Starting on page 733, a batshit crazy guy camped out in the Ennet House living room approaches Marathe and begins to talk about how most people are metal people, robots or automatons with gears and processors in their heads that emit a faint whirring sound. Incidentally, in note 332 sadly just a wee bit past this week’s spoiler line, a certain E.T.A. student’s cortex is described as whirring sufficiently loudly that its sound is covered (which I suppose it would be, loud or not) by the whirring of a ventilator. So but back to the crazy addict. He goes on like so:
‘The real world’s one room. These so-called people, so-called’ — wtih again the flourish — ‘they’re everybody you know. You’ve met ’em before, hunnerts times, with different faces. There’s only 26 total. They play different characters, that you think you know. They wear different faces with different pictures they pro–ject on the wall. You get me?’
Well it just so happens that there are 52 cards in a deck of cards (minus jokers, but they call it 52-card-pickup and not 54-card pickup, so I’m going with 52), which are pictures with different faces. I suppose that really there are 13 different pictures in four different suits, so thinking of cards in terms of the number 26 (so 26 people or cards manifesting two different faces apiece) may not be right on target. (Incidentally, also in note 332 is a little reference to a deck of cards, though it’s not one I’d really play up as important to this particular scene.)
Still, what jumps out at me is that we have a possible reference to a deck of cards given in a scene rather thoroughly steeped in paranoia. It makes me think of some of the Tarot stuff in Gravity’s Rainbow, which book I don’t know well enough to say anything more about, other than that it too trades rather heavily in paranoia and is somehow structured around or at least makes many references to the Tarot deck, which deck, I’ve just learned, has 78 cards. A normal deck of regular old playing cards, with 52 cards, plus the 26 different faces with different pictures the paranoid addict talks about make 78 total. That certain character with the whirring cortex also happens to be marked as something of a paranoiac.
I don’t have any real conclusion to draw here. I’m just connecting a few dots that don’t quite make a picture yet for me. Maybe somebody can shed more light on the connections (or call bullshit) in the comments.