Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:50 am 
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Correct on the O.N.A.N.C.A.A., but just adding...If anyone didn't catch it, look up "onan" in the dictionary. Wallace drops stuff like this all over the place. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:46 am 
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A Question about End Note 21 page 985/60

Q.v. Note 211 sub.

I'm guessing this means I am to flip forward to Endnote 211?


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:55 pm 
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donkey rhubarb wrote:
Q.v. Note 211 sub.

I'm guessing this means I am to flip forward to Endnote 211?


Yep. I recommend following through on the footnote directions as they arise even though it's obviously going to come up again later, because it's easier to keep track of where you are. I guess this is why it's recommended to have multiple bookmarks. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:01 pm 
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I don't have my copy of IJ in front of me, but somewhere there's a list of the chronological order of the post-ONAN (and, of course, that's a joke, too) names for the years. The Hal section that begins the novel happens after everything else in the novel. If DFW wrote IJ in chronological order, this part would come last.

And, yes, it's something he ate.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:05 pm 
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i'm up to page 27 (rereading) and i am intrigued by everybody's observations!

one thing that i myself perceived is a similarity between hal and erdedy in that they both have a very manipulative streak. my reading of hal's "incident" on page 14 ff is that he lashed out on purpose in order to divert the discussion about his test scores. juxtapose this with erdedy lying about being a former meth addict (23) in order to gain sympathy/drugs. it seems to me that for both these characters, there is quite a thick wall between their inner selves and the world in which they live.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:04 pm 
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Location: UTAH. Yes I'm from Utah. No I'm not a Mormon.
p61-63

Who is writing this? Typically anything first-person is Hal, but it's clear from the nature of the nightmare it isn't Hal. Hal has been at ETA for far too long a time to wake up to a nightmare about being out of place. "Your first nightmare away from home and folks, your first night at the Academy, it was there all along. . ."

I thought maybe he was recalling a MUCH earlier nightmare, but "your first nightmare away from home and folks" makes it seem as though that's not the case.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:19 am 
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paraplegicNomad wrote:
testforecho wrote:
Pg. 10 - Something I ate - The pages introducing the Hal Incandenza character who has a major disconnect between who he is and how he is perceived I find very interesting. There appears to be a big lead up to the point that Hal tries to say his first words, 'I am not just a jock'. Interesting first words for someone planning to enter this university because he is a jock. After this big lead up and his first attempt at speaking you get this pop in the balloon where he steps pack and explains that the disconnect may be caused by "something I ate".


I think this scene is an excellent portrayal of how frustrating it can be to be misunderstood or to be unable to communicate clearly with your audience. I've heard mention (I don't remember where, so treat this as hearsay) that DFW was heavily influenced by Wittgenstein, who was primarily concerned with language, meaning, and communication. I don't think it's an accident that DFW brings this into the novel very early. In another sense, I believe it parallels DFW's own experiences (and possibly one many of us will experience while reading IJ!) - for example, what he is trying to communicate in this novel might never be truly "understood" in the sense that DFW meant it. Something to keep in mind for later, perhaps: what the characters say vs. what they mean vs. what they are perceived to mean.

Hal himself seems to have struggled with this for some time, and his attitude here is telling. He doesn't internally rage or show frustration. He seems to take on the attitude of, "well, ok, I'll give it a shot, but it's not gonna work, here we go..." I don't believe Hal would have come to this kind of acceptance immediately upon his loss of ability to "interface," but he probably arrived at it after realizing the futility of a longer struggle.


Interesting point. This introduction to Hal on the surface is about Hal being kind of a mess, maybe just a screwed up kid. Hidden under the flailing and monstrous facial expressions is Hal's real problem, the inability to communicate. Here's a student who is brilliant. Who can critique the Dean's usage, his ability to communicate. One who can read and comprehend anyone in that room under the table. Yet, he can't communicate any of this because of "something I ate".

Another thing that your comment made me think of is DFW's comments about loneliness and how fiction allows a connection. When I read about Hal in that office, his intense observations from the bathroom floor and finally someone acknowledging him and asking him "what's your story" I thought 'this guy illustrates the loneliness that DFW is talking about'. Here's a quote from an interview in Salon where he discusses fiction and lonleliness.

Interviewer: What do you think is uniquely magical about fiction?

DFW:Oh, Lordy, that could take a whole day! Well, the first line of attack for that question is that there is this existential loneliness in the real world. I don't know what you're thinking or what it's like inside you and you don't know what it's like inside me. In fiction I think we can leap over that wall itself in a certain way. But that's just the first level, because the idea of mental or emotional intimacy with a character is a delusion or a contrivance that's set up through art by the writer. There's another level that a piece of fiction is a conversation. There's a relationship set up between the reader and the writer that's very strange and very complicated and hard to talk about. A really great piece of fiction for me may or may not take me away and make me forget that I'm sitting in a chair. There's real commercial stuff can do that, and a riveting plot can do that, but it doesn't make me feel less lonely.

There's a kind of Ah-ha! Somebody at least for a moment feels about something or sees something the way that I do. It doesn't happen all the time. It's these brief flashes or flames, but I get that sometimes. I feel unalone -- intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. I feel human and unalone and that I'm in a deep, significant conversation with another consciousness in fiction and poetry in a way that I don't with other art.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:29 am 
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CodyVanDer wrote:
p61-63

Who is writing this? Typically anything first-person is Hal, but it's clear from the nature of the nightmare it isn't Hal. Hal has been at ETA for far too long a time to wake up to a nightmare about being out of place. "Your first nightmare away from home and folks, your first night at the Academy, it was there all along. . ."

I thought maybe he was recalling a MUCH earlier nightmare, but "your first nightmare away from home and folks" makes it seem as though that's not the case.


I didn't know either. But, as we've only seen Hal use the first person, I assumed it must be him. Of course, I'm not sure where it fits on the timeline, and lots of people in the novel seem to have nightmares. But I'm still, for the moment, assuming it is Hal.

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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:20 am 
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When I read that passage the first time, I thought that it might've been DFW himself - in retrospect, I think that's probably a stupid assumption, but yeah.

It doesn't seem like it'd be Hal's dream, but it's possible, I guess.

As far as I can recall, DFW only ever writes in the first person perspective for two characters - Hal is (obviously) one of them, and this monologue doesn't really fit the other, so yeah. My guess is Hal when he was younger, if only because I can't figure out who else it would be.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:43 am 
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donkey rhubarb wrote:
Page 42

Hal and Mario. Hal talking about the flag pole. Simply amazing.


Would it be a spoiler to explain the flag pole bit? I read it over a few times and couldn't quite get what he was talking about.


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