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: Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:16 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 6:37 pm
Posts: 4
mo pie wrote:
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.

Endnote 110 (page 1005): "The only message when Hal got in was from Orin at 1412h. Orin had said he'd just called to ask whether by any chance Hal'd ever realized that ... every single one of Ms. Dickinson's canonical poems could by sung without loss or syllabic distortion to the tune of "'The Yellow Rose (of Texas)'."

I paused when I read that and thought where the heck did Emily Dickinson come from? Apparently she was on DFW's mind.

Camasal


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:48 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:01 pm
Posts: 82
Location: Mansfield, MA
DFW probably became familiar with her works/history while attending Amherst College. The Emily Dickinson museum is nearby.

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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: Eschaton
PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:53 am 
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"DFW probably became familiar with her works/history while attending Amherst College. The Emily Dickinson museum is nearby."

Anyone who studied American literature, as DFW did, became very familiar with the work of Emily Dickinson.

One of my high school English teachers told us that the verse of Dickinson may be sung to the hymns of the church she attended. We had fun with that; try "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:59 am 
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Posts: 30
storm wrote:
I find that this section doubles as an opportunity for Wallace to comment on fiction and all the meta-X stuff that's been attached to it without being overt about it. It's a "show, don't tell" moment (to me, anyway) in DFW's writing where he's doing more than giving us a story; he's using that story as a device to explain his approach to writing IJ. The question of where the snow is- on the map or the territory- isn't just about the game. It's about the writing of books too. Is the narrator voice a real character? What's the 'right' way to use punctuation like double and single quotes (there's a thread about this somewhere in here)? How much self-referencing/reader interaction can an author cram under the umbrella of the text? If the 'map speaks for itself' (Hal on pg 1017), then what does the 'map' say? That's what a book is afterall, a map of a larger world, the tiny glimpse of a fictional world concieved by the author. Has the author considered the full consequences and physics of his/her world? Does it matter? If an element of that world is not written in the book, does it exist? What do we get to/need to assume for the world's clock cogs to tick in clean, mechanical time?


huh. and also, the eschaton "map" might be a stealth (or not-so-stealth) parallel of the particular way characters in DFW's world refer to faces (or selves to be eliminated) as "maps." in some ways, Hal's problem managing the expressiveness of his face and body--the limit horizon between internal subjectivity and external social communicativeness, maybe--in the opening scene is precisely the one that you're describing here for the Eschaton players. i've been wondering about how to interpret all the maps and map metaphors for a while...


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:21 am 
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The Mad Spork wrote:
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.

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.


ah, i went ahead and commented before finishing the thread and i see that Mad Spork has also commented on this. yay, that means i'm not crazy! probably. here's the thing, though--i don't think that hal is starting to realize that his face might represent something other than what he intends it to mean; that there's a disjunct between his experience and the outward representation. i think it goes deeper than that.

in the eschaton scene, what we see is someone (Ingersoll? is he the one that hits the fatal tennis ball?) acting on a very obvious disjunct that was policed by Pemulis's authority. No one dared to go there. but there it was. the crisis that ingersoll's gesture precipitates isn't about whether his gesture is legal or not, per se--but the fact that it's now a free for all. Pemulis's authority to enforce the boundaries of the game has been disrespected, and now the question is: if it's not Pemulis's game, then whose game ARE we playing?

i'm not sure how this parallels with Hal's experience in the opening scene yet...except that Hal also seems to have gotten beyond the self/representation of self dysphoria to insist that "I am in here" anyway. he tries to mimic expressive facial gestures that he thinks others will understand not because he's trying to expose an incongruity, but because he sees the value in making the attempt to be congruous. and even though he's pretty aware of the fact that his efforts at being congruous fail, it's not like he despairs or disappears. he keeps insisting to himself that he can speak, he says "I am in here," and that's a hopeful gesture. it's like ingersoll already blew up the eschaton game, and hal is saying: "OK yes i see that there's a problem here, and who is to say which reality and whose reality we're going to respect? but here i am, i'm going to try to keep this train on the rails, because if we don't, someone's head always ends up in a microwave--i mean a computer monitor. and it doesn't have to be that way..."


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 Post subject: Re: Eschaton
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:53 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:15 pm
Posts: 16
OKAY I loved this scene. A LOT.

However, a physics grad student friend of mine who has also embarked on this reading adventure was really disappointed because he said the footnote that talks about the equation (I forget the jargon right now and don't have the book with me) really didn't make any physics sense. He was pretty bummed about that.

I, however, remain blissfully ignorant of most things physics and was delightfully entertained from start to finish.


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