Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:54 am 
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hideously deformed wrote:
Wasn't Pemulis' DMZ missing from his ceiling tile? In that case, unlikely he's the one who laced Hal. My theory was that IF Hal was slipped a DMZ Mickey, it was perhaps either the Wheelchair assassins who stole the DMZ and maybe dosed him to try to get info on the entertainment from him, or (less likely) even Steeply's group. Of course, Hal could have stolen it himself. Either way, he was definitely declining and withdrawing beforehand, so maybe either injesting DMZ or being exposed to something while digging up Himself's head (it was buried in the waseland, right?) were a catalyst.


Name escapes me right now, but what about the kid that lives with Pemulis, and hides drugs stolen from Pemulis out in the open in a seldane bottle. If anyone knows where Pemulis stashes stuff, it's him. Troelstch?


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:17 pm 
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thinkicanhearyou wrote:
wait a second. i'm starting to get really worried here. is it possible that we are going to read over a thousand pages of this novel and NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HAL IN THAT OPENING SCENE?????

[wailing and gnashing of teeth]


Uh.. Spoiler! "Yes. (IMHO)"


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:04 am 
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Or to Gately. Or to Pemulis. Or to Orin. Or to Joelle. Or to John Wayne. Or to the AFR's plan to invade ETA. Or to the master copy of the Entertainment. Or to the future of the fictional world of IJ during the Year of Glad: n. 114 (p. 1022) reveals that the Year of Glad was "the very last year of O.N.A.N.ite Subsidized Time" [my emphasis].

The very last year?!?! What happened?

Beats me.


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:55 pm 
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Quote:
Name escapes me right now, but what about the kid that lives with Pemulis, and hides drugs stolen from Pemulis out in the open in a seldane bottle. If anyone knows where Pemulis stashes stuff, it's him. Troelstch?


I feel like John Wayne tried to take the Seldane, and but ended up all whacked out on Troelstch's radio show. Meaning, maybe JNRW was doing a littl recon on Pemulis when he took the Seldane, in the first place.


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:27 am 
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misterAyed wrote:
I haven't worked this all out in my head yet, but I'm (kinda) convinced that Hal's descent into communicative impotence is related in some way to what the JOI wraith "tells" Gately about figurants (pp. 834-838). Basically, Hal's existential crisis -- triggered at least in part by marijuana withdrawal -- pushes him off "center stage" by robbing him of the purpose/meaning he's known all his life (but which had been supplied by others). It's a mid-life crisis at 17-18, and Hal is rendered mute to the outside world until he settles on a new, self-defined "role" / purpose as a "character" in his life's drama -- until then, he is just silent "furniture" in the drama constructed by others, albeit furniture that plays tennis very well.


My vote goes to misterAyed. This must be the meaning of Hal's situation, and I remember reading somewhere that DFW went through a very early midlife crisis as well, which somehow seems to support this hypothesis.
If we compare Hal and Don cases, we see two people similar in the way both used to find in drugs a way to cope with a lack of purpose in life, but different in the way they now face withdrawal. Don enters AA, and humbly submits to their rules, and is still fighting is way through the "day to day trenches of adult existence" (quote from DFW's Kenyon speech). On the other hand, Hal goes "white knuckles". He has a chance when he goes to the "wrong" AA meeting, but he doesn't realize that the meeting was serendipitously the right one, he's too smart/proud to surrender.

Of course this doesn't shed any light on Hal/John Wayne/Don digging up Himself's head, which is a scene I can't stop thinkin' of, and about which I'd like to notice that:

1 - Hal mentions Don and John Wayne, but Don only "remembers" (if it's actually a memory and not a vision) a "sad kid" (please forgive me if this is not literally true, but I read the Italian version of the book and am therefore translating back to English). Where's John Wayne, then?
2 - In Don memory/vision, Hal doesn't speak, but his expression is the expression of one who says "too late" . This seems to indicate that he didn't find anything, but we have already seen Hal's face showing the opposite of what he feels (fellows at the ETA complaining about him smiling when there's nothing to smile about), so this might well mean that he actually found what he was looking for.

But in the light of what I said before, I think that this is not related to Hal's status.


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:07 pm 
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w/r/t the digging up of the head - I hate being all picky about this, but I've always thought this was more likely to be something implanted in both Hal's and Gately's heads by the wraith of JOI, since it is explained in the phone conversation with Orin that in eliminating his own map JOI had also (literally) obliterated his own skull...whence so, the head? (Or did I miss something?) Implication being that (for some reason JOI and Lyle (Through astral traveling? He's not dead is he?) are trying to forge a non-corporeally-existent link between the wounded psyches of both Hal and Don G. For what possible reason, I can't fathom, other than a sense of injustice at how they end up (seems to me that Himself was big on confronting injustice), and for the sake of another Hamlet reference.

I'm of the more (pedestrian?) opinion that Hal's decline is a combination of delayed response to childhood ingestion of unsynthesized basement-sourced DMZ combined with a serious depression which had heretofore been masked by Hope (in every sense of the word). I think the Pemulis-sourced DMZ is a MacGuffin, there only to explain the effects of this meta-mold, in a foreshadow-y way.

But, yeah, I don't really know.


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:19 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:53 am
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My experience is that while reading the novel, I never really connected Chapter 1 with anything else, and had essentially forgotten it. When I got to the end (WTF?), I went back and looked for chapters that occurred chronologically later than November of YDAU, and thereby discovered that Chapter 1 was the only one.

Is this anyone else's experience?


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:37 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:26 am
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Location: Austin, TX
For me at least, the first chapter hung over my entire reading. This could be because I read it (the chapter) twice when I started, stopped, and then later started the book again.... but I've read many people expressing the "oh-man-what-was-the-deal-with-that" feeling lingering throughout their journey. The basic questions that the opening create for me are: 1) Why the disconnect between Hal's feeling of being able to communicate, "I could, if you'd let me, talk and talk. Let's talk about anything," and the administrators' inability to understand him?, and 2) "I am in here." Who? Where? These questions are basic, and therefore inane, obvious, and/or impossible to answer. If the book doesn't supply an answer to "what happened to Hal," it does offer a 1000 page answer to "who," "where", and, least basic, "Why?"


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 2:08 pm 
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I'm also struck with Hal's "I am in here," vs. the Gately's oft-used phrase "Out There," i.e., not in AA, still abusing substances.


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:43 pm 
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NoGoodAtTennis wrote:
My experience is that while reading the novel, I never really connected Chapter 1 with anything else, and had essentially forgotten it. When I got to the end (WTF?), I went back and looked for chapters that occurred chronologically later than November of YDAU, and thereby discovered that Chapter 1 was the only one.

Is this anyone else's experience?


I had a similar experience on my first read. I think I was so busy trying to catch all of the pieces falling out of the book that the first chapter seemed like one of the many pieces but not an overall important piece. It wasn't until on the second read that I thought of how important and how sad the first chapter is.

On the second read I also thought more about how the blue-collared, unlicensed nurses aide, security guy or orderly looks at Hal in the eye and asks "So yo then man, what's your story?". To me this lays out the book. This last sentence is saying if you want to know the real story, if you want to look in the eye of these people and hear their story, if you are willing to listen and not look past them or get distracted, this novel will tell you the story of these people's lives including all of the gritty, sad, humorous, frustrating, and sometimes seemingly irrelevant details. You may not get to hear the end of their life story wrapped up with a nice bow but you will learn about these people's real lives, like it or not.


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