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The wonder of Mario
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Author:  beatnik [ Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:08 pm ]
Post subject:  The wonder of Mario

I'm drawn to the idea that Mario represents a counterbalance to practically everyone else in IJ. His devotion to Madame Psychosis, his bewilderment over the Moms's lack of tears at his father's memorial service, his inability to recognize (let alone address) the advances of the U.S.S. Millicent Kent, his gleeful rides with Schtitt via motorcycle on late-night ice cream runs, all reveal a gentle, unalterable innocence that I find rare among the other characters in the book.

Unalterable, particularly when Mario "...can't tell if Hal is sad." Something seems amiss because "He doesn't have to wonder if the difference now is him or his brother because Mario never changes."

Despite his childlike innocence, Mario is no dummy. Physical characteristics aside (I still have trouble visualizing him, particularly how the police lock turns him into a human tripod), Mario seems adept at emulating his father's filmmaking skills, through the use of camera and editing equipment virtually bequeathed to him (showing an early aptitude, in Endnote 234, as Orin describes him mimicking JOI: "...and fucking Booboo also trying to make that frame with his hands..."). I'd call him gutsy, too, for the insomniac walks he takes through tough neighborhoods, making friends along the way, nonetheless. Perhaps the combination of his outward innocence, his film expertise and what I perceive as a peculiar strength of character might make Mario more of a key figure in the Entertainment aspect of the story than we might suspect at this point.

In all, I'm finding Mario to be a singularly wondrous person in a book full of wildly divergent characters, particularly because of his devotion to his little brother: "Mario loves Hal so much it makes his heart beat hard." I had to read that passage over and over again, the first time I encountered it.

Author:  Dorothy W. [ Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

I think Mario is absolutely wonderful also, and I'm very worried that something bad will happen to him. Please no!

Author:  naptimewriting [ Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

I think part of the beauty of Mario is his openness, his complete honesty and lack of cynicism with emotion. To me, this week's reading included one of the most crucial lines of the novel, in terms of an anti-Derridean rejection of poststructuralist dehumanization and a moving-beyond-postmodernism's irony and self reference:
"The older Mario gets, the more confused he gets about the fact that everyone at E.T.A. over the gae of about Kent Blott finds stuff that's really real uncomfortable and they get embarrassed. it's like there's some rule that real stuff can only get mentioned if everybody rolls their eyes or laughs in a way that isn't happy" (592).

Mario is touchingly human. So why, readers, does he have to be so unbelievably not-quite-human, physically? Is the only way to make poignancy palatable to house its beating heart into something outrageously almost-not-human?

Author:  katrinaruth [ Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

WELL. in regards to that last point: i feel like dfw is making a statement about disability in general throughout the entire book. i have never in my life read a book that had so much variety in terms of the physical manifestations of the people involved. ie i have never read a book that had so much visible disability in it.

i haven't thought about it long enough or hard enough to know what sort of a statement dfw might be trying to make, but i don't think that it is "to be less than fully able-bodied is to be more human of spirit," because this is obviously not the case with the wheelchair gang.

there is a clear statement made about bodies throughout the entirety of the book. i remember it being sort of discussed somewhere else in the forums, but i don't remember exactly where.

it just seems clear to me, though, that how people interact with/interface with/use/misuse their bodies develops their character in a certain way. maybe it is the challenges that mario physically faces that keeps him human. and maybe the abuse the wheelchair gang has subjected themselves to gives them their edge. and in terms of the addicts and bodies? i would have to think about it more to figure out what i think that one is saying. not to mention the tennis boys and their bodies! so many bodies, so many different pictures of the human spirit.

Author:  EverybodyHurts [ Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

There is so much focus on physical deformities/damage/hurt in this story. Lots of asymmetry too: hypertrophied legs, arms, eyes different, leg lengths, head size, shape, missing skulls, missing digits, misshapen features, cachectic Poor Tony, morbidly obese Mrs. Lenz, people in disguises, people with masks, veils, people marking their bodies with tattoos, or having their bodies abused in various ways. Or actively abusing their bodies via smoking, drinking, drug use, jumping in front of trains, or hiding behind videophone dioramas. People in wheelchairs, people in closets, people in specially made contraptions to keep their bodies and heads upright/in place. People in cages....

Maybe, like Lucien and Mario, DFW is trying to tell us that our real self is within and what's really important is what's not visible. As long as we don't look away and giggle nervously and ignore its importance.

Author:  beatnik [ Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

Quote:
Physical characteristics aside (I still have trouble visualizing him, particularly how the police lock turns him into a human tripod),


I just realized that I know exactly who Mario reminds me of, and I hope no one will take offense at my visual comparison. I remain an ardent fan of the late French jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani, whose condition (osteogenensis imperfecta, or 'brittle-bone' disease), led to his severely stunted growth, but allowed him a pair of powerful hands with which he performed unbelievably complex, gorgeous music. (Even if you're not into jazz, I sincerely hope you'll check him out.)

I've read Michel P. interviews over the years, and I wouldn't be surprised if D.F.W. might have read some, as well. A stretch on my part, for sure...

Author:  katrinaruth [ Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

EverybodyHurts wrote:

Maybe, like Lucien and Mario, DFW is trying to tell us that our real self is within and what's really important is what's not visible. As long as we don't look away and giggle nervously and ignore its importance.


well yes this is important. and i'm not giggling and nervously looking away, but simply assuming there is something deeper up DFWs sleeve.

Author:  beatnik [ Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

naptimewriting wrote:
Quote:
...in terms of an anti-Derridean rejection of poststructuralist dehumanization and a moving-beyond-postmodernism's irony and self reference...


Wow, I think I just felt my paradigm shift a little. :)

Author:  naptimewriting [ Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

beatnik wrote:
naptimewriting wrote:
Quote:
...in terms of an anti-Derridean rejection of poststructuralist dehumanization and a moving-beyond-postmodernism's irony and self reference...


Wow, I think I just felt my paradigm shift a little. :)


Yeah, sorry. Sometimes, when it's late, I slip a little an go all subhuman and lit crit. Terrible, abhorrent habit that is not dying as hard as I'd like it to. I'll try to only post when well rested. ;-)

Author:  testforecho [ Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The wonder of Mario

Here's an earlier post on Mario that you may find interesting.

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