Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:41 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 7:43 am
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I loved this conversation so much! Not only is it very funny and well-written, but it gave me so much information that helped a lot of things in the story finally click in place in my head. What did you all think?

"That's a Rog and Wilc, O." That line made me giggle. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:18 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:48 am
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Location: Orlando, FL
I loved how they seem to be talking over/past each other so much of the time - how perfect for the characters! And I agree, things are really starting to gel together now and make sense. It almost feels like we've gotten this freight train moving and it's steadily picking up speed.

Joan


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 Post subject: Re: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 9:31 am 
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I think it recalls the videophone essay in that Hal seems to intentionally and repeatedly try to break "the bilateral illusion of unilateral attention" (p 146) with personal grooming.


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 Post subject: Re: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 2:11 pm 
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i was confused about how much of the story about Hal's stint with the grief therapist was made up. I got the sense that Orin was wondering the same thing...I think Hal's aggressive clipping-of-the-toenail-into-the-phone at the end of the conversation confirmed that Hal was in a kind of cruel mood. this was actually the first passage in which I became a little afraid of Hal and what he might be capable of...even while I understand how hurt he must be that Orin wasn't there for him after his father died, and how traumatic his father's death obviously was...I found this conversation disturbing and sad.


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 Post subject: Re: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:44 pm 
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I find this section riveting, and very sad. Hal's definitely angry at Orin, but I think he does open up to him, and I took a lot of what he was saying to be truthful. Mostly, I took Orin's reaction to Hal saying that something smelled delicious to be that he (Orin) thought that Hal genuinely thought that when he walked into the house. Way back on p. 16 (what doesn't tie back to pps. 16-17 with Hal?), he "think[s] of the hypophalangial Grief-Therapist."

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 Post subject: Re: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 3:08 pm 
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This is one of my favorite sections in the book, especially w/r/t Hal.

I'm a 2nd time reader and I noticed something here that I didn't recall from the first reading. Buried in the beginning (p244) when Orin first tells Hal he's being followed he mentions that he was in the post office approaching a subject. Hal asks him why was he in the po, he (O) "hates snail-mail. And you quit mailing the moms pseudo-form-replies two years ago..." Notably Orin doesn't answer at all, and totally changes the subject. Although this incident takes place in Nov YDAU, could Hal's post office comment be a clue that O has been going there to send out the entertainment copies?


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 Post subject: Re: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:45 pm 
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The "something smells delicious" riff was my favorite part of the book so far. Absolutely outrageous and hysterical. I think it makes up for all of the tough parts I've slogged through so far.


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 Post subject: Re: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 6:27 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:01 pm
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Location: Mansfield, MA
This is my second time through this convo, and so many more things leaped out at me, some probably crazy ideas, but I thought I'd share. Spoilery thoughts follow:

I think Hal is a bit weirded out by Orin's seemingly new habit of calling him, and tries to act "cool" with his wit and sarcasm. But Orin is truly concerned about being followed by the ?AFR dudes, and drops his "football star that sleeps around" persona a bit in order to try to really get some real info from Hal to give Steeply for the magazine interview. When Hal mentions the bit about Orin hating "snail mail", it solidified my suspicion that Orin is the one behind the mailings of the video, hoping to get back at the Moms for "driving" Himself to drink and ultimately suicide.

BUT, now I'm not entirely convinced it was suicide, especially since we hear that the Stork was working nonstop on the film, then took a trip somewhere (?Canada) with maybe Lyle, and then after the trip the Moms, who never leaves E.T.A. (why not, is she in danger?) takes him off somewhere, presumably detox, but we don't know for sure. Was someone after Jim, as well?
Was Jim murdered and the kitchen set up to appear a suicide, i.e. the half empty bottle of Wild Turkey, despite Joelle insisting he had stopped drinking? The bottle wore a red gift bow. Canadian?

I think there's some definite political shenanigans the Incandenza mom and pop are involved in, dating back from Avril's Quebec ties prior to emigrating to the U.S. In the prof. conversationalist thing, Himself gets all crazy talking about their ties to DuPlessis and Luria P., who are big time anti-ONAN operatives. I don't know where I'm going with this, but maybe I'll find some more clues later on. Everyone seems to be acting as double/triple/quadruple agents, so I'm not entirely sure of the loyalities, but I definitely suspect that Jim and Avril were doing more than running a tennis academy, making films, and caring for the "Green Babies".

w/r/t the grief therapist, I noted how Hal says "It was the most brutal six weeks of full-bore professional conversation anybody could imagine." Professional conversation? Full bore? Deja vu. And why were they so insistent on Hal opening up to a grief counselor? Maybe "someone" was worried that a smart boy like Hal would "figure something out" and rather than a true grief counselor, the guy was really an interrogator, pumping Hal with questions to see if he "knew" or "suspected" something re: his dad's death. Again, just my own speculation.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Hal and Orin's phone conversation, pgs. 242-258
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:57 pm 
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Posts: 11
I've embarked on a similar "project," although I'm a bit behind you (having begun 7/20 and through p. 486 at this point), and I found this site because when I reached this section, I just had to converse with someone(s) about it. (NB: for some reason, I stalled out each prior -- approx. 3-4 -- attempt at IJ, after purchasing it almost immediately upon publication, having become a DFW fan via ASFTINDA. Don't know why it "took" this time & not previously; sure, I'm older, but I was hardly young -- at 28 -- when it was published, and my attention span has probably diminished in the interval, if anything, and my knowledge-base for "getting" DFW's many references, intellectual, pop-cultural, and otherwise has not appreciably increased, either.)

regardless of all that, I found this section to be:

(1) hysterical to a laughing-out-loud, waking-the-kids-at-1:00-AM degree; and,

(2) a key joinder-of-elements-previously-dimly-understood (which happens with increasing frequency, it appears -- see, e.g. pp. 215-16 and pp. 484-88).

whether or not Hal's "revelations" to the grief counselor are genuine or merely feigned to satisfy the finally-understood expectations of same, they are darkly comic to an absurd degree. the final ("something smells delicious") payoff had me gasping for breath.

stylistically, I agree w/ above that it is interesting the way Hal & Orin are, in many ways, talking past each other rather than responding directly to each others' comments. But it's more than that -- there is something of a code, an Incandenza slang, a shared language at work, so that they are both, if effect, commenting on the topic(s) of discussion in a somewhat abstracted way, rather than engaging directly with each other. But they are on the same turf, Inc-alese-wise, so it doesn't feel like two people failing to engage each other, but still lacks a direct emotional contact as you might expect between two brothers (but not, as here, where there has apparently been an estrangement of 2+ years etc). It's a subtle and effective way of showing that Hal can decide to meet Orin at a neutral, familiar territory conversationally, while remaining emotionally disengaged. Skillful piece of writing, as well as hilarious.


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