Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Hal at the Men's Meeting
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:46 am 
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Is is just me, or was it one of the most disappointing parts of the book when Hal tries to go to an AA meeting and ends up at some sort of men's support group? Wallace had my hopes up for a powerful scene where Hal comes in contact with some of the characters from "The" Ennet House and begins to process how the AA philosophy relates to his problems, and instead we get a mockery of men getting in touch with their Inner Infant. I'm sure that Wallace knew what he was doing, but it sure was a letdown for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Hal at the Men's Meeting
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 11:31 pm 
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Disagree.

Consider the emphasis that Himself puts on reaching Hal's inner-infant with the Entertainment. Consider also the one of the supposed contents of the Entertainment; Joelle v.D. framed as a mother-figure, saying 'I'm so sorry' to a cradle or stroller (through the POV of the baby) for a good 20 minutes for the damage that's been done.

And on a semi-related note, did anyone else connect that the JOI film 'Accomplice!' (that Hal focuses on/gets Pemulis to play) features 8-9 minutes of the old man screaming 'Murderer! Murderer!' to IJ (V) or (VI)? An interesting contrast to the 20 mins of apologizing in the Entertainment.


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 Post subject: Re: Hal at the Men's Meeting
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:56 am 
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This scene is hilarious and painful at the same time, like so much in this novel. I think the book is a tragedy, so this is one of the tragedies that Hal almost makes it to a real, helpful meeting where he can connect with others, but ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, which turns out to be a big, unhelpful joke. Also c.v. feral infants, the infantilizing nature of the Entertainment, and general self-indulgence as the source of a lot of suffering.


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 Post subject: Re: Hal at the Men's Meeting
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:21 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:01 pm
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Location: Mansfield, MA
At the end of the passage I wrote, "Orin could really use this meeting."
I also underlined the part about the necessity of ASKING to have your needs met, which is an important and necessary part of moving from childhood to adulthood.

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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: Hal at the Men's Meeting
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:52 pm 
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Location: London, England
I can see why someone would see this section as a little disappointing. It is unashamedly slapstick and it is a laugh out loud section of the book, which could stand alone, and even be omitted to be honest.

This is my second reading of the novel, and what I find interesting is where DFW placed this scene. It is right before the finale of the book - which is an interesting device when considering the journey the novel takes you on. I reckon the author uses this section as a device - assuring us, humouring us - only to drop us off a cliff by the end of the novel.


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 Post subject: Re: Hal at the Men's Meeting
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 2:05 pm 
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having just read this scene again on my current re-read, I noticed that we go right from these huge men with teddy bears who may or may not have really traumatic childhood histories smack into the first scene of Gately in the hospital, a bear of a man in terrible pain, trying his best to ask for what he really needs (i.e. don't give me opiates, but do please tell me what day it is and if I killed anybody) while intubated and literally infantalized (nurses taking care of his peeing and pooping, etc) and recalling truly traumatic childhood and adolescent scenes. The contrast is amazing.

even aside from this, I would not want the scene eliminated just because it is such a horrifying, sadly hilarious scene of Hal's abject failure to find people to help him in his most concerted attempt to suck it up and find real help.


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 Post subject: Re: Hal at the Men's Meeting
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:50 pm 
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There's a great argument in Boswell's Understanding David Foster Wallace about how the infantile references noted above are all part of an argument against Lacan, wherein addictions are used, basically, as a substitute for the pre-mirror stage mother. That once we all figure out that mom is separate, life becomes a struggle to fill that hole: hence drugs, t.v., work, tennis, whatever.

Boswell argues that this scene is the most powerful indictment of Lacan because it basically says, look, nobody got you out of the crib but now you're old enough to ask for help and get out yourself. Reference all the cage/crib/bars in IJ and the parental neglect/abuse/fallibility and see how all the adults could blame childhood but, at least in AA, learn to tell their story and move on rather than just blaming.

It's a painfully awkward scene, and I would have loved Hal to find a supportive AA meeting. But this is also so much more real...when you go looking for what you need, how often do you find it?

(And how funny is the John Bly poster in the middle of the room? This was a huge point of discussion in the early 90s when Wallace was writing, these men's groups and finding your inner infant, inner savage, inner name the part of you that's shut down by a controlling Superego society.)


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 Post subject: Re: Hal at the Men's Meeting
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:12 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:48 am
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Location: Orlando, FL
naptimewriting wrote:
(And how funny is the John Bly poster in the middle of the room? This was a huge point of discussion in the early 90s when Wallace was writing, these men's groups and finding your inner infant, inner savage, inner name the part of you that's shut down by a controlling Superego society.)

I loved that! It's one of those little details that add to the wonderful whole. I agree with your take on this scene, it was uncomfortable, and very funny to me, and I think Hal finding a supportive AA group on his first attempt would have been too pat.

Joan


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