A. I’m a few chapters–three, precisely—from finishing Mason & Dixon. “Finishing” is not the right verb here, though—Pynchon’s novel is so rich, funny, strange, and energetic that I want to return to it immediately.
B. But I need to backtrack a bit, riff on one of my favorite episodes—Chapter 50.
D. In Chapter 50,
’tis Dixon’s luck to discover The Rabbi of Prague, headquarters of a Kabbalistick Faith, in Correspondence with the Elect Cohens of Paris, whose private Salute they now greet Dixon with, the Fingers spread two and two, and the Thumb held away from them likewise, said to represent the Hebrew letter Shin and to signify, “Live long and prosper.”
Pynchon plays here on the reader’s initial understanding of the signal and phrase as a pop culture reference—
—but the goof isn’t merely postmodernist shtick—Pynchon is pointing to how the invisible manifests itself in signs and wonders, covert, cryptic, but perhaps—perhaps—decipherable.
E. (Maybe this needs clarification: The Rabbi of Prague is a tavern. I lost track of how many bars taverns pubs inns alehouses coffeehouses etc. show up in M&D). Continue reading “Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon (Third Riff: The Rabbi of Prague)”