Saturday, February 9, 2013

Start of a Duel (Buried in The Sun)

This  post was co-authored by Daurade and Gid, who thank their friend, author and poet Jon Frankel,  for his research assistance and editorial input.

For years, rumors have swirled about a picture of Richard Fariña and Thomas Pynchon dueling in a cemetery. We heard about this rumor, dug around, and found that the picture is hidden in plain site on the Internet--but we could not find that anyone had written about it. As we continued digging, we learned that this photo was taken at a turbulent and fertile period in Cornell's history. We found quite a bit of info on a brilliant group of students working with brilliant professors.  Some of these students led a student protest which turned into a riot that some people see as a precursor of the student activism of the '60s and '70s.

In this post, we're going to examine the photo, but also Cornell in the '50s, the bright students and professors and the turbulent times.

We'll start by looking at how we came to this tale. Normally, we hate to read reviews of books or films,  concerts, etc. where the reviewer goes on to describe his shenanigans in high school or the fact that she had a cold on the day of a show.  But seeing as this post began as an account of a "quest" and not as a history lesson, a little bit of our own story is in the mix.

We hope fans of Thomas Pynchon and Richard Fariña will be pleased to discover something new about their Cornell years.  Perhaps sifting through minutiae and speculating with limited information is a bit absurd; we're well aware of that and have thus tried to approach this subject with a healthy dose of humility.  We've tried to deal with facts as much as possible and label pure speculation appropriately; above all, this is not the final word--an implicit question mark lurks behind every corner of the following text.

The biggest question comes near the end, where in our narrative the search for one photo leads us to the search for another....

A Research Request

10+ years ago, Daurade was working at Cornell University's Olin Library. He doesn't recall exactly how it happened, but either he contacted or was contacted by Englishman and Pynchon researcher Richard Lane, who at the time ran a website called The Pynchon Files. Lane asked Daurade if he could look through Cornell yearbooks for a picture he'd heard about. One which allegedly featured a picture of Richard Fariña and Thomas Pynchon dueling. Daurade looked through the yearbooks and couldn't find the photo, so he called Lane and told him, hey, no dice.

Some time later Daurade visited The Pynchon Files and the site had been shuttered; on the homepage, instead of the usual graph paper motif, there was a photo of a pair of duelists! Lane had found the photo. To this day, Lane hasn't published it elsewhere, nor did he discuss it in A Journey into the Mind of [p.], a documentary he appeared in. 

 

Flash forward "10+ years" and Daurade had just finished reading Inherent Vice. He Googled about a bit for some background on Pynchon (again) and came across a page featuring "all the known pictures of Thomas Pynchon". But the duelists are not included. Daurade, using the Wayback Machine, goes "way back" to 2001, looks at the photo and begins to ponder.

The figure on the right, identified as Hochkappler, is almost certainly Fariña. But on the left, Pynchon is not Marcel Aladar....more likely the woman in the background! So, what to do? Look for more info on Aladar and Hochkappler maybe.

So, Daurade Googled "Marcel Aladar" and found the following article from The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume LXXVI, Number 62, 17 December 1959:  Once Upon a Time - A Christmas Tale by Allan A. Metcalf.

A little digging turns up that Metcalf was the editor of the Sun from '60 to '61.  Metcalf also started at Cornell on a math scholarship before turning to English (The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume LXXIV, Number 2, 24 September 1957, p. 6, "25 National Scholars... Cornellians Get Scholarships, Fellowships"), not unlike Pynchon, who started in engineering before turning to English. Metcalf graduated from Cornell with high honors in English in '61 and is now an English professor and a leading dialect specialist with a long CV.

Despite this use of the name Marcel Aladar, too much of a similarity to be a coincidence, we have never seen Metcalf's name associated with either Pynchon or Fariña, which we find puzzling; of course, it only whetted our appetites to find out more!

Daurade began looking more closely into Fariña and came across the Richard and Mimi Fariña Homepage, which features the very same photo, surprising Daurade enormously....and, shock of shocks, two more photos from the same article/photo shoot! This page confirms that the photo is of Fariña and also provides the name of the article: "Hotel Student Slain in Early Morning Duel. Austrian Student Kills Friend in Clash Over Weekend Date."

A good start!

The archives of the Cornell Daily Sun make it possible to view this article (The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume LXXV, Number 25, 24 October 1958), and the article is there on the front page, along with our duelist photo. But page 5 offers much more: the story told with photographs....

Preparing for the duel.
Seconds Guy du Puy and Heinrich Ludlow shake hands.  Is that Pynchon on the left?
Aladar has the advantage.
Huntington swoons.
The death blow:  Hochkappler runs Aladar through.
Huntington grieves over Aladar while his second, du Puy (Pynchon?), looks on.
Dr. Cbarl confirms Aladar's death.
At this point, Daurade contacted The Gid--a more thorough Pynchon fan and LoS co-manager--to let him know what he'd found. Gid turned to the Pynchon L, and found several references to the rumor regarding the duel photo, all similar to Bob Orlowsky's post (August 5, 1994):
Regarding other published Pynchon photos, Baxter Hathaway in a 1978 article in the Cornell Daily Sun refers to a photo of Pynchon and Farina in period costume, duelling in a cemetery, that was published in a joke edition of the Sun in the spring of 1959. Anybody have a copy of this?
Gid dug around a bit on the Pynchon L, but he couldn't find any response to Orlowsky's question; nor could he find any discussion about Lane finding the picture (despite the fact that Lane was on the Pynchon L at this time); nor that anyone was aware that this picture is now on the web, which appears to be nowhere else other than the Richard and Mimi Fariña Homepage. Gid admits to having trouble searching the Pynchon L archives, however, so if anyone can point us to more on this or correct our findings, we'd appreciate it!

Hathaway: The Source of the Rumor 

Baxter Hathaway was, by all accounts, a fantastic creative writing instructor. Pynchon took a course with him at Cornell in 1959, a year after the dueling article appeared in the Sun

When Gid tried to track down Hathaway's article, the source of the rumor, he found that most of the 1978 editions of the Sun were not online, so Daurade turned to a friend, who helped find Hathaway's article and sent us a scan (May 5, 1978, p. 31 and 38, "Hathaway Recalls Cornell Writers of the 50s").

Here is the relevant clip; we'd be happy to share the entire article with anyone who's interested.


Hathaway is recalling a photo from 20 years prior, so we can forgive him for adding swirling mists and getting the weapon of choice wrong.  Funny, too, that he marvels that Pynchon is capable of such "corn".  He obviously couldn't have anticipated Pynchon on The Simpsons with a bag over his head. 

The Hathaway article is rich in anecdote, and we'd like to take some time to discuss it in order to provide the historical context surrounding the photo. 

The article is entitled "Hathaway Recalls Cornell Writers of the 50s", but the bulk of the article focuses on what Hathaway considers "the emergence of a new generation of student writers" starting in "the spring of 1958". Among these new writers, he focuses primarily on Pynchon, Sale, and Fariña. Structurally, he frames his recollections around the student protest of May, 1958, which opens and closes his piece. He uses the protest to propel an argument that this group of students were neither Happy Days nor beatnik; they represented another path or model:  "cultivated Ivy League" but not apathetic defenders of a "bastion of Establishment thought."

Hathaway leads into the discussion of the 1958 writers by examining some of their predecessors from "the period before 1957", among whom are David Seidler and C. Michael Curtis. In these pre-1957 recollections, Hathaway shares an interesting tale about:
The Writer, the student literary magazine that Sukenick and Martin Washburn had founded in 1953 to become immediately embroiled with the local postmaster Stanley Shaw and with President Malott, who was outraged because Sukenick had allowed a character in a story of his to utter the word birdshit twice.
For Hathaway, this serves as an early example of student rebellion that he uses to build up to the more tumultuous spring of 1958.

After this, Hathaway moves into some discussion of the faculty to provide more background for the emerging writers of 1958. Hathaway describes the English department as embattled. "In truth", wrote Hathaway of the faculty members, "the writers at Cornell were on the defensive in a the mid-fifties against the belt-tightening of the literary scholars." The scholars won, in his view, which put Nabokov, who was apparently more of a writer in the eyes of his peers in the department, in a bad spot. Writing Lolita, published in France in '55 and in New York in '58, didn't help, except that it provided Nabokov with the funds to move on -- an exodus from the ivory tower.

After this background, Hathaway writes that "The spring of 1958 did mark the emergence of a new generation of student writers" -- and goes on to discuss our heroes. 

Hathaway is not, however, unique in identifying the abilities of this crew.

The Cornell School of Writers

There are, in fact, other people who've written along similar lines as Hathaway to describe the idea of the "Cornell school of writers"; quoting from the Richard and Mimi Fariña fan page:
In time Pynchon and Fariña came to be regard as part of a "Cornell School" of writers, which included David Shetzline (author of the "ecological" novel, Heckletooth 3, and DeFord, which was also dedicated to Fariña), and M.F. Beal (author of Angel Dance, a detective story with a Chicana lesbian investigator). Gene Bluestein discerns three preoccupations that characterize the Cornell school: "political paranoia (the idea of a Big Brother state), despair over the destruction of the environment, and an awareness of the special impact on the American mind of all levels of popular culture" [Bluestein, Gene. "Tangled Vines." (a review of Thomas Pynchon's Vineland.) The Progressive. June 1990, Vol. 54, issue 6, p. 42-3)] ...
The most famous author associated with Cornell was of course Vladimir Nabokov, one of the great writers of this century, who taught at Cornell in the late fifties while Pynchon and Fariña were students there [...] Fariña obviously emulated Nabokov's lyricality, his humor, his keen eye for the absurd and the pathetic in modern American life, and the use of these absurdities--rather than conventional literary devices--to tell his story. Nabokov bridged the generations of modernism and postmodernism, particularly in his influence on the Cornell School. [...] Like Nabokov and Pynchon, Fariña gathers the trappings of contemporary American life in all its tawdry plastic commercialism, forging from the materials of pop culture a common language between himself and his contemporary audience to tell a tale of high seriousness through low humor. And like so many of the novels of Nabokov and Pynchon, Fariña's novel is a quest.
Wikipedia, also referring back to Gene Bluestein's article, mentions the Cornell school of writers in an article on Shetzline ('56 Cornell grad who was friends with Pynchon and Sale):
This school of writing has been defined through as having three preoccupations (1) socio-political paranoia, (2) concern with environmental degradation, and (3) awareness of popular culture’s unique impact on the American mind. In addition to Pynchon and Fariña, the Cornell School would also include Mary F. Beal, to whom Shetzline was married. The Cornell School could also be said to include, or be influenced by, Vladimir Nabokov and Kurt Vonnegut. It stands in contrast to older literary traditions of that university, such as the literary traditions represented by E.B. White and Hiram Corson.
This is all very interesting, but to be honest, we like Hathaway's sense that something new was happening in the spring on 1958. And we think that it not only has to do with the talent of the 1958 students and staff, combined with their predecessors who were both Ivy League and rebel ... we think it has some thing to do with "The Riot."

The Riot

The demonstrations broke out Friday and Saturday [at Cornell] in protest against a proposed ban on mixed parties in off-campus apartments of male students.

About 3,000 students burned the university president in effigy, and half that number later stormed his home, pelted it with stones and threw a smoke bomb inside.

- New York Times, 27 May 1958, p. 20

In the spring of 1958, the group of emerging writers that Hathaway praised started a student protest that culminated (or perhaps splintered) into a riot. Several of the emerging writers were suspended: J. Kirk Sale, Richard Fariña, Robert Perry, and David Seidler.

Chapter 6 of The Chimes Freedom Flashing provides some more detail of the protest/riot:
And way back in 1958 Cornell students rang out the Victorian era on campus with an uprising against the strict rules governing interaction between men and "co-eds," as fairly accurately chronicled in Richard Fariña's novel, Been Down So Long It Seems Like Up To Me. Led by an angry faculty brat who later became a distinguished author, Kirkpatrick Sale, hundreds of students disrupted classes to protest rules such as having to leave the door open and the lights on when women visited a fraternity room, and threw eggs at the Dean who tried to calm them. Then some 3,000 students, nearly all the male undergraduate population, surrounded a women's dormitory at night, protecting women who refused to abide by their curfew. Finally, a thousand marched off under torch-light a mile to the home of President Deane Malott to demand an end to these "parietal" rules.
"P and I, P and I" they chanted, referring to one dean's argument that any relaxation in the rules would lead to "petting and intercourse."
"Students Stone Head of Cornell" read the national headlines, and the alumni, politicians, and pundits bayed for the blood of the barbarians. But all they got was a few suspensions, while the students got the complete disposal of parietal rules and the appointment of a new Dean of Students. As quick as a wink, the impossible was reality: in loco parentis, with its condescending control of private life, was only a memory.
In loco parentis was on its last legs, and again, it's not only a precursor to the waves of often violent demonstration that rocked American campuses in the 60's--but of the changing sexual mores of young people. The protest may seem a bit silly, the whining of a group of privileged college kids, but it was ultimately about sexual freedom, women's liberation, and a resistance to authority interfering too much in students' personal lives. To give a bit of context, the issues that led to the riots hung over the campus like a thick smoke for years and would have informed the these young people's sensibilities. Some of the most pointed commentary in The Cornell Daily Sun came from joke articles in joke editions of the paper, like "WEEKEND OF SIN! Halfway Down The Gorge--In SLIME and FILTH!" (Vol. LXXV, No. 141, 15 May 1959, p. 2, by Hermione Dopkit as told to Stan Werbul). References to depravity abound, surely a hyperbolic punch at the "P and I" so feared by the anonymous dean. Hell, Fariña wrote whole novel built around the protest and was eventually charged as a result of his role in leading it.

Now that we've offered some context--let's look at the long-rumored dueling photo that appeared in the Sun.

Student Slain in Early Morning Duel

The photos appear in an article in The Cornell Daily Sun, which is the oldest independent college daily in America, published since 1890 and staffed entirely by students.  Many members of its staff have gone on to prominent careers in print and broadcast journalism--there are at least 9 Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni--but E.B. White and Kurt Vonnegut are probably its most easily-recognizable names.  Like many college newspapers, the Sun periodically issues parody editions (e.g., 24 October 1958, 15 May 1959, and 12 May 1961) for occasions such as April Fool's Day or Spring Day (a Cornell tradition).

The article about the duel is one of these joke articles; it appeared in October 24, 1958, a few months after the riot. The photos accompanying the article include six people who are given fictional names: Hermann Hochkappler '59; Marcel Aladar '60; Carol Huntington '62; Dr. Ivan Cbarl; as well as Guy du Puy and Heinrich Ludlow (the seconds). Who are these six people, and what can we learn by digging into the history of these friends? We've organized our findings around the six.

Hermann Hochkappler '59: Richard Fariña

As we noted earlier, the Richard and Mimi Fariña Homepage identifies "Hochkappler" as Fariña, which supports our own conclusion. The Richard and Mimi Fariña page also pegs Fariña as the author of the article; although we're not sure about this, we can tentatively accept it.  If, however, anyone is able to offer any concrete analysis of the article, we'd love to hear it!

Richard Fariña was an accomplished folk musician, releasing two albums with his wife Mimi.  His novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me was published in 1966. Two days after its publication, on the day of a book-signing event and Mimi's 21st birthday, he was killed in a motorcycle accident This was April 30, 1966. Pynchon was a pall bearer at his funeral and later dedicated Gravity's Rainbow to him.  He also wrote the forward to the (most?) recent re-edition of Fariaña's odd and disconcerting novel.  In that intro, Pynchon wrote:
We showed up once at a party, not a masquerade party, in disguise--he as Hemingway, I as Scott Fitzgerald, each of us aware that the other had been through a phase of enthusiasm for his respective author. I suppose by then I was learning from Farina how to be amused at some of my obsessions.
Clearly, dressing up in disguise was something Fariña did on at least one occasion other than the photo shoot, consistent with his participation in theater.  In A Journey Into the Mind of [p.], a California bookseller relates that in the early 70's, Pynchon frequented his shop; after being recognized on one occasion, Pynchon later returned disguised as a woman!  Who knows what to make of that?  Another person interviewed for the film states that at a Pynchon look-alike contest years later, a shady character showed up who everyone thought was Pynchon, then fled when people kept looking his way.  Turns out it wasn't Pynchon.  Our bookseller may have made the same mistake.  What we find interesting is that wearing disguises and costumes is an idea that re-appears periodically in anecdotes about Pynchon, from 1958 up until the very recent past, when he voiced a cartoon version of himself on The Simpsons--with a paper bag over his head.

Mimi Fariña (née Baez), was Joan Baez's sister. They were all thick as thieves with Bob Dylan during a period chronicled in Hadju's Positively 4th Street:  The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina.  In a weird coincidence, Dylan had a serious motorcycle accident on July 29, 1966, almost two months to the day after Fariña was killed. One wonders what might have happened had their fates been reversed. Fariña may have become a rock icon like Dylan, or a novelist with the stature of a Vonnegut, Roth or Pynchon.

When Daurade searched the Internet for "Hermann Hochkappler" or merely "Hochkappler", nothing came back. But Gid later came up with a "Hochkoeppler" (a suggestion from Google), who was at Cornell at roughly the same time as the crew in these photos. He would have been leaving Cornell as they were coming in. This is relevant because Axel Hohkoeppler was on the Sun's News Board in 1954-55. He graduated in '55 in hotel management and soon after founded the Alianza Football Club in El Salvador (he played varsity soccer as goalkeeper in '53; Sun). Given this connection to the Sun, it's quite possible he was the inspiration for the name "Hochkappler" used in the duel photo shoot.

Marcel Aladar, '60

Despite all the rumors, Aladar looks nothing like Pynchon! Who could he be?

The most tantalizing lead we found, as we noted earlier, was that Metcalf wrote a story featuring a character named "Marcel Aladar".  Perhaps this was Metcalf's fictional alter-ego; Metcalf, however, graduated in '61, one year after the fictional duellist Marcel Aladar was pegged to graduate.  Perhaps it was a stock character, or merely a name, to be used as an in-joke among friends. 

Gid also found a mention in the Sun of Metcalf acting in a production (The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume LXXV, Number 24, 23 October 1958, p. 2, "Savoyards to Present Satire; Announce Cast for 'Patience" by [uncredited]), so the idea of dressing up in costume and playing a part may have been familiar to him.  As we alluded to earlier, Fariña also acted in Cornell productions, so they might have also known each other from the theater as well as from the Sun.

Note, however, that in Metcalf's Christmas Tale, Aladar is a foreign professor with a butterfly collection--presumably representing Vladimir Nabokov. (Note, too, that Nabokov wrote a story called "Christmas Story", although we haven't been able to find an English translation prior to 1994. Can anyone out there confirm this?)

This brings us to an interesting digression that ties into the faculty strife mentioned in Hathaway's article (which we discussed earlier in this post). In Metcalf's tale, an eagle named "Hubert" seems to be a physical manifestation of Aladar/Nabokov's intellectual imagination, swooping about campus and scaring students. "Hubert" surely refers to "Humbert" from Lolita, which was released in the U.S. only a couple months prior to the printing of Metcalf's tale -- and only a few months after the riot. We imagine that the timing could not have been worse. Lolita caused quite a stir, and not everyone was happy to have its author on the Cornell faculty.

In Metcalf's tale, Professor Aladar enjoys having students over for Christmas, but in the end, Hubert and he are crushed by a few students who'd rather make out with women than follow the professor's lead. These students unleash a bear on Aladar.

In real life, only five months earlier, Cornell students had unleashed their anger against the administration; their protest/riot against dormitory/sorority regulations for female students was presented in the national news as students rioting for sex.

Metcalf's tongue-in-cheek "Aladar" article could be taken in many ways, perhaps more than we can imagine (who or what for example, Gid is forced to ask in his ignorance, is Carmichael?). Should we conflate the story's presentation of students kept on campus during Christmas with Cornell's in loco parentis policy which helped trigger the riot? Is Metcalf suggesting a schizoid administration, one that employs the author of Lolita and, at the same time, fears its own students' sexuality? Is the tale also a gentle, albeit sympathetic, jab at Nabokov, written for an audience well aware of Nabokov's comic portrayal of the hapless college professor in Pnin? (Full disclosure: I haven't read Pnin, so please take my question for what it is--a genuine question. - Gid)

Now why on Earth would a young student--one presumably interested in pursuing literature after school--want to make what might be construed as a jab at Nabokov? Looking back in the Sun about one year prior, Gid found a Letter to Editor by Nabokov, written in response to an article by Metcalf (Volume LXXV, Number 21, 20 October 1958, p. 4, "Letter A G. S. Man"). In this letter, Nabokov sets out to "correct two misstatements in Mr. Metcalf's article". Was Metcalf thrilled at the attention by an esteemed professor? Upset about the criticism? Or nonplussed, a cool-headed future editor of the paper?

Keep in mind that Metcalf was young at the time, and we certainly do not mean to criticize; hell, he's certainly way more accomplished than either of us, in ways that Gid admires.

So help us out here! Does anyone know who Aladar is?

Carol Huntington '62

We haven't identified the young woman in the photos.

Could she be Diane Divers '59? This is pure speculation based on similarities to a photo of her from her college days that we found in the Richard and Mimi Fariña Homepage, which describes her as "a student to whom Richard was engaged briefly. Her parents disapproved of the marriage (see Positively 4th Street, p. 42)."

She was, like so many other Cornellians in this post, quite accomplished, becoming an author, political scientist, and at one point President of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She was rather tight with the Clintons and worked on Al Gore's re-election campaign.  Like many of the young women in the Cornell crew, Divers strikes us as quite remarkable, especially for her time  She was at the vanguard of a generation of women moving into positions of authority in the public sphere.

The problem with this identification, however, is that Divers and Huntington were said to have been three years apart at Cornell.  Not that this disqualifies her, but it's a disconnect we can't ignore.

Dr. Ivan Cbarl

Take a look at the duel photos, where Dr. Ivan Cbarl is looking over the dead Aladar. Could this be  Pynchon? It's possible, but du Puy looks more like Pynchon to us, and even that's far from clear. We would certainly welcome your input!

A reasonable question is, “Why does it even matter? Leave the guy alone--he has clearly asked for his image to be private.” We agree--but the question intrigues us because, well, how cool would it be to track down potentially unknown written works from Pynchon or Fariña's college days?  That said, we don't feel we're being intrusive, given that these photos are over fifty years old, but this concern has definitely been a part of our "behind the scenes" discussion as this post has developed.

Okay--now bear with us for a somewhat lengthy discussion of Cbarl.

Gid tried to track down the source of this name and found out that there was a fellow named Carl P. Leubsdorf who was at Cornell during the same time as Pynchon and Fariña, and he wrote for the Sun. It turns out that his name was misprinted as "Cbarl P. Leubsdorf" right before the duel article appeared:  The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume LXXV, Number 2, 23 September 1958, p. 11, "Construction Date Still Vague For Starting $6 Million Library" (Cbarl P. Leubsdorf). Did, perhaps, someone see the typo, and, amused by the error, co-opt it for the doctor’s name in the duel?

Looking further, we found this Letter to the Editor, which was credited to Ivan F. Cbarl, ’59, New Orleans: The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume 77, Number 47, 22 November 1960, p. 4, "Letters to the Editor"
I am often amused that Republicans tend to view politics with the righteous indignation displayed in Mr. Simpson’s letter of Nov. 15. While the column by Mr. Sarobin undoubtedly overstated the case, an editorial writer’s prerogative as Mr. Simpson should know, I can hardly agree it is "the most self-righteous and the most obnoxious piece" that has ever appeared in the SUN.

The emptiness of Mr. Simpson’s protest is revealed in his comment that Richard Nixon’s career is no match for those of what he calls "such recent great figures" in the Republican party as Hoover, Taft, Dewey, or President Eisenhower himself." In other words, Mr. Nixon scarcely merited election to the Presidency. Indeed, the only things to be regretted about the election are that more than 33,000,000 Americans (including Mr. Simpson) thought Mr. Nixon worthy of the Presidency and that considerable circles in the GOP still think he is and should run again in 1964.

—Ivan F. Cbarl ‘59
New Orleans, La.
Is the photo of Cbarl actually Pynchon?   As we said a moment ago, probably not, but we still wonder who wrote this Letter to the Editor. 

More clues: "Ivan F. Cbarl, '59, New Orleans" … That's the year Pynchon graduated (along with many others mentioned in this post). The letter was written in November, 1960. Pynchon was working for Boeing at the time, so we'd guess that he was in Seattle when this letter was written. Note, however, that the first story in Slow Learner, which was published in '59 in the Cornell Writer, was set in New Orleans. A final possible clue is that the letter calls the paper "SUN", which is exactly how the paper, capitalized letters and all, is referred to in the article about the dueling students; this style of capitalizing "SUN", however, was likely common practice in a time when people wrote on manual typewriters and italics were the domain of the professional printer.

Okay--so that letter may be a bit of a bore. But here’s one that may be a little more interesting. The name "Ivan Cbarl" also pops up as a Russian spy in another joke article, this one about the sinking of the Cornell crew (rowing team): The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume LXXV, Number 141, 15 May 1959, p. 14, Cornellians Search for Lost Shell... Crew Goes Down In Weird Lake Storm” (P. M. Namrehs). We couldn’t find the author, P. M. Namrehs, anywhere else. If anyone else can, please let us know! Meanwhile, we suspect that the name is a pseudonym.  Pynchon's early published materials show an interest in spies, which is a circumstantial link at best, but it's a tantalizing one.

So who wrote this? That’s the $10,000 question. Could this be written by Pynchon or Fariña? If not, then by whom?

Guy du Puy and Heinrich Ludlow

Guy du Puy and Heinrich Ludlow are the seconds in the pictures. They're the fellows in the top hats shaking hands. The article doesn't make it entirely clear who is who. Aladar, however, is identified as French and Hochkappler is identified as Austrian. Based simply on the seconds' names, Heinrich Ludlow might be paired Hochkappler and Guy du Puy with Aladar. In other words, we suspect that du Puy is the shorter of the two, the one with the black tie, the one in middle of the second to last picture.

Is it possible that the taller of the two seconds is Pynchon, merely based on looks?  Pynchon is invariably described as tall and dark-haired; the general morphology of the body and head are consistent with known photos of Pynchon.  But in one photo, the top hat and (false?) facial hair make it difficult to identify him positively, and in the other, all we see is the top of the head.  Regarding that facial hair, Pynchon did supposedly have a "Wyatt Earp-type handlebar mustache" while at Boeing, which he supposedly kept while in Mexico. Did Pynchon have a mustache in college? If not, might costuming be a "try it before you buy it" moment? (Maybe this is just being silly, but hell, when it comes to Pynchon, speculation about minutiae is almost de rigeur.) It is tempting to suppose that these obfuscations actually support the idea that it is Pynchon, but of course while this kind of speculation may be amusing, it's far from conclusive.  Still, if we were to bet on which person in this photo-shoot is Pynchon, we'd put our money on Heinrich Ludlow. 

Gid dug around for the names of the characters in other editions of the Sun from the relevant time period. He found numerous Heinrich's in the Sun during the late '50s to early '60s, but none seem relevant. There is also an article by Kirk Sale which reviews fiction by Fariña and Seidler and mentions a character named Ludlow, although the character is in a story not written by anyone mentioned in our article (Vol. LXXIV, Number 112, 7 April 1958, p. 4, "Literary Review Modern Techniques in Short Stories" by Sale).

Gid also found what Daurade suggested are some potentially promising mentions of Hadley S. De Puy, a school official during the relevant time period:
De Puy seems like a possible candidate as the source of the name du Puy.  He was the University Coordinator of Residences in 1958 and would have been a likely target for the satires of Sale and Fariña, et al., given his role in enforcing Cornell's in loco parentis policies.

Other People to Consider?

Who else might be in this series of photos? The Richard and Mimi page list a host of people who were friends of Fariña and who may have been involved and we're indebted to the list on their site.  Many friends of Pynchon and Fariña were involved in the Sun, fiercely intelligent and went on to make a pretty good careers for themselves. The more we looked into this, the longer the list grew! We left off many people who were closely involved with this group, some because they graduated before the dueling pictures were taken, others because, well, we had to limit the scope somehow or another. Let us know how we did here. Did we leave off anyone you thought we should have included?

C. Michael Curtis '56 One time roommate of Fariña who went on to become fiction editor at The Atlantic Monthly. He was also a Sun contributor.

Kirkpatrick Sale '58 was also a roommate of Fariña and had co-written an article with him which culminated in a demonstration against the in loco parentis policies of Cornell.  He was the Associate Editor of the Sun (1956-57) and Editor-in-Chief (1957-58).

Sale has been described as having a "philosophy unified by decentralism" and as being "a leader of the Neo-Luddites", an "anti-globalization leftist," and "the theoretician for a new secessionist movement." Some of these labels bring to mind some of the concerns addressed in Pynchon's novels.

Indeed, Sale collaborated with Pynchon on an (unfinished) sci-fi musical about a futurist dystopia--Minstral Island.  A manuscript of this piece can be found at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin and a discussion of the work can be found here: http://themodernword.com/pynchon/paper_gibbs.html. This article does a good job of showing how and why we analyze the unpublished works of college kids who go on to write great stuff. 

Ultimately, this is why we got interested in this photo.  Sure, the photo is interesting in and of itself, but more importantly, it provides a window, an access point for the goings on of an elite group of students who went on to bigger and better things in the American literary establishment.  If  Minstral Island is a jagged look at concerns Pynchon and Sale would address throughout their lives, mightn't the Sun articles also have some use, however minimal, in that regard?  To see these young people cutting their teeth in the Sun opens up exhilarating possibilities.

Here's a rather lengthy quote from Gibbs' article on Minstral Island.
Since collaborating with Pynchon on Minstral Island, Sale developed and deepened his nascent skepticism of technology to a fine degree. In addition to his environmental writings and work—he founded the New York State Green Party—he has written many critiques of the pervasiveness of technology and society’s deference to the machine

Minstral Island introduces themes and worries that concern Pynchon still, too, but his collaboration with Sale may be most notable for being his earliest known work to feature show-stopping musical numbers. Characters in Pynchon’s novels are like people, but they are also actors on a stage, straight men, hams, and stars, all giving voice to their outsized feelings and their author’s big ideas.
 
.....Minstral Island, as shabby and unfortunately incomplete as it stands, follows in the dissenting spirit of Frankenstein, a novel that Pynchon, writing in “Is It Okay to Be a Luddite?” calls a great example of Luddite literature, “warning of what can happen when technology, and those who practice it, get out of hand.” 

Suspicion of technology, particularly its pernicious effects on politics and individuality, surfaces repeatedly in Pynchon’s fiction and essays. In his introduction for a new edition of 1984, published for Orwell’s centennial, Pynchon writes of the problems faced by fascist states when controlling desire.
[...] one folder of handwritten and typed notes, outlines, and draft fragments of an unpublished, unfinished musical written by Pynchon and his friend, John Kirkpatrick Sale. The materials date to spring 1958 and were written while both Pynchon and Sale were attending Cornell University.
Needless to say, we'd like to get a hold of that stuff!

Faith Apfelbaum Sale '58 is said to have been the first to actually suggest a demonstration; she went on to  be an editor for Pynchon, Vonnegut, Joseph Heller and Amy Tan, among others. She died of cancer in 1999 at the age of 63.

Stephanie Greene '59. There is contemporary a children's author with this name, but we're not entirely sure it's the same person.

Kristin Osterholm White Gould '57 was killed on 9-11 on Flight 93. She was a freelance journalist who also had fun writing for the National Enquirer.  An elegant, well-travelled, aventurous polyglot, she was friends with Frank McCourt, and her efforts helped to raise awareness of his memoir Angela's Ashes, which later won the Pulitzer Prize

David Leshan '59 is, we believe, a teacher, and recently had a piece published in the New York Times.

David Seidler '59. Quoting Cleaver (see later in this post): David Seidler ... broke with Dick because he felt Dick was a fraud as a writer. Seidler was extraordinary as a prosist [sic] and psychologist and was preoccupied with Napoleon in his exile.

Seidler is a screenwriter whose credits include The King's Speech.

David was one of the four students charged along with Sale for his role in the Cornell demonstration. The other two included Robert Perry '59 and Peter Wheelwright '61. (Four students were suspended on May 27: Sale, Farina, Robert M. Perry '59 and Seidler. Peter Wheelwright '61 was "temporarily suspended".)

Bob Wegryn '59. Wegryn, MD, is a general surgeon in New Jersey; he was the Sun photographer who shot the duel photos.  He was on the staff at the same time as the Sales and Osterholm.

Paul Nunn Cleaver wrote an article that discusses Seidler, Sale, Lesham, Osterholm and a Todd Perry, among others, who could have been in these pictures. This Todd Perry could have been the Robert Perry charged in the wake of the riot (see for example, here, and note that both Todd/Tod and Robert Perry seem to have links to Florida). Note that Hathaway spells "Tod" with done "d". Anyone out there know if Robert was also called "Tod" or "Todd?" There doesn't seem to be much about him. Cleaver indicates he died of alcoholism, but he seems to have taken second place in the 2012 Robert Frost Poetry and Haiku Contest). Hathaway identifies him as a poet and refers to a "triumvirate" of "Pynchon-Farina-[Tod] Perry" before dropping discussion of Perry altogether. Likewise, Michael C. Curtis also says "With 'the whole sick crew' there was Tom Pynchon and Farina, and Tod Perry." Was Perry indeed that close with Pynchon and Fariña, or are these statements in error, considering that Hathaway's was an outsider's take (at least from the perspective of this circle of friends) and both quotes are recollections of events from many years ago?

Cleaver, by the way, is now a hotelier in Mexico, and he discusses also his friendship with Fariña in a profile found on this page.  Cleaver himself could also have been in the pictures, come to think of it; he was close enough to Fariña to travel with him on a few occasions.  His recollections are worth reading.

The Bombshell

Finding the Hathaway article we thought, brought us something like full circle, the source of this rumor and hence, Daurade's contact with Lane that started this whole goose chase off. 

Or does it?  Just one a whim, we decided to Google some other names to see what came up.  Just when we thought this thing was finished, we found a reference to another heretofore unknown photo of Pynchon!  A fellow alum states there's an article in a national daily about the riots with a photo of Fariña, Sale and Pynchon.

Is this possible?

We're trying to track this photo down, of course.  We didn't want to wait until we found it to post this piece, but we didn't want to get scooped as a result of giving the details away, either.  We'll do what we can to find it and, if our searches are fruitless, we'll post the name of the article and where we found the reference.  We apologize for this.  The reference certainly exists.  If the photo actually exists is another story....

What Else Can We Say?

It's important here to state a few things in conclusion. Pynchon has made it clear that he wants to protect his privacy. We don't want to invade it like paparazzi. It is said, however, that in the wake of Gravity's Rainbow, an article in the Soho Voice proposed that Pynchon was J.D. Salinger. It is reported that his written response was "Not bad. Keep trying." Isn't that kind of, at the very least, not an explicit "don't try"? This is all 50+ years ago, a relatively well-documented period of Pynchon's life. If we can turn up juvenalia from Fariña and Pynchon, we feel that's a worthwhile thing, but we don't want to step on anybody's toes while doing it.  We're not going to bug old friends or anything like that, but we do feel our researches fall within the bounds of decency.  If this didn't involve Pynchon, no one would think twice about it.  We have to strike a fair balance between the man's obvious wishes and the interest this information might hold for scholars and fans.  We sincerely hope we don't offend anybody else involved in this story by making these speculations.  Many of these people are still active in various professions and we don't want to bring them any unwanted attention.

We should also recall here that Richard Lane found one of these duel photos over ten years ago and published it online.  Despite it being mentioned on a list-serve upon which he was posting, he hasn't spoken about it since.  Perhaps he concluded it wasn't Pynchon and left it at that.  That said, that it still remains a mystery or "rumour" puzzles us a bit--the photo is already online on one website and can be viewed in the Sun archives.  This is all quite public and we're amazed no one else has presented it yet.  Same goes for the Baxter Hathaway article.  Quite a few people refer to it, but no one ever seems to have shared the actual text.  Which again, is puzzling.  We got a hold of it in less than a day.  If you want it, leave your email address in a comment and we'll send you the .PDF.  We understand the temptation to keep things under one's hat, like with our newly-found reference to yet another unknown photo.  But we promise that once we've gone through the relevant sources, we will share it posthaste; that is, if we find it.  If not, we'll give all the info we have so that some other enterprising soul can dig it up.  Fair?  We think so, even if we do feel a bit funny about it.

We'd also like to know as much about this pantheon of characters and pseudonyms as possible; it could be an important footnote in late 20th-century American Literature.  Aladar, Cbarl, Hochkappler, Ludlow, du Puy, Huntington....what other adventures did they get into?

On a final note, we're not professional journalists or academics, merely curious fans. We may have overlooked some things and/or misinterpreted some things. We hope that you, fans and scholars, will get in touch with us to offer your insights. We'd also like to hear from the people this story concerns; we may actually contact some, but we'd rather they contact us to share their stories and shed some light on the heady salad days of a fine group of writers and thinkers.

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Update (2/18/13)

As promised, here is our follow up on a reference to another heretofore unknown photo of Pynchon!  As said, the reference certainly exists.  If the photo actually exists is another story....

Update (1/5/14)

We have had the good fortune to interview Mr.Tod Perry, one of the students suspended as a result of the "riot" of 1958:  Cozy & Loud as a Camel in the Rain: An Interview with Mr. Tod Perry.

15 comments:

  1. That Wyatt Earp mustache bit might be myth. His editor at the Bomarc Service News, E. A. Hixson told the author of an article about what Pynchon wrote for the Service News that Pynchon was “a very neat person, slender with a small mustache.” I'll get you the title of the article. I'd dig that Hathaway article bencanard2000 at yahoo dot com. Oh you can get the Pynchon/Sale play if you go to Austin; the library doesn't make it difficult.

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    1. Thanks for your input, Ben! I think with Pynchon, it's hard to separate myth from reality, even when it comes to testimony from people who knew him. As for the mustache, maybe it got a little longer later in the sixties? I read somewhere that in Mexico locals called him "Pancho Villa". Who knows if that's true or not? Like the Hathaway article....there's been a legend built around what he describes, which is totally wrong!

      Did you get that article in yr email?

      I'd love to read the article about Bomarc, if you have the title. As for Austin, I have two old pals who live there so it may be possible to get a hold of that box!

      I'd eventually like to upload the Hathaway thing to an LoS Scribd account, maybe along with the article you are talking about. And why not the Austin material, if that's allowed.

      Delete
  2. I wouldn't upload the Austin material. The library at UofT forbids it for one thing, but there are also copyright issues. P has been very good about not pursuing people uploading stories or articles, but those things were all published. He might have a different attitude about some unfinished college juvenilia. The mexico mustache and Pancho Villa stories come from Jules Siegel's Playboy article.

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    1. Thanks...if it's forbidden by U ot T, that clinches it. I figured that might be the case. Likewise the Bomarc article you're talking about. Too bad.

      Delete
  3. "P. M. Namrehs" is probably (a reference to?) Peter M. Sherman '61.

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    1. I'd put money on it! Peter M. Sherman was on the Sports Board of the Sun from 60-61.

      Thanks and damn, good eye! How did you figure that one out?

      Delete
  4. "We couldn’t find the author, P. M. Namrehs, anywhere else. If anyone else can, please let us know! Meanwhile, we suspect that the name is a pseudonym"

    "Namrehs" is "Sherman" spelled backwards.

    http://cdsun.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/cornell?a=d&d=CDS19590528-01.2.21&srpos=62&e=01-01-1957-01-01-1961---20--61-byDA--IN-Sherman----#
    Lists a "Peter M. Sherman '61" as on the "Sports Board" of the paper.

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  5. Tempest in a Teacup

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    1. Or universe in a grain of sand. We're all about micro-history here....

      Funny thing is, I'm sure the expression tempest in a teacup rang through my head at least once as I was making some edits. Seriously.

      Obviously though, we feel there's value in looking at the little things.

      Delete
  6. I was very pleased to find this site. I definitely enjoyed reading every little bit of it and I have it bookmarked to check out new stuff posted regularly on Photographs and Pictures of Sun.

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    1. In fact I am alive. tod perry

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    2. Mr. Perry, I for one am glad to hear that and sincerely apologize for repeating the incorrect speculation of another. We did have our doubts, given the haiku contest in 2012. Was that you? I know my comrade will have a bunch of questions for you, but would you care to comment on anything in this post? I hope it doesn't offend you that we are writing about your life at Cornell. We'd be honored if you want to write a bit about what we got right and wrong. If you prefer, email us: stevenmadkins (at) hotmail.com and/or dpayne1912 (at) hotmail.com. Thanks so much for contacting us and best regards, Steven.

      Delete
    3. I wrote to the 2 addresses, but delivery failed permnently. Msg rejected by server: hotmail.com and mx4.hotmail.com. The 2nd recipient also rejected as code 501 invalid address. Why is that? tp

      Delete
  7. Did you replace (at) with @? stevenmadkins@hotmailcom

    ReplyDelete

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