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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 Sat May 30, 2020 10:19 am

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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:03 pm 
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I love that this is a thread, and not that there needs to be a "flaw" to this book that is wildly ambitious and achieves so so much (I am reminded nearly every day as I read through for the second time), but it is yes more than a little clear that a male perspective dominates here*. Hal/Orin/Mario/Don Gately even M Pemulis seem so alive to me in a way that the women do not. Avril, Madame Psychosis, Kate Gompert don't quite live for me, except through a mostly male vision (all are described repeatedly in sexual/physical terms--which is likely not how they see themselves--and one particular descriptive comparison of Avril as a no longer ripe fruit to Joelle the ripe fruit had me cringing. Which I rarely do, or at least not in that way. But I did. Sorry).

I don't see it as a huge problem, but you know, it is a limit. And I think it's interesting that Brief Interviews With Hideous Men seems to take up this limit and push it to another level entirely. As in, the audience is a woman. Explicitly. The Object/Subject thing is explored in more depth. If you haven't read that, I HIGHLY recommend reading it after you've finished IJ. It was (I think?) his next book, and it seems to me a clear, complicated and sometimes scary progression (in terms of sexual/gender politics) beyond what he's doing here.



*It's funny, I once tried to posit DFW the incarnation of V Woolf's "androgynous writer" which she theorized about in A Room of One's Own. Because I feel like there is an openness there--but when it comes to IJ, it just doesn't work.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:47 am 
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I agree, repat ... the fidelity and candor with which Wallace dissected male perspectives were so off-the-charts--isn't that enough? It is for me.

He was so resolutely observant and so truthful that the personal stuff he wrote about is just bursting with genius, whereas his views on being a woman, or on, say, childrearing, you know ... things he hadn't experienced firsthand, are more like simmering with genius rather than supernova-exploding with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 6:28 pm 
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I was disappointed that there don't seem to be any female Crocodiles in AA, the Crocodile types that DFW describes appear to have a gruffly nurturing quality that I can see made the less seasoned AA's feel safe. It's interesting that that nurturing cannot be found in old, seasoned women in DFW's AA. It's hard to even picture this in real life. A sort of picture of defeminizing haggardness comes to mind when you think of a female addict or alcoholic who is an old hand at recovery, rather than a faceful of "character". I'm not so sure why it has to be this way, it's a reflection of the differences in what we value in each specific gender. Maybe someone here sees things differently or has been in an AA where there are females who are the equivalent of the Crocs in IJ?


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:09 pm 
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It also seems to me that it's mostly guys who read DFW, who are on the list-serve and message boards/blogs, who constitute the emerging serious scholars and, generally, love the guy. I'm fascinated by this.

Any thoughts on his great and disproportionate appeal to men?


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:13 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:39 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:08 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:32 pm 
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Okay I'll jump in to the tangential goings-on and quote the all-female band Bikini Kill from the 90's:
"The Sylvia Plath story is told to girls who write/They want us to think that to be a girl poet/Means you have to die" The writer of these lyrics would have been in high school and college about ten years after me. When I was in high school, in the mid-70's in the Boston area, I was encouraged, I suppose as a student who was writing poetry myself, to look into Ann Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Why, because they were women poets, Massachusetts poets, or because they were poets that killed themselves. I can't help thinking the draw for the female teacher and for lots of people at the time was that they were women who killed themselves. Apparently, this wasn't unique to my high school.

I can't imagine that this would happen with a male high school student, that a teacher would recommend DFW to him because he was a suicide. Even if he had been a phenomenon back when I went to school.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:49 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Male Perspectives: Why?
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