Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:01 pm 
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SO. I don't know if there's enough evidence to back this up, but...

What if Orin is Mario's father?!

It seems like there needs to be a reason for Mario's birth deformities. Accidentally getting dealt a bad lot is not the theme of this book. Everything's deliberate, even the ambiguities. SO. Two possible explanations suggested by DFW are (1) infants born in the Concavity have birth defects, and (2) Avril I. engages in perverse sexual practices, one of which is incest, and this could account for Mario's condition. But, Avril did not live in the Concavity. And, DFW argues at length that CT is not Avril's blood kin. So, how could CT having fathered Mario account for his (incest-related) birth defects?

There is, however, evidence to suggest that Avril molested Orin, in which case (if it was O.'s sperm, not CT's or JO's) Mario's incest-related birth defects make sense.

The Evidence

1. Orin has messed up relationships with women. He objectifies (uh, subject-ifies?) them.

2. Orin despises Avril and doesn't talk to her once he is an adult (and presumably old enough to realize that getting diddled by The Moms was not OK).

3. The Moms had to have known that Orin lied about killing her beloved dog. However, if she felt guilty for having sexually abused her oldest son as an adolescent, she might have felt that the dog's death served as sort of a deserved punishment, and thus did not feel it was her right to get mad at Orin.

4. Pemulis' older brother was abused as a child by his parent. Perhaps DFW was trying to draw our attention to another incest trope besides mother-brother.

5. Obviously, Avril is attracted to younger men. AND John Wayne is dressed up as a football player when Pemulis witnesses some disturbing role-play.

6. Given Orin Incandenza's womanizing tendancies, I would wager that he has some potent sperm. And by that I mean, it wouldn't be implausible for him to have hit puberty / fertilized an egg at age seven. (That O. has potent sperm is more a symbolic than a scientific assertion.)

7. And finally. At one point, Hal is critical of Orin for not paying enough attention to Mario. (Maybe Hal knows on some subconscious level that Orin, as Mario's father, ought to?)


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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:19 am 
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This is certainly not a far-fetched theory in my mind given the obvious tension that exists between Orin and Avril. Significantly, Orin not only fails to pay much attention to Mario, the attention he does pay is abusive for the most part which would be consistent with Mario being the result of a non-consenual incestual relationship. Orin favorite Subjects w/r/t his womanizing are married women with children. It may also help explan the P.G.O.A.T.'s dislike of Avril and perhaps her attraction to father James as well.


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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:19 am 
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lexmarkinkjetprinter wrote:
So, how could CT having fathered Mario account for his (incest-related) birth defects?

CT's mom is described as being a dwarf, and possibly homodontic, so he could have had some bad genes that just skipped a generation.

Quote:
4. Pemulis' older brother was abused as a child by his parent. Perhaps DFW was trying to draw our attention to another incest trope besides mother-brother.

Actually, there's another incest story too isn't there? One of the addicts. I think it was a story told by a non-Enfield person at one of the AA meetings.

Quote:
5. Obviously, Avril is attracted to younger men. AND John Wayne is dressed up as a football player when Pemulis witnesses some disturbing role-play.

Interesting... I was assuming she (or he?) just had an "American fetish".


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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:23 am 
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Not far-fetched enough? What about this? (I have even less evidence, just throwing it it out.)

What if Mario is Avril's son with Orin, and Orin is Avril's son with CT? (This would require some sort of conjugal visit to Canada in B.S., but this was when non-agoraphobic Avril was always going on trips and cavorting with medical attaches, so it's conceivable.) This would make Hal Himself's only son--an interesting Hamlet parallel (Hamlet's an only child), while at the same time, preserving the three brothers trope of The Brothers K, and allowing DFW to pay homage to arguably the two most dysfunctional families in Western literature simultaneously. (Sorry Tolstoy, famous opening lines aside, Anna's menage doesn't even come close in terms of sheer dysfunction.)

Like I said, I don't have much evidence, besides the fact that it would be a compelling move from a literary standpoint. But, we are told that it is Orin who begins calling JOI 'Himself'--a moniker which Hal goes along with, confessing that he does so because he read that it's common for family members to address each other using pet monikers. Maybe Orin chose the name Himself because he subconsciously knew that, even though JO served the head of the household, he wasn't his own father, and calling him 'Dad' or 'Daddy' or 'Pa' or 'Pop' wouldn't accurately capture their relationship. Also, O. and CT share a candidness that perhaps genetically links the pair (think: O. discussing Subject scenarios with Hal--he is self-aware but not self-conscious, literal, and completely open about his motivations). In the same way that O. and CT are completely open, Himself and Hal are completely closed.

Thanks for indulging!


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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:34 am 
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dna wrote:
CT's mom is described as being a dwarf, and possibly homodontic, so he could have had some bad genes that just skipped a generation.


Right. And maybe this is a red herring, in order to make the whole matter juicy and interesting? To spur interfacing among befuddled readers? To guarantee that we won't ever be able to pat ourselves on our backs for having divined The Answer? Some of the most important facts in this book, it seems, are left indeterminite, and I have to think that this is intentional. SO. I guess I don't even know if I believe that Orin is Mario's father; I just think there's enough hints to say that DFW wants this to be one of the possibilities that we are supposed to consider.


Last edited by lexmarkinkjetprinter on Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:10 pm 
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Don't know about fathering Mario, but on p.791, Molly Notkin, friend of Joelle, being interoggated by Unspecified Serviices, speculates on the motivation of Himself's suicide: "...the fact that his widow-to-be was engaging in sexual enmeshments with just about everything with a Y-chromosome, and had been for what sounded like many years, including possibly with the Auteur's son and Madame's craven lover, as a child,..."


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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:29 pm 
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Note that Molly Notkin also just makes up things in that session, though it's never clear which parts are true.

I kind of think this isn't it, that it's the kind of thing that would have come out to Joelle (or at least been hinted at) and Orin would have turned on Avril before the suicide rather than after.


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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:34 pm 
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I think CT is Mario's father. The description of CT's mother is more closely aligned with Mario's condition. It would seem overly coincidental that a child of Orin and Avril would have a child with conditions similar to CT's mother, who is not related to them by blood. Also, birth defects don't always occur in children of incest; there is a higher incidence, but it depends in part on genetic predisposition and whether there has been previous inbreeding in the family.

I can't recall descriptions of physical similarities between CT and Mario; but there are strong indications that CT and Avril have had an affair; and CT is clearly uncomfortable around Mario--trying to leave the room when he comes in, for instance. I think the connections there are stronger than the vague implications about the relationship between Orin and Avril.


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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 7:29 pm 
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I'm with troybob. I much more strongly buy that Orin's anger/distance from the Moms (and from Mario) is based on (fears of) her infidelity to J.O.I. than a more convoluted incest trope in this case, and, also to re-emphasize a point of troybob's, human reproduction and genetics ain't even vaguely close to being as simple as "birth defects=incest=birth defects=etc," and it is a sign of DFW's subtlety that he seems to purposely muddy the waters of whether Mario results from incest, atavism, or blind chance.


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 Post subject: Re: WHAT IF.....Orin is Mario's father?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:16 pm 
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Quote:
Actually, there's another incest story too isn't there? One of the addicts. I think it was a story told by a non-Enfield person at one of the AA meetings.


I thought this was one of the most intense and disturbing passages in the book and I don't think I've seen it discussed anywhere! I don't have my book near me, but I believe you're alluding to the young woman who was molested by her foster father, but only after he heinously abused her younger and profoundly deformed sister. He made HER wear the Raquel Welch mask! Maybe this deserves its own thread!


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