According to Gilles, and demonstrated by Pynchon, the signifying has an excess of sense, in the case of Sloth Entropy, the extra letter o that doesn't belong in the anagram while the signified has a lack of sense - the missing letter e in Try One Porthols.  Deleuze says that the excess always refers to its own lack.

The signifier series has an extremely mobile empty place - the extra o, in this case; the signified series has an occupant without a place, always displaced - the missing e.  Last time I suggested looking at Chapter 57 in The Book of Lies for an insight into PLACE.  Since then, I came across this passage appearing to reinforce the suggestion:

"But oh, Egg the flying Rocket hatched from, navel of the 50-meter radio sky, all proper ghosts of place—forgive him his numbness, his glozing neutrality. Forgive the fist that doesn't tighten in his chest, the heart that can't stiffen in any greeting. . . . Forgive him as you forgave Tchitcherine at the Kirghiz Light. . . . . Better days are coming."
  - GR, p. 518

The rainbow anagram derives from rearranging the letters of Tyrone to get "try one," while Slothrop gives us "porthols."  We can come up with another anagram arranging Tyrone Slothrop using the letters of both names interchangeably.  Try One Porthols can shift the e to become Try On Portholes.  This still sounds pretty abstract unless we consider Crowley's ON formula.  Earlier I gave my intuitive feeling that Pynchon knows this formula; either that, or the formula came through him despite not having conscious awareness of it.

They stood on the roof of one of the assembly buildings, the Oie across the water six miles away clearly visible, which meant a change in the weather tomorrow.  Steel was being hammered somewhere out in the sunlight, hammered in cadences, purified as the song of some bird.  Blue Peenemünde shivered around them in all directions, a dream of concrete and steel masses reflecting the noon heat.  The air rippled like camouflage.  Behind it something else seemed to carry on in secret.  GR p. 415

On seeing the light jangling this way, you begin to wait for something terrible — not exactly an air raid but something close to that.  You look quickly over at a clock.  It's six on the dot, hands perfectly straight up and down, and you understand that six is the hour of the appearance of the light. 
GR p. 139

I came across other examples more convincing, but didn't note them.  The first example has an obvious, alchemical subtext.  The "Oie" refers to a rocket launching site;  it clearly fits in with this linguistic drama.

Looking at ON with basic Tarot attributions

O = The Devil
N= Death

Crowley extends this formula by adding the letter X to get NOX.  He presents this formula for the first time in The Book of Lies, Chapter 1, The Sabbath of the Goat.  The Goat = Capricorn = The Devil.  The Sabbath of the Goat = Death.  In the Commentary he writes: N is the Tarot symbol, Death; and the X or Cross is the sign of the Phallus.  For a fuller commentary on Nox, see Liber VII, Chapter 1.  Recall the symbolic resonance of the Rocket with the Arrow of aspiration:

37.  I shoot up vertically like an arrow, and become that Above.
38. But it is death, and the flame of the pyre
39. Ascend in the flame of the pyre, O my soul! Thy God is like the cold emptiness of the utmost heaven, into which thou radiatest thy little light.
40. When Thou shall know me, O empty God, my flame shall utterly expire in Thy great N.O.X. 
44. I have thrown a million flowers from the Basket of the Beyond at Thy feet, I have anointed Thee and Thy Staff with oil and blood and kisses.
45. I have kindled Thy marble into life — ay! into death.
46. I have been smitten by the reek of Thy mouth, that drinketh never wine but life.
47. How the dew of the Universe whitens the lips!
48. Ah! trickling flow of the stars of the mother Supernal, begone!
49. I Am She that should come, the Virgin of all men.
54. Now!
           It is done! Death.
55. I cried aloud the word — and it was a mighty spell to bind the Invisible, an enchantment to unbind the bound, to unbind the bound.

- Liber VII, Chapter 1

Netzach, the seventh sephira on the Tree of Life, corresponds with emotions. Thus, Liber VII dramatizes a passionate, poetic, and emotional exposition of theurgic Magick.  As we read it, Gravity's Rainbow aligns closely with this passage - the first two verses could describe what happens to Gottfried at the end of the book; the last verse above, 55, describes a function of the book as a whole.

After a slight detour through the Night of Pan (NOX) we return to our endlessly fascinating cryptogram.  Deleuze would call Tyrone Slothrop a "paradoxical entity," as other GR commentators probably have.  This entity has two series represented by the anagrams, Sloth Entropy with an excess O = the signifying series; The signified series =  Try One Porthols and Try On Portholes.  Speaking of this paradoxical entity (Tyrone Slothrop), Deleuze writes:

"It is a two sided entity, equally present in the signifying and the signified series.  It is the mirror. Thus, it is at once word and thing, name and object, sense and denotatum, expression and designation, etc. It guarantees, therefore, the convergence of the two series which it traverses, but precisely on the condition that it makes them endlessly diverge.  It has the property of always being displaced in relation to itself.
- Logic of Sense, p. 40

Paradoxical indeed, and a fitting characterization of Slothrop.  Deleuze uses a literary example: In Finnegans Wake, once again a letter causes an entire world of series to communicate in a chaos-cosmos.  In Tyrone Slothrop's world of series, Sloth Entropy = chaos; Try On Portholes = cosmos.  They co-exist in the paradoxical entity, in an ever shifting chiaroscuro blend both converging and endlessly diverging; Joyce's chaosmos.

I depart from this topic with one last observation, the subject far from fully exhausted.

O(70) + N(50) = 120 = the Mystic Number of the path of Heh, the English letter E.  Pynchon creates a linguistic demonstration of a magick operation.  Applying the formula of ON in Slothrop's rainbow anagram shifts the letter e to now correctly spelling Portholes, aka wormholes.  He shows this magick operation accessing the quantum world where different kinds of change can occur outside the determinations or Laws of Newtonian physics.  Crowley devotes significant portions of The Book of Lies and The Book of Wisdom and Folly (Liber Aleph) to showing how to apply ON.  Grady McMurtry and Jerry Cornelius continued the effort  to explicate and understand it further.

The title of Pynchon's book just prior to GR, The Crying of Lot 49, resonates with this discussion.  See Chapter 49 in The Book of Lies.

* * * * * * 

The characteristics and measurement of Time changes drastically in the worlds of Relativistic and Quantum physics.  Pynchon plays around with time anomalies in several of his novels including GR—more common ground with Timothy Leary.  In his biography of the good Doctor, Robert Greenfield revealed Leary's fascination with time and his observation of time dilation effects in some of his consciousness research.  Greenfield points out that Leary ended his autobiography, Flashbacks, with the phrase, "it's about time."

Gravity's Rainbow occurs in at least two orders of time, depending on how you interpret it.  The events of the novel could occur in a linear sequence taking place from December 1944 until September 1945, approximately 9 months, the gestation period for a human baby.  They could also have all taken place on a single night as events described in a movie.

Related to the ON formula, the last section of the book takes place in a movie theater:

"The rhythmic clapping resonates inside these walls, which are hard and glossy as coal: Come-on! Start-the-show! Come-on! Start-the-show! The screen is a dim page spread before us, white and silent. The film has broken, or a projector bulb has burned out.  It was difficult even for us, old fans, who've always been at the movies (haven't we?) to tell which before the darkness swept in."
- GR, p.775

Herein lies the temporal ambiguity; have we, the readers, been at the movies the whole time watching the narrative unfold on the screen in the 2 - 3 hours it takes to look at a film?  Quite possibly, the book ends after the projector stops; or have we been following our heroes and anti-heroes in linear, sequential, planetary time?

"And in the darkening expanse of screen something has kept on, a film we have not learned to see . . . it is now the close-up of a face, a face we all know—"
- GR p. 775

Recall that 2001: A Space Odyssey ends with a close-up of a baby's face appearing inside a cosmic Egg over the music of Richard Strauss's Thus Sprach Zarathustra, and that Gravity's Rainbow takes place over a period of approximately nine months.  2001: A Space Odyssey gets an explicit shout-out in Vineland.

Star-child from 2001: A Space Odyssey

The symbol Δt - delta t,  recurs throughout Gravity's Rainbow and Pynchon gives it some unique interpretations.  The t stands for time.  The Pynchon Wiki gives the definition: "An increment of time represented spacially, as on a graph."  Weisenburger says: "In calculus, Δt represents the time interval separating instantaneous values in the range of a function." (GRC, p. 109). Deleuze uses Δt as a measurement unit for the minimal amount of time necessary for a change to produce difference.

Pynchon applies Δt  to consciousness, talking about Δt  reaching zero as you penetrate the moment becoming fully present in the here and now:

"She even tried, from what little calculus she'd picked up, to explain it to Franz as Δt  approaching zero, eternally approaching, the slices of time growing thinner and thinner, a succession of rooms each with walls more silver, transparent, as the pure light of the zero comes nearer ..." - GR, p.161

This also sounds very much like death; a succession of rooms conveys a classic bardo description, the rooms usually called chambers in bardo terminology.  Pynchon more explicitly connects Δt  with death in the penultimate paragraph of the book as he writes of the rocket descending and about to hit the movie theater:

"And it is just here in this dark and silent frame, that the pointed tip of the Rocket, falling nearly a mile per second, absolutely and forever without sound, reaches its last unmeasurable gap above the roof of this old theatre, the last delta-t." 
- GR, p. 775

A materialistic explanation of the bardo experience following physical death holds that it occurs as the unraveling of consciousness in the last few moments before brain death.  These moments get perceived in a vastly dilated sense of time, time slowed down so that lifetimes come and go in a few seconds of ordinary time, the last delta-t.  The film Jacob's Ladder gives a good portrayal of this though it runs a bit on the gritty, horror-show side of things, not for the faint of heart.  The traditional length of time for the voyager in the bardo = 49 days.  Applied to the materialist model, this means that 49 days, each day a different room or chamber, goes by in the few seconds or minutes before brain death.  Many examples of alternate rates of time exist in folklore, mythology, philosophy and personal accounts by intrepid explorers.  See, for instance, Robert Anton Wilson's voyage into fairyland in Cosmic Trigger I.  Time dilation gained some legitimacy when Einstein put it in his theory of Relativity.

Pynchon slips in the idea of a "new kind of time" using the example of jazz music; creative music often makes its own kind of time:

"... off the jukebox a quick twinkle in the bleat of a trombone, a reed section, planting swing notes precisely into the groove between silent midpoint and next beat, jumping it pah (hm) pah (hm) pah so exactly in the groove that you knew it was ahead but felt it was behind, both of you at both ends of the counter, could feel it, feel your age delivered into a new kind of time that may have allowed you to miss the rest, the graceless expectations of old men who watched, in bifocal and mucus indifference, watched you lindy-hop into the pit by millions, as many millions as necessary ... "
- GR, p. 479

This passage connects the stopping of time with the acceleration of consciousness using the metaphor of the double integral, the symbol that appears like two elongated Ss discussed in Part 2:

"... But in the dynamic space of the living rocket, the double integral has a different meaning.  To integrate here is to operate on a rate of change so that time falls away: change is stilled ... "Meters per second" will integrate to "meters."  The moving vehicle is frozen, in space, to become architecture, and timeless.  It was never launched.  It will never fall." - GR, p. 305

The final passage in Gravity's Rainbow is a hymn by Slothrop's ancestor, William Slothrop (with the obvious anagram, Will I am) that begins by alluding to a much bigger sense of time than the ordinary:

There is a Hand to turn the time,
Though thy glass today be run, ...
Till the light that hath brought the Towers low
Find the last poor Pret'rite one . . .
Till the Riders sleep by ev'ry road,
All through our crippl'd Zone,
With a face on ev'ry mountainside,
And a Soul in ev'ry stone. . . . 

Now everybody—
- GR, p. 776

Qabalistically, the Hand in the first line refers to the letter Yod, "the foundation of all the other letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which are merely combinations of it in various ways.
    The letter Yod is the first letter of the name Tetragrammaton, and this symbolizes the Father, who is Wisdom; he is the highest form of Mercury, and the Logos, the Creator of all worlds."
 - Crowley, Book of Thoth, p. 88

Other attributions of Yod include: the Intelligence of Will; Heru-pa-kraat, the silent aspect of the twin god Horus; Isis (as Virgin); Virgo; and the Hermit from the Tarot.  In The Song Remains the Same, when Jimmy Page climbs the mountain in his fantasy sequence, he encounters the Hermit who gives the vision of an accelerated passage of time.  Page and Led Zeppelin get at least a couple of shout outs in GR and Vineland.  The mystical number of Yod = 210, also the number of NOX.

Note that the last fine lines in the closing song each contain a word with an apostrophe substituting for a missing letter e.  The same word "ev'ry" occurs in 3 of those lines.  This will reward qabalistic analysis.

To be continued ...