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: 30 April YDAU, Marathe, Steeply: Double, Triple, Quadruple
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:37 am 
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ontoursecretly: Go to the discussion that includes spoilers, and I'll try to answer your questions.


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 Post subject: Re: 30 April YDAU, Marathe, Steeply: Double, Triple, Quadruple
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:15 pm 
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Can I remind everyone that answering questions that are later answered in the book clearly fits under SPOILERS i.e. what O.N.A. N. stands for. Please be considerate of this.


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 Post subject: Re: 30 April YDAU, Marathe, Steeply: Double, Triple, Quadruple
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:20 pm 
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RE; O.N.A.N. - spoiler? Not intended - just a biblical reference. Sorry.


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 Post subject: Re: 30 April YDAU, Marathe, Steeply: Double, Triple, Quadruple
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:58 pm 
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I'm the one who asked. I thought it had been mentioned before and I'd not caught it. Anyway, by the time it was posted, the cat was out of the bag with endnote 304, and if anyone tries to tell me endnote 304 is off-limits for discussion due to spoiler rules I will personally send them Polaroids of terrible things happening to their toothbrushes.

I mean that in a gentle, joking way of course.


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 Post subject: Re: 30 April YDAU, Marathe, Steeply: Double, Triple, Quadruple
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:59 am 
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RroseSelavy wrote:
My quick question about this: how do you pronounce 'Marathe'? As if it's French?
But I wonder if the echo of "Marat" is also in there, given the Quebec/French-language connection. (Marat being the French Revolutionary murdered in the bathtub). Could be an ironic echo.

Maybe I'm finally overreaching here. but DFW seems to invite us to.


The same thought occurred to me, as well as the same doubt. Then I remembered the entry for J. Incandenza's 'The Film Adaptation of Peter Weiss's "The Persecution of Marat as Perfomed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade"' in endnote 24.

So, I think Marathe is an intentional reference to Marat. "Marat, he."


Last edited by Aerodynamics on Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 April YDAU, Marathe, Steeply: Double, Triple, Quadruple
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:36 pm 
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Can someone tell me what the hell is going on here?

From Elegant Complexity:
Fortier [Marathe's superior] believes that Marathe is pretending to betray the A.F.R. to Steeply (that he is pretending to be a “double agent” that is betraying the A.F.R. and so therefore a “triple agent”, cf. n. 40) in order to secure medical care for his wife (who does indeed need care). However, Marathe is only pretending to pretend, and is actually betraying the A.F.R. to Steeply (and is therefore a “quadruple agent”), which is why meetings between Steeply and Marathe are conducted in English, even though “Steeply’s Quebecois was better than Marathe’s English” (note the skewed syntax of the narrator for Marathe in this section).


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 Post subject: Re: 30 April YDAU, Marathe, Steeply: Double, Triple, Quadruple
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:20 pm 
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one of those things I always have to over-explicitely map out for myself to make sense of. So forgive if basics are overly elementary:

(single) agent: traditional spy for one's country/organization. Presumably undercover or with good cover story.

double agent: PRETENDS to spy for OWN country. ACTUAL loyalty is the FOREIGN group/country.

triple agent: PRETENDS to be a double agent, so PRETENDS to have loyalty to foreign country. ACTUAL loyalty is to the HOME group/country.*

quadruple agent: PRETENDS to be a triple agent, ACTUAL loyalty is to the FOREIGN group/country.

But so how does this affect Marathe in this passage? Well, as a legless, Quebecois-accented man he presumably CAN'T easily be a "single agent," so the only way to be a spy/go undercover for his HOME group/country is as a triple agent. But why be a quadruple agent? Presumably, from what we've seen of Marathe, his ideology is still in line with the AFR, so it all has to do with the wife: He must believe that only by truly betraying the AFR can he guarantee the care for his wife. I take the language thing to be sort of an indication of the resulting power dynamic: Since M. feels he must acknowledge Steeply is his "true" boss as a quadruple agent, Steeply's language of choice wins the day.

*Actually, it potentially gets more complicated after double agent, because a triple+ agent has layers of possible pretending to both sides.
But, since there are really only two "ultimate" loyalty positions (HOME/FOREIGN), you could argue that everything past single/double is more metafictional fun than an actual status to be taken seriously in espionage. At which point, my mind starts to hear the footnote in the voice of Wallace Shawn** explaining which cup has the the poison in it. "Incontheivable!"

**who, in his other career as a writer, resides with DFW in the top rank of my personal pantheon of absolute all-time favorites. I wonder what it is about the name "Wallace".


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 Post subject: Re: 30 April YDAU, Marathe, Steeply: Double, Triple, Quadruple
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:20 pm 
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I drew a little diagram to make sense of it all, with parties A, B, and C, and little arrows, and status titles 'B betrays A' or 'B betrays C' or 'A thinks B will betray C' etc. etc. etc. It helped a little, and I think I've got it now.

Also, I think that Marathe expects to be found out, and killed (see: his rumination on OUS director's willingness to "die twice" for love).


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