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Infinite Summer • View topic - DFW and Kate Gompert

Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
It is currently Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:03 am

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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: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:31 am 
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Hello!

Can anyone transcribe that first passage about Kate Gompert? Including the part where her teeth brushing habits and the nigh cosmic feeling of her depression is described? I don't have a copy of the book on hand, and I can't find it anywhere on the web. Probably one of the best passages in the book besides the one on addiction -- the smiley face with fangs, if I remember, creepy!


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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:29 pm 
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I agree that the Kate Gompert sections are very, very good.

The one thing I felt seemed very odd and implausible was the resident's interest in Kate Gompert's way of being depressed. His strange excitement and fascination. Like he was impressed with her illness. This is not something that even a psychiatric resident would be likely to think or feel.

It is almost like a fantasy of what someone who is ill might imagine a doctor would do--be interested in the peculiar manifestations of their disease. As if their way of having the disease or experiencing it or dealing with it would be unique or original or special. This simply isn't how they think of patients, though, unless the patients have something truly rare, such as genuine and complete amnesia.


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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:56 am 
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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:40 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:33 am 
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In my first read, and second as well, this has always been the most impressive portion of an impressive novel and was reread in it's entirety more than once despite the fact there were always tears on my face by the end. That was before Wallace's untimely death and learning of his life long battle with depression. This time the impact was even greater. Normally the death of famous people doesn't faze me in the least but it has been different with David Foster Wallace. It makes one wonder just how long he held on by his fingernails before sadly letting go.


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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:54 am 
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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:51 am 
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quinn I love what you wrote about medical professionals.

Aside from being so well-put and so true, it relates to my own life, weirdly, for yours is the best explanation of why I did not become a surgeon as I often dreamed I would, as a kid. But it turns out I am far too much of a mom!! I told my husband I would really really love to be a surgeon, but only if I knew every patient would be completely cured! Ha ha.

As for Kate Gompert: when I first read this book in 2001, I had the absolute conviction that the sections dealing with addiction and with depression were the author's lived experiences. I didn't know a thing about Wallace at that time, having picked the book up at a thrift shop (vaguely remembering that there had been some kind of a fuss about it when it came out.) Having learned so much about him since then, I trust that conviction a little less, maybe. He had been around so many addicts and so many depressives for so long, and also he was such a skilled writer, that I think he might have taken a certain pleasure in transcending his own demons by cutting them all up, making pastiches of them, mixing them in with other people's demons. Like a way of gaining the upper hand.

Nobody can say how long he would have stayed functional on the meds he took for so many years, had he not decided to change them. If you want to know more about how those meds affected him, read this story he wrote in 1984.

There's something weirdly seductive about that idea, that we know when something is "real" and when it is "made up." -- ??

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The dorks are saving the nation, and this book proves it.


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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:46 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:45 pm 
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For awhile, I had been bringing the book to work to read at my desk during lunch breaks. After barely getting past that chapter with my composure intact, I decided to just read at home. KG's section of the chapter, which if I remember right was alongside Hal reflecting on his own "anhedonia"- it just got too real.

It seems that many people just don't understand depression. Sure, someone can say, "oh yeah- a drug addict having trouble kicking their addiction- I can see why they'd be depressed!" On the other hand, people don't understand how those with intelligence, talent, and potential can feel just as empty and helpless. There seemed to be a little bit of DFW in KG and Hal.


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 Post subject: Re: DFW and Kate Gompert
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:05 pm 
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Location: Salt Lake City and no, I'm not one, either.
The Kate Gompert section made me think of William Styron's memoir "Darkness Visible," which offers some quite disturbing insights into the nature of depression. I was particularly reminded of that book by her unforgettable words, "It's not wanting to hurt myself, it's wanting to not hurt."


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