Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
It is currently Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:10 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Forum rules


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%).



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 60 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:08 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:27 am
Posts: 28
isabella wrote:
Quite right -- p 562 notwithstanding, yrstruly doesn't fit with Lenz's character at all.

But it's a weird narration trick all the same. The whole passage is in 3rd person from Lenz's perspective; then there's this sudden marked lapse, like we're being told about someone else entirely, "where (some guy referred to as yrstruly) and Green strolled." Like Lenz is momentarily disconnected; and it does harken back to the kind of drug-addled, frenetic state-of-mind we saw in the yrstruly section.


I have been baffled by the "yrstruly" on 562, but after rereading several times both yrstruly and Lenz scenes, I am leaning toward isabella's (and others') interpretation. The yrstruly with Poor Tony does have a few of the same egregious linguistic errors that Lenz does, but uses a LOT more street slang and narrates with a considerably less educated linguistic framework. And there's such a huge difference that I don't think a detoxing yrstruly and a cocaine-high Lenz would sound *that* different. The time thing, Lenz claims, stems from a parental tic, so it's not as though he just developed it. Yrstruly could be a colloquialism, could be an under-the-influence self-centeredness, or could be (i don't believe this) a typo. But I am not convinced they're the same person.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:34 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:36 am
Posts: 41
Location: Oakland, CA
Stephanie gets it right, here, I think.

stephaniejane wrote:

I actually think the reference to yrstruly on pg. 562 is misleading. Lenz can’t be yrstruly, mainly because their back stories don’t match at all. The reference on pg. 300, where Poor Tony says Emil had marked him for de-mapping as a result of the horrid thing with C and Bobby Wo, and then dematerialized. This is consistent with Emil Minty, the new resident at Ennet House.


The use of "yrstruly" here is a question of the narrator's voice, a question that continues to plague us. For instance, a recent post over at Love, Your Copyeditor does a great job of showing the intentional misuses of language in recent pages (esp. w/r/t Lenz) that play with narrational perspective. We cannot attribute any of the character's voices to the character him- or herself, since it is apparently someone else's access and narration. (This is also clear in the Gately sections, where there are a number of statements made that Gately could not know, or words used he did not know or understand.)

So while "yrstruly" p. 562 may be misleading in a way, we have every reason already not to be misled by that. Let it pass.

_________________
http://infinitetasks.wordpress.com/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:18 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:25 am
Posts: 89
Location: Brooklyn
paris wrote:
We cannot attribute any of the character's voices to the character him- or herself, since it is apparently someone else's access and narration. (This is also clear in the Gately sections, where there are a number of statements made that Gately could not know, or words used he did not know or understand.)


My take on it has been that the sections are told from each character's perspective, though the character may not be the narrator or the person actually telling their story. Like, the grammatical mistakes someone like Lenz makes, or the spelling errors in yrstruly's section, are ones that each character would make, so the person actually recording the story stays true to that character's voice.

I'm not sure that we'll ever know who is actually recording it - or if it's just DFW's authorial voice. But this is all just my interpretation, and I haven't finished the book yet, so I could be proven wrong.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:27 am
Posts: 28
Now that we've gotten further in the reading, how does Green's witnessing of Lenz's attack solidify or change your perception of Lenz's choice of extracurricular activities?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:14 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:50 pm
Posts: 1
I have developed a very strong dislike of Randy Lenz, and I am wishing bad things on him. I was hoping he would go away, but I'm afraid he's becoming tied to some of the other characters, and he's not leaving anytime soon. These are the only sections I've had to sort of skim, because I can't go to sleep at night with these kinds of horrific thoughts in my head. It has occurred to me, though, that he is a very powerful character. He has an effect on the reader, and I'm curious to see what his relevance will be further along in the book.

Naptimewriting- I'm very interested in your comments re: Randy Lenz being part of DFW's answer to irony. I've been trying to figure out what role Randy Lenz plays, aside from a vivid illustration of how someone might deal with feelings of rage and powerlessness. The irony angle makes a lot of sense to me also.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:33 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:58 pm
Posts: 5
naptimewriting wrote:
Now that we've gotten further in the reading, how does Green's witnessing of Lenz's attack solidify or change your perception of Lenz's choice of extracurricular activities?


Green's witness makes me hope that some retribution will coming to Lenz. If the AFR doesn't catch him, perhaps some sort of cosmic horribleness will befall him. I'm not laughing at any of his antics, and I didn't find the burning cat to be the least bit humorous. Unless there turns out to be some overwhelmingly valid reason for these scenes, I'll probably end up pissed at DFW for including them, or at Pietsch for failing to carve through the manuscript pages with his blue pencil. Gately's job I can barely stand to read; Lenz's sick activities are, in my opinion, beyond the pale.

But that's not really it at all. It's the detail that troubles me most. To know that Lenz went for moonlight prowls and maimed animals would have been enough. DFW has seen fit to rub our figurative noses in the gory, heartbreaking details until I, for one, have just about decided to stop reading. That's how strongly affected I am by animal cruelty. 'Scuse the rant. Had to get that off my chest so that maybe I can continue what I otherwise consider to be a genuinely great novel.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:57 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:50 pm
Posts: 71
Quote:
To know that Lenz went for moonlight prowls and maimed animals would have been enough.


I don't find it any more horrific than some of the worst stuff happening to people in the book. I think it does serve a purpose. What Lenz does and how he escalates it parallels so much of what is happening in the novel and takes to the extreme the idea of trying to replace one addiction ritual with another. Simply referring to it actually avoids the horror of it--more like trivializes it such that we risk viewing Lenz as just creepy or quirky rather than pathological. His character shows us one of several paths of addiction illustrated in the novel, in contrast to Gately's working the program, Day's intellectualizing it, and Joelle's initiation into it. More than anything, I think it is one of the several excellent, gut-level illustrations of the psychic hell of addiction that the novel explores.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:51 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:01 pm
Posts: 82
Location: Mansfield, MA
Plus the fact that Lenz is still using while attending meetings and deluding himself that no one can tell. As well as his rationalization of how cocaine use is actually a part of his recovery.

_________________
"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you." DFW


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:11 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 6:47 am
Posts: 63
Location: Brooklyn, NY
troybob wrote:
Quote:
To know that Lenz went for moonlight prowls and maimed animals would have been enough.


I don't find it any more horrific than some of the worst stuff happening to people in the book. I think it does serve a purpose. What Lenz does and how he escalates it parallels so much of what is happening in the novel and takes to the extreme the idea of trying to replace one addiction ritual with another. Simply referring to it actually avoids the horror of it--more like trivializes it such that we risk viewing Lenz as just creepy or quirky rather than pathological. His character shows us one of several paths of addiction illustrated in the novel, in contrast to Gately's working the program, Day's intellectualizing it, and Joelle's initiation into it. More than anything, I think it is one of the several excellent, gut-level illustrations of the psychic hell of addiction that the novel explores.


I agree. And anyway, how many sentences of this 1000+ pg book are devoted to descriptions of animal torture? It doesn't seem like that much to me relative to the scale of the book. The details of the animals' deaths are striking but I don't think DFW was rubbing our noses in it. The descriptions are actually pretty restrained if you compare them to a lot of stuff that's been published in the last 20 years or so - American Pyscho or Chuck Palahniuk or anything like that. It seems like the bulk of the prose is devoted to Lenz's consciousness. As much as I love animals (a LOT) I think it's more disturbing that Himself stuck his head in a microwave.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Randy Lenz and the SteelSaks
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:53 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:25 am
Posts: 89
Location: Brooklyn
dave10 wrote:
Unless there turns out to be some overwhelmingly valid reason for these scenes, I'll probably end up pissed at DFW for including them, or at Pietsch for failing to carve through the manuscript pages with his blue pencil. Gately's job I can barely stand to read; Lenz's sick activities are, in my opinion, beyond the pale.

But that's not really it at all. It's the detail that troubles me most. To know that Lenz went for moonlight prowls and maimed animals would have been enough. DFW has seen fit to rub our figurative noses in the gory, heartbreaking details until I, for one, have just about decided to stop reading.


I disagree that DFW was trying to rub our noses in gory details. I haven't seen any indication that in his writing. I very much agree with the other posts here that detail how Lenz's horrifying actions are a byproduct of his refusal to seek and accept help for his addiction. I can't imagine what would be more gravely serious.

It surprises me to see someone personally offended in this way - make no mistake, DFW is NOT sanctioning animal torture. Just the opposite. So why be angry at him for writing this? Should he only write about pleasant things?

I also think it needs to be said that, in my opinion, there are far more horrific scenes involving human cruelty. This sort of reminds me of the way that a lot of people complained about the scene where a woman kills a rabbit in the documentary Roger and Me, but no one expressed discomfort about watching as a man was shot dead in the street. This, to me, implies that the animals are seen as truly innocent, whereas people are seen as somewhat complicit in whatever fate befalls them. In a case like in Roger and Me, I'd have to disagree, as it's a complex series of socioeconomic issues playing out in an environment of rigid, institutionalized inequality. Of course, this is not to say that people should use that as an excuse to opt out of trying to better themselves (see the speech at AA that had pissed off the crocodiles) but I do think it's an easy out for people to remove themselves from empathizing with them, and it turns into the whole blame-the-victim mentality. I think this is totally off topic at this point, but I'm just saying.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 60 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Translated by Maël Soucaze © 2009 phpBB.fr