Eigenvalue's Office

Chapter 7, "She hangs on the western wall," begins in 1956 in the offices of Dudley Eigenvalue. The dentist shows Stencil the Younger an amazing set of false teeth which he has built. Pynchon reveals that Eigenvalue and Clayton ("Bloody") Chiclitz are "part of the same Circle." Reflecting on Stencil's quest, Eigenvalue thinks to himself:

Perhaps history this century, thought Eigenvalue, is rippled with gathers in its fabric such that if we are situated, as Stencil seemed to be, at the bottom of a fold, it's impossible to determine warp, woof, or pattern anywhere else. By virtue, however, of existing in one gather it is assumed there are others, compartmented off into sinuous cycles each of which come to assume greater importance than the weave itself and destroy any continuity. Thus it is that we are charmed by funny looking automobiles of the '30's, the curious fashions of the '20's, the peculiar moral habits of our grandparents ... We are accordingly lost to any sense of continuous tradition. Perhaps if we lived on a crest, things would be different. We could at least see. (p155-6, Harper Perennial ed.)

These gathers of cloth can be seen as depths of a "V." This idea of history as a series of interlocking crests and troughs can be found in Ch 9, "Mondaugen's story," on p235.23-7 and chapter 11, "Confessions of Fausto Maijstral," on p307.29-36. Following these deep thoughts, the narrative weaves its yarn back to Florence in April of 1899.

Chapter 13: In which the yo-yo string is revealed as a state of mind 389-391: Profane and Stencil decide to steal Eigenvalue's set of teeth as a "peace offering" to V. Stencil dangles Profane off the roof so that he can kick in the office windows.

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