Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Re: "A whole lotta lyin goin on" at Infinite Summer
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:21 pm 
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This was my first time reading it, and I kind of wish I hadn't known that certain things were going to happen in the book, that I could have experienced the whole thing for myself.

There's forums (fora?) on here for either spoiler-free or spoiler-ripe discussions. What's the problem?


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 Post subject: Re: "A whole lotta lyin goin on" at Infinite Summer
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:05 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:16 am
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A few comments about the growing dissatisfaction with the whole (hole) spoiler line ploy, or, as I called it, the Platonic noble lie. This morning I went to Gary Canavan and to Infinite Detox (among others) and noted their growing impatience with the idea of the spoiler line. I say this, not as an argument to the authority of these two bloggers, but only to place on exhibit several interesting takes on the question.

Full disclosure. I am now in the phase of "parting shots." I'm embarrassed by much of what I've written here, and slightly less so concerning other points I've brought up. One thing seems certain to me: the idea of the spoiler is especially inadequate w/r/t this novel. Where the whole thing gets complicated is when we begin to consider the plight or situation or luck of people happening upon the novel for the first time. (This was my case, BTW) There's something, there's a lot to be said about building boundaries, walls, institutional nets around the presupposed experience of people who don't want to be interrupted, or taught to, during their original, if not origniary, reading experience. Once again, I have no problem with that. I would love for it to pan out one day absolutely true. Unfortunately, I think Orin is right on the experiential plane: how can anyone imagine something like a virginal experience? Obviously, JOI does, and since, from the onset of infinite summer, I've been out to defend the cause of JOI, it would be disengenuous for me all of a sudden to preach the inevitability of being fucked. So I won't do that.

What I will do is to defent another kind of innocence. Not the one that comes from any sort of first time, but the one that insists throughout repetitions and the boredom those imply. I'm sure that there are many people "out there" who have taken the spoiler line dictate very seriously, and I claim that these people could have benefited from what was, and is, going on next door, given that in both cases there's precious little to spoil. (I'm sure I should post on the impossibility of spoilers, but as long as the general tone remains what it is here, I shall wait) The stakes are not ruining (spoiling) people's expectations, or entertaining them for as long as possible in the hope or expectation that things will in the end work out or resolve themselves. The stakes are, on the contrary, learning in the shock of recognition to what extent the author has taken this up, and is taking care of us. The spoiler stipulation turns the author into an Agatha Christie. Once again, thered are very good reasons for entertaining this kind of illusion, but perhaps not in the case of a novel which so often sends its readers off the edge and into nothingness, not for nothing, but only to further entertain the possibility that reading as we know it is something still to come.


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 Post subject: Re: "A whole lotta lyin goin on" at Infinite Summer
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:52 pm
Posts: 41
Ok, I'll give it one more try...

tomcollins wrote:
Full disclosure. I am now in the phase of "parting shots." I'm embarrassed by much of what I've written here, and slightly less so concerning other points I've brought up. One thing seems certain to me: the idea of the spoiler is especially inadequate w/r/t this novel. Where the whole thing gets complicated is when we begin to consider the plight or situation or luck of people happening upon the novel for the first time. (This was my case, BTW) There's something, there's a lot to be said about building boundaries, walls, institutional nets around the presupposed experience of people who don't want to be interrupted, or taught to, during their original, if not origniary, reading experience. Once again, I have no problem with that. I would love for it to pan out one day absolutely true. Unfortunately, I think Orin is right on the experiential plane: how can anyone imagine something like a virginal experience? Obviously, JOI does, and since, from the onset of infinite summer, I've been out to defend the cause of JOI, it would be disengenuous for me all of a sudden to preach the inevitability of being fucked. So I won't do that.

I only included this part so it wouldn't look like I was sneakily redacting for my own benefit. There's not much to respond to here, though--you begin by repeating yourself, with virtually no reference made to anything I've written. Then, beginning with "Once again, I have no problem..." you go off on a tangent that really doesn't make any sense to me. I know you like this rambling, pun-heavy language that is sort of in vogue among the intelligentsia these days, but you're sacrificing too much clarity. Help me out here.

tomcollins wrote:
What I will do is to defent another kind of innocence. Not the one that comes from any sort of first time, but the one that insists throughout repetitions and the boredom those imply. I'm sure that there are many people "out there" who have taken the spoiler line dictate very seriously, and I claim that these people could have benefited from what was, and is, going on next door, given that in both cases there's precious little to spoil.

Yes, we understand your basic claim. This is about the fourth time you've repeated it in this thread.

tomcollins wrote:
(I'm sure I should post on the impossibility of spoilers, but as long as the general tone remains what it is here, I shall wait)

THERE!! This is what's been confusing everyone from the start of this thread, and this is the first time you've even acknowledged that! Why would you withhold the keystone of your argument? It's this little bit of unpacking that would serve to change the "general tone" around here. It's like you're explicitly refusing to have a conversation, which is really confusing to me. Look, I'm sorry if my responses have come off as too combative or dismissive or whatever, but I'm trying my best to respond in a rigorous way to your posts (a courtesy you haven't yet extended to me, I might add).

tomcollins wrote:
The stakes are not ruining (spoiling) people's expectations, or entertaining them for as long as possible in the hope or expectation that things will in the end work out or resolve themselves. The stakes are, on the contrary, learning in the shock of recognition to what extent the author has taken this up, and is taking care of us. The spoiler stipulation turns the author into an Agatha Christie.

It sounds like you're proposing that the way to read a book like IJ is not to read it, but to sort of watch yourself read it. I fully recognize that DFW saw writing/reading fiction as a kind of conversation between two heads, but that part of it comes naturally, don't you think? You don't need to sacrifice the part that's "a lot of fun" to get the part that "makes you feel full." (I'm quoting from some comments DFW made at his first interview with Charlie Rose).

tomcollins wrote:
Once again, thered are very good reasons for entertaining this kind of illusion, but perhaps not in the case of a novel which so often sends its readers off the edge and into nothingness, not for nothing, but only to further entertain the possibility that reading as we know it is something still to come.

Again, this doesn't make any sense. I cannot even begin to guess at what "reading as we know it is something still to come" could mean.

From what I can tell, this thread can go one of two ways from here: you can make that post on the impossibility of spoilers that you made reference to above, and we can talk about it, or else you can keep refusing to make that post (for reasons that are, quite frankly, a little mysterious), and this idea of yours will remain inscrutable to everyone but you.


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 Post subject: Re: "A whole lotta lyin goin on" at Infinite Summer
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:23 am 
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Well yes, I think it ought to be possible to continue discussing the spoiler line issue, because it brings up many interesting issues on what reading actually is. And I don't thing the "end" of IS ought to impinge on this golden opportunity to discuss the issue w/r/t one of the books that is so intimately involved with it.
I have a few examples to throw out, before returning to Plato. (I still maintain that the spoiler line is an excellent exemplification of the noble lie). The BBC chruned out a few years ago an excellent television version of "Pride and Prejudice." The producer was filmed in the 'making of' section of the DVD saying that every time she read the book that ole magic started working all over again. And it seems to me that all people who read the Bible know in advance what's going to happen, and that everyone, newcomers and old-timers alike, is set aback and disturbed by the empty tomb. How "revealing" that piece of information might spoil anything is beyond me.

Another example, and another take. When JOI reveals a huge segment of his psyche to his oldest son, saying that the spoiler line is real and crucial as regards sexual initiation, Hal picks up on what's so extraordinary about this moment. I feel like Orin concerning this whole topic, because I didn't respect the spoiler line, and have only dull, or funny memories of sexual initiation. I'm sure both attitudes are tied up with one another. On the way to full disclosure.

The most interesting thing I have come up since last posting on this subject (faced with an overwhelming majority of people who love the spoiler line like a domestic animal you can't do without, the only option is to retreat, and chill off a bit, and survey the area so as to admit that there truly is an issue here. I'm glad I'm not alone at least on this preliminary point) is on the site "Brain Hammer" and concerns surprising results gleaned from a study of the place of suspense in reader reception. To be frank, I no longer remember the conclusions that might be drawn, (they may all fall on the side of the clear majority of people who have invested in a first-time experience) and for the moment I'm intent simply on keeping track of a few of you, to keep this discussion alive.

BTW: I'm the first to admit and to regret the fact that I don't express myself clearly. Apologies are in order, so there!


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