Sunday, July 1, 2012

Infinite Summer #2: Obsession and Love and the wheelchair assassins

Think of these Sunday posts as jumping off places...discuss what I've posted, post something yourself, answer questions, ask questions, add whatever it takes to make this experience enjoyable and understandable for you!

These post will be CHOCK FULL OF SPOILERS for the reading for that week (Just in case you didn't already know that!). I think knowing this will stop those of us that aren't at a certain place from reading on and will enable those of us who are writing to do so without worrying if someone knows that fact or not. If you are reading ahead and want to post about the pages ahead please wait and if you want to talk about other books, not Infinite Jest and are giving spoilers please indicate that in some fashion...even a *spoiler* before the comment would be nice.

And, finally, if there is anything I can do to make this run more smoothly please don't hesitate to message me on here, on twitter or on Goodreads and I'll see what I can do.

Let's begin the discussion...

When I first read Bridget Jone's Diary (um, yeah, I just connected Bridget Jones to this book...I'm such a girl sometimes) I read it in it's original setting, London, England. It was the coolest experience, she'd talk about something and I'd look out the window and see it, or go down on the sidewalk and walk to it, I could smell what she smelled and taste was she tasted, it made the whole experience of reading about her surreal and marvelous. There's something so cool about reading a book immersed in the world in which the book was created. I love it when a fictitious world collides with a real one.

I also love people who are obsessed with something and need for it to be fleshed out to the fullest. I can get obsessed and must know every bit about a thing (think The X-Files for those who even slightly know me) until I am fully satiated. I'm not going to lie I feel this way about IJ and I am so glad that there are others out there who are compelled to write about, sing about ("Calamity Song"), draw about, talk about it until my heart and mind are over-flowing. I only vaguely knew about this book before Nicole talked to Amanda and I about it one evening and I am excited to see that there are whole communities and groups of people who feel this book is mind-altering. My favorite so far is the Poor Yorick Entertainment Tumblr (going to the Tumblr directly may contain spoilers. I first found it here).

As its creator, Chris Ayers, states:
Only a few of the films in Incandenza's body of work have any real substantive relation to the central plot. Some are described in detail while others are only mentioned in passing. 
This project is an attempt to bring some kind of visual life to the fictional filmmaker's body of work, as well as the world of Infinite Jest.
There really are some priceless gems (he's created a film poster for the films I was most curious about, a lovely poster of subsidized time and he found ETA school t-shirt logos) and you can download them all for free here. Some fun things to laminate for my classroom, no!?

Favorite quotes from this section

"'Our attachments are our temple, what we worship, no? What we give ourselves to, what we invest with faith.'"

"'What if you just love? without deciding? You just do: you see her and in that instant are lost to sober account-keeping and cannot choose but to love'"

"'Welcome to the meaning individual. We're each deeply alone here. It's what we all have in common, this aloneness.'" [sure, he's talking about tennis as a sport, but...]

"'Nothing brings you together like a common enemy.'"


I need to share something with you's pretty important. I am not skimming. I have not skimmed one word of this book. This is rare for me as I am truly one of the most impatient people you will ever meet, and, yet here I am reading every footnote and every word...the words are just that good, even the part about the feral hamsters.

The part about Marathe quadrupling because his wife needs medical attention probably wouldn't have been so pointed had it not been for our current Healthcare situation in The States.

I also love the conversation with the boys post school and work-out on the floor of the locker room. I was there. How?/Why? Because DFW gives us so much to see (this may be my favorite part from this section...maybe).

Then, of course, there's Schtitt and 'urine luck''s nice to know that really smart make me gasp with their word-smithing writers can still have low-brow boy humor. *chuckle*

Oh, and if you want to truly understand's a great essay by Ander Monson titled, well, Solipsism. It reads much better in The Best American Essay 2008. After reading this essay again and clicking on all the links would seem I've been preparing myself to read DFW for a long while now...'curiousier and curiouser'...

And, finally, a little house-keeping:

1] I will be out of town next weekend, but, if you are in the area, please feel free to come over and chat today. My family is in town for the 4th, but I'm sure I can spare an hour.
2] If you haven't signed up officially, please do so here.
3] Catch up on all of our IJ stuff and things here.
4] All of the books on this list are $3.99 on the Nook, including A Supposedly Funny Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments ...go snag it while it's there to be snagged!
5] And, keep the convo coming, I am loving it and it helps me to understand the book and my viewpoints so much more.

What would you like to talk about?


  1. The quotations you've chosen are just spot-on (again). All that stuff about choosing what to love, or what it is that makes you more than an isolated self really stands out. There's an element of it too in the discussion with the little buddies about how to cope with ambiguous on-court bowel problems. (I'm really, er, straining to avoid being vulgar here.) I think there probably is meant to be a link of some sort, given that that issue is in the paragraphs surrounding a recapped/quoted Schtitt on patriotism. It's like both ends (urgh, sorry: it's late here) of the same problem.

    So, did anyone else think it was significant that this matter is essentially Schtitt and Marathe (on the self-denial/patriotism/higher calling side) preaching to the anglo-ish characters on t'other side? Or am I imagining this?

    1. OK, sooo I waiting to see who else would respond before I did, but, um...yeah...

      So, every time I read your first paragraph, I laugh lots. I laugh at the truth and the gentle and easy way in which you talk about it all! :D

      It seems that Maranthe is so together and honest and sincere that I found myself buying into what he was saying. Reading Schtitt again I realize that you are right and would go so far as to say that how it is...those that have always been around something take for granted how awesome it is/taking for granted the awesome choice and take for granted the fact that their hard work isn't really hard work at all. However, both Schtitt and Maranthe can and do see it all differently.

      Definitely not imagining anything!

  2. Sorry for posting late!!

    I love the quotes you chose Stephanie; especially the quote, "Our attachments are our temple, what we worship, no? What we give ourselves to, what we invest with faith" (107). When so many people blindly choose their attachments, it can be quite dangerous; maybe not in a fatal way, but in an obsessive way. Our attachments can create chaos in our everyday lives. They almost seem like addictions, don't they? Some people's attachments—"temples"—are so embedded within them that if they were stripped of them, they would be losing their very identities. So, Marathe's advice seems very important: "Attachments are of great seriousness. Choose your attachments carefully. Choose your temple of fanaticism with great care."

    Another quote I liked (Schtitt's view on tennis): "The true opponent, the enfolding boundary, is the player himself. . . . The competing boy on the net's other side: he is not the foe: he is more the partner in the dance. . . . You compete with your own limits to transcend the self in imagination and execution. . . . The animating limits are within, to be killed and mourned, over and over again" (84). When I read this quote, I knew it didn't just have to be applied to tennis—it could be applied to life. Who cares if we beat somebody? Who cares if we fall short to another person's prowess? The problem with the U.S. lies within this concept. We promote togetherness and tolerance to other countries; yet at the same time, we also value competition and individuality. I'm guilty of it myself! It's a contradiction that sometimes prevents us from growing individually.

    1. I think you've brought into the open, Brandon, just what it is that makes me uneasy with Marathe's description (prescription?). As you say, poorly-chosen commitments can cause havoc. But I thought he was also warning against the opposite problem: no commitment at all, just a kind of listless dilettantism. The problem is, once you/I/us realise that there is this choice of commitment, don't we near-automatically get doomed to remain aware of the fact of having chosen? Like, we'll always have at least a rump awareness that whatever we choose to do is somehow not intrinsic to us (unless we're the kind of kid constituted just so w/r/t/ tennis or whatever, for whom it's never a choice at all).

      And then (final bit for now, promise), there's the really horrid bit: how on earth are we meant to be choosing these commitments, given that it's against an implicit background of having no criteria? There's a bit in next week's dose maybe answers to this a bit (pp.172--176) but isn't this ultimately the problem with being a modern human being?

    2. it is absolutely our problem. we, all of us, are aware of our commitments and we are aware of what they mean (even if it isn't a full awareness), so we choose them wisely...which means sometimes we don't choose at all. i mean, how many times have i said to my friends that i'm no longer at the age where i want to make new friends. when what i'm really saying is i don't want to/don't have time to commit, even on a surface level.

    3. You guys are exactly right!! Something that's bounced around in my mind...Here in present day America, many of us have to deal with so many commitments (and, to be quite honest, women who are wives, mothers, and hold a job); most of us say we can usually deal with these prodigious commitments thanks to the power of multitasking. But, can we truly multitask? I mean truly multitask. Can we do two or more commitments at once?

  3. Finally getting around to commenting here about the second section.

    I absolutely LOVED LOVED the section on why videography never took off. It's exactly the same reasons I hate skype and also hate the video call apps for cell phones. I rather like being able to talk on the phone to people wearing nothing (or nearly so) and being able to play video games while certain people babble on and on and on and on and on and on (and on) about stuff I am not interested in.

    I do see some uses for the things, but in general... no.

    I also rather enjoyed Mario's seduction by Millicent Kent. Fairly amusing, and also how they eventually did come across the equipment eventually (you always find things when you stop looking).

    I guess the locker room scene didn't have quite the effect on me as it did on everyone else. I'd actually forgotten about that scene until reading these comments and had to go back and check. I do recall thinking a bit about the idea of building camaraderie by complaints even though in effect they are eachother's competition -- I think a similar thing happens in the workplace, or graduate research labs :P But otherwise, I wasn't too excited about that part.

    1. I have to totally agree with you!

      Definitely happens in the workplace...I feel like the graduate research lab bit hits close to home for you :P

      I think I may love Mario, only because he seems so simple and free of all the crap that the others are burdened with...I also feel that at least one of them may not have been looking for the equipment as diligently as she should've... :P

  4. Amanda left these comments about two days ago. I'm not sure you all even got them in an email, I'm not sure you all received them in your email, but I did. I've been waiting for Blogger to post them, but it didn't...silly Blogger. Anyway, I'm going to copy and paste them:

    "I know... I'm woefully behind... I'm chalking it up to the miriad commitments of my life. So many people, especially those in the Millenial Generation, rave about their ability to multi-task. But, honestly, we all know that it really means "I'm pretending to pay attention to these things as I really do this one thing." Your brain can only do so much!"

    "When reading the part about video-chat failing, I kept thinking about how often I've talked to someone on the phone while one or the both of us was in the bathroom. There are some things that are barely kosher without video that would have to be abandoned with it! You know who you are. :)

    "The locker room scene made me smile. I was simultaneously thinking about (well... probably not together as I already posted about multi-tasking) my own experiences lamenting "the man" while imagining my students doing the same about me as "the man." It's a bit of a trip to think of yourself on both sides."



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