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Infinite Summer • View topic - Mario listens - p 189

Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
It is currently Fri Feb 28, 2020 5:45 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: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:45 pm 
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It's obvious that Mario's deformities make him unique. But it seems like the deformities are cover for what really makes him unique, his desire to listen and observe others. Mario being so other-focused seems to really shine a light on the self-centeredness of the other characters.

I may be wrong, but it's interesting that that DFW uses Madame Psychosis' radio program to point out how much of a listener Mario is. Here, with Madame Psychosis, there is only listening because she is on the radio and Mario couldn't be more intense about his listening. Mario is "listening faithfully", "he'd way rather listen than watch", "he's a fanatical listener/observer", "staring into that special pocket...reserved for the serious listener".


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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:24 pm 
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I also noticed that Mario seems different from most of the other characters. It's apparent that he's going to be the least successful of his family, and he's weak in a lot of ways, and he comes off as pretty weird, but I feel like DFW forgives all of these qualities, almost indicates that they're not even all that important. Mario avoids the major flaws shared by most other characters—an obsession with some personal entertainment or with some notion that one must prove his "greatness"—and seems to actually care about others, though I suppose this might be a result of his naïveté and innocence. I guess I'm just speculating with little evidence right now, but I think Mario is going to be described as a hero or some kind of an ideal later in the story.


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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:03 pm 
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I'm trying to figure out why I sort of dislike Mario, especially when other people seem to identify him as a likable underdog character. I think I find him generally creepy in his social ineptness. I also dislike his passivity. I find a similarity between him and his father, James Incandenza, that was illustrated during the scene between JOI and his father—I wrote about this before, how even though James' father steals the scene, asshole-wise, JOI really bugs me for allowing himself to be the victim. To me, he displays a cross between bewildered submission and happy-go-lucky naive passivity, and both kind of sicken me. Mario's weirdo quality falls into this same vein (ex.: his encounter with USS Millicent, although, of course, any boy is likely to come off as creepy or nutty the first time he's alone with a girl, and Millicent is a wee bit intimidating).

It's strange that Mario is most "active" during "passive" activities—he really engages with something, I don't know what, when he's filming or listening to radio.


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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:09 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:07 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:25 am 
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Right towards the end, there’s a scene in which Mario really shines – it brings a tear to my eye every time I read it.

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...the world's pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower. - Cormac McCarthy


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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:29 am 
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Someone in another forum topic compared Mario to Owen Meany, and I think that's pretty apt. I also think the image of a smaller or disabled person portrayed as having inner depth and wisdom-beyond-their-years has been (over?) done to a point where I almost find it condescending (Owen Meany, The Station Agent - both of which I loved, btw, as I am loving IJ.) But then again maybe it's some time-honored cultural tradition, like the blind seer or the wise father who has a special bond with the teenage daughter in 80s movies.


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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:57 am 
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"It is easy to put on a show & be cocky. . . Or I can show you some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself. . . now that, my friend, is very hard to do." --Bruce Lee


Last edited by polymathicj on Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:49 pm 
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testforecho, I distinctly remember looking at the quote as well, and has been turning in my mind for awhile. With all the other characters being "alive" seems to be defined by suffering. Kate Gompert describes her desire for suicide as a way to end suffering. Mario is the only character we have really spent a lot of time with who seems blissfully content.


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 Post subject: Re: Mario listens - p 189
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:36 am 
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