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: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:26 pm 
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"Fans do not begin to keep it all in the Great Convexity. It creeps back in. What goes around, it comes back around. This your nation refuses to learn. It will keep creeping back in. You cannot give away your filth and prevent all creepage, no? Filth by its very nature it is a thing that is always creeping back in" (IJ 233).

This is one of the passages that REALLY stuck out for me. You know what I mean. Some sentences seem highlighted in an invisible ink or embossed in some dimension that you’re brain has a sixth-sense capacity to detect. It’s one of the major points I’m going to stress throughout this read: IJ has a lot of creepage.

A recursive loop (from what I remember of biology) is a system that feeds off itself to become larger. Photosynthesis is the classic example; a bit of energy is produced by the plant that is then used to help produce more energy. Isaac Asimov uses a recursive loop-ish technology in his science fiction work I, Robot to develop faster and more intelligent computers; a computer is used to aid in calculations which lead to the development of more complicated computers which, in turn, are used to develop still more complicated computers, etc. IJ seems rife with this sort of recursiveness. The story loops back on itself, expands, moves forward, loops back again, adds more details, loops back again, etc.

I should add that this has been commented on extensively by a woman named Katherine Hayles in "The Illusion of Autonomy and the Fact of Recursivity: Virtual Ecologies, Entertainment, and Infinite Jest"- a really interesting essay about the loops and the creepage along with all sorts of other goodies.


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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:18 pm 
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This connects to JOI's work in annular physics too, as that is something circular and ring shaped as well. I've been keeping notes on all the mentions of this and there have been tons so far. And then the whole idea of anti-confluence is relevant as well.. Concavity vs convexity, as the partygoers argue.


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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:14 pm 
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Yep, I see it in Schtitt talking about repetition, annular everything, AA, in the film of Stan Smith looping while Hal talks to his little buddies, the list explodes once you look for it. Who else has some solid loops?


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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:51 pm 
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I know I highlight every example I find during my reading. I remember the thing about Hal hitting a thousand tennis balls to no one in the predawn light, and also the WYYY antenna atop the MIT "brain" circling in an ellipsoid pattern. And of course, the recursive nature of the Entertainment itself with Joelle apologizing repeatedly into the camera.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:53 pm 
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I think the story's structure as something that is constantly looping back on itself, revealing details on one subject and then moving on to another, very gradually looping back on each and making more sense of everything as a whole; I think this structure is most apparent with the gradual revealing of the story's political situation. At the beginning of IJ, we don't even understand what an acronym like O.N.A.N. stands for and we are subjected to the "professional conversationalist"'s at-the-time incredibly bizarre ranting about the Incandenza family's involvement with Quebec. The story moves on from here to completely other situations, introducing new characters and plots. But in the midst of these other plots, we see the political situation very casually and gradually revealed to us in bits and pieces as characters allude to it. The story loops back on itself. Before we know it we've been made acquainted with all kinds of intricacies without ever having been made to read the surely lengthy monologue or essay that might have otherwise been required to make us familiar with everything.

This is also true of the details surrounding the Incandenza family and especially J.O.I. and Avril. The meanings of J.O.I.'s filmography are largely impenetrable to us at first, but each film's relevance to specific events in the story is gradually revealed, one looping around at a time.


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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:34 pm 
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Loops I've noticed, besides anything to do with annular fusion:

Pg. 47 - Orin traces the symbol for infinity on his "Subject"'s back

Pg. 66 - The crowd begins "roaring at its own roar, a doubling-back qualify like something'll blow."

Pg. 84 - "The infinite system of decisions and angles and lines" in tennis... "life's endless war against the self you cannot live without." The tragedy and beauty of trying to "vanquish and transcend the limited self whose limits make the game possible in the first place." Later, on pg. 168, JOI's father speaks of "a self that touches all edges."

Pg. 87 - Already mentioned, IJ's recursive loop.

Pg. 97 - Halation, the "halo-shaped exposure-pattern around light sources seen on chemical film at low speed." Also mentioned (Pg. 999) that when Hal won an award, he had this halo-aura around his head.

Pg. 110 - Film of Stan Smith has already been mentioned, but I wonder if Himself made this film (one of his early tennis docs)??

Pg. 124 - Millicent Kent leads Mario in "slightly diminishing circles."

Pg. 150-152 - "Return to aural-only telephony" after videophones and masks was the "closed curve's end" - or beginning. The curve has a "clasically annular shape."

Pg. 233/234 - The Great Concavity vs Convexity. Not to repeat what's already been said about the "What goes around, it comes back around" paragraph on 233, but it also relates to Pg. 176, when Hal narrates the film and says that the object of the Game is "to send from yourself what you hope will not return." On 233, we learn that "It will keep creeping back in. You cannot give away your filth and prevent all creepage..." May also relate to Schtitt's feelings on math on pg. 82, about how it is "a matter not of reduction at all, but - perversely - of expansion..."

EDIT: The following pages are footnotes we have already read:

Pg. 996 - Alluded to on pg. 985 - JOI's middle period of anti-confluential filmmaking. Opposed to the idea of a recursive loop. "Digital Parallelism" and "Cinemea of Chaotic Stasis."

Pg. 997 - The chronic catatonic who is so anxious about anxiety that she sits with their eyes closed. This is somewhat of a stretch but I think there's a connection here. Her phobia about becoming blind actually makes her, in essence, physically blind. Somewhat of a loop, or at least something feeding in on itself. "A terror so terrifying it makes the object of the terror come true, somehow..."

Pg. 1062 - The object of the Endless Kiss competition is "to involve using what one is given with maximally exhaustive levels of efficiency and endurance before excreting it back whence it came, a stoic stance toward waste utilization..."


JOI's films:

Various Small Flames, 25 minutes with recursive loop for automatic replay, images of stovetop gas rings, etc.

The Joke, where the audience watches itself watch itself.

This might be a stretch, but Death in Scarsdale, where a doctor is treating a boy for excessive perspiration but then he himself begins to execessively perspire.

Cage III feeds on itself to - the eyeballs watching the fairgoers, watching the eyeballs, etc. (Pg. 222 references this too - how "what looks like the cage's exit is actually the bars of the cage."

And of course, all of his films on annular energy.


Two side notes:

Apple's headquarters are on a circular street named Infinite Loop.

No mentions of Ouroboros yet but I'm thinking there will be at least one.


Last edited by stephaniejane on Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:42 am 
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Sorry to 'spoil' the party, but can we please please keep the Daily discussion within the spoiler bounds? Or use the "spoiler" button to hide everything that's beyond today's page limit.

I've come to cherish discovering every bit of this book on my own (before of course coming here to share with the board), so I don't want to be spoiled.


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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:45 am 
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RroseSelavy wrote:
Sorry to 'spoil' the party, but can we please please keep the Daily discussion within the spoiler bounds? Or use the "spoiler" button to hide everything that's beyond today's page limit.

I've come to cherish discovering every bit of this book on my own (before of course coming here to share with the board), so I don't want to be spoiled.


Isn't the spoiler limit page 263? I've read about 20 more pages but I was careful not to post anything from after the spoiler line. The pages at the end are footnotes, so you should've read them already.


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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:38 pm 
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Ack, dumb dumb self-righteous me. Stephaniejane, I'm sorry. :oops:

I *thought* I read the footnotes closely but this shows me just how much I've forgotten already. Maybe it's time to re-read the filmography.

You're keeping excellent notes.


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 Post subject: Re: Recursive Loops
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:07 pm 
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Actually, I think there IS a spoiler in the EverybodyHurts post earlier in the thread. EverybodyHurts describes what happens in the Entertainment and as far as I've read (page 350 or so) we haven't had an actual description from DFW.


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