Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 10:11 am 
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It is never mentioned outright, but his habit of substituting words that are similar in meaning or sound, plus his early effort and failure in school make me think that this is the case.


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:20 am 
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Gately probably has some "learning disability," given his lack of success in school (though a lot of that can probably be attributed to his drug use), but I see no evidence that it's dyslexia. Substituting words that sound like the actual word you want isn't a symptom of dyslexia as far as I know. Rather, I think it's meant to indicate what Gately's best guess would be if you asked him to spell a word that he's heard spoken before, but never read.


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 12:52 pm 
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http://www.dyslexia.com/library/symptoms.htm

"Difficulty putting thoughts into words; speaks in halting phrases; leaves sentences incomplete; stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking."

We have a lot of dyslexia in my family. My dyslexic sis, very intelligent and successful in business, transposes words and phrases all the time. I find it cute and quirky, but I know it is an embarrassment to her, makes her feel uneducated and stupid.

Dyslexia is a fairly amorphous and wide ranging diagnosis. Most people think of it as only a reading and writing disorder, but there are also auditory and motor symptoms. Most people don't have them all. In my family, most of the symptoms are auditory in nature which is why I recognized them in Gately.

In IJ, I think Gately's academic failure pre-dates the drug use and if fact causes it to some degree. Gately was drinking and acting wild with his football buddies, but it wasn't until he got kicked off the team for academic failure that his drug use really took off.


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:29 pm 
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Gately may or may not be dyslexic, and M. Psychosis is correct to note that there are associated auditory and verbal symptoms with dyslexia, but the list of symptoms that M. Psychosis provides is an extremely general one, all of which are common to a number of other issues (including everything from severe auditory processing issues to pronounced exhaustion). That list of symptoms might quite appropriately lead someone to consider a diagnosis of dyslexia (and thus seek evidence of other symptoms to confirm or rule out this and other diagnoses), but would, in and of itself, be very far from sufficient to make a diagnosis of dyslexia.


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:38 am 
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Like I said, the diagnosis dyslexia is in itself a catchall. Is auditory processing disorder its own diagnosis or is it a symptom dyslexia? Only a professional can decide, and they are fequently wrong anyway. And since Gately doesn't actually exist and he probably died anyway at the end of the book, it will be difficult to evaluate him ;)

Gately's frequent mispronunciations and word substitutions, along with his academic failure despite obviously adequate IQ and effort, would indicate an LD, probably dyslexia. The academic failure and subsequent expulsion from the football team is what propels him more deeply into his addiction. So I think it is an interesting point to debate since Gately's addiction and recovering are pivotal in the book.


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:51 pm 
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Quote:
And since Gately doesn't actually exist and he probably died anyway at the end of the book, it will be difficult to evaluate him


Did he die at the end of the book? It seems to me that somehow he and Hal had to have been in communication because of what Hal knows in IJ's first chapter. That is, Gately has either a vision or a dream about Hal digging up his father's head. Hal has either had the same dream (i.e., because induced by JOI in both Hal and Gately, if indeed the episode was a dream) or has lived the reality. I'm leaning toward the dream. Also, why exactly did JOI appear to Gately, of all the people he could have appeared to, why Gately. I've got to wonder or think that this was JOI's attempt to bring Hal into contact with someone who could help him get and stay sober. Recall, Gately doesn't think much of JOI until near the end of their dream/encounter when Gately pulls a Scooby-Doo record-scratching double-take over the realization that JOI had been in recovery.

Not that this has anything to do with Gately's dyslexia. I'm just passing through and thought to jump in.


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:41 pm 
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Maybe JOI attempt to get Hal in touch with someone who could teach him to live authentically, with moral purpose. Hal is so gifted in so many ways, but it is almost like he is a tool of his giftedness, but has very little substance. He is a phenomenal tennis player, but mentally not that tough (not the way Stice and Wayne are). He knows so many words, but to what purpose? Gately is no where near as brilliant, but he lives with a moral purposefulness and is trying to be connected to others. He is not a figurant in his own life the way Hal is.

Did Gately die? He is the only character who seems purposeful to me. The rest are either short, amusing sketches of people who are far more verbal and amusing than anyone ever is in real life, or they are drifting, prey to their various compulsions. Gately is the only fully drawn character who is mastering his. Joelle is also in recovery, but she never felt fully articulated to me the way Hal and Gately are. So anyway, what would be the purpose of killing Gately off? Should we all lose hope and not even make the effort to master our addictions? Or maybe he did die, but the process of recovery is its own reward? I dunno. And I have speculated that Gately waking up in the cold rain on the beach was his fever breaking. You know, the way you are so hot and sick and then suddenly drenched in sweat but feeling cooler and much better? But emotionally, it did feel like he died to me. This is what make this book so infuriating and so gorgeous at the same time. I never really know, will never really know, but can't stop thinking about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:03 pm 
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Quote:
This is what make this book so infuriating and so gorgeous at the same time. I never really know, will never really know, but can't stop thinking about it.


Agreed. However, I think one way to determine whether Gately lives or dies at novel's end is to examine those parts of the narrative that couldn't have been communicated without Gately's input. Put another way, the events of the novel couldn't have been narrated for our pleasure if there hadn't been a 'future' subsequent to the events taking place. Thus, the very fact that we have Gately's internal narration of his infection/fever dream proves (at least to me) that Gately lived long enough to tell his story to the narrator(s).

And just who exactly are the novel's narrators? The Eschaton endnotes show Hal to be that section's author (or at least that section's endnote's author).


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:29 pm 
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True. I should go back and read the first part with more of an eye toward the timeline and what would be physically possible. The novel is so complex and non-linear, I tend to get swept away by the mad-craziness of the characters and situations and don't worry so much about the actual timing. On the other hand, there does have to be an emotional reality to a novel. The facts should fit, but they have to fit with the authors intentions or else it is not an effective work. So I guess I am trying to feel my way to the truth of the authors intentions while other people are trying to fit things together in a more linear fashion. To get to the heart of it, we will all probably have to do a little of each.


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 Post subject: Re: Gately is dyslexic.
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:18 am 
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So I guess I am trying to feel my way to the truth of the authors intentions while other people are trying to fit things together in a more linear fashion. To get to the heart of it, we will all probably have to do a little of each


Yes, yes, yes, M.P. That's what makes IS such a worthwhile forum for me. I'm learning way more than I would have (and have already) learned on my own.


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