Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
It is currently Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:36 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Forum rules


There are NO spoiler restrictions in this forum. Caveat emptor.



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 56 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:06 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:07 pm
Posts: 13
Quote:
Some people think Don dies in the middle of the flashback, and him "waking up on the shore" is him, well, dying, but I disagree - in the Year of Glad section that opens the novel, Hal refers to digging up his father's head with Don Gately - since this section happens after the rest of the book, and Hal and Don haven't met yet, it's pretty obvious to me that Don gets out of the hospital alright.


I am reading the waking up on the shore as Gately's fever breaking rather than death. Initially I thought he had died, but after some re-reading I think it could easily be that cool, wet feeling you have when you have been very sick and feverish and then the fever leaves you.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:36 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:50 pm
Posts: 71
I've just finished, taking my time to savor the very last parts.

I'm thinking that Gately dies at the end; and I think it hinges on the Hal-Gately interaction mentioned at the beginning of the novel and then reappearing as one of Gately's dreams. I think we're given the impression that Gately is going to make it because of Hal's mention of their digging up JOI's head/body. But Gately experiences this as a dream, and his dream of it seems to coincide with Hal's memory of it.

While I'll go with the idea of wraiths, and Gately being visited by JOI, I don't know that I would go as far as figuring that JOI would be showing Gately the future (arbitrarily, I admit). Presumably, JOI, as wraith, would know about the dangerous spread of the entertainment. (Perhaps his appearance to a person is an intentional reaction to this, whereas before he perhaps merely haunted ETA in various ways.) We know that he is in Gately's head, as evidenced by Gately's perceptions of conversations and knowledge of strange JOI-related terms, and Gately has visions that are similar to what we hear about the entertainment. Is it possible that JOI, as a filmmaker, is trying to script and mentally project a solution to the impending disaster (if indeed it is the antidote to the entertainment buried with him)?

On Gately's death, perhaps JOI goes ahead and makes an attempt to interface with Hal in the same way, which would explain why Hal would have that same memory. 'John Wayne in a mask' might be a stand-in for JOI, echoing how Wayne takes his place (albeit after an apparently long line of takers) with Avril, or perhaps referring to how Wayne (if he is a spy) is 'masked' or undercover, a warning to Hal. (Consider as well that Wayne does not seem to appear in Gately's vision: "He dreams he's with a very sad kid and they're in a graveyard..." (p 934), so ostensibly that could have been specific to Hal's vision, though why would Gately then be there in Hal's...).

But also: the oft-cited "gyroscopic balance sensor and mise-en-scène appropriation card and priapistic-entertainment cartridge" (p 11) includes elements of these visions and, perhaps, JOI's other manifestations. "[G]yroscopic balance sensor" vaguely recalls the strange phenomena of hovering beds and--was it broomsticks?--on the kitchen wall. "[M]ise-en-scène appropriation card" might reference JOI's mental projection of these visions. It is as if JOI arranged to be buried with things he could use in the afterlife, kind of like how useful stuff was put into ancient Egyptian tombs.

(More far-fetched:) I guess it would call into question some of Hal's memories or impressions, if JOI has the ability to do this (unless Gately is his first time, but it seems there is some spiritual/whatever connection with Lyle that might be more longstanding), and we could wonder if the flashbacks in the novel are from an omniscient narrator or the subjective recollections of the characters (considering that often the narration adopts the voice of the character). and thus might be manipulated. For instance, the conversation scene (p 27), which took place one year before JOI's death, includes the detail about the cartridge; but it appears that the lethal version of the cartridge was created in the last months before JOI's death.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:16 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:05 am
Posts: 6
I'm glad to see that others are similarly confused...

One lingering question I have - what is the nature of JOI's understanding of his son? Early on, he has that "professional conversation" with Hal, and we (the reader) think that JOI is nuts because a) it's obvious Hal is talking and JOI can't or won't hear him, and b) because JOI had made a movie with the exact same plot. Is JOI's inability to "hear" Hal because he is conflating his films and real life? etc.

But that whole time it's in the back of your mind that in fact, the novel begins with Hal unable to communicate and in reality is in a Cage of sorts. And of course, in the closing chapters that cage begins to close in on him, presumably (by me - what do I know?) brought on by Abandoning All Hope. And of course, JOI in parallel, appears to Gately and reiterates his thoughts on the matter.

So what about this? How did JOI know about Hal's inability to communicate in the future or recognize Hal for what he was when he was 10 or 13 or whatever he was back during that communication scene? Or a better way to phrase it - was JOI never crazy at all? Was he on some other plane of existence long before he killed himself? What are your thoughts?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: more comments on the Hager thesis
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:55 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:16 am
Posts: 19
A few more comments, and praise, for Chris Hager's "ON SPECULATION": and thanks once again to Mitch (if I may) for setting so many of us on the track of yet another reading of IJ in the wake of this thesis.

The most controversial, and funniest, of Chris's text is the ethical term forbearance. How people must have howled when they read that, that David Foster Wallace was careful not to violate any vital boundaries, any enabling limits. I wonder how far I'm willing to take this ethical stance, now that I'm rereading the novel again. What's involved in forbearance? Chris has much to say about this, far more than on the four projects thread, which of course will be critically important throughout the next hundred years.
Does forbearance involve giving up the question "what happened to Hal in the gap"? Chris says in no uncertain terms that DFW offers no help hear, and that his old crocadile like forbearance is key to the approach, aesthetically and ethically. It's your choice to speculate on what happened in the gap, but speculation is necessarily specular, and what we may enjoy and love about the novel is the extreme care taken to limit speculation in a radical, non post-modern way. (I'm getting carried away.)
The forbearance thing is what makes the parabola thing work. It's not a question of being corrected by the author when Chris strives to make the physical novel itself a parabola. (I shall attempt later to show that The Entertainment Cartridge cannot be considered as lethal as we all have construed it to be). So, the book itself is not a parabola. But the function of the parabola enables forbearance to take on critical weight.

In a novel coming down so hard and so insistently on the necessity of choice, it seems paradoxical to talk about forbearance when forbearance is also choosing not to choose, to leave the thing take shape out there in front of the satellite dish and shine for a moment before its movement takes it away.

We have all speculated on the speech impediment, and the gap between self-consciousness and how other people are increasingly worried about Hal's speech as much more worrisome than a simple impediment. How does the Hager thesis move from the "conclusion" that we can never know for sure whether it was the DMZ, or withdrawal from weed, or something else again, how does he move from that frustrating lack of resolution to the thesis he wrote? On my reading, the answer is that much of specualation is as necessary and unavoidable as it is simple white noise, to be given up before the onrushing onslaught of yet more equally important material begging for attention, and perhaps requiring it. His conclusion is that every conclusion becomes a side-show given the nature of the demands of all these characters, all the issues involved, and this is why so many of us can do nothing else but begin reading again.

Was it something he ate? All of us have chomped down on the fungus-mold downstairs in the first family setting. But not Hager. He sends us to Hamlet, who says he's eaten the air. Nobody understands, except that many people are harmed, some fatally, after not being able to stick their maps outside a window without crashing. Something I ate: air, wind, the billowing effect.

It's still a provocative thesis, calling into question what we call reading. I can't help but think of deMan here on unreadability, but I wouldn't want to bore anyone with that. But the provocation is intact: "The reason the novel doesn't tell you is that it doesn't matter what happened to Hal, because the novel conveys the unspeakable relevance of what did happen far less ambiguously than all the ambiguous events of the thing, that are all necessary to this unspeakable relevance." "Il ne faut plus qu'on poursuive le bonheur." This becomes in English: we must now cease the pursuit of happiness. Not "it is no longer necessary to pursue happiness." We must forbear the pursuit of happiness, if happiness involves plots and resolutions.
I'll stop here, but not before saying that the thesis is as much a challenge as the novel. Next time around, I'll compare Jameson on Wallace with the thesis's contribution to the holes in Hal and Don.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:18 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:42 am
Posts: 2
Regarding misterAyed's question, I believe that the other wraith was Lyle, being that he was licking Don. I don't know, I might've misread it. And I can't find that part right now.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:57 pm
Posts: 4
Quote:
So what about this? How did JOI know about Hal's inability to communicate in the future or recognize Hal for what he was when he was 10 or 13 or whatever he was back during that communication scene? Or a better way to phrase it - was JOI never crazy at all? Was he on some other plane of existence long before he killed himself? What are your thoughts?


I finished on Sunday and have been totally amazed reading other people’s thoughts on everything, but this JOI/Hal question intrigues me greatly. Forgive my intermediate-level thoughts about it…

JOI exists as a wraith after his death, and as such, experiences life much more quickly than live humans do – as he explains to Don Gately. But my thought about this is that perhaps JOI’s existence had been gearing up to wraith-speed while he was still alive (much in the same way that it does for humans, time passes verrrrrrry slowly for children and quicker as you age) so much so that during the communication scene, JOI was expecting Hal to speak at a much faster rate than he was actually speaking and JOI didn’t “understand” the reason why yet? This line of reasoning would put JOI on another plane of existence before his death. But this doesn’t explain how JOI could deal with Mario, Avril, Joelle, etc. but not Hal. Unless……

The same thing is being applied to Hal, albeit in reverse. He’s at the college admissions office, and everything he says he thinks people will have no problem understanding. But, they all freak out. Perhaps Hal is now moving so slowly in real-life-time that people cannot comprehend him? Maybe he always was this way and just keeps…getting…slower?

I tend to agree that Hal was NOT affected by the DMZ. Which is just hilarious, because of course the whole time I was waiting for that all-important “ingesting the DMZ scene”, and I was *shocked* that we never did. Clearly whatever happened to him, was happening already when he was lying horizontally on the floor at ETA after his encounter with The Darkness.

This book truly amazed me, and you know I’ll be reading it again. Like, tomorrow.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:48 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:05 am
Posts: 6
westendgirl29 wrote:
The same thing is being applied to Hal, albeit in reverse. He’s at the college admissions office, and everything he says he thinks people will have no problem understanding. But, they all freak out. Perhaps Hal is now moving so slowly in real-life-time that people cannot comprehend him? Maybe he always was this way and just keeps…getting…slower?

To follow up your comment with my own intermediate-level comments, I like where this is heading. JOI drank a lot, and when he didn't, he suffered (ending with sticking his head in the microwave during sobriety). So what if the drinking slowed him down closer to our level? And on that same path, maybe Hal slowed himself down with the Bob Hope? When he was off it, perhaps he speeded up too. That would explain the noises he was making when he thought he was expressing normal thoughts. Instead they came out all speeded up which could sound like animal noises or who knows what.

I'm flinging random thoughts at the wall here, but I'm also intrigued by the parallel to master cartridges needing to be played at a faster speed than copies of cartridges and if you put a master in a standard player, you can't see anything at all.

As far as JOI's ability to communicate with Mario - the member of the family to whom he was closest - well, he (Mario) was always on some other plane of existence. He could recognize things other people couldn't and he was a "listener." Perhaps his ability to "listen" to JOI made Mario a great companion for JOI.

And finally - maybe JOI preternaturally recognized that Hal was more like Himself. That Hal should have been existing on this other, faster, plane the whole time, but somehow wasn't - and that troubled him (Himself).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:59 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:48 am
Posts: 5
I really like that interpretation.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:27 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:57 pm
Posts: 4
Quote:
So what if the drinking slowed him down closer to our level?

This could tie-in to DFW's description of the difference between Randy Lenz (after a few lines of coke) and Bruce Green (sober) and how Green seemed to only have a thought every 60 seconds or so, whereas Lenz could not stop his thoughts. [I'm paraphrasing but it was something like that.] Could be that AA failed JOI (or vice versa) because of this time problem?

Quote:
I'm also intrigued by the parallel to master cartridges needing to be played at a faster speed than copies of cartridges and if you put a master in a standard player, you can't see anything at all.

I forgot about that completely until you mentioned it, and it's a great connection to the time/speed problem.

Quote:
Hal should have been existing on this other, faster, plane the whole time, but somehow wasn't - and that troubled him (Himself).

I agree completely - but I wonder why he felt this way about Hal, but not Orin. Himself seemed not to give 2 shakes about Orin, ever. I was thinking specifically about what was different between JOI/Hal/Orin. Number one of course is Substances. Orin never really used once he discovered sex, whereas both JOI and Hal had Substance issues. [I don't know if Hal had the issues before JOI's felo de se.] Sex is issue number 2. Hal stated at one point that he wanted to remain a virgin, Orin obviously did not, and JOI - well, we know he fathered Orin and Hal - but he never slept with Joelle and clearly sex was not a motivation for him that we know of later in his life. I've got no clue where I am going with this, just talking out loud for reasons that JOI was so concerned about Hal and not about Orin - when they were both pretty messed up kids, on the whole.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Have you finished yet? Because I have and I need to chat!
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:07 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:46 pm
Posts: 23
westendgirl29 wrote:
The same thing is being applied to Hal, albeit in reverse. He’s at the college admissions office, and everything he says he thinks people will have no problem understanding. But, they all freak out. Perhaps Hal is now moving so slowly in real-life-time that people cannot comprehend him? Maybe he always was this way and just keeps…getting…slower?

I think their reaction is more consistent with him being sped up. Imagine Hal giving his calm, well-thought-out "I am in here" speech to them, exactly as it's presented to us. Now make it 10 times faster. To the deans it would sound like "a writhing animal with a knife in its eye", as one of them puts it.

Whoa... one of the deans actually refers to it as "like a time-lapse". p14


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 56 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Translated by Maël Soucaze © 2009 phpBB.fr