Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: revisiting endnote 304
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:36 pm 
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I'm running ahead, as I have to start school and don't want to give in to the temptation to drop a class to keep digging into this book, so this is way Spoiler! "I've got some ongoing fascination with endnote 304:

1. I love how we visit this note earlier in the novel (referenced at endnote 173), but where it appears in the narrative is on p 732, in a location where the note really bears rereading because the reader seems more prepared for it and the connections drawn from it.

2. I like the structure of endnote 304 in how G.T. Day's essay on AFR is framed within Struck's observations about it but also Struck's other more stream-of-consciousness stuff resulting from the reading. For instance, on reading on the cult status and rituals of AFR, Struck hears "16's-sounding males" in the hall, which classification-based reference helps set up the parallel between the AFR ritual and the Academy ritual of organized competition.

3. There is the immediate connection that Struck is reading this essay by G.T. Day, who is the same Geoffrey Day at Ennet House who speaks to Marathe 'ironically' just before the endnote is referenced.

4. Another connection is that Struck is writing his essay for Poutrincourt about AFR, considering that Poutrincourt is the likely AFR staff agent in the Academy.

5. Yet another connection, I think mentioned here previously, is that the shamed Bernard Wayne, discussed in Day's essay, is likely related to the Academy's John Wayne, the other likely AFR agent in the Academy (both being sons of asbestos miners). (Plus, Wayne's association with AFR and possible participation in the ritual might be related to his playing style as discussed on p. 260-261.)

So there's kind of circularity to it: Day writes an essay about AFR; Struck uses that essay for an assignment for Poutrincourt; Poutrincourt has been "recruited" to the AFR (working in concert with Marathe, though perhaps not directly connected); and then Marathe meets Day.

6. Struck characterizes the essay as sounding like "the kind of foam-flecked megalograndiosity he associates with Quaaludes and red wine"; on p 272, Day is described as a "red-wine-and-Quaalude man."

7. It seems that 'We are Struck"' in more ways than one. Struck observes "having to read the first sentence a bunch of times to even make sense of it," which echoes the here-oft-cited DFW interview (http://web.archive.org/web/20071017042632/http://www.centerforbookculture.org/interviews/interview_wallace.html) in which he admits to "sentences that are syntactically not incorrect but still a real bitch to read." Struck is having to look up words in the essay, and generally making commentary that recalls some of the criticism here about DFW's writing, such that Struck's experience is not unlike our own. (And Day, if not like DFW himself, seems to demonstrate the kind of "showing off" (interview ibid) DFW tries to avoid.)

I'm likely missing some good stuff, or getting some stuff wrong, but the endnote seems like a series of echoes and ties some threads together, which of course makes me want to go all the way back to p. 3 and start over."
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 Post subject: Re: revisiting endnote 304
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:34 pm 
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Thanks, Troybob, for pointing this stuff out. I read the note the first time around and (embarrassing confession) didn't think it was necessary to return to it when I got to page 732. (What was I thinking?!) I'd made the Poutrincourt connection but missed the Day one entirely.

So what do you suppose it means that Day, despite having studied the AFR at some length, doesn't recognize one of its members when he's right in front of him? Not that Marathe would have "AFR" written across his forehead--but he is a double amputee with a Quebecois accent. Shouldn't Day at least be intrigued?


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 Post subject: Re: revisiting endnote 304
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:12 pm 
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I figured that it was because Marathe was wearing a veil, which doesn't seem typical of AFR; in his essay Day had described AFR as assassins of stealth, striking at night; Ennet has residents of varying degree of disability, so he might not pay as much attention to it; and an addiction-recovery house would seem the least likely place political assassins would be operating. Also, he seemed preoccupied showing off intellectually in the 'portability' discussion.

In the chapter, I did enjoy how Marathe ended up being approached by the guy paranoid about people made of metal, and talking about mechanical "whirring," reminiscent of the squeaking associated with AFR assassins.

And also Marathe referring to the halfway house as a "demi-maison." On this reading I've gotten more into the French-English mangling, and particularly how the narrator's voice often matches the idiomatic idiosyncrasies of the character being discussed.


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 Post subject: Re: revisiting endnote 304
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 6:24 am
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(
troybob wrote:
I figured that it was because Marathe was wearing a veil, which doesn't seem typical of AFR; in his essay Day had described AFR as assassins of stealth, striking at night; Ennet has residents of varying degree of disability, so he might not pay as much attention to it; and an addiction-recovery house would seem the least likely place political assassins would be operating. Also, he seemed preoccupied showing off intellectually in the 'portability' discussion.


Agreed--yet I do love that Day is feet away from a subject of his academic study and doesn't realize it. One of the threads I'd like to tease out--now that I've finished my first read--is the way the novel pokes at academic conventions and culture.

Another detail about the scene that I like: the "insane-smelling man"'s insistence that "You ain't here" and Marathe's response, "I have come desperately here," as permutations of Hal's claim, "I am in here," in the opening scene.


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