Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
It is currently Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:44 pm

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  [ 31 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:59 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:52 pm
Posts: 41
Was anybody else really creeped out by this little nightmare sequence? When the narrator was listing all the things he saw, I reread the list like three times before moving on, my sense of dread growing each time as I realized that there just wasn't any way of making sense of that face haha. And then the narrator acknowledges it, of course.

It was a good reminder of how Wallace has such remarkable control of a variety of emotional effects. In his essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" (of the eponymous collection), he includes a little image in one of his digressions that just...well, gives me the howling fantods!

"And when I teach school now I always teach Crane’s horrific 'The Open Boat,' and I get bent out of shape when the kids find the story dull or jaunty-adventurish: I want them to feel the same marrow-level dread of the oceanic I’ve always felt, the intuition of the sea as primordial nada, bottomless, depths inhabited by cackling tooth-studded things rising towards you at the rate a feather falls."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:20 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:33 am
Posts: 4
I tend to agree regarding Wallace's control of emotion, thus far. As I said in another thread, I'm really enjoying the sections where he perfectly nails the dread, isolation, loneliness, etc etc of the tennis players and the various addictive personalities of the novel.

What's working less well for me is the sort of manic comic tone of the Marathe/Steeply passages (all the double/triple agent business...it's coming through more tedious than funny for me). Thoughts?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:48 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:52 pm
Posts: 41
I understand what you mean. I think the Marathe/Steeply parts are where Wallace gets closest to The Crying of Lot 49-style Thomas Pynchon. I can't even say the title of that book without grimacing. I've never taken the time to parse out exactly what it is about the style that bugs me, but I think it's got something to do with cynicism. Given that, and given what I know about how Wallace feels about unbridled cynicism for its own sake, I'm more forgiving of Wallace than I am somebody like Pynchon, who doesn't deign to comment on his own work, or anything else for that matter.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 4:31 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:21 pm
Posts: 63
Location: Fresyes, CA
I use my puke-colored Sharpie to mark up the Steeply-Marathe sections. When I bought the giant rainbow packet of Sharpies, I thought, why on Earth would they make a puke colored Sharpie? Now I know why. If I'd had the Sharpies back when I was trying to read Lot 49, I'd probably have reverted to kindergarten self and just scribbled puke colored ink over every page.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:39 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:33 am
Posts: 4
I think for me it's just that the style of the Marathe/Steeply sections clashes so jarringly with some of the more introspective sections. No doubt it's intentional. But I find it somewhat annoying! We'll see how it pans out.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 6:40 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:19 am
Posts: 14
Those Marathe/Steeply parts are the key to understanding "The Entertainment," and they get much more interesting when they start to make more sense (which, I promise, they do).

Wallace really isn't trying to trick us as readers, and I found that a lot of the "what the hell??" parts of the book eventually panned out if I just stuck with it, filed the part/characters in my mind, and kept on going trusting that DFW will clarify later on.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:50 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:58 am
Posts: 7
Actually, I was kinda digging Marathe/Steeply. The banter back and forth as they dance around each other drew me in.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:15 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:08 pm
Posts: 47
The face in the floor reminded me of the poem/ballad "The Face On the Bar Room Floor" which was written by Hugh Antoine D'arcy in 1887. A man who once was an artist but is now a "bum" and also a drunk offers to tell the story to his fellow drinkers of losing his true love who had eyes that petrified his brain such was her beauty. He paint the face on the floor to show how beautiful the woman was but he is struck dead by the portrait.

This poem was incorporated into a drinking song at Mount Holyoke College. Since DFW went to Amherst College near Mount Holyoke (an all-women's college that invites Amherst guys over a lot), he may have attended a few mixers and heard the song there? Or seen the Charlie Chaplin movie based on the poem.


This is also a kind of creepy David Lynchean moment for me, and DFW has said in an interview that he was very influenced by David Lynch. He specifically said that seeing Blue Velvet sort of provided a key to help him take his writing in another direction. I believe I saw this interview on Youtube.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:52 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 6:47 am
Posts: 63
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Oh god, the face in the floor. I'd tried (unsuccesfully) to read IJ before and the face in the floor is one of the images that has just stuck. Like, I've woken up in the middle of the night from unrelated disturbing dreams and had the sudden urge to immediately check for a face in the floor.

I don't know about everyone else, but like the dreamer I certainly didn't see the face the first time I read the list of things things in the room. I won't ruin it for anyone who hasn't read it but I think "The Soul is Not a Smithy" touches on the same kind of horror - which I'll never be able to describe as well as DFW does in that story. So I won't try. But read it.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The face in the floor
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:47 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:42 am
Posts: 75
Sutpen wrote:
I understand what you mean. I think the Marathe/Steeply parts are where Wallace gets closest to The Crying of Lot 49-style Thomas Pynchon. I can't even say the title of that book without grimacing. I've never taken the time to parse out exactly what it is about the style that bugs me, but I think it's got something to do with cynicism. Given that, and given what I know about how Wallace feels about unbridled cynicism for its own sake, I'm more forgiving of Wallace than I am somebody like Pynchon, who doesn't deign to comment on his own work, or anything else for that matter.


I agree. This seems like an intentional nod to Pynchon and the likes. I come away with the feeling that Wallace is trying to insert to old-school post-modern in here to contrast the rest of his book. I think it's intentionally annoying and overdone. Kind of like saying "you want Pynchon conspiracies? How about an masculine quadruple agent who dresses as a woman?".


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 31 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 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