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Infinite Summer • View topic - Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?

Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
It is currently Thu Jun 04, 2020 8:40 am

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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: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:23 pm 
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It struck me as I was reading yesterday that, thus far (page 137,) the ratio of female characters to male has been very low. Furthermore, only one section has been written from the point of view (by this I mean either first-person or third-person limited) of a female: the Wardine passage (p. 37,) recounted in the dialectal (and thus difficult-to-understand) voice of Clenette, her half-sister. The other female characters, who have been few and far between relative to the vast number of male characters introduced, have all been seen through the eyes of a male: Avril Incandenza through her sons, the unnamed woman through Erdedy, Mildred Bonk through Bruce Green, Orin’s (perhaps tellingly-named) ‘subjects,’ Kate Gompert through her doctor, USS Millicent Kent through Mario. Even Hugh Steeply, who is only pretending to be a woman, is seen from Marathe’s point of view. Is this a coincidence, or is there a deeper significance to the absence of female perspectives so far?


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:11 pm 
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The author was very unabashedly a guy, I would say. No, well more really abashedly, but absolutely, ineluctably, a guy (cf. Mildred Bonk chapter.) I've often thought that. He was no kind of Flaubert. Maybe others will be able to cite departures from this, but I never saw him describe anything as fully or convincingly from the female POV as from the male. He only tried to write what he could know, or had seen (?) Would welcome alternative views on this point.

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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:25 am 
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In an interview discussing Broom of the System, DFW stated that the book was a covert personal Bildungsroman, with himself identifying with the female character Lenore. In the end I think this didn't work out as well as it could have (and I also still find it hard to believe that DFW wasn't been more secretively confessional through Rick Vigorous.)

Anyway I think I agree with the above poster that DFW is intrinsically (or maybe just more honestly) masculine.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:07 am 
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Well said zandelion--far better than I did.

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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:42 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:03 pm 
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I think that works like “Little Expressionless Animals” and (I disagree with Zandelion on this one) Broom of the System show that DFW is (or rather, was *sniff*) just as uncannily adept at writing from female perspectives as male. I mean, even the glimpses we get of USS Millicent and Kate Gompert’s psyches demonstrate the depth of his understanding. Of course DFW's own gender probably has something to do with it, but it seems a little essentialist to me to assume that the stories have been told almost exclusively through males for the sole reason that the author was one. Maybe it's just me, but I suspect that there's more to it than that.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:33 pm 
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Unfortunately I have yet to read The Girl With the Curious Hair, so i cannot comment on "Little Expressionless Animals". As a male myself I would definitely be interested in female perspectives on the female characters within DFW's work. Given that solipsistic issues were near the top of what haunted DFW, and are present in I believe every single work (from essays like "Consider the Lobster" to Broom, obviously) I guess I'm biased into believing that he had difficulty really communing with the psyche of others. And for a heterosexual male in need of love, a real woman is the ultimate other. I believe all of his more 'real' characters are dimensions of his own experience and associated flavour of neuroticism.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:56 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:06 am 
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I don't say that Wallace couldn't write a convincing female character, he could. It's more that I don't think anyone else has ever explained the particular condition of men so well as he did (to me, at least.)

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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:23 pm 
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