The figure of Death (Heath) presides over the front entrance of a carnival sideshow whose spectators watch performers undergo unspeakable degradations so grotesquely compelling that the spectators’ eyes become larger and larger until the spectators themselves are transformed into gigantic eyeballs in chairs, while on the other side of the sideshow tent the figure of Life (Heaven) uses a megaphone to invite fairgoers to an exhibition in which, if the fairgoers consent to undergo unspeakable degradations, they can witness ordinary persons gradually turn into gigantic eyeballs.
I know we passed endnote 24 last week, but I want to return to it. And I will do so because when I type things here you have to read them poop ha ha ha I made you read poop.
In 2006 I went away to film school17 fully expecting to pop out of it again three years later as the most visionary writer/director of my generation. Dream big, kids. I left three weeks later, in part because of some assigned reading that very closely resembled endnote 24, only longer, and with that gross shiny-textbook smell.
So I would like to extend my thanks to David Foster Wallace for making me relive that experience, albeit shorter and in the comfort of my own home, as opposed to hunched over a library table desperately trying to read as fast as possible so I can do my essay/s. I was there three weeks — how did I get behind on so many essays? And why were there essays in a supposedly practice-based course? And why am I still bitter about this?
I wasn’t sold on endnote 24 until I read the above passage. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. The summary for Cage III – Free Show is an amazing concept. It’s funny and twisted and exciting and everything you think Infinite Jest will be when you first hear about it.
I can’t help but view the whole book in a different light, with Free Show in mind. I would actively discourage myself from such a conscious process, but I’m so obsessed with the quote at the top of this post that I would rather interpret IJ the wrong way than try to put it at the back of my mind.
“Fine, Avery” I hear you say, “you liked a tiny portion of an endnote we all slogged through. Well done. But what about the rest of the book so far?”
I’m enjoying it.
Oh, you want more than that, right? Okay. Well, I’m having great fun with the Marathe/Steeply segment. Although that’s not to say I have any idea what the hell is going on (sentences like “have I merely pretended to pretend to pretend to betray” put paid to that notion). I don’t know if it’s my status as a trans-individual that grants me such delight in Steeply’s extremely poor disguise (re: the lopsided boobs — we’ve all been there), or if we’re all having a good time reading it but I’m not going to question my enjoyment. Especially since I have so little time for such questions after scrawling acronyms from the section onto my arm in a failed effort to remember them.
If you’re interested, having such epidermal annotations publicly visible in a crowded mall will draw the attention of security agents desperate to know if QFP is some kind of terrorist organisation with a vendetta against Sears.
Just, y’know. FYI.