Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:20 am 
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This quote below explains quite a bit to me about DFW's worldview. Man - his writing on suicidal thoughts and attempts were scary to say the least. I've never read anything that explained the existential pain of panic and anxiety as well as IJ. I am amazed. For anyone who feels this and can also express it - that must have been excruciating. It's like he had to relive it all to write it.
Reality, mental illness and what is or isn't real / perception / belief / hope / he flirts with the difficult philosophy that hope is absurd and that hope is really what causes all our problems. Hope is based on ego -
I think he must have attended AA meetings. Does anyone know? Or did the founders of AA read DFW's books?? (joke attempt)
Search for spiritual fulfillment referred to in eating things.

Also - I thought that the bathroom is another symbol for relief, comfort, - Jung proposed that in our dreams any defecation or urination or bathroom scenes are likely symbolic of release and opening to spirituality.

Sorry for all this - I guess - touchy feely stuff - but I do believe that DFW was fully and totally immersed in the psyche and the pain of living with deep sensitivity.

The characters in IJ all seem to be living in their heads - don't we all? When do we get out of our heads? Heads heads heads - lots of talk about heads.


" 2005 speech at Kenyon College implied, he was not unfamiliar with the heft of existence:

"[L]earning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger." "
DFW
2005


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:27 am 
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I don't know how far your into it, but from about p.350 on he writes about the Boston AA scene. I can see him following some people around, doing research for the book. He paints and amazingly beautiful,humaine picture of Boston AA. I must also say that Don Gately has become one of my favorite characters of the book.


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:02 am 
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Location: UTAH. Yes I'm from Utah. No I'm not a Mormon.
On the copyright page: "Besides Closed Meetings for alcoholics only, Alcoholics Anonymous in Boston, Massachusetts, also has Open Meetings, where pretty much anybody who's interested can come and listen, take notes, pester people with questions, etc. A lot of people at these Open Meetings spoke with me and were extremely patient and garrulous and generous and helpful. The best way I can think of to show my appreciation to these men and women is to decline to thank them by name."
I'm not sure if he attended AA meetings in an "I need this to survive" capacity, but he clearly attended more than a few in an investagatory capacity.
I actually read the copyright page before I read the book the first time. As a recovering alcoholic/addict, I thought "This is going to be awesome. This guy understands this whole thing VERY well!"


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:22 am 
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WideOpenandRed wrote:
I don't know how far your into it, but from about p.350 on he writes about the Boston AA scene. I can see him following some people around, doing research for the book. He paints and amazingly beautiful,humaine picture of Boston AA. I must also say that Don Gately has become one of my favorite characters of the book.

I don't know if you've got to the insane Don/Randy Lenz/residents of Ennet House/angry neighbours part yet but it's brilliant. Don is a champ.


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:53 am 
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I am also 20 years sober - attended 15 years of solid AA - and can't help but feel his writing in my gut. That doesn't happen very often - at all. So thanks to you all for letting me know this. I have never read DFW before - but am also reading his short stories. I must say I think I'm addicted to this blog and reading IJ now! First thing I thought about upon waking this morning.
THANKS for the responses Helps very much.


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:48 am 
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Yet another example of the porousness of certain borders - it is speculated that Wallace was a patient of Granada House, a drug rehabilitation hospital located in Allston, MA. It is further speculated that the following letter was written by Wallace, post-rehab.

http://www.granadahouse.org/alumni_letters.htm

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...the world's pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower. - Cormac McCarthy


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:31 pm 
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Just curious about that alumni letter. is that pure speculation or something more?


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:53 pm 
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There’s no real way to confirm it, but the writing is very Wallace-cian, the dates work out correctly, both Wallace’s age at the time, and the fact that he was living in Massachusetts.

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...the world's pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower. - Cormac McCarthy


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:15 pm 
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Thanks for the link to the letter. His term "terrible truth" and his description of the addiction in the letter is so much like what he wrote in IJ. And having been down this road, I tell you, I felt his writing in my bones. I can't believe that anyone who hadn't been through it could have written the part about the girl who was being interviewed in the hospital room who had attempted suicide and her saying that depression was a horror. And in IJ - the first 80 pages or so - seem to be steeped in addiction, recovery and everything in between. So many slight nuances. If this letter was him I'm surprised that someone doesn't know more about his problem. Surely some of his friends and family knew what was going on.


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 Post subject: Re: Quote from DFW 2005 Kenyon college - Depression Suicide
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:22 pm 
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I forgot to add that without having read the letter, I had noticed many references that seemed to be symbolic based on Jungian psychology. In the letter he talks about debating Jung with the people at Granada. Makes sense to me.
As far as I'm concerned he is the real deal - an addict of some sort. He just couldn't write this way otherwise.


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