Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 7:23 am 
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Comments on page 3 - 63 anyone? We should try to keep this as spoil free as possible. Maybe note your page # at the beginning of the comment so if a reader is not to that page yet they won't read it.

Page 3 (first page in my book) - I like DFW's introduction as an almost out of body experience "I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies." Only later on the page are we told who this person is. In fact, only later on the page is the "I" told who he is by another person in the room.

This is an interesting contrast to the straight forward, fully self conscious, introduction to Moby Dick "Call me Ishmael."


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 11:56 am 
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Yeah, you know from the first line that he doesn't feel comfortable around other people.

On page 40 something when the girl is watching the documentary on Schizophrenia, and the doctors are doing to him exactly what he is afraid of is great.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 6:27 pm 
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p. 17-27
I found the whole segment on Erdedy's obsessive wait for his dope really very impressive. DFW's accuracy in describing that level of psychological dependence on a substance is spot-on. He can really crawl into that mindspace, esp. the way that he can convey the paradoxical knowledge that one is obsessing while simultaneously obsessing: "...realized intellectually that the feeling of deprived panic over missing something made no sense" (26). Erdedy's a user who views himself too smart for this, too proud, too in control - and that loss of control made literary. Think of the way the stream of consciousness description jumps from the phone, the bong, the trifling details of the room to his internal feed. I think it's the first time I've encountered this topic handled so well, with marijuana often treated as milder and less glamorous of a topic with regard to drug culture.

_________________
aesthetics of everywhere [blog]


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:46 pm 
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p. 17-27

I agree with crysb that DFW has an extraordinary ability to capture psychological dependence and the inner-struggle. My favorite part so far is the Erdedy scene (I even re-read it b/c I thought it was so good). The writing is absolutely phenomenal. It was so spot-on that I began to feel anxious just reading about Erdedy's turmoil! I also think that almost any one who has grown up in a suburban area, where boredom often drives young people to smoke some pot, has felt Erdedy's anticipation to a slight degree. Very impressive section, indeed.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:33 am 
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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".

Hal is absolutely mentally sharp and obviously a brilliant person where his thoughts are 'I read. I study and I read. ...I consume libraries." He is also sensitive. "'I feel and believe. I have opinions...I am not just a creatus...bred for function'."

The disconnect is that the perception of this kid is of a nightmarish monster. And on page 15, his uncle explains that "he can function".

Pg 17 - Yo then man, what's your story - Another build up in the story as Hal explains his thoughts about the bathroom, ambulance ride, etc. Of all of the people associated with Hal to this point, his Uncle, the Deans, the doctors, the ambulance driver, it appears that nobody really cares about him as a person. For example, even the attending doctor gives him the "gurneyside Q&A, etiology and diagnosis by Socratic method, ordered and point-by-point." The only person that seems to care is the "nurse's aide" or "security guy" or "a tired Cuban orderly". Maybe these are people we can assume have a history of not such an easy life so they can relate to whatever Hal is going through. One of these will be the only one to ask "So yo then man what's your story?"


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:54 am 
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Pg. 16 - I think of John N.R. Wayne, who would have won this year's WhataBurger, standing watch as Donald Gately and I dig up my father's head.

'Nuff said. Might want to remember this one.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:30 am 
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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.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:17 am 
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Location: minneapolis
Page 42

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

Also it took me until ~Page 50 before it clicked what Y.D.A.U stood for. Still have no idea what O.N.A.N.C.A.A means...

I installed the Shorter Oxford English dictionary on my iphone and it was been wonderful. A very fast way to look up words...

I need to go back and reread the description of the layout and tunnels of E.T.A. (Page 51 - 52) My mind just couldn't take it in...

And I agree, Page 17 -27 has been the most enjoyable passage so far...


Last edited by donkey rhubarb on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:53 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:20 am 
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donkey rhubarb wrote:
Still have no idea what O.N.A.N.C.A.A means...


Organization of North American Nations Collegiate Athletics Association. It's the new NCAA.


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 Post subject: Re: Page 3 to 63
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:35 am 
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paraplegicNomad wrote:
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.


I think you're right.From Page 3:

"The Dean at left, a lean yellowish man... is a personality-type I've come lately to appreciate, the type who delays need of any response from me by relating my side of the story for me, to me."

I thought it was maybe tongue in cheek at the time, but given the later events, it's a clue to his (maybe) recent inability to speak or communicate.


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