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: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:41 pm 
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jackd wrote:
Having the role of "God" in the game played by Otis P. Lord is about as subtle as a flying mallet, and calling him "O. Lord" just makes it worse, but it's kind of an interesting exercise to read some of the exchanges as prayers and responses. And finally you get God's head stuck inside a monitor.


I read that part of the novel as sort of being DFW's point: it's as if he were saying, to use your term "yeah, it's a flying mallet. The idea of God is a giant flying mallet, and that's how I want to treat it." I don't think there's anything about that that's "worse." DFW has, thus far in the novel, demonstrated a strange capacity to describe, conceal, warp, and generally Alice-in-Wonderland invert our world on us. So the God/O. Lord 'thing' seems to me blunt and out there for a reason. DFW could have grabbed an obscure biblical reference or any number of other esoteric systems to approach god/God. But he didn't. And this is a novel which includes a character, Mario, who wants to know why we can't just have up front and honest dialogues about faith and God. So I guess I see this section as DFW's compromise; he won't write a Thomas Aquinas type treatise on the existence of God, but he also won't play hard to get with the topic.


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:25 pm 
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I agree with Pemulis -- no targeting of actual participants. Since there weren't any previous rules regarding the subject however ... I thought it was a pretty brilliant move.


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:54 pm 
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My favorite part of the entire Eschaton section was Pemulis's reaction and everyone elses, for that matter, to Otis P. Lord unlocking the cabinet and putting on the red beanie. I laughed out loud for awhile after that.


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:43 pm 
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I agree with leegoesplaces that the new connotations of "map" make this thermonuclear geek-fest intriguing. I absolutely love how silly Wallace is willing to get, e.g. "a couple ostensible world leaders run here and there in a rather unstatesmanlike fashion with their open mouths directed at the sky, trying to catch bits of the fall’s first snow”. They're kids pretending to rule the world, but catching snowflakes is just more compelling. That's gorgeous.


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:13 am 
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So w/r/t the "hammer" of Otis Lord obviously being God, I think the reason that it's so obvious is that O. Lord doesn't represent God, he represents someone playing God, and poorly. Comically. God in the Eschaton section is Pemulis, invoking His Son over and over, railing at how the person playing God is playing God poorly but never intervening because he respects the boundaries of His creation the way "participants" in it don't.

The "map" tie-in is compelling. There is a difference between the map and what it represents; if you're starting to understand like I (think I) am that "map" throughout the book means either face or body, i.e. a physical representation of something but not the thing itself, then someone "eliminating their map" is only destroying Himself physically; "it's what's inside that counts," as they might say in Boston AA -- In the very beginning of the book, Hal is insisting "I am in here," but he can't get the point across because his outward representation no longer represents what he really is. And isn't that last bit the point of the U.H.I.D. people and Mario and Booger and other, less startling deformities, like oversized arms and legs, why-Joelle-may-be-veiled (whether a deformity in the common sense or too-powerful beauty, she chooses not to let people see her map, which, one guesses, makes it easier to deal with what she really is), an army of assassins with useless legs, etc.

"Map" would seem also to have future implications for the "redemisement" controversy. Have they really made part of America a toxic wasteland and given it to Canada, or is America something other than its (literal) map?

Hal needing to feel his face to see what expression is on it at the end of the section is the coup de grace: Hal is becoming, or is starting to understand that he is, something other than his face/map/physical representation of himself. (Himself, capital 'H'? After all, just as Pemulis is the Creator of the Eschaton world, J.O.I. is the Creator of Hal. And as I said elsewhere I'm probably missing many Hamlet references because I haven't seen very many yet, but this would augur a later "appearance" by Himself, somehow, railing at Hal that he's not doing it right but not being able to physically intervene, being dead. Like, you know, King Hamlet.)


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:03 am 
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sobermoode, I disagree. Sure, the move was disruptive and did not entirely follow the conceit of the game. But, AMNAT and SOVWAR were having a meeting on the map, in a specific, target-able territory. They could just have easily met off the map, outside of the courts' boundaries. Ingersoll is clearly being a dick, but I contend that his dick move, since it pertained to something on the map, was a valid (not to mention hilarious) one.

(edit--corrected the name to SOVWAR)


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:05 am 
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Location: Orlando, FL
The Mad Spork wrote:
So w/r/t the "hammer" of Otis Lord obviously being God, I think the reason that it's so obvious is that O. Lord doesn't represent God, he represents someone playing God, and poorly. Comically. God in the Eschaton section is Pemulis, invoking His Son over and over, railing at how the person playing God is playing God poorly but never intervening because he respects the boundaries of His creation the way "participants" in it don't.

I loved the Otis Lord bit but totally missed this w/r/t the Peemster - brilliant!
Joan


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 4:39 am 
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Picturing Lord's head in the monitor I was reminded of Himself's head in the microwave. Is that why Hal seems to be disconnecting from himself? Does he see some similarity?

Camasal


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 7:58 pm 
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I was reading through a poetry anthology and ran across the name of Otis P. Lord, the judge who had a possible romance with Emily Dickinson. (To him, Dickinson wrote, "While others go to Church, I go to mine, for are you not my Church, and have we not a Hymn that no one knows but us?") I know the "O. Lord"/God thing really works perfectly with the IJ character, but I wondered if this was somehow not a coincidence.


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:09 pm 
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Camasal wrote:
Picturing Lord's head in the monitor I was reminded of Himself's head in the microwave. Is that why Hal seems to be disconnecting from himself? Does he see some similarity?


Yeah! This seems so obvious now that you've pointed it out but I totally didn't make that connection when I was reading. There's so much to this book that sometimes important stuff like that goes right over my head while I'm hung up circling every reference to moons or whatever. I'm glad we have these forums!


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