Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:09 pm 
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Location: North Dakota
Hadn't seen any comments about this, so I thought I'd get a thread going about something I completely missed the first time I read IJ. My guess is that I was in DFW shock of sorts, IJ being the first DFW thing I ever read, so this passage didn't even register for me until the second time I went through the book (new readers, if you reread this book, you'll suspect that it's like the Neverending Story...a book that's never the same book twice...like, "That wasn't in there the first time I read, I swear!!" kind of freakiness). Ok so the passage is this:

Himself speaking to Hal (bottom of 30, top of 31): 'that you quote-unquote "complimentary" Dunlop widebody tennis raquets' super-secret-formulaic composition materials of high-modulus-graphite-reinforced poly carbonate polybutylene resin are organochemically identical I say again identical to the gyroscopic balance sensor and mise-en-scene appropriation card and priapistic-entertainment cartridge implanted in your very own towering father's anaplastic cerebrum after his cruel series of detoxifications and convolution smoothings and gastrectormy and prostatectomy and pancreatectomy and phalluctomy...'

To get right down to the tacks that are brass, WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS GUY?!?!?!

Someone (apologies for not giving proper credit) mentioned elsewhere in the discussion pages that this passage may have a direct relation to fn. 24's film It Was A Great Marvel That He Was in the Father Without Knowing Him (pg 992)

I'd like to direct you to Insubstantial Country on pg 992 as well. Its relevance is self-evident (let me know if I'm abusing phrases...I write without knowing).

Ok, I've said enough for now.

-Storm


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:36 pm 
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Location: UTAH. Yes I'm from Utah. No I'm not a Mormon.
Gastrectomy - Removal of all or part of the stomach
Prostatectomy - Removal of the prostate
Pancreatectomy - Removal of the pancreas
Phalluctomy - Removal of the penis

I kind of skipped past the medical terms in my first reading, but "phalluctomy" grabbed my eye this time around. I thought "Wait a minute. I know what -ectomy means. I know what phallus means. They didn't....? HOLY S#!T THEY CUT OFF HIS JUNK!" It kind of clears up the nature of his relationship with JvD...

Also, he has a copy of the Entertainment in his head.

The last few words of page 15 and the first few of 16 make a lot more sense with that bit of information.


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:45 pm 
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Location: North Dakota
I suppose I should toss in what I think the mise en scene appropriation card is.

mise en scene, in regards to films, theater, and the like is a term used to describe the arrangement of what's on stage and the movement of the actors and props. So I suppose an appropriation card would be something that helps Himself give meaning to the stuff on stage aka the real world. Himself might have a computer on board that determines for him what is valuable or what type of value things have. What's symbolic, what triggers emotions, what can be ignored, etc. You and I do this everyday; we choose to call some things coincidence or scary or beautiful or nothing at all. If you haven't, read This Is Water by DFW. It's really short and has no footnotes...I swear, it's written by DFW.


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:47 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:01 pm
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Location: Mansfield, MA
At first I thought it was some sort of AFR torture, but now I'm wondering if it's some sort of hysterical delusion on Himself's part, in other words, he's having delusions about Avril revenging herself by removing his pancreas (he's an alcoholic) and his penis (for ? cheating with Joelle, or at least making her an important part of his life). Is he imagining this stuff? Is the implantation of the cartridge in his head even real? I know Hal references it earlier though, but is it real or a dream? The only reason this stuff sounds crazy to me, is that it comes at the end of the "conversation" between Hal and his disguised dad, and Himself is getting more and more hysterical as the conversation winds to the end, ranting and raving about his issues with his own dad and Avril's infidelities, etc. So it could just be crazy talk on his part. Who knows?

_________________
"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you." DFW


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:40 pm 
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I also thought it interesting that Himself didn't have either an appendectomy or tonsillectomy; operations that are a bit more commonplace than the others.

I took phalluctomy to be a reference to cuckoldry rather than an actual unit removal, but I think I remember Hal referring to him not being particularly sexual at that point in his life, so I suppose they might have lopped it off.

I thought it interesting that Himself referred to the cartridge as being priapistic. If it is a copy of IJ, he has a different and primarily erotic reaction to the film, which is a bit in contrast to other people's reactions.

I found this conversation much more interesting this time. The first time I took it as Himself just ranting and raving, but this time through, I found a lot of what he says to be pretty truthful, which makes me wonder if Avril really was doping Hal's cereal.


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:13 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:19 am
Posts: 14
Quote:
Himself speaking to Hal (bottom of 30, top of 31): 'that you quote-unquote "complimentary" Dunlop widebody tennis raquets' super-secret-formulaic composition materials of high-modulus-graphite-reinforced poly carbonate polybutylene resin are organochemically identical I say again identical to the gyroscopic balance sensor and mise-en-scene appropriation card and priapistic-entertainment cartridge implanted in your very own towering father's anaplastic cerebrum after his cruel series of detoxifications and convolution smoothings and gastrectormy and prostatectomy and pancreatectomy and phalluctomy...'


Thanks for reminding me about this part!!

I've been developing a theory that the book is J.O.I.'s final attempt at making "Infinite Jest"- the perfect "entertainment" that will allow him to humanly connect with his son, Hal, who he cannot relate to with any substance in the physical world. Perhaps he learned about the idea of post-death life as a "wraith" form Lyle (whose figure also visits Gately in the hospital, I believe), and this is why he killed himself- to (following Found Drama and Apres-Garde filmmaking) push him into a new idea of space and time so that he can make a new film, which is, in turn, what we are reading about.

Just a working theory, but perhaps this is what the "gyroscopic balance sensor and priapistic-entertainment cartridge implanted in your very own towering father's anaplastic cerebrum" could refer to- he is inserting film gear to make a posthumous film.

// Jason


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:03 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:49 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Washington, DC
levingard wrote:
I thought it interesting that Himself referred to the cartridge as being priapistic. If it is a copy of IJ, he has a different and primarily erotic reaction to the film, which is a bit in contrast to other people's reactions.


It is interesting, and I'm not sure I entirely understand it, but I don't think it means JOI has a primarily erotic reaction to the film. "Priapistic" tends to connote a non-sexual, even painful erection that lasts beyond its usual, intended purpose -- and is usually related to disease. To me, it relates to the theme of joyless excess (drugs, etc.) that runs throughout IJ.

From Wikipedia, FYI: "The name comes from the Greek god Priapus, referring to the myth that he was punished by the other gods for attempting to rape a goddess, by being given a huge, but useless, set of wooden genitals."

- Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:42 am 
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It also occurred to me this morning that in April, YTMP, JvD hadn't yet appeared in any of JOI's films. So if there's a copy of IJ in his skull, it's IJ3.

Obviously he could have had the final master copy put in during his March YTSDB disappearance.

_________________
"Because so that was let's see."


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:52 am 
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I get the vague sense that he is not referring to specific medical procedures but is alluding to the aforementioned (p 30) "thirty Near Eastern medical attachés", as if each affair affected him as would the procedures inflicted by the respective attachés (which I found kind of echoed in the way-specific specialty "maxillofacial consequences of imbalances in intestinal flora" on page 33).

There are other things about the paragraph that make me think it is not literal but that might represent spoilers at this point, having to do with what 'Infinite Jest' is and the comment in the filmography (p 993) "privately distributed by P.Y.E.U. through posthumous provisions in the filmmaker's will," and what is starting to happen on page 33.

Inelegant explanation: The phrase "super-secret-formulaic composition materials of high-modulus-graphite-reinforced polycarbonate polybutylene resin" sounds like marketing bull, so it sounds like Himself is calling it out as such by saying it is about as real as these mental constructs he is throwing out. (From the bio we get to on page 63, we know that Himself was a tennis player; he might be mocking what he would see as Hal's reliance--more mental than actually physical--on slick-sounding technology as a kind of crutch.) "Gyroscopic balance sensor" seems to refer to a kind of mental reorientation, which I see reflected in the filmography in that the very titles of the works unreleased or unfinished due to hospitalization reflect a mental coming-apart; "mise-en-scène appropriation card" is also reflected in how entries in the filmography are appropriations of actual biographical events (including this very conversation we're discussing); and "priapistic-entertainment cartridge" seems to refer to his desire, perhaps out of revenge (in that here he refers to the medical procedures in place of the attachés), to create the perfect irresistible entertainment. "Priapistic" would seem to echo the loss of voluntary control to an otherwise pleasurable experience that we see happening to the medical attaché in the various updates within the week's reading so far.


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 Post subject: Re: Himself's many, many surgical operations (pg 30-31)
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:00 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:42 am
Posts: 75
storm wrote:
I suppose I should toss in what I think the mise en scene appropriation card is.

mise en scene, in regards to films, theater, and the like is a term used to describe the arrangement of what's on stage and the movement of the actors and props. So I suppose an appropriation card would be something that helps Himself give meaning to the stuff on stage aka the real world. Himself might have a computer on board that determines for him what is valuable or what type of value things have. What's symbolic, what triggers emotions, what can be ignored, etc. You and I do this everyday; we choose to call some things coincidence or scary or beautiful or nothing at all. If you haven't, read This Is Water by DFW. It's really short and has no footnotes...I swear, it's written by DFW.


This is Water is the book form of his commencement speech that can be found here. If the link doesn't work, PM me and I will email it to you. I have a WSJ subscription and I am not sure if this requires you to have one or not. I will email if you are required to have one.


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