Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2009 3:25 am
Posts: 5
A few other notes:

Hal apparently believed that Joelle was disfigured, too. (p. 634)

Later, it is mentioned that "the last and pretty much only man Joelle ever let herself admire in a romantic way had left and wouldn't even face up to why, instead erecting for himself a pathetic jealous fantasy about Joelle and his own poor father, whose only interest in Joelle had been first aesthetic and then anti-aesthetic." (p. 855.)


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:16 pm 
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Location: Central Vermont
It also occurs that the gal (whose name escapes me right now) who recounts the acid incident admits, or an associated endnote reveals, that she'd never seen Joelle without her veil, though she had seen her naked. Thus it could be a fabrication or embellishment on the part of J. to explain the veil or deflect questioning at some point. Each scenario (disfigured or not) is quite plausible, but considering the description of Orin as an "acid dodger" (which I missed), I think I'm leaning toward her having been disfigured.


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:09 am 
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IMHO, the entire point of The Medusa vs. The Odalisque was that it doesn't *matter* whether she's abnormally beautiful or abnormally hideous, the end result is the same.


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:08 am 
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I assumed she wasnt disfigured because she is the star of entertainment.that would go along with the idea that she is disfigured by being too beautiful.


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 3:02 pm 
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Bergamot wrote:
IMHO, the entire point of The Medusa vs. The Odalisque was that it doesn't *matter* whether she's abnormally beautiful or abnormally hideous, the end result is the same.

I love this; you're absolutely right.


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 5:09 pm 
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I'd agree in a metaphoric sense; Wallace does make the point that extreme beauty and extreme deformity are equally alienating/mesmerizing. And, as the story is presented, both "realities" are feasible.

To the extent that the question of deformity or a "disfiguring event" come into play, I'd say it has more to do with how it shapes the motivations of other characters, Orin in particular.


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:56 am 
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Posts: 13
Philip wrote:
Here's a full quote from p. 538:

"Don, I'm perfect. I'm so beautiful I drive anybody with a nervous system out of their fucking mind. Once they've seen me they can't think of anything else and don't want to look at anything else and stop carrying out normal responsibilities and believe that if they can only have me right there with them at all times everything will be all right. Everything. Like I'm the solution to their deep slavering need to be jowl to cheek with perfection."

It's also important that Joelle is speaking to Gately at the Ennit House as she is beginning her recovery. She's not being sarcastic. Total Honesty is what's required.


i dunno, i think gately took this as sarcasm, if not antagonism. i don't have the passage in front of me, but i remember the whole conversation being somewhat antagonistic.

i like the observation that great beauty and disfigurement can have the same effect. but i also agree with the person who pointed out that, if joelle never became disfigured, orin's leaving her becomes mysterious.


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:44 pm 
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re: anti-aesthetic (late J.O.I career) -- seems more likely to refer to his general turn towards "anti-aesthetic" artistic gestures like unproducible films, films that are practical jokes on audiences, etc, rather than as a reference to her appearance. Could refer to both, but doesn't feel that way to me.

re: her early conversation with Gately, what I love about that conversation is how both of them are playing a game of "would you believe me if I told you the truth?" The game can go both ways, but I enjoy it more if she is telling the truth, knowing full well that Gately is gonna think she is just fucking with him.

re: Orin leaving her, it seems highly possible that this character of such utterly odd psychic takes on his relationships flees because not able to handle either the increasing (albeit non-sexual) intimacy between JOI and Joelle or the guilt-or-sheer-weirdness of having ducked the acid thrown by Joelle's dad, thus putting her in harms way, whether she also dodged the acid or not (not to mention the fact that it was starting to look like her family had pretty F***ed up parent-child dynamics, which was the last thing Orin would want in a girlfriend while descending into increasing weirdness in his own family.

Yep, I just personally get a richer experience out of believing her to be unscarred under the veil.


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 8:51 pm 
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it's also worth noting that way before we even know that "is joelle beautiful or deformed" is a major mystery, when she is reading the UHID manifesto for her radio show the manifesto specifically mentions the Actaeon complex.


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 Post subject: Re: Madame Psychosis (spoiler)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:45 am 
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The acid was not just ordinary acid---it was formulated by JvD's father, a pharmacist who had obsessively spent years in its preparation. It was some sort of super-duper acid, made by her own personal Daddy (who continues to be her own personal Daddy even after she is hit with it). Her mother, the acid-thrower, is not reported to the police but shortly after commits suicide.

All drugs/substances in IJ have dual or ambiguous properties, and have long-term, slow-acting effects. An acid peel can be a beauty treatment.

I expect that she was hit by the acid, but the resulting transformation was transcendent to the point where her appearance could not be borne by ordinary mortals. In the Entertainment, she is "not exactly" veiled, and seen through an infant's eyes her appearance becomes a fatal fascination---the mother who has killed you in a previous life.

The earlier part of the Entertainment, where she is met by an old aquaintance in a revolving door. How is that aquaintance supposed to recognize her?

The acid is not disfiguring, it is an agent of transcendence.

LSD is of course an "acid". What about DMZ?


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