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: James I. and his father
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:01 pm
Posts: 82
Location: Mansfield, MA
Thought I'd bump this thread up to get some input from all you smart folks out there about the mattress scene.
I found it another one of those horribly uncomfortable Incandenza family moments, where the real issue at hand is never voiced out loud, but referenced subliminally under layers of passive aggressive innuendo.

Squeaky old bedframe = Jim's parents miserable marriage

The obvious anger boiling over here is gut wrenching, with poor Jim caught in the middle.

But I still laughed thinking of this actual essay being a chapter in some boring old textbook on the scientific discovery of annular fusion.

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"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you." DFW


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 Post subject: Re: James I. and his father
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:59 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:48 am
Posts: 61
The two sections dealing with JOI's relationship with his father, pp. 157-169 and pp. 491-507, are among the best sections in IJ. Interestingly, the two combined have but a single footnote leading to the inference that Wallace consciously did not want to distract the reader from his prose. Both begin with mundane events, the opening of the garage door in the first and the JOI eating in the kitchen in the second before beginning a pretty dark descent into the relationship between father and son.

The pathetic figure of JOI's father collapsed over the bedframe, his wig askew, his pants down to the point where "his bottom's crack all the way down to the anus itself was now visible" derives much of its impact from the earlier section detailing the father lost dreams.

JOI clearly had a traumatic childhood yet went on to be successful in many other endeavors. Compare this with the earlier AA scene where reference has been made to the 12-step off-shoot known as W.H.I.N.E.R.S. discussed in other threads and Don Gately's childhood. In each case Wallace is describing people who's lives took radically different paths following childhood traumas albiet of different magnitudes. As choice is one of his primary themes, I think that at least one of the points DFW is making thoughout the book is that where ever life's experiences have brought a person at a given point in time they still have the opportunity/ability to determine where they go in the future so long as they do not become their past. Hence the emphasis on such slogans as One Day At a Time.


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