Section 3: Plantations, Parties, and Passing of Time.
More of my comments on the reading:
Loved the line: "Otto was young enough to find answers before he had even managed to form the question..." (131) and slightly further down: "...mementos of this world, in which the things worth being were so easily exchanged for the things worth having." (131)
On alchemy: "...progressive revelation, that doctrine which finds man incapable of receiving Truth al of a lump, but offers it to him only in a series of distorted fragments, any one of which, standing by itself might be disproved by someone unable to admit that he is, eventually, after the same thing." (132) I think this concept of distorted fragments speaks to Gaddis' analogical relation of alchemy to art. As Wyatt says "thank god there was gold to forge", the alchemical search for a formula for gold is similar to an artistic search for... well whatever the artist is searching for.
As mentioned in the summary Rake quoted, somewhere in here, Wyatt stops being referred to by name. He becomes a rather shadowy and greatly peripheral character... or rather a central but unseen character.
There must be some significance to the choice of a poodle as Recktall Brown's dog of choice. I don't know what that is. That whole rainy night, dog in the apartment scene feels very Faustian to me, particularly in light of the preceding discussions of alchemy.
The contrasting Recktall and Wyatt. Former: "Money gives significance to anything." Latter: "A work of art redeems time." (144)
Great way to show the passing of time: "Otto had followed her in, and he sat at the foot of the bed which had become a refuge, no longer a beginning but a desperate end, no longer a vista of future conquest but sanctuary where failure in all else made this one possession unbearable, unearned and come too soon." (151) Otto and Esther's relationship has already crested and broke without us seeing much of anything.
And slightly further along, this confusing dialogue that also passes some amount of time:
-Ellery?... Oh, Otto? Otto went away. (151-2)
That’s the kind of device Gaddis uses throughout his next novel "JR". Some element of dialogue let's us now that a transition has occurred.
Otto's stay at the banana plantation is comic relief, but not particularly interesting, in my opinion.
I've noticed a number of references to fingernail parings, and I'm wondering about that. I only started noting here on p 173: "… he [Wyatt, again no name used] makes gold down there, out of fingernail parings." It's tempting to relate this artist/fingernail connection to Stephen Dedalus' creator god, though Gaddis claims to Joyce influence.
The party scene is wonderful. Confusing at times, too many people, overlapping dialogue, but in that way very real.
And I really need to check for the source of the Henry James quote on 186: "To work successfully beneath a few grave, rigid laws." That's up my alley.
And that's probably enough/too much for now.