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: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 6:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:26 pm
Posts: 44
Location: Shippensburg, Pa
What a awesome section!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:34 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:52 am
Posts: 7
No kidding. This section is one of the most brilliant pieces of speculative-fiction satire I have yet come across in IJ, and it makes me start to see where all the Swift comparisons come from. The image of the video-phone body suits hanging on pre-installed hooks next to the devices will haunt me for days. And like so much in IJ, it wouldn't be nearly as impressive if it weren't so gosh-darn true.


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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:18 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:40 pm
Posts: 30
i *really* liked this section too...although I kept thinking about how accurately it predicted a relationship with the actual "videophone" technology that has emerged since the book was written. i use my iChat all the time...it makes keeping in touch with people who are far away feel so much more real and concrete to see their faces.

in some ways it's more interesting to think about the stress about physical appearance that he's associating with videophoning in light of the advent of online communities, avatars, second lifes, what have you. there's lots of discussion these days about the "freedom," and the opportunities for really messed up deception, that that kind of virtual "community" entails.

and as a community of readers only interfacing through usernames, icons, text, taglines, etc., it could be said that we're participating in what Wallace seems to be characterizing as a kind of neurosis...what do others think?


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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:41 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:50 am
Posts: 6
Love this section too. Very apt time to be reading this part as well; Cf. the front page (Life section) in today's USA Today: article "On the phone, better to be heard and not seen" about Skype.

http://www.usatoday.com/life/columnist/ ... kype_n.htm

DFW makes the argument more eloquently, natch.


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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:16 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:12 am
Posts: 45
Location: London
I've read it out loud to four people so far.


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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:03 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:43 pm
Posts: 11
I enjoyed this section also but found it a bit pyrrhic. For all its masterful satiric points, I couldn't get it out of my mind that all the videophone companies had to do to make their product successful was to add a video disabling device to be used when the caller or listener didn't want to be seen. In that light I found the parody to be a bit manufactured.


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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:12 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:58 pm
Posts: 14
Jeffrey Manor wrote:
I enjoyed this section also but found it a bit pyrrhic. For all its masterful satiric points, I couldn't get it out of my mind that all the videophone companies had to do to make their product successful was to add a video disabling device to be used when the caller or listener didn't want to be seen. In that light I found the parody to be a bit manufactured.


Well, isn't that how the whole videophony craze ended up resolving itself, though? People became sick of having themselves seen, realized that regular telephones provided that ability, and reverted. One could reasonably assume that the videophone devices were more expensive and cumbersome than telephones, so I don't see why it would make videophones successful to have the option provided to function only as a telephone would, thus negating the whole purpose of videophones in the first place.


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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:52 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 5:21 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Philadelphia, PA
this section was great.... taking an idea to its logical but absurd conclusion!

it made me wonder what DFW thought, or would think, about facebook. sometimes i wonder if my friends' overly cheerful status updates are not just like the carefully crafted masks videophone users wore...


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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:36 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:10 pm
Posts: 28
Skype gives me the "howling fantoids."
I even hate IM and try to keep my cell phone off.
I'm a nervous wreck being so available..

Yes, this section is just wonderful..
Love his take on rampant consumerism and vanity...


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 Post subject: Re: “Why Video-Phones Failed”
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:38 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:06 pm
Posts: 32
This really was a great section. I'm so impressed that DFW can write an in-world essay like this, so logical and reasonable, as if it were perfectly nonfictional. Honestly, the most tedious part of any novel for me is usually the imagery. But when DFW puts so much effort into every detail of his world, going so far as to write pieces like this, I want to absorb every detail, imagery included. I don't think I've ever been so drawn into an author's world before. And this section has convinced me that, for what we're really getting in the way of details—not a single one irrelevant or uninteresting—, IJ isn't a page too long.


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