Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Re: Infinite Jest (V?)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:08 am 
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Philip wrote:
I'm wondering, though, how we know that there is a full one-year gap between the action at the end of the novel, which takes place at the end of November, YADU, and Hal's interview in Arizona, which takes place sometime in the Year of Glad during the WhataBurger tournament.


The second sentence of the novel describes the setting as "double-windowed against the November heat" (p 3). I was thrown off in that later on p 3 one of the Deans indicates Hal's date of graduation as "approximately one month from now," but it is possible that Hal has had an accelerated course through high school; and November seems more logical as a date for an admissions interview, as compared to April or May.

(Also of maybe some interest: On p 16, Hal recalls that his only other trip to an emergency room was "almost exactly one year back," which might allude to his DMZ experience around 20 Nov YDAU.)


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 Post subject: Re: Infinite Jest (V?)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:25 am 
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Thanks, troybob! "Double-windowed against the November heat" nails it down. There's a one-year gap between the end of IJ and the beginning.


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 Post subject: Re: Infinite Jest (V?)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:41 am 
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And here's more evidence:

On p. 217, Pemulis has scored the DMZ from the Antitoi brothers. He and Hal are deciding whether to take it, how much to take, and when. They also need time to come down. "So, they conclude, the window of opportunity looks to be 11/20-21 . . . the weekend right before Thanksgiving week and the WhataBurger Invitational in sunny AZ."

On p. 307, Ted Schact is writing a mid-term exam for Esther Thode's "The Personal Is the Political Is the Psychopathologilcal: The Politics of Contemporary Psychopathological Double-Binds" class. The date of the exam is November 7, YADU. At the same time, Jim Troeltsch is broadcasting over the E.T.A. intercom system. Troeltsch wants to be a broadcaster, and he "shamelessly kiss-asses . . . sportscasters whenever he's on the scene of an I/SPN-recorded jr. event." This last part is footnoted 107. Note 107 says: "E.g. the Whataburger Invitational will allegedly be recorded for fringe-market viewing, later this month."

So the next WhataBurger Invitational takes place in late November, YADU. Hal's breakdown/madness/whatever you want to call it takes place during the WhataBurger in the Year of Glad. There's a one-year gap between the action at end of IJ and the beginning.

I'm sorry to have figured this out.


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 Post subject: Re: Infinite Jest (V?)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:21 pm 
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Philip wrote:
There's a one-year gap between the action at end of IJ and the beginning.

I'm sorry to have figured this out.


No need to be sorry; I don't think you've spoiled anything for yourself. The gap always seemed clear to me, at least once we get the list of Sponsored Years.

Here's a funny thing: I just now discovered, since I started composing this message, that I've been misreading p16-17. "At the only other emergency room I have been in...," starts a reminiscence, but I read it rather as a comparison, sort of "As at the only other....".

So it didn't register on me until now that Hal has been taken to a hospital on a psychiatric stretcher in YDAU, and that the first visit is where he encountered the woman with the Quebecois accent.

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 Post subject: Re: Infinite Jest (V?)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 4:47 pm 
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I'm glad somebody asked.

I'm sorry about the one-year gap, because now any kind of bizzare or non-bizzare or just- about-anything-goes speculation about what happened during that year is possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Infinite Jest (V?)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:02 pm 
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I think you're right that the major event happens the weekend of the fundraiser/AFR raid. The next weekend is Whataburger and we know Hal plays really well during that tournament. We also know that the SATs are on 12/22 and that Hal does incredibly poorly on those, particularly so in the Verbal section which is, to say the least, out of character for Harold J. Incandenza.

The issue with Hal taking DMZ is that there doesn't appear to be a good time for him to have dropped it, assuming the AFR grab him straight from ETA and haul him up north to dig up his Dad with Gately and JNR Wayne.

Then again, the AFR may not have kicked off the Quebecois players (though I think they were planning to do that) and let the kids play, and then only kidnapped Hal after he'd played his match and had time to relax and drop DMZ with Pemulis and Troelsch. (Is it Troelsch who's going to do it with them?) Avril's presence at ETA when the AFR show up is also an interesting twist. I.e., what does she do when they try to kidnap Hal?

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 Post subject: Re: Infinite Jest (V?)
PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2009 8:23 am 
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Not just because of the anticonfluential ending we all at least should have known was coming but also because of all the addicts who find that they have lost pieces of themselves--whole years, in fact, for Gately--that's why the novel cannot include that missing year.

Wallace doesn't leave us hanging though. We know that Hal's alive, and there's plenty of information given that we can piece together.

Hal ends up in the hospital after the whole A.F.R. incident at E.T.A., probably because John Wayne dosed him with DMZ as a way of getting him moved. He's then "captured," so to speak, or securely interrogated under the guise of psychiatric care, by the Quebocois. This is perhaps where he meets Don Gately, and the two are then forced by John Wayne to go to the Concavity/Convexity to dig up the Master (though perhaps not *forced*, as Gately dreams that they're running out of time to *save* the world, which means either that Wayne's lying to them, or that *this* Master is perhaps the vaguely referenced anti-Entertainment [i.e., the antidote], and Wayne's working as a triple agent).

Whatever the case--"Too late," Hal mouths, ominously--he winds up back at E.T.A., better at tennis than ever, though apparently heading to college rather than the Show.

Here's another theory I haven't yet seen:

Hal is in the Concavity/Convexity, exposed to that annular fusion. Isn't it possible that this toxin-removing process either totally empties Hal *OR* has the opposite effect, and accelerates the mold that he ate way back when (which would explain the "something I ate" line and constant references *to* the ergot)?


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