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Infinite Summer • View topic - What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)

Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:23 am 
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Location: UTAH. Yes I'm from Utah. No I'm not a Mormon.


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:39 am 
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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:44 am 
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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:39 pm 
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None of these theories really gel with me. It's not that I don't think they're correlative to the condition that we find Hal in in the Year of Glad, but that they aren't directly causative. I honestly feel that, if we can take as accurate Hal's admission that he dug up his father's head with Don Gately, isn't that enough of an explanation? I mean, he was already withdrawing from the world around him and his previous pleasures. Wouldn't the act of and the course of action leading to digging up your father's head (having not read it in ten years, I can't remember if the reader is ever shown Gately meeting Hal, and I'm pretty sure we don't know who prompts them to commit this grave robbery, but wouldn't that have to involve some seriously heavy shit going down?) push you over the line of sanity? Especially if you'd already started to falter a bit? And I surely don't mean this to sound as a reductively dismissive "he's just crazy" assessment, but if anyone in the novel could be excused of losing his mind . . .

Hamlet was always questioning his own sanity, as was the reader. I feel like with Hal there can be no question.

As for the admissions scene which opens the book, thematically is this not the great nightmare of society? Not only not being understood when we try to express ourselves but, worse, being perceived as insane? monsterish? useless? a liability to those around us?


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:47 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:40 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:25 am 
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I find the various clues about what Hal ingested, etc. interesting but are they a distraction from what is going on with Hal throughout the entire book? If we are left to wonder about the unwritten mysteries about what Hal ingested or had something stuck in his head during the time when nothing is written about, why did DFW work so hard on writing about what Hal was thinking and feeling in the pages that he did write? Consider the passage where Hal is lying on the floor, thinking:

“It is now lately sometimes seemed like a black miracle to me that people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit and could go on caring that way for years on end. Could dedicate their entire lives to it. It seemed admirable and at the same time pathetic. We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately – the object seemed incidental to this will to give oneself away, utterly. To games or needles, to some other person. Something pathetic about it. A flight-from in the form of plunging into. A flight from exactly what? These rooms blandly filled with excrement and meat? To what purpose? This was why they started us here so young: to give ourselves away before the question why and to what grows real beaks and claws. It was kind, in a way. ...Hamlet, for all his paralyzing doubt about everything never once doubts the reality of the ghost. Never questions whether his own madness might not in fact be unfeigned. ..That is whether Hamlet might only be feigning feigning. ..I had understood myself for years as basically vertical, an odd forked stalk of stuff and blood. I felt denser now; I felt more solidly composed, not that I was horizontal. I was impossible to knock down.” [pg. 900]

Are we saying that he goes through this intense questioning of purpose and understanding and then in order to get him back to a great tennis player he is given something mind altering? Or are we saying he took something because he was so upset? I am trying to reconcile all of this buildup about his character to the motive behind what happened in the lost time according to all of these theories.


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:14 am 
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Location: UTAH. Yes I'm from Utah. No I'm not a Mormon.
Sidenote: w/r/t he "fitviavi" fungus, "Fit via vi" is the motto of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 (HMLA-773) is a United States Marine Corps helicopter squadron consisting of AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters and UH-1N Huey utility helicopters. The squadron is based at Naval Air Station Atlanta, Georgia and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 49 (MAG-49) and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing (4th MAW). Due to a re-organization within Marine aviation, the squadron is set to move to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia by 2009. (wikipedia) It means roughly "THE WAY IS FORGED BY STRENGTH." I found it googling fitviavi...


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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:28 pm 
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testforecho - part of that quote from p900, "We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe." is reminiscent of Marathe and Steeply's conversation on pp105-108, or at least Marathe's side.

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 Post subject: Re: What happened to Hal? (Spoilers)
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