Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:18 am 
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19 years ago(!), in my AP english 12 exam we had to compare Hamlet and Fortinbras, as sons in relation to fathers, in their motivation, their action/inaction, etc. I'm not entirely sold on the Hamlet connection, and wonder how far it can be pushed. Is Eschaton the play within the play? So can we get a discussion going about the troubling father-son relationships in the novel? I count there are about 10? At least.
JOI 's dad and his dad
JOI and his dad
JOI and Orin
JOI and Hal
Don and no father
Don and MP
Bain kids and Bain Parents- and crazy Kevin Bain's toddler-sized trauma?
Matty and Mike Pemulis and their Da
Marathe and his brothers and father, as well as all the AFR boys and men
CT and Mario???


and then there's
Joelle and Her Own Personal Daddy
Joelle's mom and her diddling father
Avril's drunk grandfather and father

What are these failed relationships saying? It has to be more than just "we are effed up and are effing up our kids."


And if Hal is Hamlet, (if), then who is Fortinbras? Who is still standing at the end? Maybe standing, with the help of a vest and police-lock?


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 Post subject: Re: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:56 am 
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As far as bad father/son realtionships, how about Steeply and his dad, maybe not quite as dysfunctional as some of the others, but not great either. Steeply did pretty much ignore the whole M*A*S*H thing getting completelty out of control, and he was old enough to have known better.


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 Post subject: Re: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:17 am 
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I forgot about the MASH thing! And especially since Steeply was doing what I'm sure was a pretty good Klinger impersonation.!


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 Post subject: Re: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:30 am 
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never made the Steeply/Klinger connection before.

As for Fortinbras, is Mario more a Fortinbras or a Horatio (given his focus on watching/filming events)? And, complicating this, he has another potential shakespearean status that might be relevant: There is a fair bit of MacBeth imagery in the book as well, and the description of Mario's birth, essentially scraped out of his mother after a pregnancy she wasn't even aware of, makes me think of the Fortinbras figure of MacBeth: MacDuff, "from his mother's womb untimely ripped," (which is how he can kill MacBeth despite a prophesy that no man born of woman could).


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 Post subject: Re: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:25 pm 
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doubtful geste wrote:
As for Fortinbras, is Mario more a Fortinbras or a Horatio (given his focus on watching/filming events)? And, complicating this, he has another potential shakespearean status that might be relevant: There is a fair bit of MacBeth imagery in the book as well, and the description of Mario's birth, essentially scraped out of his mother after a pregnancy she wasn't even aware of, makes me think of the Fortinbras figure of MacBeth: MacDuff, "from his mother's womb untimely ripped," (which is how he can kill MacBeth despite a prophesy that no man born of woman could).


Personally I think it's far too easy to get wrapped up in the Hamlet comparisons. For every character that fits relatively neatly into that paradigm there's an exception(who would Ophelia be for one). But since the question is on the table... I too think Mario is more Horatio than Fontibras. In many ways I think he and Horatio are the moral centers in their respective works.

One could argue that John Wayne is Fortinbras-ish in that he is a man of action and doesn't get bogged down in thought or self doubt and questioning that plagues Hamlet. Although given the textual evidence it's hard to say for sure that he is left standing at the chronological end of the book since he "would have won" the WB tournament.


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 Post subject: Re: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:49 pm 
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I was thinking Pemulis as Horatio. Intelligent, academic, very grounded, and provides a counter-weight to some of Hal's thoughts.

I agree on not trying to make too much of the Hamlet thing. One Hamelt-related item I did wonder about this morning was whether Orin is the Hamlet figure and not Hal. The key issue on this line of thinking being that JOI's ghost never appears to Hal. Orin, on the other hand, appears to know things about Hal that he couldn't know without some kind of mole around the grounds of ETA. On my first read through I took that mole to be deLint, but had nothing to base that on.

This morning I was wondering whether JOI was haunting Orin which might account for Orin's somewhat indecisive behavior w/r/t his family, and his issues with Avril and C.T.

On the other hand Orin has always been pretty creeped out by his family.

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 Post subject: Re: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:47 am 
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1baldboy wrote:
doubtful geste wrote:
For every character that fits relatively neatly into that paradigm there's an exception(who would Ophelia be for one).


A few obvious plot particulars aside, I definitely see a Joelle/Ophelia connection (the sexual implications of her relationship with her father; the veil; the suicide attempt). I keep meaning to re-read Joelle's suicide attempt and a couple of her other scenes again to see how far the connection can be pushed. But, as it's been said, I love the way Wallace uses the Hamlet stuff because he's not straining for 1:1 allegorical connections, especially when it comes to really tangible plot stuff. It never feels tedious at all.


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 Post subject: Re: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:37 am 
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minor complaint, but, um, I didn't say what I am quoted as saying just above this post (re: Ophelia)


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 Post subject: Re: So, in the Hamlet scenario, who is Fortinbras?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:15 pm 
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doubtful geste wrote:
minor complaint, but, um, I didn't say what I am quoted as saying just above this post (re: Ophelia)


Ahh, not sure why I didn't include the beginning of that quote, because I completely agree with what you were saying. Apologies!


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