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: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:43 am 
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His representaions of Marathe's English are cliched and unbearable to read as well. I hope it is intentional because these two dialect sections have detracted from my enjoyment of the book so far.


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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:19 pm 
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It sounds like some people were bothered by more than just the three quoted words in this thread's title, but I thought I'd make this suggestion anyway:

As anybody who's familiar with ebonics knows(and I might as well add here that I think the Wardine dialect is just plain-old-ebonics-inflected), the word "crying" is pronounced "crine," more or less. You get somebody talking fast, excited, as Clenette could certainly be doing, and that last phoneme gets elided almost completely. Read the section out loud--it's more accurate than it looks on the page. I don't think I can explain a phrase like "big stripes of cut" though. That sounds a little more country than urban ebonics.


And Hobbes--
Marathe's speech is a pretty a broad caricature. There's room for quibbling with the Wardine stuff, but Marathe and Steeply are both supposed to be comic, in their own ways, it seems to me.


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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:24 pm 
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Agreed, Marathe's stereotypical French "How do you say?"-esque English accent/diction is intentionally overwrought, I think. I mean, think about it here, what is the scene Wallace has set for Marathe and Steeply's encounter? A guy in a wheelchair and a guy in drag, arguing over the contentious political and national issues of the day on top of a really steep and rocky Arizonian hill (might I add it's also comically not too clear how either of them got to the top of said hill given their respective choices for locomotion, especially in Marathe's case). Feral hamsters, etc.

I think it's more of a matter of whether or not you find this sort of thing funny, which is fairly subjective. I've heard other people talk about how they found the Marathe-Steeply scenes unfunny, and it detracted from the novel for them. However, those people also never finished the novel, and used the Wardine sections or the Marathe-Steeply sections, which are, in the scope of the entire novel, relatively very brief, as reasons to throw in the towel. Given that this 1000 page novel, one would hope that we could forgive Wallace for some occasional moments of non-brilliance, but also we should probably give him the benefit of the doubt and hope these sections that currently bother us will begin to reconcile themselves as the novel progresses.

Again, I would urge us to not make the mistake, going back to the Wardine sections and ignoring Marathe, of presuming Wallace was not aware of how strained or off-putting the language is in the Wardine sections. IJ is written in such a way that I tend to feel as if Wallace was anticipating most of my questions as a reader before I could ask them, and this is one of the few sections where answers are not as forthcoming.

I keep wanting to go back to the fact that this section is the only section in the novel so far where we "lose" our normal narrator and shift into the first person.

(begin rambling) I'm going to get real wild card here, but to hell with it: Many of you may recall that Wallace himself spent some time living in a halfway house, and found himself fascinated by the poor and destitute addicts around him - those who didn't land there, like he did, from a place of relative affluence, much less from Wallace's world of high-brow academia and literature. The New Yorker article written shortly after his death about Wallace spoke about Wallace's fascination with the people there, and how, to paraphrase, he felt like they dealt with life's problems much better in their simplicity. It's sort of implied, in that, that Wallace recognized his own distance from those people socio-economically and intellectually, and while he was fascinated by them, he surely also recognized that he could never quite be as they were or understand their worldview. There's something in the shift of narration IJ adopts for the Wardine section that reflects that for me, or at least it's what it made me think of - it's almost as if the author loses his ability to omnisciently narrate the events of the novel when he gets too far removed from the types of people he can even distantly relate to. The result is a confused, patently "bad" (read: "incorrect") attempt at replicating the vernacular of someone like the Wardine section's narrator. If IJ is partially about our becoming so distracted by our attempts at entertaining ourselves and endlessly chasing the carrot at the end of the stick, so to speak, that subsequently we lose our ability to truly connect with one another, maybe these first person sections are Wallace's way of demonstrating how he, too, is guilty of that. As an author, he's inadequate, having come from his own set of circumstances, to accurately re-create the language of someone like Wardine's narrator, to the point that he loses his own narrative voice temporarily. Still, he tries his damndest, and as the quote from the front page of Infinite Summer itself I mentioned in my last post points out, if we pay attention to what the characters are doing in that section, it's still quite affecting and of importance. There's a universality to our human experience, even if our ability to communicate that to one another or share in it in the same way is marred by our own individual pursuits. (end rambling)


Last edited by internethandle on Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:42 pm 
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No spoiler here, but Spoiler! "the narrator of this passage is Clenette, who, if I remember right, turns up later in the novel as an inpatient at the Ennet House or maybe as a minor street-person character. She is black.

This section is set in the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar, so it's six or seven years in the "past." Maybe DFW is just trying to show how Clenette ended up the way she did."

What bothers me about DFW's attempt at Black English is that it's so inaccurate--no speaker of any dialect of Black English that I know of would say something like "Wardine be cry." One of the joys of IJ is DFW's linguistic virtuosity, but he's hit a real clunker here.


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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:47 pm 
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Well, that is a spoiler, isn't it? And made worse by the fact that you claimed it was not in the first sentence.

Please, ifyou have read the book already please consider not posting in the daily discussion forums, even the, "wait until later" comments are more information than some of us would like.

Thanks, sorry to be a pain.


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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:20 pm 
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Amen, Hobbs!


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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:46 pm 
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Jeeez, sorry!

To me, "spoiler" means giving something away, spoiling a joke, ruining the surprise, pooping the party. The fact that Clenette turns up later (and I might be wrong) as a very minor character doesn't, IMHO, "spoil" anything.

But I won't do it again.


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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:09 am 
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To me, a spoiler is anything that "spoils" the experience of discovering the book for yourself. This includes all information, essential or non-essential.


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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:58 am 
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From the forum rules, at the top of the page: "Limit your I.J. discussion to only those events that take place on or before the page . . ."

Seems pretty clear to me.

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 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:06 am 
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internethandle wrote:
Given that this 1000 page novel, one would hope that we could forgive Wallace for some occasional moments of non-brilliance, but also we should probably give him the benefit of the doubt and hope these sections that currently bother us will begin to reconcile themselves as the novel progresses.


I think this is essential. There are going to be things--and, if your reading tastes tend toward the 19th century at all, especially things with respect to race--that will bother you when reading any text. You have to trust the author if you're going to make it through any challenging novel. And you have to be willing, especially in an overtly experimental novel, to put up with some experiments that just don't work. That's the nature of experiment--a lot of them fail.

And I guess I'm entirely lowbrow, because I find the Marathe/Steeply stuff funny as hell.

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