Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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The Inficratic Oath: first, post no spoilers. Limit your I.J. discussion to only those events that take place on or before the page 981 (100%).



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 Post subject: Dennis Gabor
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:37 am 
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Does anyone have any thoughts as to why Hal says Dennis Gabor "may very well have been the Antichrist"? (12) The rest of his rant about Kierkegaard 's influence on Camus, and Hobbes being Rousseau in a "dark mirror" makes sense, but I'm not sure about the Gabor reference. Gabor won the physics Nobel prize for his holographic work. Is it just a comic non sequitur, or is DFW trying to say something about holography and tinkering with the truth and the visible world? Maybe it was Gabor's social analysis: ""The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented. It was man's ability to invent which has made human society what it is."

Or am I just missing something obvious?

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 Post subject: Re: Dennis Gabor
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:14 am 
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The Antichrist, if memory serves, is a being who presents or embodies a false God, specifically one that is in direct opposition to the true God. Hal (possibly as a proxy for DFW himself) clearly takes umbrage with one or more of Gabor's views. Both holography (for the reasons you state) or his statement on man's ability to invent the future (implying possibly that man has control over its own fate) are plausible, but both immediately plummet into the depths of subjectivity (and I find it difficult to discuss these connections without better knowledge of DFW's personal philosophies wrt reality or the fate of humanity).

There's one other thought that I have. Note that what follows is entirely second-hand (or third-hand?) information. It all comes from a miniature bio and analysis of Gabor's work, written by Thomas Edward Allibone (a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project):

http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:NMp ... clnk&gl=us

In his book Inventing the Future, Gabor presents the idea of the Age of Leisure. He notes that society's productivity follows a certain trend, namely that the work we do produces more than the work of those before us (Remember, this was written in the 60's, after the maturation of mass-production and during the birth of automation and the advent of computing). The progression, then, implies a time when minimal work (or the work of a few) is sufficient to provide for the needs of the many. This is the Age of Leisure, when work is essentially done by volunteers who derive more enjoyment from work than from idleness. From the paper linked above:

"Of the Age of Leisure [Gabor] commented that Moses had shown the Promised Land to the people but had then led them around for 40 years in the wilderness until a new generation had grown up, worthy of the Land. Gabor suggested a similar period of 40 years for the education of a generation that will deserve to live in that Age of Leisure."

So if you put a gun to my head (or asked on an internet forum, same difference) and made me guess, I would - um, immediately be wary of spoilers, I guess. But there is a theme in the book that develops later and seems to tangentially support the idea that DFW might have taken umbrage with some of the implications of the above paragraph. More notably, here is a well-known-but-not-legendary philosophical tract from a luminary in a field Himself is known to have specialized in. It fits within character to believe Hal would have found - and then absorbed - Inventing the Future at some point in his childhood.


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 Post subject: Re: Dennis Gabor
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:32 pm 
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Location: Norwalk, CT
Great question and great answer, there forums are nice. I wish I had them for every challenfing book I've read. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Dennis Gabor
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:38 pm 
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Location: North Dakota
Gabor's work with holography is definately significant and something to keep in mind while reading IJ. The connection will become more apparent later. The use of the term "Antichrist" is interesting because DFW nicknamed one of his characters "the Antichrist" in his first novel, the Broom of the System. IJ is sometimes considered a refined and expanded version of that novel (which also involves a star football kicker among other familiar characters).


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 Post subject: Re: Dennis Gabor
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:50 am 
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DFW is trying to say something about holography and tinkering with the truth and the visible world, but it's too early for you to know more than that.

Keep reading. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Dennis Gabor
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:24 am
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Thanks for the thoughtful comments on this. There are definitely more and more references to holography popping into the story, especially in infamous footnote 24. I look forward to seeing this thread develop throughout the story.

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