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: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:57 pm 
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This is my first post in the forums and I'm impressed with everyone's willingness to tackle this thing. A lot of discussion so far is attempting to piece things together (naturally) but I wanted to start a thread about sentences or passages that seem to stand out as thematically essential. For me, it's possibly a passage on pp. 52 (in my edition, anyway), which occurs during a section on Hal and tennis but expands the idea to a much larger scope:
"Some persons can give themselves away to an ambitious pursuit and have that be all the giving-themselves-away-to-something they need to do...American experience seems to suggest people are virtually unlimited in their need to give themselves away, on various levels. Some just prefer to do it in secret."

Much of the book seems to deal with the need to escape (to give oneself away) and we're seeing that idea play out in the worlds of sports, drugs (of all sorts), and of course the entertainment cartridges (which seem to have replaced TV altogether?). Are any of these means working? And I'm also curious simply about people's favorite sentences. What makes you marvel at the writing or laugh? So far I like the novel most not for its "postmodern" shenanigans but when it allows us to relax and connect on a human level (such as the very moving Kate Gombert section or the description of Mildred Bonk: "She was the kind of fatally pretty and nubile wraithlike figure who glides through the sweaty junior-high corridors of every nocturnal emmiter's dreamscape." (38-9)


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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:00 pm 
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I absolutely loved the Mildred Bonk description, among others.

Some of Endnote 24's films were delightful, especially The Joke.

I won't post it all here, but page 103, Hal's thoughts on the defecatory posture was beautiful for someone who loves discussing the particularities of taking a shit. The passage opens with:
Quote:
Something humble, placid even, about inert feet under stall doors. The defecatory posture is an accepting posture, it occurs to him. Head down, elbows on knees, the fingers laced together between the knees. Some hunched timeless millennial type of waiting, almost religious.


Just one of many passages I've enjoyed since beginning IJ.


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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:18 pm 
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Location: minneapolis
How about a favorite turn of phrase/fragment? I admire:

Quote:
dipsomaniacal tragedian ... (p. 63)


and

Quote:
this diagnate infinity of infinities of choice and execution, mathematically uncontrolled but humanly contained...


Mostly b/c they're purty, nothing else ...


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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:51 pm 
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Location: Mansfield, MA
Goodness, anytime the novel starts on the need for human connection, I get all teary-eyed. After all, so much of this book is about the consequences of NOT connecting, of isolating oneself, of hiding away in a cage, of not being able to communicate with others, of making "things" more important than "people".

An example from p.99 in the Locker Room scene, Hal muses on his duties as a "Big Brother": "He likes being there to come to, and likes delivering little unpretentious minilectures on tennis theory and E.T.A. pedagogy and tradition, and getting to be kind in a way that costs him nothing."

I scribbled in the margins, "Oh, Hal, why should being kind 'cost' you?"

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"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you." DFW


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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:25 pm 
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I read and reread this passage(pg 82) in awe of the way it describes tennis.

....Locating beauty and art and magic and improvement and keys to excellence and victory in the prolix flux of match play is not a fractal matter of reducing chaos to pattern. Seemed intuitively to sense that it was a matter not of reduction at all, but--perversely--of expansion, the aleatory flutter of uncontrolled, metastatic growth--each well-shot ball admitting of n possible responses, n(2) possible responses to those responses, and on into what Incandenza would articulate to anyone who shared both his backgrounds as a Cantorian continuum of infinities of possible move and response, Cantorian and beautiful because infoliating, contained this diagnate infinity of infinities of choice and execution, mathematically uncontrolled but humanly contained, bounded by the talent and imagination of self and opponent, bent in on itself by the containing boundaries of skill and imagination that brought one player finally down, that kept both from winning , that made it, finally, a game, these boundaries of self.

Now that is an amazing description of tennis or anything really. I just loved the way it flowed. Thanks for starting this thread I imagine we will all find parts that we adore throughout the entire book.

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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:15 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:21 pm
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Location: Fresyes, CA
I hope 304 is off the spoiler list now because I'm reading it and taking a break and as a treat will share a couple of my favorite parts:

"In a twist on the usual plagiarism situation, the hardest work for Struck here is going to be sanitizing the prose in this Wild Conceits guy's thing, or at least bringing the verbs and modifiers down out of the like total ozone, which...sounds to Struck like the kind of foam-flecked megalograndioisity he associates with Quaaludes and red wine and then the odd Preludin to pull out of the grandiose nosedive of the Quaaludes and red wine." (by this I have a smiley drawn and have written "AWKWARD WONDERFUL")

I also kind of resent the fact that after studying much in the way of abnormal psychology, I have never had the opportunity to take a course in which the syllabus promises the study of The Cults of the Unwavering I: A Field Guide to Cults of Currency Speculation, Melanin, Fitness, Bioflavinoids, Spectation, Assassination, Stasis, Property, Agoraphobia, Repute, Celebrity, Acraphobia, Performance, Amway, Fame, Infamy, Deformity, Scopophobia, Syntax, Consumer Technology, Scopophilia, Presleyism, Hunterism, Inner Children, Eros, Xenophobia, Surgical Enhancement, Motivational Rhetoric, Chronic Pain, Solipsism, Survivalism, Preterition, Anti-Abortionism, Kevorkianism, Allergy, Albinism, Sport, Chiliasm, and Telentertainment in pre-O.N.A.N. North America by Phelps and Phelps.

Scopophobia and scopophilia!

I hope to someday meet the only other person on Earth who happens to find these things funny for some reason and marry him.


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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:49 am 
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I loved:

"Probably I'll go ahead and take a Seven-Up, then, if you're going to implore."

I thought it was hysterical in the context of the greater conversation. Hal is just dismantling the guy's vocabulary.

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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:23 pm 
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Posts: 71
I love how DFW plays with the French-English parallels:

jeune-fille-de-Vendredi for 'girl Friday' p 92

The sentence "The one-quotes "love" one-does-not-quote of Paris for Helen merely was the excuse." for the English equivalent of 'quote-unquote'.


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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:37 pm 
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monsterbeard wrote:
I absolutely loved the Mildred Bonk description, among others.

+1 for Mildred Bonk!

The descriptive sentence about her was the first place I made a note in the book. A definite favorite.

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Reading on Kindle and iPhone.


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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:02 pm 
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One short line stood out to me so far, from page 84: "...junior athletics is but one facet of the real gem: life's endless war against the self you can't live without."

In its context this line comes as close as I have been able to find as a description of the human condition/declaration of theme by DFW.


Then on page 112 I like his phrase "E Unibus Pluram," which is preceded by this paragraph about tennis: "It's an individual sport. Welcome to the meaning of individual. We're each deeply alone here. It's what we all have in common, this aloneness."


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