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: Opening Paragraph and other language play
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:04 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:43 pm
Posts: 11
This most likely counts as minutiae but that's half the fun of the novel. In the opening paragraph we meet Uncle Charles and Mr. deLint. Combine those names and you have Charles de Lint, the Canadian fantasy writer. I ignored it at first but Canada has such a strong presence in the novel.
In the first section on Gately, he kills a Canadian Quebecois referrred to as the right hand of the most infamous O.N.A.N. anti-organizer. Onan in the Bible was the character credited with masturbation. The right hand of ONAN is a humorous play with the language.

 Post subject: Re: Opening Paragraph and other language play
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:03 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:39 pm
Posts: 8
Ooh, I was going to create a thread that had to do with the opening, because of course it is one of the sections where a novelist like DFW would craft the language even more carefully, and pay even more attention to detail, than usual, which is saying a lot.

I noticed a lot of A's, first of all: Administration, Arizona (the abbreviation of which, AZ, might have something to do with beginnings and endings), Admissions, Academic/Athletic Affairs.

Also, spiders and webs-- a motif which I'm sure will also be covered in the bug forums but what the hey I'll post this here-- are prominent in the opening scene. "Three faces have resolved into place... across a polished pine conference table shiny with the spidered light of an Arizona noon" (3). Later, we see, "C.T. has crossed his arms casually; their triceps' flesh is webbed with the mottle in the air-conditioned sunlight" (5). Opressive light, especially that passing from above into a cooler, insular location, seems to be a property of these descriptions, which echoes the cockroaches-in-glass-jars imagery and even Hal's nightmare playing inside the giant Lung.

Hal, in this first scene, seems trapped: in the first sentence he describes himself as "surrounded by heads and bodies" (3). Is it a coincidence that there are eight people in the room (the number of legs and, most commonly, eyes, on a spider)? Who knows. The "number eight" conversation is going on in the forum "Erdedy and the bug", and I think if you combine the elements of spiders and eight and infinity and feeling trapped that there is something there (Himself is also depicted of being afraid of spiders). But back on topic, Hal does feel trapped, and his outburst later appears as a "goat, drowning in something viscous" (14), a struggle against submersion or entrapment, in this interview.

DFW is using this opening section to introduce these images or motifs to his audience, from what I can tell.

 Post subject: Re: Opening Paragraph and other language play
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:45 am 

Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:24 am
Posts: 20
I think DFW's language play in this opening section is brilliant. It reminded me of Nabokov and the opening to Lolita. Nabokov was a master of alliteration and making the reader physically feel words in their mouth "the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." DFW doesn't alliterate so excessively, but his wordplay draws you in right from the first page nonetheless.


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