Dear Thomas Pynchon,
Don't worry, I am not here to say a single critical word about any of your novels. They are like my bible, they give me constant comfort in a world where noise illiterates find million readers of their daily 140 letter diencephalic excretions. I am sure that you might be the most prominent person living in an inner emigration in the US, but your are not the only one.
But despite all my respect for you and your oevre, a respect that started with a deep confusion when I as a physics student in the closed East Germany got hold of "The crying of lot 49", I have to complain about one sentence that I just read in "Against the Day" (in its German translation, Rowolt 2008). On page 123, line 9/10 you describe photography and alchemy (which perhaps includes the science of explosives) as "...being two methods to achieve the same: to release light of the inertia of precious metals". I know what you want to say here, in particular regarding silver that acts as silver-nitrat in photographic emulsions to be converted by single photons into metallic silver, or to act in the form of Silver acetylide as an initial explosive.
My point in your line of reasoning is just the following: These two methods (photography and alchemy don't release light of the inertia of precious metals, but it is the other way around: Light and alchemy can both release precious metals of their chemical inertia.
You don't have to argue with me, because every scientist will agree that my line of reasoning is precise. I just would like you to send me the part of this chapter in the original English as you wrote it. I'd like to check if maybe (and what I strongly assume) this incorrect phrase is due to the Germany translation or editorial work.
Sincerely, Michael (external member of the The Chums of Chance)