Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Narrators
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:38 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:02 pm
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There are a few first person sections with Hal, JOI, Wardene/Clennete(?) Marlon Bain's correspondence with Steeply. But who is the anonymous ETA student first person narrator in the early dream sequence pgs. 60-63 and near the end of the book Pre-Fundraiser Exhibition Fête pgs. 964-971?

And but so who is the narrator for the rest of the book? I mean I know it's a 3rd person narrator (duh) and maybe I'm over thinking it, but there seems to be something else going on here.


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 Post subject: Re: Narrators
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:31 am 
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1baldboy wrote:
TBut who is the anonymous ETA student first person narrator in the early dream sequence pgs. 60-63 and near the end of the book Pre-Fundraiser Exhibition Fête pgs. 964-971?


I've been of the opinion that p60-63 is Hal - see also a short ref at the top of p175 that implies it's either Hal or Mario. Mario seems kinda unlikely because the voice doesn't appear to fit with the way he's described elsewhere. But it doesn't exactly sound like Hal, either. And nice catch for noticing that 964-971 is somebody else. Darned if I know who, though.

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And but so who is the narrator for the rest of the book? I mean I know it's a 3rd person narrator (duh) and maybe I'm over thinking it, but there seems to be something else going on here.


I don't think you can posit a character who could potentially be the Omniscient 3rd Person Narrator - too many places, too many people.

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 Post subject: Re: Narrators
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:18 am 
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Spoiler! "I'm pretty sure that p 61-63 is Hal. It's a kind of flashback to when he was around 13. It's like he starts out on this narrative about Troeltsch and then gets on a tangent about dreams.

On page 254, in his discussion with Orin about the time post Himself's death, Hal says, "This was when the nightmares started. I kept dreaming of a face in the floor.""


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 Post subject: Re: Narrators
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 2:15 pm 
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I can see where it might be Hal who's narrating the dream sequence but there's the line about the "first nightmare away from home and folks, your first night at the Academy" and that keeps throwing me. It doesn't seem like this would apply to Hal. Also references other boys in bunks in the room, but Hal rooms with Mario. Although if he's younger in this sequence he may have had other roomates at one point, I don't recall off the top of my head.


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 Post subject: Re: Narrators
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:22 am 
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DFW was definitely interested in doing unusual work with narrative perspective. Allen just posted a link to a 2005 Wallace syllabus (http://infinitesummer.org/archives/569/ ... mment-1019) that includes Lynda Lloyd's story Poor Boy. DFW assigned the same story in the course I took with him in 1987, so it's fair to say the story stuck with him. Poor Boy is written from the perspective of first-person-dead.


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 Post subject: Re: Narrators
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:11 am 
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For some reason in thinking about the narrators in IJ Himself's film The Joke came to me... certainly the book is named after another of Himself's films, but couldn't there be elements of us "watching [our]sel[ves] watch [our]sel[ves] get the obvious 'joke' and become increasingly self-conscious and uncomfortable and hostile"? Not that our hostile reaction to the book seems to be DFW's ultimate goal, or that many of Himself's stuff is supposed to be as theoretically-somber as he (Himself) takes it to be. I suppose more fully fleshed-out ideas about narrative will arise once we finally get to p. 981...


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 Post subject: Re: Narrators
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:58 pm 
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With respect to the identity of the third person narrator, what is your take on the following at the end of note 123: "It's going to be interesting to see if [sic] Hal, who thinks he's just too sly trying to outline Eschaton in the 3rd-person tense [sic] like some jowly old Eschatologist. . ."?


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 Post subject: Re: Narrators
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:48 pm 
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Re: Hal narrating Eschaton/being an Eschatologist (a studier of the ends of worlds, presumably), this is, for me, one of the trickiest sections for narration if only because it is the one where it seems like Hal and Pemulis are co-writing/re-writing the endnotes. Part of the explanation for this is the reference to a manual of Eschaton that Pemulis made Hal write a few years prior (i.e. these endnotes, including formulas like HALSADICK could work as if they were endnotes taken from that Manual, but the endnotes for Eschaton also contain apparant "endnotes" to the current action during THIS game of Eschaton. Oh, and notice that it is during Eschaton that Hal first starts wondering if his face is doing what he thinks it is doing, albeit in a more traditional stoner-weirdness moment rather than all-out opening-of-the-novel-weirdness moment, and if Hal's condition by the Year of Glad in any way links to the possible status of Hal as narrator for some/all of novel, it would seem significant that some of the narration weirdness bubbles to the surface at the same time as his first symptoms.


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