Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
It is currently Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:50 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Forum rules


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%).



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 39 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:40 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:22 am
Posts: 14
Location: Norwalk, CT
Intersting take, Kevdude, but wouldn't that be more evident in speakers who attempt to learn a second language academically rather than emulating other peoples speech? Is English Clenette's second language?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:18 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:21 pm
Posts: 63
Location: Fresyes, CA
What does anyone think of the writing style (eg the dialect or idiolect used by the narrator) in the Dopesick Scene (aka what I now see is being referred to as the yrstruly and poor tony section) from pgs 128-135, compared to the Wardine section, in terms of authenticity?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:29 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:59 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Maine, USA
I think the yrstruly section was a bit more realistic as far as dialect goes (there were some true-to-life slang terms used, e.g. "having a beef with someone"), but still wasn't entirely comparable to any actual dialects I've encountered. And I think overall, it was a lot easier to relate to than the Wardine section (although that might be because --and one poster already drew this connection in the other thread-- I'm a big, big fan of The Wire).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:52 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:57 pm
Posts: 25
Location: Los Angeles
I think it's really more the other way around. How many totally destitute completely uneducated black people have you met? This rendering of dialect, to me, sounded very like the homeless guys who lived near us in downtown Los Angeles in the 1990s. No really, I am serious. Like so-poor-there-is-no-TV poor. It's actually correct, I think, this dialect, so it is really bizarre to see so much complaining about it--he didn't mean for this person to sound like Oprah Winfrey. I think we're so so not aware of the real differences, here.

??

_________________
------------------------
The dorks are saving the nation, and this book proves it. Dorkismo: the Macho of the Dork


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:04 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:57 pm
Posts: 25
Location: Los Angeles
internethandle wrote:
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)


Also, I thought that internethandle's take on this was spot-on.

_________________
------------------------
The dorks are saving the nation, and this book proves it. Dorkismo: the Macho of the Dork


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:35 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:31 pm
Posts: 3
I don’t know sheet about bedspreads and my credentials include failing miserably on just about every level of my life (most notably, I might add, as a teacher of Standard American English [SAE], after which stint I’ve been pretty much banned from the public educational system in Virginia) and then I also recognize that this long-ass-winded pedantic sounding linguistic narrative will likely come off sounding like what my kick ass black students from the ghetto used to call bullshit, but nonethe-happy-less the five paragraphs starting on p.37 apparently bother some folks in the way the dialect seems to flirt in weird ways with a kind of textbook mixture of AAE, Bayou Creole, and some sort of voice from a culture that is entirely oral.** Here’s a couple more useless sentences to throw into the blender already whirrrring or toss to the compost as you see fit:

(1) It may be safe to say Clenette does not communicate from a typographic consciousness. It may be safe to say she doesn’t live in a world surrounded by printed words. She’s an oral speaker with an oral consciousness. It may even be safe to say that she’s never seen a printed word (and if you say she’s probably been to school I might say yeah, so?) which among other things means—if you append a nickel’s worth of sense to Walter Ong—that she does not have quite the same sense of past-present-future that you and I have living here, as we do, in the literary/typographic world. I mean to say the same sense that you and I have living in our everyday typographic worlds outside the world of Infinite Jest wherein time is an absolute oddity. Actually, time is such an oddity in IJ it’s almost shaping up to be one of those LIKE major thematic issues of the Tome that probably ought to be considered alongside or perhaps through the oral-temporal world of, say, Clenette.

AND BUT SO Clenette seems to exist almost entirely in the present tense, as exhibited by almost every verb she utters, which gives the frantic typographic reader the sense that everything is happening at once in a kind of misspoken dialect.

Of course there is some rudimentary movement through time in a sort of bare verb way, but these movements are awkward and ambiguous because, it may be safe to say, Clenette’s oral underpinnings simply don’t allow for sophisticated movement through time. So she is left to construct, say, future progressive actions between Reg and RT using bare, present tense verbs (with liberal help from the inflected GO).

(2) So anyway. There's that. It may be safe to say that what causes more problems, after the basics of dropping any verbs that can be contracted and hanging out in the eternal present, for writers/speakers of SAE attempting to, say, write in some weird variation of AAE, or perhaps read a kick ass ivory tower honky writing in some kick ass variation of AAE, is what is called in linguistic swamps the “habitual be.” In SAE if I write the sentence, Joe is sad, the sentence can be interpreted to mean Joe is sad at the moment or Joe is generally sad. Joe is sad is, habitually speaking, ambiguous. I can make this distinction less ambiguous in SAE only by lexical means. By adding words. So: Joe is generally sad or Joe is always sad will clarify the sense, in SAE, from Joe is sad right now. In AAE this distinction is often made syntactically with the uninflected BE referring to habitual action. (Not always, which makes it even slipperier.) So when I write Joe be happy, I might say in SAE that Joe is always happy. If I write Wardine be cry, there may be the sense in SAE that Wardine is always crying, almost like she is living (forever in this eternal present tense, perhaps, to Clenette, of course) in a state of cry. Which to me is a kind of magical turn of phrase, a lexical prism, as it were, possible only through Clenette.

So neverthemindless I love the rhythm and feel and energy of this section. But I’m also the kind of person who lives in a seedy section of town in an old house that leans and leaks in the rain with the timeless words of Calvin, the first-grade philosopher, taped below my screen: “Verbing weirds language.”

-------
** By AAE here, I mean, of course, African American English, referring to a group of closely related dialects AKA African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Black English (BE), Inner City English (ICE), and Ebonics. I know I’m beating a dead horse here but these dialects of North American English are spoken by large numbers of African Americans who live in urban areas euphemistically called the inner city and traditionally referred to as ghettos. There are many many sub-dialects within the dialects. And despite the care that we ought probably give if and when identifying someone’s race upon hearing that unseen someone speak, I don’t think TransistorRhythm is off base in inferring that the speaker of DFW’s p.37’s AAE/creole/oral mix is black. She probably is.


Last edited by jfs on Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 4:21 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:12 pm
Posts: 11
Quote:
(...)(1) It may be safe to say Clenette does not communicate from a typographic consciousness. It may be safe to say she doesn’t live in a world surrounded by printed words. She’s an oral speaker with an oral consciousness. "


I have not liked the way the author's approaches to characters and chapters have varied so far. Hal is described with something which combines elegance, irony, depth, understanding, tenderness, detail and clarity. The Clenette/Wardine section, for example, has not appeared to be as complex and multi layered and I find that unjust.

Everyone has their speech patterns, irrational and rational, oral and more formal aspects to them, etc. Characters' complexity should be respected.

Or one can use a more grotesque method, but then one should maybe use it on all characters.

Or one can use it on some and not all, but if she or he uses the posh-complex-well-combined style for the posh intellectual protagonist and the grotesque style for some characters who would generally be considered to belong to a "minority" and/or be less "fortunate", well, I have personally found it sort of disappointing, from an author with such acclaim, ambition, personal world view, potential etc.

I like the idea of experimenting with language forms, but only if it reveals some aspects of life we would not expect. Not if it treats a certain type of character and context in detail and in great richness of dimensions, and others in a way which is sort of a caricature and based on a much lesser variety of elements.

I'm also reading "Girl with Curious Hair" and have been wondering if David Foster Wallace was so much in the spotlight he had more trouble maturing slowly as a writer and taking in the complexity of the world we live in bit by bit, feeling instead he has to write on everything all at once because it was expected of him.

Of course, these are some early impressions and I might still see it in a different light later on.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:25 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:38 pm
Posts: 22
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Olja: I think your early impressions on this might change... I'm still working my way through of course, but I am a little ahead of the spoiler-line, and, well not spoiling here or anything, I keep thinking to these questions of "who is the narrator right now" and "why is this written this way?" etc. etc.
I don't think it's totally fair to consider the "posh/complex" standard narrator as any less a caricature than the Wardine or yrstruly sections. There are bits and pieces pretty grotesque about the other narration-styles too--though yeah, DFW and probably Us (i.e. the standard IS participant) identify more closely with them than with the more exaggeratedly "other" (i.e. for the standard literary fiction reader and IS participant) styles. I mean, Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts anyone?

Jfs: Thanks for this post, interesting analysis.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: "Wardine be cry."
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:05 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:13 am
Posts: 6
troybob wrote:
Actually, we do not know that the manner of Clenette's speech/writing is not her own intentional affectation.

This is a fair point that has not received enough attention in this thread. It often seems to be the case that those speaking African American dialects do so at least partly of their own volition, and that regional or dialectical speech patterns may be exaggerated by the individual for effect.
Combine that with the fact of Clenette's vague background and the futuristic setting of the novel, and I think that the "Wardine section" reads not as a caricature, but as an approximation of how one particular character in one particular time might speak.

_________________
Not all who wander are lost. --JRR Tolkein

I'm vlogging IS at: www.youtube.com/Cossette729


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 39 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Translated by Maël Soucaze © 2009 phpBB.fr