Profane Meets Rachel

Profane Meets Rachel for the First Time Twice

Schlozhauer's Trocadero, 1954

"Profane was just out of the Navy and working that summer as assistant salad man at Schlozhauer's Trocadero, nine miles outside Liberty, New York." [1]
"He met [Rachel] through the MG, like everyone else met her. It nearly ran him over." (V., p.23)
"'How romantic,' she said. 'For all I know you may be the man of my dreams.'" (V., pp.23-24)
"Profane kept running into her in what was left of the summer at least once a day. They talked in the car always..." (V., p.27)
"After the summer, then, there'd been letters, his surly and full of wrong words, hers by turns witty, desperate, passionate. A year later she'd graduated from Bennington and come to New York to work as a receptionist in an employment agency, and so he'd seen her in New York, once or twice, when he passed through." (V., p.29)

New York, 1956

"Rachel was looking into the mirror at an angle of 45°, and so had a view of the face turned toward the room and the face on the other side, reflected in the mirror; here were time and reverse-time, co-existing, cancelling one another exactly out. Were there many such reference points, scattered through the world, perhaps only at nodes like this room which housed a transient population of the imperfect, the dissatisfied [...]" (V., p.46)
"[Profane's] erection had produced in the newspaper a crosswise fold, which moved line by line down the page as the swelling gradually diminished. It was a list of employment agencies. OK, thought Profane, just for the heck of it I will close my eyes, count three and open them and whatever agency listing that fold is on I will go to them. It will be like flipping a coin; inanimate schmuck, inanimate paper, pure chance.
"He opened his eyes on Space/Time Employment Agency, down on lower Broadway..." (V., p.215)
"The waiting area was crowded when he got there. A quick check revealed [...] a family who might have stepped through time's hanging arras directly out of the Great Depression; journeyed to this city in an old Plymouth pickup from their land of dust [...]" (V., p.215)
"Profane made out his application, dropped it on the receptionist's desk and sat down to wait. Soon there came the hurried and sexy tap of high heels in the corridor outside. [...] He could hear the quiet brush of her thighs, kissing each other in their nylon. Oh, oh, he thought, look at what I seem to be getting again. Go down, you bastard." (V., p.216)
"Would she destroy him, she so frail-looking, such gentle, well-bred legs? She had her head down, studying the application in her hand. She looked up, he saw the eyes, both slanted the same way.
"'Profane,' she called. Looking at him with a little frown. [...] He stumbled up from the chair, and proceeded with the Times over his groin and he bent at a 120° angle behind the rail and in to her own desk. The sign said RACHEL OWLGLASS." (V., p.216)
"Strangely then the tumescence began to subside, the flesh at his neck to pale. Any sovereign or broken yo-yo must feel like this after a short time of lying inert, rolling, falling: suddenly to have its own umbilical string reconnected, and know the other end is in hands it cannot escape. Hands it doesn't want to escape. Know that the simple clockwork of itself has no more need for symptoms of inutility, lonesomeness, directionlessness, because now it has a path marked out for it over which it has no control. Pending any such warp in the world Profane felt like the closest thing to one and above her eyes began to doubt his own animateness." (V., p.217)

Mirror Time sheds some light, as does the following passage:

"Perhaps history this century [...] is rippled with gathers in its fabric such that if we are situated [...] 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. [...] Perhaps if we lived on a crest, things would be different. We could at least see." (V., pp.155-56)

Perhaps there are two versions of Profane and Rachel, each occupying different fold-bottoms; perhaps Profane and Rachel are fated "to repeat in mirror-time what [they] had done on the side of real-time." (p.52) Either possibility "illustrat[es] again and certainly not for the last time the colorful whimsy of history." (V., p.308)


  1. Pynchon, Thomas, V., a Novel, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1963 p.22
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