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: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:59 am 
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So, about the Year of Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade For Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems for Home, Office, Or Mobile (sic):

Can we safely assume that this is (would be) the B.S. year 2007?

Let me preface this by saying that Subsidized Time actually makes sense in a twisted sort of way. When you think about it, associating a year with a memorable or idiosyncratic product represents that period of time much better than an arbitrary number. For example, I remember very little of 1996 (I was nine years old at the time) and wouldn't be able to tell you a thing about how it was different from 1994 or 1997. I do remember, however, how I felt when the Nintendo 64 came out: an eschatological excitement about having three dimensions to play in, sort of a longing certainty that if I could just get one of those consoles into my living room, I would never be bored or unhappy again...plus a kind of Catholic guilt (which at the time I blamed on my worried parents) about spending so much time in front of the TV with a controller in my hands, instead of playing outside or with other kids or whatever.

Mention "1996" and I will stare at you blankly. Mention "Nintendo 64" and I will overload you with memories, as though primed from a well, about how my family and I were living in a rented house in Orlando, Florida with an ample front yard and a freestanding garage/storage room out back in which we kept (i.e. quarantined) the video games, which we were allowed to play only on weekends at first until the parentals over time relented for things like school holidays and summer vacations, provided that my bros. and I were actively enrolled in some kind of sport activity camp to compensate for the many hours of screen time. And from that initial seed I could extrapolate from there memories in every which way about any number of things, like school (between third and fourth grades, I think; Mrs. MacDonald and Ms. Helgeson, respectively; pizza wednesdays, Animorphs), or my so-called athletic life (YMCA basketball, Coach Ross, lacquer gymnasium floors, asking my mother what "f-a-g-g-o-t" meant and was it okay to use it in conversation), or culture as seen through the eyes of a not-quite-preadolescent (watching Waterworld on videocassette at my neighbor Skylar's birthday party), and a variety of other biographical details that I, personally, wouldn't care to read much about unless I were paying for them, collected and bound, from a reputable bookstore, with accolades on the jacket. "Mesmerizing!" And so forth.

So aside from Subsidized Time seeming somehow sacrilegious—considering that Christ is no longer the point upon which history hinges and begins anew, referring to that two-thousand year period in retrospect as "B.S.," I think "sacrilegious" is the right word to use—it really isn't such a bad idea. As far as transcribing, representing or "mapping" history, the difference between numerical and subsidized time is like that between a '49 Emerson black-and-white television set and a Toshiba 26LV61K 26" DVD and LCD Combo HDTV. Higher resolution, greater depth. We just have to kill a few sacred cows to get there.

But there's a problem with instituting S.T. as policy. Whereas in the past, temporal associations like my N64/1996 bit were subconscious and natural, they are now, with S.T., conscious and deliberate—part of the mapping process, no longer effortless. This is where the experiment runs into problems of self-reference, and thus of infinite regress. Year of Yushityu 2007 etc. shows exactly where Subsidized Time could go horribly wrong, and while we haven't learned enough to give it context, we can speculate ahead of time (without spoilers) what's going on here.

The Year of Yushityu 2007 etc., like the other years, is named for an annum-defining product rolled out that year, but this product refers to the year in which it is released. The name, like the map of the territory that contains the map, becomes what Douglas Hofstadter called a strange loop. So if we were to keep using S.T. consistently, the Year of Yushityu 2007 would have to read: "Year of Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu Yushityu..."

To escape the cycle, we have to revert to B.S. time, referring to an entity that isn't self-referential. 2007.

Pseudo-spoiler ahead:

Spoiler! "We're so close to page 223 that I can't imagine anyone so far not having a vague idea of what it contains, but with this bit of decoding in mind, I've found it much easier to orient myself within the novel, and...I practically slapped myself on the forehead when I figured out which year the bulk of the action so far takes place in, and I wonder: was it design on the part of the Infinite Summer organizers, or just plain old serendipity?"


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:54 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:06 pm
Posts: 32
On the topic of uncanny coincidences, for me personally, that you mentioned in your spoiler text: (I'll put this in spoiler text too, although I'm not sure that there are really any big spoilers, and there definitely won't be any after tomorow.)

Spoiler! "If most of the action thus far really does take place in 2009, Hal and Mario are just about the same age as I am at the same time (i.e., they were born right around the same time as me—sometime between 1989 and 1991 I think). I happened to read Hamlet for the first time just before reading IJ without knowing how heavily IJ draws from it. The college that I'm going to, not at all large or well-known enough where I could imagine that it's mentioned in very many books, is mentioned on page 231 (granted, DFW taught there briefly). One of the characters who seems to be pivotal and who walks around the exact area where I'll be attending college next year has a name very similar to mine (so much so that a bit later another character mistakes her name for mine), and I haven't encountered my name in fiction elsewhere until now."

It's kind of almost scary.


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 9:55 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:50 pm
Posts: 71
Quote:
When you think about it, associating a year with a memorable or idiosyncratic product represents that period of time much better than an arbitrary number.


One of the things I find funny, though, about DFWs year names is that no name listed would really reflect anything particularly characteristic about the year itself; the most specific item is the TP upgrade, and even then, it's not like I would get all kinds of year-specific memory associations from the time I upgraded my Performa to 4 MB RAM.

For me, the idea most closely associates to how sports stadia have subsidized names that have nothing to do with the sport (Progressive, AT&T, Staples, Ameriquest) and how marketing priorities, no matter how irrelevant to or unreflective of real life, are forced into place.

It also leaves me curious about the effects (and perhaps invites us to be as speculative as DFW in his videophone essay) of subsided time: after the Year of Whopper, were people really sick of hearing about the Whopper? Was there an uptick in hemorrhoid complaint in YTMP?


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:09 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:54 pm
Posts: 9
troybob wrote:
One of the things I find funny, though, about DFWs year names is that no name listed would really reflect anything particularly characteristic about the year itself; the most specific item is the TP upgrade, and even then, it's not like I would get all kinds of year-specific memory associations from the time I upgraded my Performa to 4 MB RAM.

For me, the idea most closely associates to how sports stadia have subsidized names that have nothing to do with the sport (Progressive, AT&T, Staples, Ameriquest) and how marketing priorities, no matter how irrelevant to or unreflective of real life, are forced into place.


Yeah, and that I guess is the irony about Subsidized Time—that it gets the phenomenon backwards. Instead of associating a period of time with something that was important to us in retrospect, it tries to force that association in advance. And it robs that association of its subjectivity. Subsidized Time is actually more like Standardized Time. Preset nostalgia for everyone. It would be as though somebody tried to tell me that 1996 was the Year of the Dreamcast. I never owned one.


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:17 pm 
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But the years are named before the fact. There's not a "Year of Nintendo" that could evoke a set of memories for you. This is pure cynical marketing. This year, eat lots of Trial-Size Dove Bars, use your Depends, be Glad.

There may be significance that Yushityu is the only Year where the marketing boys lose all self-control (unlike, say, the Year of Glad) and have to shove in every single corporate buzzword they can think of, resulting in the jumble "Year of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade For Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems For Home, Office, Or Mobile [sic]" unlike the relative elegance of the other Years' names.

I'm not sure what the [sic] is about, but I love the abbreviation complete with [s] for [sic].

I must also note that Yushityu = You shit you. Parse as necessary.


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:26 am 
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Posts: 23
masonite wrote:
I'm not sure what the [sic] is about, but I love the abbreviation complete with [s] for [sic].


Yeah, I'm trying to figure out if the "(sic)" is part of the official year name or not; the "(s)" in the abbreviation seems to suggest yes, although then I'd really have expected DFW to refer to the year itself with a second "(sic)" to indicate that the first "(sic)" was part of the name...


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:15 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:58 am
Posts: 7
I look at it as a hyper-linguistic (?) narrator noting that Mobile is not a noun. I don't think (sic) is part of the name, I think the storyteller/voice is noting that (or some other that I'm not seeing) usage error.


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:11 pm
Posts: 91
...or a reference to the two uses of "For": does the second one suggest that the upgrade is "for" the home/office/mobile, or is it the TP that is "for" these things. I think an unclear referential phrase would earn a (sic) from DFW.

As for "Yushityu," I've always taken it for granted that the names and/or items that are used to the last syllable of subsidized time (sorry) all sort of oscillate between images of consumption (Whopper, the Yushityu cartridges, Dove Bars, Wonderchicken, Dairy Products) and dealing with waste (Tucks, Glad, "Yushityu", Depends, possibly Dove again (soap)). Hence an annular thing going on. If you wanna get really warped, you could go to the next level and see a growing confusion about whether to label something as an input or output: Dairy products references both a food and a bodily excretion, Tucks and Depends reference problems with otherwise "normal" excretion, and, of course, Yushityu and Dove, seem to combine both consumption and waste/cleanup in their names/products.


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:29 pm 
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"Yushityu" drives me crazy, because it seems to be an attempt at Japanese name, but it can't be Japanese, because the only gana/kana that come over as containing a 't' in translation are 'ta' 'tsu' 'te' and 'to'.

Could this be another language? Anyone care to set me straight?


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 Post subject: Re: Year of Yushityu...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:26 pm 
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dna wrote:
Yeah, I'm trying to figure out if the "(sic)" is part of the official year name or not; the "(s)" in the abbreviation seems to suggest yes, although then I'd really have expected DFW to refer to the year itself with a second "(sic)" to indicate that the first "(sic)" was part of the name...


I take the [s] as self-referential (and endearingly funny; he's such a dork). The [sic] is definitely DFW's.


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