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: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:46 pm 
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I've really been enjoying the forum interpretations of the first 50 or so pages so far. I'm reading IJ for the first time and enjoying it immensely, at both character/plot and linguistic levels (such as the great "shamen" as plural for "shaman" --funny).

I'm taking the risk of starting a thread on this topic although not having read too far I don't know how important it will be...but what do you make of the renaming of the years according to sponsorship by various products?

On the one hand, it's a funny po-mo/late-capitalist kind of joke--like broadcasting commercials onto the moon or something--to have years named after commodities.

But why are the years important enough that they provide the titles for the sections/chapters, at least so far?

One effect is that replacing numerals with names for the years means that we can't tell when the years (and thus presumably, the chapters set in those years) stand chronologically, in relation to each other: we don't know if the Year of the Depends Adult Diaper comes before or after the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar, and how much later or earlier (sorry don't have the book in front of me and can't remember the exact names for the years).

I will admit that I cheated a bit and have one spoiler bit of info which i found out by reading ahead in the endnotes--for those who've read it, just think of the filmography. Reading that made me think that the mystery of the year-names is just that, a mystery to which we'll be given clues little by little.

Any other ideas?


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:30 pm 
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From what I was told, in the future companies can purchase the right to that year, so instead of 2009 it could be The Year Of Preparation H. It provides a time line, you just have to figure out what that time line is.

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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:37 pm 
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it also seems to make a comment on how selling our time makes us lose our place. or lose our reference point.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:48 pm 
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RroseSelavy wrote:
On the one hand, it's a funny po-mo/late-capitalist kind of joke--like broadcasting commercials onto the moon or something--to have years named after commodities.


I think the pomo cynical sneering with which DFW encourages us to view subsidized time points to something DFW is trying to convey about the society and culture he's dissecting (namely, uh, ours). As was pointed out above, subsidizing years makes it difficult for us to chronologically place each time period - which is, in fact, the entire purpose of years to begin with.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:40 pm 
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paraplegicNomad wrote:
As was pointed out above, subsidizing years makes it difficult for us to chronologically place each time period - which is, in fact, the entire purpose of years to begin with.


I'm reminded of a comment from, of all things, the dystopian society in the comic Transmetropolitan. In it, the protagonist Spider Jerusalem makes mention of the fact that since nobody is quite sure what year it is anymore, they have to keep track of things by how much long ago something happened. It lends to the idea of both the concept of everything in that (and IJ's) world that without a frame of reference, we lose something in ourselves.

This is a reread for me, but I'm trying to read things "clean" (which is easier, since it's been so long since I've read the book), and to help things, I actually have been making notes as far as the order of years. Things such as Hal being 18 in the Year of Glad, and almost 13 in the Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad. So from there, I just leave 5 blank lines between the two in my notebook. It's taking a lot of effort to resist the urge to go ahead and look it up in one of the guides, though.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:50 pm 
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Quote:
I actually have been making notes as far as the order of years. Things such as Hal being 18 in the Year of Glad, and almost 13 in the Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad. So from there, I just leave 5 blank lines between the two in my notebook.


Great idea, deafgeek! That is one way to situate the years in relation to each other, until more info comes in.

And yes, I agree with everyone who says that the years are sponsored by companies who buy rights to them, and also that one effect is to make time more difficult to order/grasp for those living in that/this society. But I figured that there's more to it than that, if only because of the chapter titles .


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:30 pm 
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I think we ought to consider why certain companies were chosen by DFW. Did he label each year to give us clues/convey an additional layer of meaning? I have my own thoughts on this but I can't share them now given that we're only on page 52. I'd just like to open this line of debate up.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:15 pm 
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Part of it is that no matter what you call time, how you divide it up or name it, is all very arbitrary. Why is "2009" less arbitrary than "Year of Glad"? The progress of it is just as inevitable, either way.

We're being asked I think to consider how we are marking the passage of time, whether it's really possible to mark it in a meaningful way and also, how kind of shallow and pathetic our little concerns are compared to the inexorable pressure of time ... I want to say more but can't spoil for those who are reading for the first time. But I think it is fair to say that it's important to try to keep track of the details in this book, if you can, and are so inclined. You will have more fun.

Though it's possible and more than possible to enjoy the book just by "letting it wash over you."

Best to all,

Maria.

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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:17 pm 
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At first it reminded me of sports sponsorships. There is the seriousness of the competition or event, and then there's the quotidian household product. It kind of does the same thing to the years.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:56 pm 
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Quote:
deafgeek wrote: "Things such as Hal being 18 in the Year of Glad, and almost 13 in the Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad."


Is Hal almost 13 on 1 April - Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad? The "professional conversationalist" says his (Hal's) dad listed him as fourteen but Hal says, "I'll be eleven in June." Does the fact that it's April Fool's Day matter? Or that Hal starts to suspect the P.C. is actually his dad? Page 31: "Is this April Fools, Dad, or do I need to call the Moms and C.T.?"

I marked a bunch of stuff in the "professional conversationalist" passage.

Camasal


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