Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Year of Glad
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:18 pm 
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Some time ago, in the daze of my fairly recent youth, I found myself floating around in the Wikipedial void. It was during this most mundane of activities that I first caught wind of Infinite Jest. I was immediately intrigued by the summary's vague allusions to the FLQ and dystopian drug culture. I was then compelled to propose a challenge amongst my group of pseudo-intellectual associates. The trial was as such: the first to obtain a copy of the novel and read it in its entirety would be the victor. As chance would have it, Infinite Jest was not only out of print at the time but was also (as we all know) one of the longest novels in the history of English literature. Ever since this folly, IJ has ranked among the most effecting pieces of creative expression I have yet experienced in my 20 years. It is for this reason that my own personal means of expression as a musician has taken the name Year of Glad, as a tribute to the cynical genius of David Foster Wallace and the eternally sublime Infinite Jest.

For those interested, you may listen here


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Glad
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:48 pm 
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I wouldn't characterize Wallace as cynical. He seems to be fighting the dominant cynical mode in our society. An important quote from Infinite Jest is "cynicism and naivete are not mutually exclusive."


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Glad
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:54 am 
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Quite the opposite of cynical to be honest. I should imagine that Wallace would be most disappointed to hear himself described in such a way.


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Glad
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:13 pm 
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in such a volume as IJ you don't sense an ounce of cynicism? perhaps it was my perspective at the time, or perhaps some advocacy for the devil is at hand. If anything I would think that Wallace would be disappointed by his vision being so confidently limited in any regard. He who so effortlessly broke down the conventional must have interpreted his world cynically at some point. Indeed, in this age who with any mind wouldn't?


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Glad
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:42 pm 
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The following is a quote from Wallace’s essay “E Unibus Plurum: Television and U.S. Fiction”, from A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: “The new rebels might be the artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists” (p. 81).

From his 1993 interview with McCaffery for the Review of Contemporary Fiction:
Irony and cynicism were just what the U.S. hypocrisy of the fifties and sixties called for. That's what made the early postmodernists great artists. The great thing about irony is that it splits things apart, gets up above them so we can see the flaws and hypocrisies and duplicates. The virtuous always triumph? Ward Cleaver is the prototypical fifties father? "Sure." Sarcasm, parody, absurdism and irony are great ways to strip off stuff's mask and show the unpleasant reality behind it. The problem is that once the rules of art are debunked, and once the unpleasant realities the irony diagnoses are revealed and diagnosed, "then" what do we do? Irony's useful for debunking illusions, but most of the illusion-debunking in the U.S. has now been done and redone. Once everybody knows that equality of opportunity is bunk and Mike Brady's bunk and Just Say No is bunk, now what do we do? All we seem to want to do is keep ridiculing the stuff. Postmodern irony and cynicism's become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what's wrong, because they'll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony's gone from liberating to enslaving. There's some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who's come to love his cage.


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Glad
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:44 pm 
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Did DFW have the sorts of insights or suspicions about how certain things in this world work and the liklihood of changing them that can be easily summed up as "cynical"? Of course he did. But I think that there is a definite reason why people react strongly to this word in relation to him. It is, for me at least, exactly and precisely the one thing more than any other thing whatsoever of the many things I love about his writing: he seems, to me, to have as his central point: to constantly strive to get to something beyond cynicism, something more connected than what seems at first the obvious response to all the involuted webs of corporo-politico-advertorial-tainment that rule the last few decades. He stands in relation to cynicism as a stance for living one's life or writing one's work in about the same place as he stands to certain strands of pomo literary cleverness. Basically, this is a guy who was well-versed in the most fragmented and/or pomo of literary fiction and pomo philosophy and theory and did his best to avoid not only the easy, reactionary denial of any of the insights that this fiction, philosophy or theory might have to say about our era and what it means to live in the immediate pre or post millinial moment ("Damn relativist commies! get off my lawn!"), but also, the harder to avoid lure of a certain cynical passivity that too easily seems to accept the need for connection or cohesion as un-hip passé projects. One way of interpreting much of his work is to see a guy who is deeply familiar with the theories of fragmented selves, elusive textual meanings, technological mediation of experience, etc. etc. and says "OK, so if all this is sort of a given, how do you go about the business of living (and creating) in a way that still values and strives for something other than the smug pleasures of ironic distance?" I think this shines through in just about every interview I've ever read/heard with him, but more importantly is, I think, successfully made flesh in his best writing, at the pinnacle of which, for me, is Infinite Jest.

ETA: of course better said by the actual quotes from DFW in the post above mine.


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Glad
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:52 pm 
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Also, consider that non-cynical Gately is the hero of Ennet House, not Geoffrey Day: look at their conversation in endnote 90.


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