Shambles: Summer of Infinite Jestation

Samizdat and stuff
July 28, 2010, 11:48 am
Filed under: Infinite Jest | Tags: , , , ,

Wow, we are like totally TOTALLY more than half-way done with the book!

Even if you’re not reading ahead, we’re over 50% done, and especially w/r/t to this book, that is something; I, for one, can barely believe that I’ve committed to  reading something for such a long time.

Of course, the Infinite Summery for this week – it’s up through page 516.

Okay, so. As of page 451, DFW lets us know that – as I suspected, “it’s not entirely impossible that [Tavis] may have fathered” one sleeping, bradypnea-afflicted Mario Incandenza.

Ohboy. It’s nice that this sort of fits into my framework for the Hamlet resemblances, however, I’m not sure how much else there could possibly be. There doesn’t seem to be room for an Ophelia, aside from Madame Psychosis/PGOAT/Joelle in a really roundabout sort of way; most of the resemblances I’m seeing tend to be thematic.  As far as the actual juicy tidbits of what on earth might have transpired emotionally/sexually between the Moms and C.T. (“Villain, I have done thy mother!” from Titus Andronicus), I don’t know if that’ll get delved into later on in this novel, but I surrrrreee hope it does.

Things are, as before, slowly sort of gelling together, but only sort of: so the infamous squeaking AFR have done away with Lucien/Bertraund Antitoi in their search for the Master copy of the infamous but illusory Entertainment, which was purportedly being held by DuPlessis who died because he had some intense nasal-passage-blocking cold and asphyxiated due to a combination of cold symptoms and nasty dishrag stuffed into his mouth by narcotics-abusing thief-turned armed robber Don Gately.

All this while Steeply of Troy and Marathe converse on some weird cliff-hangerish shelf in Arizona in the early May 1st light of YDAU about the progress their respective nations have made w/r/t studying/studies of the Entertainment, which seems to be able to cause your terminal-p endless stimulation upon one viewing, slash and burn no return style.

As far as the Master/copyable version of the Entertainment goes, I wonder if Lucien + pea-soup ingesting broski did have it, but had neither the proper 585-rpm-drive TP nor the knowledge that cartridges on 485s that play static-y and blank might actually be 585 Masters… whoosh, the sound of suspense.

I guess the only other way, so far, that this really ties in at all with the Hamster is this concept of a play (I mean, yes, “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king” (Act II, Scene II, 605-606)), as on page 490, when “with a really sophisticated piece of holography you’d get the neural density of an actual stage play without losing the selective realism of the viewer screen. That density plus the realism might be too much to take”. But the ties aren’t really all that clear – I don’t know who’s guilty, or who’s conscience will really be revealed/caught by the entertainment (perhaps that of Johnny Gentle, Famous Crooner?), or if that’s even applicable, though it’s certainly interesting to think about.

I guess all we can do is wait to see whether or not the kiddos get in trubble for the hilarious Eschaton disaster.

The ONANtiad

Guys, we are almost halfway through this beastly brick of a book!

Forget Shakespeare, enter Homer. Well, okay, maybe not entirely – I guess we could defer to one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries – , but the biggest revelation I’ve had all week w/r/t IJ (and I feel like I could have figured this out earlier had I been paying more attention) concerns Marathe’s “humored doubts that the meaty electrolysized face of Steeply would be responsible of launching even one ship or one vessel” in 30 April/1 May, YDAU (p. 375).

Holy crap, Steeply, Hugh Steeply, has somehow, in the few months leading up to becoming a (faux-)reporter for Moments or whatever cover that is supposed to be, managed to become a weirdly erotic/attractive Helen Steeply to Orin Incandenza. Maybe y’all figured that out before me, but OMG THAT TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND/had me cackling deliriously for a solid 5 minutes.

I’m really, really curious to see how Steeply manages to tame his mannerisms and acquire some semblance of feminism, especially since in all the passages relating to his escapades in the April/May months of YDAU are hilarious – his wig is askew, his fake breasts don’t seem to be located quite appropriately/diametrically, and where I’ve just left off, he has lipstick on his teeth (how does this sort of a creation compare with PGOAT?). Nice.

To return back to the ONANtiad/Illiad, I can definitely see this Entertainment as sort of a Trojan Horse – a pleasure/gift you seek out of your own will that later deprives you of choice/ends up killing you/leaves you in a room staring at a screen smelling very bad indeed. Maybe I’m stretching my references a bit, so you know, excuse that.

Infinite Summery up through p. 443. And now we’ve gotten to the point where the characters get their own update page.

Anyway, other things I really enjoyed seeing this week:

DFW’s little note on the different hats everybody is wearing to the banquet/sugarfest.

DFW’s giving us a glimpse into guru Lyle’s conversations with ETAers. Definitely interesting w/r/t to character development, and definitely interesting to learn who sweats easily (and where) and who doesn’t.

The discussion of the origin of InterLace (omg with the tongue scrapers, the fall and rise of the big pussified Four and the effect of the fall on advertisements).

And various interpretations of the formation of the ONANtiad, the Territorial Reconfiguration (via Mario and supported, I think, by Hal).

I’m still trying to figure out Marathe’s and Steeply’s relationship; I can’t quite tell who holds the power when.

Gaudeaumus igitur

Or De Brevitate Vitae, or Let Us Rejoice.

And um, there might be spoilers in here up through page 367.

Of course, Infinite Summer’s weekly summery.

Things are kind of coming together (well, okay. They’ve been coming together for about 200 pages now, so maybe they’re not really coming together, or at least not in the sense of resolution). We now know what prorectors’ courses at ETA sound like (Introduction to Athletic Spreadsheets; The Toothless Predator: Breast-Feeding as Sexual Assault); Orin’s sudden interest in Quebecois separatism a la beautiful if Reubenesque reporter (and the sad way in which he avoids his ma); Mario’s many superficial defects (so many so that he was approached by UHID to don a veil); Marathe and Steeply stuck on a cliff somewhere near Tuscon, AZ; Eschaton (O, Eschaton – I will dwell shortly); and what makes Boston AA so unique (a welcome to Madame Psychosis/PGOAT).

The game of Eschaton, especially with Pemulis/Lord (haha, playing God. Of course)/Ingersoll’s debate about the real world versus the map that only seems and does the snow falling in real time count as Real-Snow or Snow-Falling-On-A-Representation-Of-Territories, recalls for me some scenes/themes from Hamlet (the kids are even called Players on p. 338, which is what Shakespeare’s stage directions also indicate) with regards to the age old philosophical problem of is/seems.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the speed at which Eschaton devolved from a cold cerebral exercise into a crazy, blood-letting battle royale, complete with the youngsters running around a faux map of the world (haha, I LOVED the slapstickness of all the kids stomping over countries) and vomiting into oceans, etc. (here’s a forum).

I’m also pretty impressed by DFW’s ear for dialects – especially the Irish truck driver who soliloquizes about his amazing, practically breathing turd.

And maybe it’s just me, but the thematic Hamlet stuff seems to be piling up – I’m still waiting for something incestuous to happen or to be revealed w/r/t Mrs. Incandenza – but Hal, especially with the drugs, seems to be adequately not doing anything (again, that section on Eschaton really got me, the way Hal was just so fascinated by watching the Players do their playing that he couldn’t bring himself to… any real-time action).

Entertainment as a action-inhibiting source of thrall? Well, I suppose we’ll see what happens with Marathe, who is obviously aware of this video that causes medical attaches + wives to watch and watch and watch and die watching leaving a room smelling very bad indeed.

and also, (thanks alf), this made me sigh.

Welcome, Madame Psychosis

I am still about 10/15 pages ahead, so I’ll try to not spoil anything.

First off, I need to take issue with this hallowed-be-thy-page-223 crap. Although I suppose that was really my memory’s fault; I thought, for some idiotic reason, that it would explain everything. But this is pretty much what it is: a chronological listicle of subsidized time. I have had to continually refer to it, to be fair, just to keep track of when everything occurs, and what all the abbreviations signify… I’m glad not everything has been explained, because I feel like we’re just beginning to dive into the messy meaty head-exploding in microwave oven part of the book.

And oh yeah Shakespeare, I hear you. DFW actually used the word “usurp” (+/- -er, -ed)  in reference to C.T. (again, this Claudius business). I wonder, if, in the somewhat near future (next 70 pages, I hope?) we’ll start to see a kind of unraveling of a really F-ed up affair between C.T. and the Moms. Because we already know that C.T., prescient of Himself’s death, had begun to move in and run things at E.T.A. And Ms. Avril Incandenza seems to have a knack for attracting old dudes, which I find hilarious (and see the Royal Tenenbaums links below, if you’ve watched the movie/like DFW/like Wes Anderson).

The Infinite Summer recap of this section – they’ve gotten onto p. 285 in case you’re worried about spoilers, and yes, it is totally worth reading up to, because you get to learn how Orin and Joelle get together. Apparently, we’ve now been introduced to all the big deal characters, so we can relax and breathe a little, because there’s nobody big and important to whom we’ll be introduced/have to keep track of.

So, things:

It was really strange to read the section about J.O.I’s microwave oven death, and then watch the movie Kick-Ass (which you should all watch, because it is deliciously hyperviolent/fun), because I totally knew how the guy who got put in the industrial microwave would go… (oh, potato with no slit. I hope that doesn’t spoil anything for anybody?).

I actually kind of enjoy the ridiculous amount of detail DFW goes into w/r/t to the tennis matches (like the details about each player’s serve, Orin being a lob-man, which actually becomes important to the development of him + J. van Dyne’s relationship later, which leads to her becoming Madame Psychosis, I think).

And I especially like that we finally, finally learn about the particulars of J.O.I’s death (despite how gruesome it was), that Hal was the one who found him, and that Hal had to go to grief therapy and swallow books and go through some really funny hoops in order to textbook-ize himself to get out of grief therapy. That counselor’s small hands…

And why, Madame Psychosis/Joelle, are you trying to Have Too Much Fun? You’re Orin’s P.G.O.A.T! I’ve noticed that, especially in this book, overdosing on one form of entertainment or another seems to be some strange reverse psychology way that certain addicts try to unaddict themselves to X-substance (Erdedy).

Also, guess who made the Whataburger invitational? That’s right: Pemulis. Pemulis, who undergoes what seems to be substance withdrawal symptoms during matches (poor Schacht and his big volleyball knee). So y’all know what that means.

Around Thanksgiving weekend-ish, Y.D.A.U., with a nice 36-hour buffer time in case something apeshit and insane happens, some of our lovely E.T.A.-ers will be trying some of Pemulis’s artifact-ish DMZ/Madame Psychosis tablets, and, more likely than not, tripping some serious acid-based ballz.

And didn’t Orin mention something about statistically impossible numbers of wheelchair-bound people in his vicinity? Oh man, I smell Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents, i.e. some kind of an invading Fortinbras-ish invader from the Great White North? O, those, Quebecois separatists.

DFW and cinema:

David Lynch & DFW

The Royal Tenenbaums & IJ (although, it must be noted that there may be spoilers, since we’re only supposed to be somewhere around/under page ~300…)

And I realize this was, like 100 pages or so ago, but I like this blogpost on Infinite Summer, and think it really helps with contextualization/my wondering what on earth this passage was doing in IJ.

Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (sic) + DMZ
June 30, 2010, 12:46 pm
Filed under: Infinite Jest | Tags: , , ,

I know we’re quickly, quickly approaching page 223, where everything will be explained. Or something will be explained/chronologized so I can start to view IJ as more of some gestalt instead of fragments of funny/witty/hilarious/justplainstrange from the mind of the (great, I’m pretty unwavering about this) late DFW.

I guess, until then, I’ll just let y’all know that for the sake of posting, I’m planning on staying about 10 pages ahead (so today I’m up to page 218 instead of 210 or whatever), just to get to the next moon-slice-hole-punch instead of stopping mid-chapter, an oversight for which I apologize (w/r/t the old reading schedule).

The reading is starting to pick up quite a bit for me – I find I’m able to sit through at least 20-30 pages at a time, instead of taking in small sections of chapters.This is exciting, because it’s been awhile since I’ve really wanted to stay up late late late to just devour a book.

As far as content goes, I wonder what else we’ll hear about the medical attache and his wife and the smelling-very-bad-indeed room in which they are all rooted, eyes to TP screen with no end in sight. And I wonder what and how Pemulis gets involved with Ennet House residents, with his drug dealing, and if DMZ-ing prior to the Whataburger invitational doesn’t get Hal into some un-fun Year of Glad seriously-skewed-perception-of-outward-presentation-of-self bizness.

Also, as discussed with alf earlier this week, loving that little blurb on videophony and its astronomical rise, associated accessories, and then incredible drop off the market entirely. It actually reminds me a lot of Pop Quiz 9 from Brief Interviews*, which I’ve raved about on more than one occasion, which pares humans down to our desperately-seeking essentials.

And Madame Psychosis with the radio show. Qu’est-ce que c’est?!

Also, A. O. Scott’s article from the New York Review of Books on DFW entitled “The Panic of Influence”.

*as does the section we’ve just read where DFW delves into the things you learn if you ever get a chance to visit a halfway house (200-205), right before he segues so characteristically/smoothly into Tiny’s tatt obsession (which, naturally, reminds me of the essay “Consider the Lobster” – which – (this is barely tangentially related) – pays homage to MFK Fischer’s book Consider the Oyster, something else I want to read).

See Note 304 sub.

Zomg, most intense footnote to date. Although J.O. Incandenza’s filmography footnote is definitely up there.

I’ve already mentioned this elsewhere, but is anybody else in love with the idea of Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents (“pretty much Quebec’s most dreaded and rapacious anti-ONAN terrorist cell” p. 994 and how “heard the squeak” has ominous connotations of a grisly/gruesome death instead of a mouse infestation)?

Anyway. I don’t even know where to begin with summarizing the plethora of new characters we’ve just been introduced to (Marathe/Steeply), but again, all the hard work has already been done by Infinite Summer.
Although I’d be careful, as I think the calendar I’ve set up isn’t quite in line with that particular blog’s summeries (so read ahead about 10 pages to 147 before reading the last block).

Some things that are ridiculous that have been bouncing around in my skull: the hamster rampages in the wasteland of Vermont/Canadian territory (the Great Concavity). Gigantic babies wreaking havoc (… what?). And I only barely understood the section on page 130-5 involving yrstruly, Mr. Wo, C (well, the late C via Draino), Poor Tony (interesting, lots of people in drag – Roy Tony a la Wardine is also mentioned in this section).

Overall: greatly enjoying the book, despite more than likely (severely) lacking in comprehension. There is a satisfying amount of slapstick and ridiculous and, yeah, I do keep my laptop/dictionary next to me when I read. What?

And some linx:

on editing infinite jest (how does one….?)

dfw’s boringest book ever, to be published next year…

Poor Yorick Entertainment Unlimited

Hamlet, Act V, Scene I, Lines ~165-185:

FIRST CLOWN: … The same skull, sir, was, sir, Yorick’s skull, the King’s jester.

HAMLET: This?                        [Takes the skull]

FIRST CLOWN: E’en that.

HAMLET: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorr’d in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kiss’d I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning – quite chop-fall’n*. Now get you to my lady’s [chamber], and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor**  she must come; make her laugh at that. […]

*note from editor: 1) lacking the lower jaw, or 2) downcast

**ne: appearance