Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Bleeding Edge, Pynchon & Robert Anton Wilson

On now. Dare it. Let there be life. 
- James Joyce, Ulysses, p. 145        

Egging raw youths on to get in the know.  
All the time drawing secret service pay from the castle.
- ibid. p. 163                                   

Like Aleister Crowley when he wrote the 
Book of Thoth, Thomas Pynchon put everything he had into Bleeding Edge, possibly his last major novel, with the desire to pass on a lifetime accumulated knowledge of the Hermetic transmission.  The opacity of the esoteric levels of reference, surfacing occasionally to draw the attentive and willing reader into the TP multiverse of significance, means that you can read this novel and enjoy it solely as fast-paced and intriguing detective story and barely notice the esoteric rhizome network behind the scenes.  I read it eight years ago when it came out and posted what I noticed then.  A second run through revealed more.

We can look at the penetration of the deeper levels of association and meaning in Bleeding Edge as a form of spiritual gaming.  The game: decode the behind-the-scenes kabbalistic cryptography that provides clues for spiritual development.  This kind of gaming can show possibilities you wouldn't ordinarily see.  It can open doors leading to higher planes of existence, help you become enlightened and advance to higher grades of consciousness.

Kabbalah provides the structure, the architectural girders that build this game engine.  Kabbalah = multiple vision, the word itself means "to receive." To receive multiple visions.  This kind of game, this form of communication, turns up in all of Thomas Pynchon's novels seeming to become more refined and advanced with each succeeding book.  In a discussion group going through Against the Day that took place a couple of years prior to the publication of Bleeding Edge, I noted how the author explicitly introduces and writes about Kabbalah as if letting the reader know to look through that lens for further signs.  He illuminates one way for readers to read his books.   

The hint to the attentive reader that "the game is afoot," as Sherlock Holmes would say, repeats in Bleeding Edge.  On page 87 a character named Axel provides the name of Phipps Epperdew, 'better known as Vip" as a suspect in an investigation by the main protagonist Maxine Tarnow.  When I came across Phipps Epperdew, my kabbalah training immediately suggested the Hebrew letter "Pe" yet I had no context or clue to think this intentional.  Until I read the next paragraph:

"... Features written into the software that you don't find in the manual are meant instead to be passed on in person, orally, from cash-register vendor to user.  The way certain kinds of magical lore go from rogue rabbis to apprentices in kabbalah.  If the manual is scripture, phantomware tutorials are the secret knowledge.  And the geeks who promote it—except for one or two little details, like the righteousness, the higher spiritual powers—they're the rabbis.  All strictly personal and in a warped way even romantic." (p. 88)

Strictly personal because each individual in the game builds their own kabbalistic lexicon and correspondences.  Everyone will interpret the code differently, everyone constructs a spirtitual path, a road to higher consciousness unique to their journey.  My interpretations, the way I play the game, may have little or no relevance to anyone else, yet the game exists for everyone to play as thou wilt.  I offer my interpretations to those interested to show how one individual plays it. More on Phipps Epperdew, Vip, and the romantic aspect in a bit.  

Pynchon hardly seems alone as a postmodern writer transmitting didactic Hermetic information.  Robert Anton Wilson experiments extensively with similar, but different techniques.  Other such novelists include James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Malcolm Lowry, and William S. Burroughs.  The reference dictionary, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley can provide much help with unlocking these doors.  A post modern literature reader seems required to actively put effort into understanding and deciphering these books in the same way a spiritual seeker needs to make efforts and apply themselves to their path in order to advance.   

Pynchon and Wilson appear to base their literary occult structure on the system of Magick presented by Crowley called Thelema while expanding their lexicon to include contemporary cultural references.  Thelema endeavors to apply the method of Science to the aim of Religion.  Both Crowley and Wilson teach and strongly advocate the practice of balanced Skepticism.  Maxine Tarnow works as a fraud examiner, she's in the business of being skeptical.  In many instances, Tarnow appears a model or metaphor for the student of Initiation.  A fraud examiner = a bullshit detector, a critically necessary attribute for following the thread through the labyrinth.  Pattern recognition provides entrance into Kabbalistic worlds:

"By which point—part of the Certified Fraud Examiner skill set being a tendency to look for hidden patterns—Maxine began to wonder" (p. 22).

The student learns to look for signs that can give suggestions, hints, instructions and advice for the construction of their royal road.  In Thelema this falls under the rubric of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, a model for contacting Higher Intelligence.  

"... there are places we should be looking, not in newspapers or television but at the margins, graffiti, uncontrolled utterances, bad dreamers who sleep in public and scream in their sleep" (p.322)

Speaking of graffiti, much earlier, we humorously learn that Maxine relies on her bladder to sense useful information.  When it's in range, she will have to pee: "... when phone numbers, koans, and stock tips from which she's likely to profit are close by, the gotta-go alarm has reliably steered her to enough significant restroom walls that she's learned to pay attention" (p. 84)

Developing this kind of intuitive sensing through practice and experience seems part and parcel of Maxine's work as a fraud examiner.  For instance, she can receive indications through intuitively reading beats of silence in conversations.  She pays attention not only to the words being spoken, but to the tone of voice, inflections of speech, etc. to read an overall mood; to sense and receive what isn't being said.

This next quote from page 78 - 79 speaks well to both the esoteric aspect of BE and to the construction of a spiritual path.  The conversation concerns virtual reality software in the "Deep Web" hosted by the mysterious DeepArcher:

 "'Kind of like a Markov chain, where the transition matrix keeps resetting itself'
  'At random.'
  'At pseudorandom.'
   To which the guys have also added designer linkrot to camouflage healthy pathways nobody wants revealed. 'It's really just another maze, only invisible.  You're dowsing for transparent links, each measuring one pixel by one, each link vanishing and relocating as soon as it's clicked on ... an invisible self-recoding pathway, no chance of retracing it.'
    'But if the route in is erased behind you, how do you get back out?'
    'Click your heels three times,' Lucas sez, 'and . . . no wait, that's something else . . . '"

Preview of what's ahead: Robert Anton Wilson alludes to the Markov chain in both of his major fictional works, Illuminatus! and Schrodinger's Cat.  The trickster character Markoff Chaney appears in both doing his own subtle, mischievous path recoding.  In the early days of the public internet, Wilson used the alias Mark Chaney to anonymously join chat rooms.  

Even if the reader shows absolutely no interest in Kabbalah and spiritual gaming, it seems incumbent on them to actively participate by researching the references the author alludes to.  Pynchon frequently uses contemporary songs and films to invoke mood and to advance the narrative. Without knowing those songs and films, those references will fail to communicate.  For example, Maxine's friend Heidi in describing the situation with her new boyfriend, Conkling Speedwell, asks if there's an issue there.  Maxine replies, "as in Bird Dog by the Everly Brothers?  Without knowing that song, easily found on You Tube or Spotify, etc, one may not infer the issue in mind.

*  *  *  *  *  *

The epiphanal moment for me occurred in Chapter 23 when it's revealed that Maxine's Prime Directive as a fraud examiner = "You Never Know." Reading this sparked a strong intuitive flash that Pynchon intended to bring Robert Anton Wilson into the mix.  "You never know" seems synonymous  with RAW's brand of agnosticism, Maybe Logic and rejection of belief with absolute certainty. At the bottom of the next page he injects the word "maybe" six times in three sentences.  In the previous online group before BE came out, a short discussion speculated on the influence of RAW and Pynchon upon each other.  By no means did that appear clear and evident to me at the time.  I remember reading about telephone telepathy in Against the Day – when the phone rings you flash on who is calling – that RAW wrote of in Cosmic Trigger I, but that could have been a coincidence, or a sampled idea, it didn't necessarily indicate a strong affinity.  True, they both write about Kabbalah overtly and use it subtly, they both appear to use a Thelemic lexicon, RAW quite blatantly and unabashedly extending it out like Ra Hoor Khuit; Pynchon only via subtle code and allusion, almost silently like Hoor Pa Kraat; these two Egyptian deities unite in the twin god Horus.  Both writers are extremely funny.  Both appear to experiment with magical realism through their literature.

Continuing to read with the working postulate that RAW's tags in BE – what conjures him to mind – are 23 and "maybe" we encounter more indications for the high, fraternal regard Pynchon holds for him, acknowledgement and regret for his death, and perhaps some criticism – maybe, you never know.  In other words, Pynchon doesn't simply allude to or name check Wilson, we find a short, occult/opaque series of communications about him.  Timothy Leary turns up in an obvious, explicit reference just once; I  don't see any other references, coded or otherwise, to him.

I have seen what I thought could be allusions to Pynchon's books by RAW and commented about that in the online group going through the Historical Illuminatus series archived over at  Often these came through the letter "V," an obvious tag for Pynchon being the title of his first novel.

Also discussed re Against the Day: the Thelemic ordeal Crossing the Abyss.  Sure enough, similar imagery turns up in Bleeding Edge whose very title relates to that terrain.  A little demonstration of  Thelemic cosmology shows how.  The guide helping the traveler cross the Abyss is Babalon a representative of Binah the home destination for a successful crossing.  The first three verses of Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figura CLVI:

"1. This is the secret of the Holy Graal, that is the sacred vessel of our Lady the Scarlet Woman, Babalon the Mother of Abominations, the bride of Chaos, that rideth upon our Lord the Beast.
2. Thou shalt drain out thy blood that is thy life into the golden cup of her fornication.
3. Thou shalt mingle thy life with the universal life.  Thou shalt keep not back one drop."

The initials of Maxine Tarnow add to 49.  The commentary for Chapter 49 in The Book of Lies says "the subject of this chapter is OUR LADY BABALON."  At the end of the book Maxine searches for a red dress to go out in at the request of her husband Horst further connecting her with the Scarlet Woman.  We find her earlier in the novel also looking for something red to wear.

That's just the title.  A building in Maxine's New York Upper West Side neighborhood called the Deseret, scene of some of the action, gets quite a spooky description and starts to haunt her a little after the novel's first murder occurs there.  It also serves as the setting for a surrealistic Halloween scene when Maxine's kids, Ziggy and Otis go there to party.  The Deseret suggests the desert, symbolic of the Abyss territory.  The name comes from the entrance to the desert around the Great Salt Lake in Utah.  It's also in the Book of Mormon and means "honeybee" and signifies industry.

We also encounter the Abyss online in Pynchon's Deep Web: "Onto the screen, accordingly, leaps a desert, correction, the desert ..."  p. 403. It continues  for a few paragraphs with an extremely excellent description of what that crossing might feel like: "... dowsing a desert which is not only a desert, for links invisible and undefined."

 Two different sides of Maxine: a mother raising her children and a fraud examiner pursuing crooks and scoundrels.  At one point the two overlap when she gets a clear and terrifying message that the kids are in danger, probably the scariest it gets for her. Maxine and family live on the 6th floor of her building.  Her "Tail 'Em and Nail 'Em" business office resides on the 3rd floor in its building downtown.  The voyage across the Abyss starts at Tiphareth (6) and finishes at Binah (3).  BE begins with Maxine walking her kids, Ziggy and Otis, to school (metaphorically, this book) and ends about a year later with her in the doorway (Daleth) seeing them get into the elevator to go to school.  Symbolically, Babalon arches across the Abyss from Tiphareth to Binah providing shelter from the storm whenever possible; whenever the voyager can completely drain the blood of their ego/personality/self-identity in Her cup.  Maxine in her role as mother arches across this book.  

This could be the only book in Pynchon's oeuvre that stays with the same character the entire time.  Written in the first person, Maxine and her collection of selves remains a constant thread throughout the chaotic and sometimes dangerous adventure.  She crosses an Abyss as did the whole of New York City  at the time it takes place – Spring 2001 to Spring 2002 through the transition of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Pynchon acknowledges New York City as a prominent character in the book.

Maxine has a feminized iteration of a typically male name. She usually carries a gun, a Beretta, an obvious yang symbol.  It doesn't seem a stretch to connect her with the instructions found in The Book of Lies regarding the feminization of male energy (the N.O.X. formula).  In fact we see a clear example: "Maxine drops for a minute into one of Shawn's visualizing exercises in which her Beretta, within easy reach, has been transformed to a colorful California butterfly dedicated, like Mothra, to purposes of peace. (p.228). Shawn is Maxine's meditation teacher.  Mothra is a giant moth/butterfly goddess, a recurring character in the Godzilla series.  Godzilla makes an appearance in Against the Day.

Maxine's business name: Tail 'Em and Nail 'Em.  Nail corresponds with the Hierophant who communicates the secrets of the Temple.  Yes, Bleeding Edge seems surely a Temple of arcana, and Shirley Temple gets mentioned twice that I saw, the second amongst a series of "maybes." (p. 416)

It profits us to consider Joycean phonetic puns in our detective work.  The 'Em part of her business name suggests Mem which = WATER, and appears one way Babalon aids and comforts the trekkers across the desert.  Coincidentally, water is exactly what my neighborhood needs right now with a forest fire burning 10 - 15 miles away and slowly moving in this direction.  

Pattern recognition reveals certain, recurring special letters and letter combinations. If you read my earlier BE blog, linked to above, you would see the special use of the letter "t".  I'll repeat it again here a little differently.  We have the characters:

Maxine Tarnow - Tarnow = T + are + now.  In the current context we could reckon T = Tau = cross as in we are now crossing the Abyss.  This cipher appears to have multiple meanings for each element so we stay open to other interpretations.
Horst Loeffler, Maxine's husband. Horst = Horus + t
Otis Tarnow, Maxine's youngest child. Otis = O + t + is
Ziggurat Tarnow aka Ziggy, Maxine's eldest.  Ziggurat = Zigg (23) + u + r + a + t (23, you are a t). Of course, it could also mean 23, you are at.
Tallis Ice, wife of the primary antagonist Gabriel Ice. Tallis = T + all + is

Page 227 has the sentence: "'You put everything on T&E, Maxine' ..."

This use of T could indicate the path of Teth = Lust in the Thoth tarot as conceived by Crowley which depicts Babalon riding upon her consort the Beast.  Teth represents the middle cross path on the Tree of Life connecting Chesed-4 with Geburah-5 and lies at the entrance to the Abyss.  Studying the imagery on the Lust card will reveal a prominent attribute/challenge adepts face going north on the Tree.  Teth corresponds with Horus.  I suspect much more to be found with Pynchon's crypto use of t.

I have a personal project rereading all of Pynchon to see what themes or memes run throughout his entire oeuvre, a project that got delayed for over a year.  My plan was to read them in order of publication, next up on the list would have been Mason & Dixon until my favorite You Tube reviewer, The Book Chemist, a big TP fan, called Bleeding Edge his personal favorite.  A blatant reference to Mason & Dixon containing Kabbalistic correspondences turns up at the bottom of page 15 in BE. 

Obviously, the letter V plays a leading role in the Pynchon lexicon.  It sees vigorous use in his ultimate work. For example: Maxine's best friend's name = Vyrva.  Her brother-in-law is Avi (a V); the Everly Brothers were already mentioned.  Chapter 11 begins with Maxine at the Vontz Auditorium.  The last sentence in Chapter 23: Repeated messages from her Vertex, or does she mean Vortex, of Femininity are piling up unanswered." A google search explains "[i]n Geometry, a vertex, often denoted by such letters as P, Q, R, S is a point where two curves, lines, or edges meet."  We can find many more instances using V as for instance Otis dressing up as Vegeta for Halloween.   Vegeta is a character from the Japanese series of graphic novels and animes called Dragon Ball.

The two highlighted letters T and V, when combined, denote television.  Television and references to TV shows, real and imagined, abound in BE, moreso than any of TP's previous novels.  We often find characters watching it in the course of the novel.    begins the TV proceedings on page 2.  Law & Order, publicly known as one of RAW's favorite shows (and mine too!) also uses New York City prominently as a character in its own right.  In the first paragraph on page 6 we find a client of Maxine's known for his "Uncle Dizzy TV commercials" where he sells gizmos which include "audible alarms that attach to your TV remote."  The paragraph concludes saying these gizmos aren't for sale in stores "but they can be seen in action any late night on TV."  At the end of chapter 2 Maxine, perhaps facetiously, says she's written a script for a TV pilot called Bad Accountant.

The Brady Bunch joke from Vinland continues here on page 31; Pynchon's response to rumors of his TV viewing habits.  This seems apparent in Bleeding Edge when Maxine's spiritual coach Shawn requests to end the session early: "'Hope you don't mind if we run a little short today, Brady Bunch marathon, you understand . . .?' Shawn's devotion to the well-known seventies sitcom have drawn comment all up and down his client list. It continues, getting even funnier with Vincent Price mentioned at the end.

For me, the most significant, game changing use of V came with the introduction of Phipps Epperdew better known as Vip mentioned above.  I see here a correlation of V with the path Peh.  When pronounced as an abbreviation for "Very Important Person" it reads as V  I (am) P(Peh); V I am Peh.  Startling as I've always correlated V, U, F, and W with Vau in qabalistic reckoning.  However, I've been told of a variation in the Hebrew character Peh that puts a dot inside it to make the variation Fey, for words starting with ph that have an f sound.  Since V and F appear interchangeable in Vau, then perhaps V can follow F  as Fey to correspond with Peh?  Maybe, maybe not, regardless, it helped me immensely by corresponding V with Peh.  

Peh and the letter P produce a significant portion of the Hermetics of this novel.  It makes an important crossbeam in the construction of TP's Plane of Immanence.  Not only the letters p or v, we find multiple instances throughout of the pun with "pay" and Peh. For instance, the Haloween candy Maxine and Horst get to give out includes Swedish Fish, PayDays, and Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.

The path of Peh corresponds with The Blasted Tower in the Tarot.  Bleeding Edge takes place just before and after the demise of the twin World Trade Center towers on 9/11/2001.  Horst has an office on a top floor of one of the towers.  Peh seems a very important path, particularly to beginning students; it has multiple aspects both deconstructive and constructive.  It connects the Sephira of ordinary emotions, Netzach, with that of the ordinary intellect Hod; when those become aligned, it seems easier for Will to develop, to ferment and grow.  Crowley connects the lightening flash in the card with the Opening of the Eye of Horus, which on a basic level, indicates the opening up of consciousness to that cosmology.  Cue up the first verse of Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same for a sense of that.  In Gematria, Peh = 80.  The word Peh itself = 85, both numbers correspond to it.

The full quote that flashed RAW before my eyes:

Though unenthusiastic about touching anything that's been in contact with Windust's intimate apparel, she's also a fraud investigator whose prime directive is You Never Know, so she takes the folder gingerly and stashes it in her Kate Spade satchel.
  'On the clear understanding,' Maxine quickly adding, 'as Deborah Kerr, or Marni Nixon, might say or actually sing—that this is none of my —'" (p. 253)

Deborah Kerr's first big success came in the film version of the musical The King and I in 1956.  Marnie Nixon dubbed in her singing voice.  This appears an obvious allusion speaking for the esteem Pynchon held for RAW.  The Notarikon or initials of both You Never Know and Kate Spade = 80 = Peh.  The Notarikon for "On the clear understanding" = 93 = Horus.  Remember the word "On." RAW certainly seems a "King" in the esoteric sense, introducing and opening up people to the possibilities, transformations, functions and expanded reality tunnels found both inside and outside Thelema.

C + S  = another frequent letter combination found throughout the book.  This combination, featuring in Gravity's Rainbow and Vineland also, appears crucial to the transmission of the how to produce theurgic Magick, aka Higher Consciousness, aka flying lasagna.  I briefly mentioned this in my first Gravity's Rainbow blog in the last paragraph, and provided a link there to a full explanation.   
C + S = 68.

Incidentally, if we take V as Vau = 6 and add it to Peh = 80 we get 86. the flip side of 68.  
86 = "A name of GOD asserting the identity of Kether and Malkuth." The realization of this identity seems vital to theurgy and thus to the didactic hints given in BE.  
86 = "Hallelu-Jah" or a cry of God
    = "A rustling of wings." Again, indicating theurgic activity.  
Interestingly, in the Commentary to Chapter 86 in the Book of Lies we find a note that says: "The reader should consult La Messe et ses Mystéres, par Jean Marie de V . . . . (Paris et Nancy, 1844)." No full last name given for the author, just the letter V.  On one level, The Book of Lies functions as a sort of manual for crossing the Abyss.
* * * * * * 
In my blogs on Gravity's Rainbow I expressed a sense that Thomas Pynchon knew about and alluded to the ON Formula so very important to Aleister Crowley's teaching. The ON Formula assumes a leading role in Bleeding Edge .

Before showing how ON gets referred to and symbolically built into the structure of BE, I'll attempt a brief description. Looking at the Tree of Life, ON refers to the combining of the paths represented by Aiyn (O) and Nun (N).  The formula comprises a complex multiplicity that will gradually get realized with study, time and practice.  We can start with the correspondences. O = Aiyn = The Devil (Tarot) which represents raw male energy or Yang energy as the Taoists say.  N = Nun + Death (Tarot) which corresponds with female, Yin energy. The formula, in part, concerns the balanced mixture, the balanced synergy of these two types of energy TO PRODUCE SOMETHING.  It concerns an alchemical process that appeared very important for Aleister Crowley himself to pass on.  He wrote a whole book for his magical son called Liber Aleph, The Book of Wisdom and Folly in which the word ON, referring to the Formula, begins the title of nearly every one of the short chapters .  

A good concise description of this formula appears in 93 The Aleister Crowley Primer by J. Edward and Erica M Cornelius under the heading What does the word 'ON' signify?  The whole thing should be read, here are the alpha and omega sentences of the explanation:

"The word ON is the Arcanum of Arcana; its significance is taught, gradually, in the O.T.O. ..."

". . . it could take a lifetime to understand this formula on a practical level, but when you do, and if you are able to cross the threshold of the Abyss and enter the Inner Sanctuary of the Order known as the S.S. (Silver Star), remember that the latter's initials add to 120, the same value as the word ON."

ON forms part of the structure of BE through Maxine's kids, Ziggy and Otis. Otis obviously represents the O.  Ziggy's full name, Ziggurat = 239 = Azrael, the Angel of Death to conjure the N of ON.  The path of Aiyn - O - connects Hod-8 with Tifareth-6.  The path of Nun - N - connects Netzach-7 with Tifareth-6.  Peh connects Hod with Netzach to form a triangle with Tiphareth at the apex. Tiphareth, among a million other things, marks the beginning of the adventure of the Abyss.  The Tarnow family lives on the 6th floor of their Upper West Side building.  At the beginning of Chapter 11 "Maxine's in Vontz Auditorium." Taking V = Peh then Vontz = 216 = 6 cubed.

This drawing shows the triad made by the paths of Peh, Aiyn and Nun.  The latter two represent ON.  The path of Samekh is shown because that corresponds to The Archer and the arrows of Aspiration.  DeepArcher plays a mysterious denizen and Guide in Pynchon's Deep Web.  We meet her or him on page 75: The Archer has journeyed to the edge of a great abyss.  This suggests Samekh going from Yesod to Tifereth, the edge of the Abyss.  Yesod = Foundation appears crucial to this tale.  The whole book endeavors to construct a foundation for theurgic practice.

Page 369 has a reference to the Steely Dan song, The Fez, only Pynchon retitles it after one of the lines in the chorus, Ain't Never  Going To Do It Without the Fez On. Interpreting the F in Fez = Fey/Peh, along with On indicates the triad of Hod, Netzah and Tifareth.

Sleuthing a bit more into ON: O + N = 120
120 = the mystical number of the path of He = The Star (Tarot). This should give a hint as to what gets produced through ON

120 = Master
       = Foundation, basis
       = Strengthening
       = Prophetic sayings, or decrees
       = Prop; the letter Samekh

Looking at prophetic sayings for a second, remembering Bleeding Edge came out in 2013.  Page 264 introduces the Civil Hackers' School in Moscow set up by the KGB with the intention of destroying America through cyberwarfare.  Pynchon has phantomware that functions like ransomware, a big problem in 2021.  He has a device for theft that hacks point of purchase debit or credit card information.  I know two people this has happened to in the past few months and had their bank accounts compromised.  Gabriel Ice, the novel's shadowy antagonist, gets compared to Donald Trump on page 188 with an interesting line: "As if at some point having had a fateful encounter with tabloid figure Donald Trump's cost accountants."  Trump's chief accountant Alan Weisselberg recently had his own fateful encounter with NY law enforcement.  Page 343 has a money pipeline to the UAE echoing some of the monkey business going in the previous administration.

Coincidentally, when the top General of the US Army appeared in the news recently describing one of the incidents of Trump trying to overturn the election as "the Reichstag fire  moment"  I read these prescient lines on page 317:

"'It's the Reichstag fire', she greets Maxine,
 'The what?'
  'Those fucking Nazis in Washington needed a pretext for a coup, now they got it."

The 1933 Reichstag fire in Berlin, of course, became the pretext for Hitler becoming a total dictator.

A humorous riff at the beginning of the book has a group called the "American Borderline Personality Disorder Association" who, every year take a cruise to a literal geographic border. "This year the destination borderline is between Haiti and the Dominican Republic ..." The recent assassination of Haiti's President occurred a day before I read this, they said the killers drove across land from the Dominican Republic crossing the same border.

Over at the Bleeding Edge Wiki they posted an analysis of the book cover; we have more to say.

Considering what's been said above, the layout of the author's name interests me.  Ten of the letters appear in a two character vertical column starting with H over P,  H + P = 85 = Peh.  Next we have O over Y, O + Y = 80 = Peh.  I'll leave the next three columns to the reader's ingenuity.  The letters that don't appear in a column include the T dangling all by itself like those described above in different character's names; at the end we find the key word ON.

* * * * * * 

In conclusion, Bleeding Edge tells an exciting, fast paced, easily comprehensible story of multiple transitions.  The plot arcs over the transition New York and its inhabitants made before and after the twin tower terrorist attacks.  On the personal level, near the beginning we hear the story of Maxine transitioning out of her marriage to Horst.  Through the course of the rest of the novel, she transitions back into marriage and love with him.  On the behind-the-scenes virtual plane, the ordeal of Crossing the Abyss describes a profound and prolonged transition.  Sooner or later, like it or not, until the Immortality Pill gets invented, everyone will the cross the ultimate abyss of Death.  This appears the most significant transition we will all likely go through, and I suspect we've done it before.

The depth of this novel is profound.   I've only given a tip of the iceberg glimpse of what can be found there.  I have to read it again myself for further research to fulfill my ambition of writing a book about the magical worlds of Thomas Pynchon and Robert Anton Wilson.  

I intuitively feel that James Joyce influenced BE, another avenue for future research.  I saw one sentence where Pynchon used the adjective "stately" and it reminded me of the first word in Ulysses.  I read the first page of Ulysses and couldn't see any correlation other than the word, though Ulysses does begin in a tower.  Reading that first page got me rereading the whole thing, I've seen a couple of other congruencies with the two novels: Pynchon has the character March Kelleher, mother of Tallis Ice, who eventually has to go on the run after 9/11 due to conspiracy theory broadcasts with evidence.  Joyce has Corny Kelleher, an undertaker's assistance who has some other role in parts I haven't gotten to yet.  The names March and Corny have the same amount of letters, both with a central "r."  Joyce, also well-known for employing Kabballah, uses the c + s letter combination very frequently in parts of Ulysses.  I now wonder if that's where Pynchon and RAW picked it up from?  Both writers put a great deal of music in their writing including breaking into song in the narrative.  Both will use one or two word phrases to suggest a rapid train of thought - stream of consciousness.  Both write hermetically.  As I said, this requires further research.

The last three sentences in Bleeding Edge: "But she waits in the doorway as they go on down the hall.  Neither looks back. She can watch them into the elevator at least."  

Hallways appear a common element in bardo spaces, spaces of transition like crossing the abyss.  "Neither looks back," recalls a passage in Against the Day also covering the ordeal of the Abyss in which it's advised to not look back i.e. don't dwell upon some of the more traumatic or upsetting encounters that may befall one, persevere and move forward.  The last sentence, Maxine's thought, suggests Binah watching the adepts/growing children going to the edge of the Abyss, then it becomes up to them.  The last two words have the same initials "a" and "l" that Joyces uses four times to end Finnegans Wake.  Scholars have pointed out Joyce's awareness of his imminent death, his final crossing of the abyss, embedded in his last work.  Of course, a + l = Al, the Key to the Book of the Law.   

The initials of the last sentence: s+c+w+t+i+t+e+a+l.
s+c = 68 + w = 74 (Lamed = Truth & balance) + t = 83 ("Consecration: love in it's highest form, energy, freedom, aspiration") + i = 93(Horus current) + t = 102 ( "a white goose") + e = 107 ("An egg") + a = 108 ("The fruit of a deep valley") + l = 138 ((To leaven, ferment").

138, the Notarikon of BE's last sentence, also corresponds with Song of Solomon Chapter 4 verses 11 - 15:

11. Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
12. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 
13. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
14. Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
15. A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

In verse 11, along with The Rolling Stones logo, lips and tongue suggest a mouth = Peh. These fragrant verses also recall the character of Conkling Speedwell and his exploits in Bleeding Edge.  Speedwell works as a nose detective whose heightened sense of smell sniffs out some clues for Maxine.  These five verses from SoS signal theurgic magick.