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: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:36 am
Posts: 20
I think I'm not the only first-time reader who's been circling, sniffing, skimming (the surface of) endnote 304, but hasn't dived in (to borrow Matthew Baldwin's Dead Sea analogy). I feel like those of us in the same boat might benefit from a public 'pact' of sorts to get through it (as someone else said, we ARE reading a 981-page novel, so what's another 10 pages? even if they're really small print....)

I hereby (fingers raised) publicly vow to not move forward with my reading of the main text until I have read footnote 304. Also putting footnote 304 on my immediate 'to do' list.

Anyone else invited to join in public 304 pacting in whatever form you like.

PS: I just watched the Charlie Rose interview with DFW from after "Supposedly Fun Thing," and oh man, it hit me in the gut all over again. DFW's loss, I mean. That, and Charlie Rose is an ass. You can find the video online.


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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:12 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:50 pm
Posts: 71
I think it's fascinating how the very fact that they are called 'endnotes' inspires such resistance to them. They are as much a part of the novel; they are just pieces that have been relocated, with a smaller font. Had this endnote (or the filmography) been included as its own chapter, or just listed inline with the regular text, there would be no question of skipping or skimming it.

I think it's pretty funny, and I wonder if that aspect was part of DFW's intention (though I had always seen it and much of his writing as a kind of riff on academic writing). It seems to indicate that some people approach even reading for enjoyment as a kind of task to get through. It's like a literary equivalent of "Is this information going to be on the test?"

Not to put down how people choose to read it, of course. It just seems a strange and kind of arbitrary psychological phenomenon.


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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:36 am
Posts: 20
Quote:
Not to put down how people choose to read it, of course. It just seems a strange and kind of arbitrary psychological phenomenon.


Yes, troybob, it is a strange and arbitrary psychological phenomenon, no doubt about it. In the interview I was just watching, DFW talks about how prose is linear and sort of moving forward in a clean line, and endnotes were one tool he used to 'fragment' the text, which he felt was a better reflection (not the word he used) of the reality he lived in.
And I guess there's a pull forward that the main text effects on me as the reader, and the endnote is a path that's branching off. I want to know what the endnote says, but I also want to keep going with the main text. And those two paths are now in competition. The endnote feels more 'optional' because it's not the main text and it's in smaller print, so it's the one that loses out to the 'seduction' (a word DFW uses in the interview) of the main text. So yeah, it's funny how DFW is competing with DFW in that way.


And I was sort of laughing at myself with the pacting business too. I am enjoying the book terribly much, and even though I initially joined inifinitesummer partly because of the added "discipline" of the weekly goals, the group read is not working as a negative reinforcement anymore, just as an added pleasure.


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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:50 pm
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Yeah, it's really neat to see the different approaches to reading the novel that we talk about here. It's like DFW found a way to play with each of us as individuals rather than as a single combined readership.


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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:40 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:01 pm
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Location: Mansfield, MA
Just want to add my encouragement to those intimidated or put off in some way by the endnotes. They contain some real funny stuff, some honest-to-goodness belly laughs. Yes, the smaller font is a bitch, but maybe you could set aside 30-45 minutes tomorrow night where, instead of plowing along in the main text, you can just read footnote whatever # that's standing there like a road block. It'll be worth it, I promise you. Then continue the next day with the main text. It's all good.

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"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you." DFW


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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:23 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:36 pm
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Location: Korea
Yes, at first I was intimidated by FN 304, but then I got into the history of The French Canadians version of "Chicken". Wow. I wonder if there were any copy cats for this game. Potentially? Don't worry there are other long footnotes to worry about. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:55 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:21 pm
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Location: Fresyes, CA
troybob wrote:
I think it's fascinating how the very fact that they are called 'endnotes' inspires such resistance to them...It just seems a strange and kind of arbitrary psychological phenomenon.

Hacky device! Hacky device! Literary postmodern deconstructionism run amok! It's clever the first time, it's cute the second time, and it's a pain in the ass when it's 96 pages of 388 footnotes in 9-point type. But I will read 304 anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:20 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:00 pm
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Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
RroseSelavy wrote:
Quote:
Not to put down how people choose to read it, of course. It just seems a strange and kind of arbitrary psychological phenomenon.


The endnote feels more 'optional' because it's not the main text and it's in smaller print, so it's the one that loses out to the 'seduction' (a word DFW uses in the interview) of the main text.


True. He tricks you here, as well, because some of the endnotes are almost throw away, and others are more detailed than the main text itself, and are obviously crucial to understanding the main text. He creates a type of hypertext, with all the linking from note to note. I like it.

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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:35 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:05 am
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I came into this project thinking the endnotes were a pretentious affectation. But now that I'm 200 pages in (no spoilers!), I have completely changed my opinion on that. As a previous commenter said, some are throwaways, but some are hilarious and/or super-important to the story (eg - filmography). I think the dichotomy of the important vs. the throwaways is a kind of meta-joke in its own right. And what he chooses to endnote is perfectly appropriate to take out of the main story.

All that said, I was resistant to 304 when it came, more because I thought it was DFW telling us that there was more info, but that to read it at this point would be its own spoiler. Otherwise, why not endnote it at that place in the main text rather than near the end? Regardless, I did go and read it, and I suggest everyone do the same. It answered so many questions I was having at the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Pact to get through Endnote 304
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:19 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:54 pm
Posts: 9
Not sure exactly what the spoiler policy for EN304 is, so I'll be vague: I think its second half is some of DFW's finest writing so far. It's interesting the way he primes your brain to accept information, leading in with very dense, exhausting language and content that serves to wear you down while making you concentrate. Then all of the sudden you sort of emerge into this lucid clearing, in which the author of the text about the Wheelchair Assassins (which author seems very familiar in his habits to a certain member of the Incandenza clan...) begins talking at length about the Canadian "chicken" vs. the train game/recruitment tool, and the whole passage just rings with authenticity (whatever that means). I guess what I'm trying to say is that, of all the things I'll remember after finishing IJ, the Canadian chicken stuff will be one of the things that sticks in my head the most—the incident of which I'll retain the clearest visualization.

The "Eternal Kiss" game was also fascinating to read about, and somehow seemed particularly French.


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