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: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:16 pm
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Location: North Dakota
On pg249 Hal talks about clipping his nail as an exercise in Telemachry. I look at this seciton as one where DFW is talking about IJ to us. It's like he's troubled by the book and expresses it through Hal:

"I'm still frozen, by the way. The self-conciousness that kills the magic is getting worse and worse. This is why Pemulis and Troeltsch always seem to let a lead slip away. The standard term is Tightening Up. The clippers (fingers) are poised on either side of the nail (pen). I just can't achieve the unconsciousness to actually clip (write). Maybe it was cleaning up the few that missed (editing what DFW didn't like). Suddenly the wastebasket (book) no seems like an exercise in telemachry."

Telemachry refers to the first four books of the Odyssey, one of those hefty encyclopedic works we're discussing in other threads. The word is derived from the name of Odysseus' son Telemachus. Telemachus is a major template of Joyce's character Stephen Dedalus in Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. Dedalus is also based on Hamlet.

Perhaps DFW is, in this moment, venting his concerns about repeating a trick that's already been done by other authors. Is Hal talking about more than clipping toe nails? Is this about how following an old path is frustrating to DFW/devoid of the magic now that he's thinking about it? In Broom of the System, DFW reconcieved Crying of Lot 49. In IJ, he's doing something similar and perhaps this section is DFW admitting to that and to the incredible struggle IJ is to write?


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 Post subject: Re: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:17 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:25 am
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Posts like this make me wish I had a forum to discuss every book I read. This would've gone straight over my head, had you not pointed it out. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:00 pm 
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To be totally upfront and honest, I stumbled over this one when I wanted to know what the heck Telemachry meant. Probably wouldn't have come up with this if the word didn't sound so tantalizing and this could just be me going off on tangents that aren't really there at all. Fun to speculate though!


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 Post subject: Re: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:57 pm 
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I still don't know what telemachry means.

I have this vague recollection of Telemachus pouring blood into some hole and the dead speaking through it.

It's funny that one website it was telematry. And I read it as telematry. Like he was getting things to go where he wanted them to with his mind.

I had an obsession with telematry as a kid and I have a lot of telematric dreams where my mind can move things. That made more sense to me.

But I guess it is a made-up word.


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 Post subject: Re: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:17 pm 
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The guy with the blood in the trench was Telemachus's father Odysseus...but but but you're onto something here. I hadn't even thought to connect telemarchy with Telemachus, but Telemachus is a callow youth hopelessly overshadowed by his legendary father which might have *some* relevance here :)
Good catch!


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 Post subject: Re: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:32 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:16 pm
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Location: North Dakota
Tread carefully virgin readers, this is one of the mega-taboo spoilers for the people who don't things being spoiled:

Spoiler! "The whole Odysseus being dead in the mind of the Telemachus only to later learn that Odysseus is not actually dead when he shows up again in old man costume "thing" intrigues me too. I'm not suggesting that JOI doesn't die in the microwaved head scene, I think he probably did. But the return of Odysseus and the return of JOI suggest to me that Hal may come in contact with his father's ghost. The Hamlet connections reinforce speculation about the plausibility. Odysseus must have seemed ghostlike to Telemachus at first (haven't read my Homer in a while so I just have the general gist of the story). Also, I feel like even if JOI-wraith only ever speaks to Gately, shouldn't he know what is or is not buried with the body?

Really out on a limb of conspiracy...don't read...ok, do, but give me a break for thinking like this...IJ does things to you sometimes.

[spoiler]Finally and somewhat out there...ok, really out there...is it really even a wraith? Suppose JOI isn't dead (more Odyssey than Hamlet in that regard?). Could it be a hologram that Gately encounters? Is that why Dennis Gabor is the antichrist? Was Hal somehow shocked speechless by the discovery that his father hasn't actually died? I mean, a headless body could be hard for a child to identify...Someone please knock me back in line before the foam starts flecking(one of my favorite descriptions in IJ by the way)!"
[/spoiler]


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 Post subject: Re: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:49 am 
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Posts: 30
miel wrote:
I still don't know what telemachry means.

I have this vague recollection of Telemachus pouring blood into some hole and the dead speaking through it.

It's funny that one website it was telematry. And I read it as telematry. Like he was getting things to go where he wanted them to with his mind.

I had an obsession with telematry as a kid and I have a lot of telematric dreams where my mind can move things. That made more sense to me.

But I guess it is a made-up word.


You're thinking of telekinesis. Telemetry is "a technology that allows remote measurement and reporting of information" (according to wiki).

This was a very good catch, storm. I'm so glad I'm reading this book with people more observant than myself. Like stephaniejane, it makes me wish I could discuss every book I read like this.

_________________
"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


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 Post subject: Re: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:34 pm 
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Whats weird is that Orin corrected Hal with "telemetry." All of this Telemachus stuff went over my head as well, and not having access to a dictionary at the time, I didnt get the chance to look any of it up.

But, I remember when I was reading it, Hal used "telemachry" and Orin says something like "I think you mean telemetry" and I said to myself "No, I have no idea what telemachry means, but I dont think he meant telemetry either." =P


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 Post subject: Re: An exercise in Telemachry
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:11 pm
Posts: 91
one of my favorite wordplays in the book...and, of course, Hal is verbally and vocabularily clever enough to be quite possibly entertaining himself by "accidentally" throwing trick words into the conversation with Orin he seems to really not want to be having...sort of his own way of seeing if Orin is paying any attention to his attempt to stop the conversation about J.O.I.'s suicide precisely by throwing in a word (neologism or not) that itself mocks what Orin is interested in, since, really, when it comes down to it, obsessively looking for his father is about all Telemachus is known for, especially as a literary trope of any kind. Incidentally, I was kinda surprised by how the article on the main IS page a day or two ago (and a significant number of the reply posts) seemed to think this passage reflected really poorly on Hal...it strikes me as hugely understandable both that (a) he might be annoyed by these out of nowhere demands that he discuss traumatic things with the brother who has abandoned the family and is apparantly going out of his (Orin's) way to be bit of a prick to his mom and (b) that his discomfort dealing with the grief therapist/others insisting on particular "proof" that he is grieving appropriately doesn't say a damn thing whatsoever on any level at all about what his thoughts or feelings about what he experienced were. Gotta say I'd always and in every way keep my distance from the impulse a lot of people apparantly have to see people's emotional life as best expressed or "worked through" through low budget versions of an Oprah interview.


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