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Infinite Summer • View topic - Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85

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Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:27 pm 
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I think Schtitt and Mario have one of the most interesting conversations thus far in the book. For one, both are actually communicating which may be a first up to this point. In addition, Schtitt seems to be laying out a belief that in the USA individualism has gone way overboard. The "primacy of straight-line pursuing this flat and short-sighted idea of personal happiness" is a lonely, empty pursuit. That our dislike of boundries leads us to ignore the "something bigger". That the lack of boundries keeps us from developing infinite possibilities within ourselves.

Schtitt seems to understand this concept of something bigger so much so that he was capable of being smitten with a tree. He then explains the "chance to play" is basically the difference between life and death.

I find this section one of those whacks over the noggin in terms of how we often think about things here in the Good Old US of A. It reminds me of why I thought DFW was worth looking into after I read his commencement speech where he says our default setting is the world revolves around ourselves and we need to switch off from that setting.

Any thoughts on this section?


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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:44 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:27 am 
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Schtitt's theory about the pursuit of happiness and how it alienates seems to be borne out in the characters Kate Gompert and Erdedy. Their addiction to "Bob" while providing a temproray high has only resulted in isolation and anxiety. Also interesting with these characters and too a certain degree Hal is the notion that the secrecy is almost more important than the high itself. It seems what they don't realize is that the maintenance of this secrecy is what isolates them from everyone else.


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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:18 pm 
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My favorite description of Schtitt:

"Schtitt likes best of all smoke-shapes to try to blow rings, and is kind of lousy at it, blowing mostly wobbly lavender hot dogs, which Mario finds delightful."

Wobbly lavender hot dogs. Sehr witzig. Herrlich, indeed.


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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:49 am 
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My poor husband is going to have more of IJ then he anticipated I think. I read him that passage yesterday which, of course, required me reading him a chunk of the paragraphs before and a chunk of the paragraphs after. It reads beautifully out loud by the way.

I'm loving the book but this section really caught me.


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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:37 pm 
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Although Schtitt makes numerous points that I agree with, I don't think that his beliefs are perfect. DFW describes him as proto-fascist at one point, and his way of treating and disciplining the children in his charge seems to be overly strict. His is basically the opposite extreme: instead of solipsism and the selfish pursuit of happiness of the individual, he seems to believe in total self-sacrifice for the greater good of some larger institution. I think this could be just as dangerous, only in a different way. Pushing yourself too far for others and completely ignoring your own needs and desires is simply self-destructive.

I tend to often see fiction as portraying and criticizing two opposite extremes, and usually conclude that some kind of (implied, rarely actually described) balanced middle path would be most preferable. So take it for what you will, but that's what I'm seeing here. Neither complete self-obsession nor complete self-sacrifice is good for anyone, but something in-between might be.


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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:47 am 
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I have to say that this was one of my least favorite sections so far. Especially coming on the heels of the emotionally devastating section on Kate, it felt like an academic exercise.


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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:49 pm 
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rasnider: The impact of the Kate section (for me) was pure and devastating in and of itself, not just for the 'eerie' aspect of DFW's suicide. I don't think a single word of IJ so far can be called a 'confessional-type depression-fest'. I've read all of his essays and can't imagine him ever falling into that realm. The Schtitt section was visually poetic, and one of the first containing some sort of actual physical movement. I enjoyed that aspect. As much as I enjoy qausi-fascist German idealism, I was just expressing the opinion that I've gleaned more meaning and enjoyment from the previous sections.


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 Post subject: Re: Schtitt, Mario and U.S. of modern A. - p. 79-85
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:26 pm 
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