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Subject: Anybody reading "Bleeding Edge" by Pynchon... rss

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Nikola Pajvancic
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...or recently had read it?

I'm quite stuck on a couple of places, just can't figure out the meaning - for example, chapter 31:

One day Maxine finds Eric in the spare room with a 27-ounce spray bottle of Febreze, spritzing his dirty laundry, item by item. “There’s a laundry room in the basement, Eric. We can lend you detergent.”
He drops the T-shirt he’s holding on to a pile of already-Febrezed laundry and remains pointing the bottle at his ear, as if about to shoot himself with it. “Does it come with Downy April Fresh Scent?” Diminishing returns. But he also has a worried look.

-What does "Diminishing returns" means in this context?

I'll be very grateful for all the hints/help.
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Matt
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Maybe she feels she's reached the point of diminishing returns in the conversation?

Each time I try I can't get past the first third or so, but I'm going to try again over the holidays. It isn't because I don't like it. I just manage to get distracted by something else in life.
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shumyum
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Without the context of the knowing about the character (I haven't read the book but I'd like to!), I'm guessing:

The amount of effort (etc? Does he not like to leave his room?) from going down and doing the laundry correctly ("investment" in business terms) many not outweigh benefit from doing so ("profit" in business terms).

(Diminishing returns usually used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.)

It seems maybe the "Downy fresh scent" (which is a benefit of Fabreze) seems to make the calculation difficult.

Edit: Matt and I cross-posted. If this passage is from Maxine's point of view, Matt's analysis is probably right. (The "investment" is the effort of talking to Eric...the profit maybe being getting him to act normal or something.)
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Nikola Pajvancic
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Hey guys,

Thanks for replying - I think that Matt might be on it, it does make sense.

While we're here, there's a couple more:


Chapter 12:

Maxine is no stranger to the Upper East Side, though it still makes her uncomfortable. As a kid she went to Julia Richman High — well, she could’ve been on the natch once or twice — over on East 67th, rode crosstown buses five days a week, never got used to it.

-Does this mean that couple of times she's been to school while not being high? It certainly reads that way, but is a bit incongruous. Or it's something else?

Chapter 40:

“She’s innocent, Maxine. Ah. She’s so fuckin innocent.”
Running with Gulf Coast gangsters, party to international money laundering, any number of Title 18 violations, innocent, well . . . “How’s that?”
“Everybody thinks they know more than her. The old sad delusion of every insect-free know-it-all in this miserable town. Everybody thinks they live in ‘the real world’ and she doesn’t.”

What does "insect-free" mean? Doesn't look like it's slang, so perhaps some sort of wordplay? I'm completely lost.


Again - thanks a lot!
 
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S. Deniz Bucak
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Pynchon's not above putting in stuff to keep the grad students employed. I wouldn't sweat every line.

I have read Bleeding Edge (as well as everything else by him) but only once so far.

Insect free could mean fleas, it could mean bug-free in the sense of software bugs, it could be bug-free in the sense of eavesdropping electronic bugs or all of the above. Personally it makes me think of the drug addicted character in Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly who can't get rid of the feeling that he is crawling with bugs.

I have no idea what "on the natch" means.
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Nikola Pajvancic
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Oh yes, that's probably so - he also sets up a whole scene, almost half a page, no dramatic need whatsoever, so that he can throw a pun like "kindness of stranglers" or "cereal killer". Lots of his stuff is just there to amuse himself.

"On the natch" - online I found "natch" to mean "natural" - and "on the natch" to be in natural state, not high. Don't have a clue if that's common piece of slang.

dbucak wrote:
Pynchon's not above putting in stuff to keep the grad students employed. I wouldn't sweat every line.

I have read Bleeding Edge (as well as everything else by him) but only once so far.

Insect free could mean fleas, it could mean bug-free in the sense of software bugs, it could be bug-free in the sense of eavesdropping electronic bugs or all of the above. Personally it makes me think of the drug addicted character in Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly who can't get rid of the feeling that he is crawling with bugs.

I have no idea what "on the natch" means.
 
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shumyum
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Quote:
Maxine is no stranger to the Upper East Side, though it still makes her uncomfortable. As a kid she went to Julia Richman High — well, she could’ve been on the natch once or twice — over on East 67th, rode crosstown buses five days a week, never got used to it.


I think this is a pun that druggies like to tell each other. As in "I went to Julia Richman high...". Works better when you say it than read it.

It's along the lines of when you're giving directions and you say "Go straight" and the druggie says, "No...go forward...never go straight".
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Nikola Pajvancic
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)) Yes! That's it!


shumyum wrote:
Quote:
Maxine is no stranger to the Upper East Side, though it still makes her uncomfortable. As a kid she went to Julia Richman High — well, she could’ve been on the natch once or twice — over on East 67th, rode crosstown buses five days a week, never got used to it.


I think this is a pun that druggies like to tell each other. As in "I went to Julia Richman high...". Works better when you say it than read it.

It's along the lines of when you're giving directions and you say "Go straight" and the druggie says, "No...go forward...never go straight".
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