|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions|
I.5 pp. pages 188-201
188.20] "I sold my heart to the junkman": title of a 1935 song by Otis and Leon René; a 1947 hit for the Basin Street Boys. "Junkman" is slang for a heroin dealer.
188.28] Djuna Barnes: American novelist and short-story writer (1892-1982); see 941.6.
189.3] die Frau nach der man sich sehnt: "The title of a novel by Max Brod, Die Frau nach der man sich sehnt - the woman of our desire, of our nostalgia - supplies the best definition of Iseult" (LWW 268 n.1). Max Brod (1884-1968) is best known for his edition of his friend Kafka's works.
189.7] Ewig-Weibliche, the Eternal Helen: the Eternal Feminine, whom Faust associates with Helen of Troy; see 477.30 ff.
190.17] round-heads: the English Puritans under Charles I's reign were so named because of their cropped hair (cf. EPD 351), but Rodger Cunningham suggests "the main reference here is to the old 'eugenic' view of the inferiority of brachycephalic non-Nordics." Cf. 171.26.
191.10] I am going down to Dutch Siam's [...] yes I am: song unidentified; Dutch Siam turns out to be the tattoo artist Herschel visits (see 328-40-43).
191.33] Thomas of Brabant's On Bees: the thirteenth-century Liber de apibus records the earliest activities of the Order of Preachers. It is frequently cited in MM on incubi, succubi, and the transportation of witches.
191.34] Robert Browning [...] at the clavichord?: from "A Toccata of Galuppi's," stanza six.
192.8] the right arm of Saint Ignatius of Loyola: see 66.20 for Ignatius, and 529.36 for his left arm.
193.9] "birth and copulation and death": from Eliot's "Fragment of an Agon," part of the unfinished Sweeney Agonistes. "Birth, and copulation, and death," Sweeney tells Doris. "That's all the facts when you come to brass tacks: / Birth, and copulation, and death."
193.21] "Dust and ashes!" [...] their bosoms?: also from Browning's "A Toccata of Galuppi's," fifteenth and final stanza. Gaddis omits the last half of the last line: "I feel chilly and grown old," which finally appears at 797.36.
193.18] He never saw [...] meet death with: from Browning's poem "A Likeness," ll. 63-66.
194.14] Esme: critics have suggested sources for this name (e.g., Salinger's Esmé and Eliot's second wife Esme Valerie Eliot), but Gaddis said "her name had no referent" (WG/SM). Esme was based to a large extent upon a painter, poet, and model named Sheri Martinelli (1918-1996); see my "Sheri Martinelli: A Modernist Muse," Gargoyle 41 (1998): 28-54, and on this site.
194.33] Our Contraceptive Society: fictitious, I assume.
194.37] orgone boxes: Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) coined the term orgone to refer not only to unreleased sexual energy in the individual but to energy propelling the cosmos as well. One could supposedly tap this cosmic energy - and unblock individual energy - by sitting in "orgone accumulators" or "orgone boxes," which allegedly could cure cancer and stimulate flagging sexuality as well. The United States Food and Drug Administration declared the orgone box a fraud.
194.38] Buster Brown: the obnoxious little boy in R. F. Outcault's comic strip (1902-9).
195.25] German word for marry, freien, was to free: a translation noted by de Rougemont in his analysis of Hitler's popularity with the masses, which was based largely on Hitler's implicit promise to rid the German people "of any oppressive sense of moral guilt" (LWW 253).
195.31] Ye haven't an arm [...] a bowl to beg: the fifth stanza of the anonymous Irish ballad "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" about a soldier who returns mutilated from the war.
196.16] The Ring [...] Wagner: Richard Wagner's operatic tetralogy The Ring of the Nibelung (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung), alluded to both in R (552.3, 907-8) and more extensively in J R.
196.33] obsessive neurosis: Freud defines religion as "the obsessional neurosis of humanity" in his Future of an Illusion (chap. 8).
196.42] Saint Jerome [...] need not wash again: Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius (342?-420), one of the most important figures in early Christianity. "Cleanliness of the body was regarded as a pollution of the soul" by early Christians, Haggard notes. "The attitude was expressed by Jerome in the words 'Does your skin roughen without bath? Who is once washed in the blood of Christ need not wash again'" (DDD 271).
197.29] Saint Teresa went around on all fours [...] I would create it for thy sake alone": Marsh records several anecdotes concerning Saint Teresa from the Flos Sanctorum (a popular collection of saints' legends), concluding: "on another occasion, Christ said to her, 'If I had not already created heaven, I would create it for thy sake alone;' [...] notwithstanding these exalted favors, this saint was so humble that she habitually performed menial services in the convent, sometimes running about on all fours and carrying a pannier of stones on her back, ritu quadrupedis [in the manner of a four-legged animal], and with a halter around her neck" (MMSM 75 n.).
198.1] German word for surrender, niederlage, is to lie under: commenting on the close connection between love and war - specifically, how chivalry adapted military terminology - de Rougemont says in a footnote: "The German word for 'defeat' is Niederlage, which literally means 'in the position of being on the ground, of lying under'" (LWW 225 n.1).
199.44] Succubus: a discussion of succubi and incubi occupies part 1, questions 3 and 4 of MM (21-31).
200.4] Not for your own delectation [...] a mortal man: "But the reason that devils turn themselves into Incubi or Succubi is not for the cause of pleasure, since a spirit has not flesh and blood; but chiefly it is with this intention, that through the vice of luxury they may work a twofold harm against men, that is, in body and in soul, that so men may be more given to all vices" (MM 25).
200.10] Saint Augustine. On the Trinity: on the question "Whether children can be generated by Incubi and Succubi," the authors of MM cite Saint Augustine's On the Trinity "that devils do indeed collect human semen, by means of which they are able to produce bodily effects" (22).
200.14] If devils fell from every rank [...] these filthy delights: "Finally, since some are believed to have fallen from every order, it is not unsuitable to maintain that those devils who fell from the lowest choir, and even in that held the lowest rank, are deputed to and perform these and other abominations" (MM 29).
200.16] Helias: as an example "Of those against whom the Power of Witches availeth not at all," MM records the following anecdote (93-94):
Again, in the Lives of the Fathers collected by that very holy man S. Heraclides, in the book which he calls Paradise, he tells of a certain holy Father, a monk named Helias. This man was moved by pity to collect thirty women in a monastery, and began to rule over them. But after two years, when he was thirty years old, he fled from the temptation of the flesh into a hermitage, and fasting there for two days, prayed to God, saying: "O Lord God, either slay me, or deliver me from this temptation." And in the evening a dream came to him, and he saw three Angels approach him; and they asked him why he had fled from that monastery of virgins. But when he did not dare to answer, for shame, the Angels said: If you are set free from temptation, will you return to your cure of those women? And he answered that he would willingly. They then exacted an oath to that effect from him, and made him an eunuch. For one seemed to hold his hands, another his feet, and the third to cut out his testicles with a knife; though this was not really so, but only seemed to be. And when they asked if he felt himself remedied, he answered that he was entirely delivered. So, on the fifth day, he returned to the sorrowing women, and ruled over them for the forty years that he continued to live, and never again felt a spark of that first temptation.
200.18] Saint Victor: Saltus notes that through Satan's artifices "St. Victor was seduced by a beautiful girl" (AN 89), but does not identify this saint further.
200.22] I exorcise thee [...] envy: from the Catholic rite of exorcism (here with the beer as holy water), as recorded in the Roman Ritual: "I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ; tremble, O Satan, thou enemy of the faith, thou foe of mankind, who hast brought death into the world, who hast deprived men of life, and hast rebelled against justice, thou seducer of mankind, thou root of evil, thou source of avarice, discord and envy" (EB 8:972-73).
200.36] I am one [...] beast with two backs: "I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs" (Othello 1.1.116-18) - that is, copulating.
201.1] God for His own glory permits devils to work against His will: so believe the authors of MM (23).
201.20] orchids [...] how they got their name: as late as the nineteenth century there were those who "advocated the doctrine that all diseases should be treated with drugs producing like effects. [...] Thus the root of the orchid, because it is shaped like a testicle (in Latin the word orchid means testicle), should be used in curing diseases of that organ" (DDD 352). Significantly, Anselm crushes an orchid underfoot (635.35) shortly before castrating himself.
201.21] devil's residence in man: MM often points out "that the power of the devil lies in the privy parts of men" (26).
201.23] she drew him down: an allusion to the concluding lines of Dryden's "Alexander's Feast": "He rais'd a mortal to the skies; / She drew an angel down" (ODQ; WG/SM).