Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Re: Entertainment in Himself's head?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:44 pm 
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I've been thinking a lot about this on my second read.

Does this lead anyone else to suspect foul play in Himself's de-mapping? The first time through, I just assumed the suicide was narrated reliably. Now, the contrast between the probably lack of head vs. digging it up is really sitting wrong.

As in, was JOI beheaded to recover the master cartridge, then the scene was made to look like a suicide? Why the gift ribbon on the bottle of Wild Turkey?


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 Post subject: Re: Entertainment in Himself's head?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:07 am 
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I too have been wondering whether JOI's death was not an actual suicide, but a murder made to look like one. Have any re-readers ruled out this possibility?


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 Post subject: Re: Entertainment in Himself's head?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:53 am 
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Location: North Dakota
I find the murder theory very compelling. It might (I repeat, MIGHT) offer an explanation for why Hal describes his father's head as an exploded baked potato to Orin but remembers digging up his father's head in the Year of Glad. Perhaps the head was stolen and a scene was created with the microwave to hide the truth. Could something have been substituted (Another person's head)? Or was the Entertainment extracted from JOI's head somehow and the head then exploded to conceal the theft? It might clean up this corner of the novel a little bit...Of course, it opens up a line of speculation about who stole the head/killed JOI.


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 Post subject: Re: Entertainment in Himself's head?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:02 pm 
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I'm not sure how to connect these two yet--but I'm thinking about how the narration of DuPlessis's death might parallel JOI's demise. I'm only about 300 pages in, but we already know that DuPlessis's life had political significance that Don Gately never dreamed of when he "accidentally" killed him during the routine burglary. Officials were suspicious of Gately's naivete, though, and were investigating the hunch that DuPlessis had been intentionally targeted.

Take that in tandem with Marathe's insistence (up to this point in the novel, at least) that the Fauteils Rollents folks don't need to conspire to distribute the Entertainment as an act of terrorism--because Americans have set themselves up to be extremely susceptible to its powers and will destroy themselves with it of their own accord.

Both DuPlessis's murder and Marathe's assessment of the Entertainment suggest that looking for political conspiracy may be a cul-de-sac. In both cases, it's plain old, unexotic human weakness--addictions of various sorts--that lead to the deaths. I have a feeling that the same might be true of JOI--although I'm intrigued by the lack-of-head/digging up skull problem. There HAS to be something in that disjunct.


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 Post subject: Re: Entertainment in Himself's head?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:02 pm 
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Um... so how exactly did Himself get the cartridge into his head? The word "cartridge" implies something not tiny... smaller than a VHS tape probably, but at least the size of a cassette tape. (We know InterLace cartridges have to be rewound after watching; the two AFR members lost to the Entertainment are heard to complain about this.) So where would something like that even *fit* in someone's head? And why didn't anyone ever mention the massive scars Himself would have to have ended up with?

I think he was just delusional.


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 Post subject: Re: Entertainment in Himself's head?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:03 am 
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dna wrote:
Um... so how exactly did Himself get the cartridge into his head? The word "cartridge" implies something not tiny... smaller than a VHS tape probably, but at least the size of a cassette tape. (We know InterLace cartridges have to be rewound after watching; the two AFR members lost to the Entertainment are heard to complain about this.) So where would something like that even *fit* in someone's head? And why didn't anyone ever mention the massive scars Himself would have to have ended up with?

I think he was just delusional.


I was imagining the cartridges as being the size of a DAT tape (smaller than a cassette, but fatter), but I certainly see what you mean.

The mentions of digging up Himself's head would seem to contradict Hal's version of the story that is to lead us to believe that his head was blown to smithereens. Given Hal's resentment towards Orin, he could have been trumping-up the details for effect.

So, maybe there's an intact head, or one that was reconstructed. Was anything in there? They (Hal & Gately, John Wayne, AFR or BSS?) wouldn't have tried to dig it up if nobody thought there was anything to the suspicion that something was there.

Anyone think that MythBusters would do something on this? Put a DAT inside of the pig head, throw it in a hot-wired microwave and see what happens? :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Entertainment in Himself's head?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:12 pm 
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Another possibility is that, following the line of reasoning that JOI's head is stolen intact, the tape was put into his head post-mortem.


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 Post subject: Re: Entertainment in Himself's head?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:42 am 
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I'll bet someone (mythbusters or similar) has done a check of the old "dog in the microwave" urban legend (presumably using, one can hope, melons or sausages or something as stand-ins). My suspicion is that if you put a melon in a microwave, it would burst in one area or crack open as the pressure inside rose, but that it would not be vaporized/evenly destroyed. So you should be left with large parts of the, um, melon, intact or grossly fractured, so something could be hidden inside it at burial. (Microwave science refresher course: microwaves work by essentially causing water molecules to vibrate at higher frequencies*, thus creating heat. Inside a closed rigid space like a skull or a melon, you would expect to get an expanding steam problem like a faulty pressure cooker, leading to a blowout along whatever weak point or fault line might exist. How's that for Monday morning coffee reading?)

*Oh, and has anyone else ever done the trick where you put a CD inside a microwave? NOT SUGGESTING YOU DO THIS, but it was kinda popular to do during the era when AOL was sending their damn intro disks in the mail all the time: You get these cool circular races of sparks as the disk warps -- I've always assumed DFW had some image of this in mind if J.O.I. believes he is destroying a cartridge in his head, due to the odd annular patterns created. Been too long since I learned how microwaves worked to remember if there is anything particularly "annular" about the energy pattern of the vibrating water molecules.

ETA: Ok, here's the best video I could find on the basic effects: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRtVcYAc ... re=related
(It's a lava lamp being microwaved...and I'm never searching for "melon microwave" again, because I learned about something I wish I hadn't!)


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