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: The Annulus in IJ
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:39 pm 
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The word "annulus" comes up an awful darn lot in IJ. So, pardon me if I'm slow, but the light bulb finally went on in my head when I read this from DFW's earlier essay: "E Unam Pluribus: Television and U.S. Fiction" (regarding addiction to television):

Quote:
Many addictions, from exercise to letter-writing, are pretty
benign. But something is malignantly addictive if (1) it causes real problems
for the addict, and (2) it offers itself as relief from the very problems
it causes.


So I get how the problems of substance use create the need to use more substances to escape the problems. This is how addictions take over and ruin your life. Then I saw the connection between addiction, the great Concavity and "annular fusion." The Concavity is the result of "annular fusion" in the novel, which I would expect would be some kind of way to make cheap energy / electricity. There is a statement somewhere to the effect that annular fusion creates a huge amount of toxic / radioactive waste, and the waste is or was supposed to be used as fuel for the 2nd phase of the fusion cycle, but this somehow creates even more waste. So "Annular Fusion" meets the two prongs of the definition of addiction above, and resulted in the need for the Concavity to dispose of the waste. My mind was blown when I realized DFW is saying that this annular cycle is not confined to individuals, it can operate at massive societal levels in the political system and the culture. (Various recent military and/or economic interventions come to mind.)

References to rings and annuli are showing up in the novel like ants at a picnic. Anybody else see more circular, annular images or meanings in the novel?


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 Post subject: Re: The Annulus in IJ
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:50 pm 
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The defining characteristic of fractals like the Sierpinski Gasket, is that their structure repeats itself on many different scales. Fractal models have been used to describe various natural and social systems, like the ridge of a mountain, the growth of cities, and even the stock market. It's pretty wild how Wallace manages to describe this cycle of addiction and waste at so many levels.


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 Post subject: Re: The Annulus in IJ
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:01 pm 
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Wow, very perceptive comments. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: The Annulus in IJ
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:15 am 
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Just one little twist and you have a lemniscate (infinity symbol) that also corresponds to the Moebius strip.

My pet theory is that the whole book is shaped like an infinity symbol (hence the same no. of pages in every edition.)

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The dorks are saving the nation, and this book proves it. Dorkismo: the Macho of the Dork


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 Post subject: Re: The Annulus in IJ
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:56 am 
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There's another post about this that might be interesting:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=292

I'm trying to unpack the moon/orbit imagery. The person who called into 60 +/- (who btw had a cultured stutter - do any of these characters so far have a cultured stutter?) said that the moon revolves around the earth but doesn't revolve itself, which is why we always see the same side. But that's not true.. the moon does revolve but it is in synchronous rotation with the earth. What this means, I don't know yet. But there sure are a lot of references to moon-like things that never turn away. I've been trying to tie in the moon as symbolic of human/US achievement... maybe it's relevant that we spent so much time and money and even a few human lives to get to the moon, but that achievement was mostly symbolic and didn't really get us anything other than bragging rights. Sorry, this started out being about orbits but ended up here. If anyone else can tie this into orbits and annularity I'd appreciate it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Annulus in IJ
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:59 am 
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Only character I can think of so far with a stutter is E.T.A. instructor Corbett Thorp (p. 456): "Thorp's a first-rate tennis mind, but his terrible stutter makes the boys so uncomfortable they have a hard time listening."


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