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: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:36 am 
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deafgeek wrote:
Thanks, levingard. I completely missed that one this re-read. Of course, now I remember what the initials stand for, but I don't think we've seen it in the past 105 pages yet. I'll just add it to my personal notes for now, unless asked.


The
"AUTUMN — YEAR OF DAIRY PRODUCTS FROM THE AMERICAN HEARTLAND" is on page 55, which is withing spoiler limits. See the Weekly Summary : http://infinitesummer.org/archives/413
No?

I find many aspects of that chapter confusing, sequence-wise, but I guess that's ok. Anyone else puzzled?

(I remember studying the filmography for time line clues when it came along.)


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:03 pm 
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According to a Wikipedia article on Don DeLillo, DFW cites DeLillo as an influence. DeLillo makes use of consumer product names in his fiction to explore capitalism's stranglehold on modern society and relationships. For instance, in White Noise there's a scene where the main character's child is talking in her sleep and the father thinks he hears something mystical in the words "Toyota Celica," which she's mumbling. There are televisions speaking throughout; Delillo inserts the messages into a scene without the fragment of speech making any sense in context as a device to show that television in general and advertising in particular are always intruding into consciousness and our attempts at meaning-making. When you read DFW, you can see he's picked up some of the themes from DeLillo in IJ.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:28 pm 
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ruinedmap wrote:
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.


Yep, it reminded me of the first time I saw a football (that'd be "soccer" to most of you, I imagine) ground named after one of the club's sponsors, rather than the usual (Vicarage Road, County Ground, Selhurst Park, etc) type of names. That must have been about 15 years ago, and sponsorship was already pretty rife in sport, but it was a real "is nothing sacred?" moment. Living in a world of subsidized time would feel pretty much the same, I imagine.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:00 am 
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I had a thought yesterday:
Not that Wallace seems to dwell too much on extra-North American geopolitics in the book, but let's just presume that maybe the rest of the world (i.e. non-ONAN) isn't running on subsidized time (or at least slips back and forth with ease). So maybe the book's own incessant use of S.T. is a sort of clue to the narration being locked within that world-view/framework?
--Or maybe just the major European powers like blew up or something and ONAN more or less rules the world and imposes S.T. on everyone?


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 12:28 pm 
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bluestocking wrote:
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.

While I agree that the concept of "TIME" itself does have a certain arbitrariness to it, especially if you consider that time doesn't move at the same rate everywhere (see the Theory of Relativity), the reason why calling our current orbit around the sun "2009" isn't arbitrary in the same way that "Year of Glad" is arbitrary is that everyone knows that "2009" is preceded by "2008" and succeeded by "2010". True, any such system must necessarily be anchored to an equally arbitrary theoretical Year 0 (in our case the birth of Christ), but, importantly, it allows us to orient ourselves within a sequence of events as well as the relationship of that sequence back to a single Big Event. Which event we choose to relate back to says a great deal about us and our society.

Much of our sense of direction and identity are lost as soon as that system is abandoned. In IJ we are unable to immediately tell, for example, whether the "Year of the Perdue Wonderchicken" came before or after the "Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland" (it came before), and I think DFW has so far been largely successful in capturing that disorientation and dislocation with the past. The fragmented narrative structure also reinforces this feeling. Although I may have a different perspective on the matter by the end of the novel, I believe the point he's trying to make is that our all-consuming drive for ever greater amounts of wealth and material things has left us emotionally/spiritually/morally/etc. adrift. In short, there is -- there has to be -- more to life than mere material objects. I sense that the novel is building up a stronger connection between these ideas and the actions of the novel's many depressed and addicted characters in order to drive the point home.

Having read at a faster pace than the official IS reading schedule (currently at page 291), I have many more points that I would like to make on the subject of Subsidized Time, plus a few questions, but will wait until everyone else is caught up before posting them.

Cheers,


Todeswalzer.

_________________
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Started: 26 June 2009 | Finished: 25 July 2009


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:30 pm 
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Todeswalzer wrote:
(...) True, any such system must necessarily be anchored to an equally arbitrary theoretical Year 0 (in our case the birth of Christ), but, importantly, it allows us to orient ourselves within a sequence of events as well as the relationship of that sequence back to a single Big Event. Which event we choose to relate back to says a great deal about us and our society.(...)Todeswalzer.


This reminds me of William S. Burroughs and his concept that - in order to really change a social system - one should also change the calendar, or something along those lines. I looked it up, and I found "1) PROCLAIM A NEW ERA AND SET UP A NEW CALENDAR" (upper case in the original text), the first of the "five steps" that are necessary in order to "achieve independence from alien domination and consolidate revolutionary gains" in the novel on cassettes "The Revised Boy Scout Manual"* which also contains the passage:

"Consider how present day revolutionaries are being Che Guevara'd back into the nineteenth century to repeat the mistakes of Garibaldi and Bolivar. Bolivar liberated a large section of South America from Spain. He left intact the Christian calendar, the Spanish language, the Catholic church, the Spanish bureaucracy. He left Spanish families holding the wealth and the land."

Then it mentions the "familiar pattern: ''the oppressed love the oppressors and cannot wait to follow their example''" (italic in the original text) etc., and it all gets stranger and stranger, but that's the only quote I found on the subject:)

I know it's not the same thing, but illustrates the importance of a calendar for a social system.

*from an excerpt of "The Revised Boy Scout Manual" (described as "a novel in the form of three one-hour cassettes", the excerpt being from the cassette #1, copyright William S. Burroughs 1970) published in RE/SEARCH #4/5, "A Special Book Issue: William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Throbbing Gristle", 1982, p. 5


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:08 pm 
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Todeswalzer wrote:
bluestocking wrote:
I believe the point he's trying to make is that our all-consuming drive for ever greater amounts of wealth and material things has left us emotionally/spiritually/morally/etc. adrift. In short, there is -- there has to be -- more to life than mere material objects. I sense that the novel is building up a stronger connection between these ideas and the actions of the novel's many depressed and addicted characters in order to drive the point home.


I tend to agree with you about the adriftness, though I'm not sure on what has sent IJ adrift. Is it the consuming drive, or is it the failure of IJ's society to pay attention to what they're doing, to consider the consequences. I make this distinction because it's one thing to drunkenly drive into the ditch and quite another to fall asleep at the wheel trying to make it home in time for the holidays. Intentions may matter in IJ, even if the consequences appear to be the same.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:36 am 
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Todeswalzer wrote:
I have many more points that I would like to make on the subject of Subsidized Time, plus a few questions, but will wait until everyone else is caught up before posting them.


To follow up on my previous post, one of my few disappointments with the novel thus far (I'm currently on p.531) was coming across the chronology of Years of X on p.223, because, as the foregoing discussion has shown, it's probably possible to assemble the chronology without DFW having spoon-fed it to us. Indeed, until that point the novel seemed to be just begging the reader to do so; and I found that there was something intriguing about the detective-work involved in piecing together an artifact that had apparently been blown into dozens of fragments.

Does anyone have any insights on (1) Why the chronology is included at all? and (2) Why is it included in that particular place in the novel?


Todeswalzer.

_________________
First-Time Reader
Started: 26 June 2009 | Finished: 25 July 2009


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:45 am 
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Quote:
Does anyone have any insights on (1) Why the chronology is included at all? and (2) Why is it included in that particular place in the novel?

It appears, if I remember correctly, very shortly after he's revealed the last clue enabling the reader to assemle the chronology him/herself. I took it as Wallace's "kertwang" at the reader. Kind of like some of the endnotes, which when you get there you wonder why you had to flip over just for that. Good natured, part of the "fun"...making the book less of a passive entertainment, and more of an interaction.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sponsored-Year Concept
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:48 am 
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rasnider wrote:
I had a thought yesterday:
Not that Wallace seems to dwell too much on extra-North American geopolitics in the book, but let's just presume that maybe the rest of the world (i.e. non-ONAN) isn't running on subsidized time (or at least slips back and forth with ease). So maybe the book's own incessant use of S.T. is a sort of clue to the narration being locked within that world-view/framework?
--Or maybe just the major European powers like blew up or something and ONAN more or less rules the world and imposes S.T. on everyone?

On page 33 we have:
Quote:
Thursday, 2 April in the North American Y.D.A.U. The legation finds the promotional subsidy of the North American calender hilariously vulgar.

so it seems like just an O.N.A.N. thing.


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