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: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:51 am 
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Posts: 75
Motley Fool wrote:
p. 169 "I got to notice what I'm sure you've noticed long ago, I know, I know you've seen me brought home on occasions, dragged in the door, under what's called the Influence, son, helped in by cabbies at night, I've seen your long shadow grotesquely backlit at the top of the house's stairs I helped pay for, boy: how the drunk and maimed both are dragged forward out of the arena like a boneless Christ, one man under each arm, feet dragging, eyes on the aether."

The is my favorite so far in my reread though I know another is coming later. This comes at the conclusion to what I found to be one of the saddest passages in the novel combining the themes of addiction and communication as well as defining the darkenss that haunts the Incandenza family tree.


I think you made an excellent observation. I am on my 2nd read and I didn't give this section it's due until I re-read it after reading your post. In addition to what you noted, two things I also found interesting:

1. On page 168, Jim's father says "Can you understand...That I was in there, out in the heat, listening, webbed with nerves?" Relate this back to what may be the most painful moment for Hal in the book, page 13, "'There is nothing wrong,' I say slowly to the floor. 'I'm in here.'" As you say, this section defines the darkness haunting the Incandenza family. DFW seems to be showing us the very moment (p. 168) that started the ball rolling towards Hal's sad conversation with the floor.

2. On page 169, in the sentence just before the quote you noted Jim's dad says "It's a pivotal, it's a seminal, religious day when you get to both hear and feel your destiny at the same moment." Jim's dad is referring to having heard his father say "Yes, but he'll never be great." which, arguably, caused him to fall and ruin his knees and his career. I find it interesting that Jim's dad refers to this day as a religious day and then refers to himself under the influence as a boneless Christ whose eyes are focused on the sky (or heavens). His view of this as a religious event may show that he worshipped becoming great and being seen. This makes me think of DFW's commencement speech where he says:

"In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things -- if they are where you tap real meaning in life -- then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already -- it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power -- you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart -- you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on."

What Jim's dad worships appears to be eating him alive.


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 Post subject: Re: Most essential (or just favorite) sentences/passages so far
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 11:30 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:13 pm
Posts: 2
testforecho wrote:
Motley Fool wrote:
p. 169 "I got to notice what I'm sure you've noticed long ago, I know, I know you've seen me brought home on occasions, dragged in the door, under what's called the Influence, son, helped in by cabbies at night, I've seen your long shadow grotesquely backlit at the top of the house's stairs I helped pay for, boy: how the drunk and maimed both are dragged forward out of the arena like a boneless Christ, one man under each arm, feet dragging, eyes on the aether."

The is my favorite so far in my reread though I know another is coming later. This comes at the conclusion to what I found to be one of the saddest passages in the novel combining the themes of addiction and communication as well as defining the darkenss that haunts the Incandenza family tree.


I think you made an excellent observation. I am on my 2nd read and I didn't give this section it's due until I re-read it after reading your post. In addition to what you noted, two things I also found interesting:

1. On page 168, Jim's father says "Can you understand...That I was in there, out in the heat, listening, webbed with nerves?" Relate this back to what may be the most painful moment for Hal in the book, page 13, "'There is nothing wrong,' I say slowly to the floor. 'I'm in here.'" As you say, this section defines the darkness haunting the Incandenza family. DFW seems to be showing us the very moment (p. 168) that started the ball rolling towards Hal's sad conversation with the floor.

2. On page 169, in the sentence just before the quote you noted Jim's dad says "It's a pivotal, it's a seminal, religious day when you get to both hear and feel your destiny at the same moment." Jim's dad is referring to having heard his father say "Yes, but he'll never be great." which, arguably, caused him to fall and ruin his knees and his career. I find it interesting that Jim's dad refers to this day as a religious day and then refers to himself under the influence as a boneless Christ whose eyes are focused on the sky (or heavens). His view of this as a religious event may show that he worshipped becoming great and being seen. This makes me think of DFW's commencement speech where he says:

"In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things -- if they are where you tap real meaning in life -- then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already -- it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power -- you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart -- you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on."

What Jim's dad worships appears to be eating him alive.

I am on my second read as well and just finished this passage. Your insights are impressive. thanks!


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