1 Infinite Jest and the twentieth century: David Foster Wallace's legacy 1. 2 Problems in David Foster Wallace's poetics 3 The novel DAVID FOSTER WALLACE'S INFINITE JEST: A READER'S GUIDE Stephen Burn London/New York: Continuum, (by Julian Henneber. Graduate School. Dr. Robert Bennett: Who read Infinite Jest solely to help me with this project. Spencer Newsad: Who provided unprecedented morale support. iii ABSTRACT I .
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INFINITE JEST by David Foster Wallace. YEAR OF GLAD. YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT. 1 APRIL — YEAR OF THE TUCKS MEDICATED. David Foster Wallace and Infinite Jest's hidden moral heart “Infinite Jest and the Twentieth Century: David Foster Wallace's. Legacy follows Wallace's death. Editorial Reviews. homeranking.info Review. In a sprawling, wild, super-hyped magnum opus, David Foster Wallace fulfills the promise of his precocious novel The.
Examine the significance of this alongside the pious forgers of Finnegans Wake and The Recognitions. During the night heavy snow begins to fall [p. In the same holiday season a crisis point also comes for Orin's girlfriend, Joelle van Dyne. The apparent knock that Gately's passing creates b r i ngs Lucien Antitoi to the door of his store, to check for visitors. Zegarelli for "a removal" from the left side of his face p. Charles Tavis born given that a n oblique reference suggests that he is 48 in Y. When Wallace wrote the novel, the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was the second edition of 1 , which lists only two unrevealing synonyms for unresponsive:
It's essential gear for any first time reader, and for the veteran, it's a guide to some of the wonderful meadows and views you missed. A wonderful book.
TV and pop culture does this kind of eclectic mash-up all the time. Wallace demonstrates this long form in his essay with an example from the St. Elsewhere TV show, wherein St. Unlike parody, such a reference seeks to say nothing about its source material, other than to signify it. Signifiers that have no meaningful signified other than: Rather, perhaps, it serves as entertainment, as a subjectless, author-less, and self-reflective, empty entertainment that is as visceral and cyclically empty as the schizophrenic experience without reality.
Wallace was able to explain this cultural phenomenon in an especially concrete way with the example of television as a medium, or in other words, he frequently shows readers how television is quintessentially postmodern.
Television is needlessly self-reflexive, passive, subjectless, author-less, and, of course, schizophrenic. The best TV of the last five years has been about ironic self-reference like no previous species of postmodern art could ever have dreamed of. The colors of MTV videos, blue- black and lambently flickered, are the colors of television. Segments of the new late-night glitz-news After Hours end with a tease that features harried earphones guys in the production booth ordering the tease.
Television shows and commercials that embrace this aesthetic find great success in postmodern culture. Of course this is all very capitalistic, pessimistic in some respects, and still a slight discoloration of postmodernity in all its potential meanings. How is it that someone can utter phrases in U. A lot of this ambiguity has to do with the fact that academics, artists, fiction writers, and even pop-cultural gurus have been using the same terminology postmodern, postmodernity, postmodernism for almost three generations now.
While the terminology may carry with it similar aesthetic outlooks, it would be ludicrous to believe that it philosophically performs the same task in measuring Western culture.
Wallace writes specifically of this, stating: Television has pulled the old dynamic of reference and redemption inside-out: This has been going on for a while. It is perhaps all too strange that the general population However, I point such things out for reader curiosity.
In some ways, post-postmodernity is the extension, the pessimistic end goal, or doomsday, of the older postmodernism. The old Americana held its faith in universals, which were soon revealed to be full of holes, fabrications, and lies.
A new kind of radical faith was placed in the image itself instead. The newsman during Vietnam could spin the wildest of tales, but only the photos of violence, of monks lighting themselves aflame, deliver something resistant to fabrication. Wallace writes about this: A nation was changed, as Audience.
A term Anderson, Wallace, and others like Jonathan Franzen have used to describe a wave of authorship coming after the postmodern authors. Television, that summer, got to present itself as the earnest, worried eye on the reality behind all images. With the advent of entertainment like Jackass,39 reality television, countless hours of streaming internet videos, and the audacity of YouTube to continue to stream content for you until you demand it stops rather than the other around , a new form of culture presents us with a perhaps more evolved form of the postmodern… something truly ironic, jaded, and so entrenched in the stimulation that images offer, that the awareness it fosters and the critique of itself that it offers, is only to justify its own existence.
And thus Americans enter the horrors of post-postmodernity. A postmodernity with the volume turned all the way up —where the irony is only present for its own sake. Wallace eventually comes to the final realization of what Television, postmodernity, and ultimately what Western culture in many ways embodies, by stating: One can rest while undergoing stimulation. Receive without giving. In this respect, television resembles certain other things one might call Special Treats e.
The novel, in certain ways, laments the powers of irony, but also creates its own world with an intention to show culture something new and becoming. The story attempts to make the reader consider culture, and where we are as Americans and as people, are headed. It takes American culture and holds it out before us, showing readers that the most toxic and addictive parts of our culture, the parts that are killing us, are the parts that try to convince us that true happiness is easy, or at least should be easy.
So easy, that all we have to do is buy this, marry that person, look like that, or attain this one job, consumer good, or lottery winnings. Happiness, in the Western world, with all its technology and access to entertainment and knowledge, should be so gosh darn easy. Infinite Jest paints a greater predictive reality of people living in a world trying to convince themselves that happiness is easy, simple, or something that can be acquired without perspective and wisdom.
A fictional A people convinced that human beings are simple creatures of a kind of science that adds human and pleasure together to equal happiness regardless of context. Wallace puts this dopamine based drive for pleasure, like a mouse in a cage pushing a lever incessantly for food, to the test, and has a straight-faced sobering talk with his readers that asks of them: However, such questions are by no means easy to address and so the novel is nearly a thousand pages.
It is truly a story of epic, and more importantly, mythic proportions. I can only claim to scratch the surface of all its potential implications. In broad strokes, the novel is about the Incandenza family and their generations. Three of the generations are of utmost importance to the story: The novel jumps around from year-to-year, with each year bearing the title of a corporate sponsor.
In the early chapters of the novel, a linear reading can be confusing for those who insist upon a chronological order, as the years give, at first, no tangible indication of when the events of the novel are happening. Nor does the novel seem to provide any kind of conclusive ending. The novel opens and closes with this scene of Hal applying to the University of Arizona, with various adults on one end of the bargaining table extolling his virtues, his genius essays, his nationally ranked tennis ability, his elite status academically, and his connections to his semi-famous academic father and mother.
On the other Or readers may cleverly deduce this with the handy use of page Many clues and plot items are left unturned or unresolved on purpose. The novel is prone to various Internet theories of elaborate natures that attempt to tie in all the various elements and characters.
Finally, after some time, the Dean encourages Hal to speak. And Hal speaks, intelligently, insightfully, and with great passion and personality. But everyone looks on at him in horror. Hal is stating: I have an intricate history. Experiences and feelings. Hal is then pinned to the floor, restrained, and taken away to a hospital. A childhood memory is spliced into the middle of this episode.
A young toddlerish Hal is holding up a piece of strange basement moss to his mother, Avril, who is panicking in the realization that her son has eaten the moss. She cries: Wallace is showing the reader how to read his particular view of culture in the opening sequence. Already we see members of this future society valuing stimulation over feeling.
Perhaps merely seeing and hearing a boy make terrible Wallace, Infinite Jest, For readers, what is wrong?
One of the greater mysteries of the novel is figuring out what happened to Hal. If the Year of Glad is the future, what made Hal this way?
Did his vapid exterior-focused culture do this, or was it something else? Was it the moss in the memory? Later in the novel, Hal alludes to taking DMZ, a kind of powerful DMT offshoot one of the most powerful hallucinogenic drugs known to humanity: These are all implications Wallace wanted readers to consider.
What makes one so trapped in a kind of shell? What makes one trapped in an interior of the self? These are thematic questions the novel poses throughout. He is beset by many petty distractions.
He plays a whack-a-mole game with crime and moral ambiguity that viewers find enticing to watch. However, at the end of the essay, Hal speculates about what might come after this postmodern hero. But what comes next? What North American hero can hope to succeed the placid Frank?
We await, I predict, the hero of non-action, the catatonic hero, the one beyond calm, divorced from all stimulus, carried here and there across sets by burly extras whose blood sings with retrograde amines.
And if readers are willing to go a step further and view Hal as a mythic character, a character that carries within him the voice and intent of a generation of young men and women like himself, then readers can see Hal metaphorically representing the very state and potential doom of a generation.
The generation of a hero who is a reaction to a reaction. Particularly, that catatonic state, where feeling is trapped on the inside, unable to be expressed to the outside world. And this feeling of stuff being trapped on the inside, unable to escape outward, is an essential theme. Many of the characters suffer the same afflictions as Hal. Combined with the shocking opening scene of the novel, readers will get the sense that Hal is moving towards this moment and state of the catatonic.
Make no mistake about it, Wallace seeks to mythologize this narrative, this belief in the postmodern reality with not only its history, but also its potential trajectory. And Wallace muses over irony in Infinite Jest in ways that do not suggest simple linguistic irony. Surely this is the way our postmodern fathers saw it. Irony has much larger implication for culture. And irony, in novel, becomes a kind of tyranny for a futuristic society that is not ruled by totalitarianism, but instead unlimited freedom and thus unlimited irony.
Wallace was an avid reader, and found a particular interest in nineteenth century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who also wrote about irony as something much more than a linguistic trait. Kierkegaard saw it as an emerging cultural force.
In other words, like Wallace, Kierkegaard was most concerned with irony and its effect on moralism. Any institution can be mocked, ridiculed, and made into a joke by the clever ironist. Such is the power of pure irony.
They no longer find themselves, so to speak, in their various social roles. As a result, they become alienated from social institutions and others who do identify with and take seriously the goals and ideals of these institutions. Not belonging or being attached to something, or in essence, choosing Ibid, This is a kind of freedom where individuals delimit themselves, and can mock and reference any one actuality without engaging in it, without being constrained or limited by it.
A freedom that you become addicted to, and a freedom that only bears the illusion of choice: Our present culture has harnessed those forces [of desire] in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom.
The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying.
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in a myriad of petty little unsexy ways, every day.
That is real freedom. A freedom that allows one to expel all virtue and to simply be beholden to the darker side of the postmodern mythos: However, this negative freedom is precisely what makes irony, particularly radical ironists who in Kierkegaard's mind practice pure irony, so attractive and addictive. Wallace, This is Water, New York: Little, Brown and Company , The world of Infinite Jest is a direct reaction to this ironic state elaborated, and the growing threat of a negative freedom.
Wallace is unraveling this future society to show the readers the potential tyranny of irony. In the novel, two side characters, one who is involved with the Les Assassins en Fauteuils Roulants A. Anyone who views this film becomes nothing more than a mindless consumer of it, unable to pursue any other desire. In the world of the novel, the film, effectively, if the A.
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