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Infinite Summer • View topic - Thoughts on Choice

Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
It is currently Tue Sep 22, 2020 9:56 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: Thoughts on Choice
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:49 am 
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Posts: 4
Wallace's thoughts about the nature of Freedom and Choice are presented in the form of a midnight conversation in the middle of the desert between a man dressed as a woman and a legless member of terroist cell. The powerful and bizzare imagery of this scene aside, I think that Wallace is raising a very tricky question here: Namely, is there such a thing as real choice?

The American vision of freedom is one where each individual is free, and encouraged, to choose his/her path from an endless array of limitless alternatives, all open to anyone smart enough or motivated enough to "just do it" or who believes "impossible is nothing". But in reality, aren't our actual choices defined and limited by, as many have been pointing out, the languages available to us?

This is the essential problem of The Entertainment (and Substance use). If my culture is constatnly telling me, in a thousand different ways, that absolute freedom is the desired ideal, and that I should excersize my right to do whatever will give me pleasure, how free am I, in fact, to choose [i]not[/i] to do it?

Probably less free than I would like to think.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Choice
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:08 am 
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Complete, unfettered freedom to choose a course of action based on its potential to provide individual happiness embodies Ayn Rand's philosophical system of Objectivism that has been discussed (and dismissed). Essentially, Rand advocates that pursuit of individual happiness and self-interest should be the central moral purpose of an individuals life.

Is there really free choice? Probably not in the purest sense since even self-interest and pleasure are defined, at least in part, by the experiences and influences that have shaped us as individuals. Perhaps this is why so many of the characters in IJ don't begin to exercise control over their one lives until they've hit bottom with a resounding thud ala Don Gately. Clearly the reality that informs the "choices" made by Gately at Ennet House is different than the one informing the choices made by Hal Incandenza living just up the hill from him at ETA.

I'd suggest that Mario, who I never fully appreciated during my first read, enjoys the greatest ability to choose freely. The passage at pp. 589-593 indicate that he's the one person who appears to have the ability to move between the different worlds Wallace creates within the novel.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Choice
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:41 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Choice
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:14 pm 
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Location: Brooklyn


Last edited by stephaniejane on Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Choice
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:36 pm 
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Posts: 35
And but, this is one of the ironies/circularities of IJ: To be free, you have to give up your choices and give up your will.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Choice
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:56 am 
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