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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
From this thread at sevenstring.org.

On a REALLY slow day at work ages ago, I posted one of my favorite passages from this novel to try to turn a couple people onto it, and since SS.org is always down I thought I'd repost it here. A buddy of mine had me read it, which got me hooked enough to go out and buy a copy of my own. I think that " administrative bones to pick with God... pro-death/anti-death" bit is fucking brilliant, personally (Hal's father, actually, both Hal's and Mario's (who Hal addresses as Booboo, a family pet name) committed suicide several years prior in a fairly messy manner that involved a microwave, a hacksaw to cut a space for his head, and a lot of tin foil, and as Hal was the one who found him he still has some pretty major issues surrounding it).

Other quick note, this is set at some point in the near future after the advent of subsidized time, where instead of, say, 2010, you get Year of Glad or Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland, where whoever bids highest gets to have the year named after them (idea being the American president had the idea while watching a football playoff game, something like the "Coca-Cola Ford Taurus Campbell's Johnson & Johnson Rose Bowl, brought to you by Budweiser").

******************
YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT

"Hal?"
"..."
"Hey, Hal?"
"Yes Mario?"
"Are you asleep?"
"Booboo, we've been over this. I can't be asleep if we're talking."
"That's what I thought."
"Happy to reassure you."
"Boy you were on today. Boy did you ever make that guy look sick. When he hit that one down the line and you got it and fell down and hit that drop volley Pemulis said the guy looked like he was going to be sick all over the net, he said."
"Boo, I kicked a kid's ass is all. End of story. I don't think it's good to rehash it when I've kicked somebody's ass. It's like a dignity thing. I think we should just let it lie in state, quietly. Speaking of which."
"Hey Hal?"
"..."
"Hey Hal?"
"It's late, Mario. It's sleepy-time. Close your eyes and think fuzzy thoughts."
"That's what the Moms always says, too."
"Always worked for me, Boo."
"You think I think fuzzy thoughts all the time. You let me room with you because you feel sorry for me."
"Boo, I'm not even going to dignify that. I'll regard it as like a warning sign. You always get petulant when you don't get enough sleep. And here we are seeing petulance already on the western horizon, right here."
"..."
"..."
"When I asked if you were asleep I was going to ask if you felt like you believed in God, today, out there, when you were so on, making that guy look sick."
"This again?"
"…"
"Really don't think midnight in a totally dark room with me so tired my hair hurts and drills in six short hours is the time and place to get into this, Mario."
"…"
"You ask me this once a week."
"You never say, is why."
"So tonight to shush you how about I say I have an administrative bone to pick with God, Boo. I'll say God seems to have a kind of laid-back management style I'm not crazy about. I'm pretty much anti-death. God looks by all accounts to be pro death. I'm not seeing how we can get together on this issue, he and I, Boo."
"You're talking about since Himself passed away."
"…"
"See? You never say."
"I do say. I just did."
"…"
"I just didn't happen to say what you wanted to hear, Booboo, is all."
"…"
"There's a difference."
"I don't get how you couldn't feel like you believed, today, out there. It was so right there. You moved like you totally believed.
"…"
"How do you feel inside, not?"
"Mario, you and I are mysterious to each other. We countenance each other from either side of some unbridgeable difference on this issue. Let's lie very quietly and ponder this."
"Hal?"
"…"
"Hey Hal?"
"I'm going to propose I tell a joke, Boo, on the condition that afterward you shush and let me sleep."
"Is it a good one?"
"Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic, and an dyslexic?"
"I give."
"You get somebody who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there's a dog."
"That's a good one!"
"Shush."
"…"
"…"
"Hey Hal? What's an insomniac?"
"Someone who rooms for you, kid, that's for sure."
"Hey Hal?"
"..."
"How come Moms never cried when Himself passed away? I cried, and you, even C.T. cried. I saw him personally cry."
"..."
"You listened to Tosca over and over and cried and said you were sad. We all were."
"..."
"Hey Hal, did Moms seem like she got happier afte Himself passed away, to you?"
"..."
"It seems like she got happier. She seems even taller. She stopped travelling everywhere all the time for this thing and that thing. the corporate-grammar thing. The library-protest thing."
"Now she never goes anywhere, Boo. Now she's got the Headmaster's House and her office and the tunnel in between, and never leaves the grounds. She's a worse workaholic than she ever was. And more obsessive-compulsive. When's the last time you saw a dust-mote in that house?"
"Hey Hal?"
"Now she's just an agoraphobic workaholic and obsessive-compulsive. This strikes you as happification?"
"Her eyes are better. They don't seem as sunk in. They look better. She laughs at C.T way more than she laughed at Himself. She laughs from lower down inside. She laughs more. Her jokes she tells are better ones than yours, even, now, a lot of the time."
"..."
"How come she never got sad?"
"She did get sad, Booboo. She got sad in her way instead of yours and mine. She got sad, I'm pretty sure."
"Hal?"
"You remember how he staff lowered the flag to half-mast out front by the portcullis here after it happened? Do you remember that? And it goes to half-mast every year at Convocation? Remember the flag, Boo?"
"Hey Hal?"
"Don't cry, Booboo. Remember the flag only halfway up the pole? Booboo, there are two ways to lower a flag to half-mast. Are you listening? Because no shit I really have to sleep here in a second. So listen - one way to lower the flag to half mast is just to lower the flag. There's another way though. You can also just raise the pole. You can raise the pole to like twice its original height. You get me? You understand what I mean, Mario?"
"Hal?"
'She's plenty sad, I bet.
 

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Wallace is a genius and I really don't think he gets enough attention for what he's done. I remember when i told people he died, every one of them just looked at me and said "who?"
 

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Motherfucker.
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Drew, you were the one who got me to read it. I had it as my favourite book I read of last year and I read well over 100.

It took my two months to read it, and then another one month to go back and read it again (as you recommended).

You could make a substantial book from the footnotes alone!
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
All 200 odd pages of them. :lol:

It's an almost shockingly good book - very smart, and not afraid to remind you of it, but also incredibly emotionally naked, almost painfully so at times. God only knows what the inside of Wallace's mind must have been like, if this is the cleaned up version he was presenting to the world...
 

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So if you have this book in one hand, and Gravity's Rainbow in the other, which is the better one to use to wipe your ass with? :fawk:
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So if you have this book in one hand, and Gravity's Rainbow in the other, which is the better one to use to wipe your ass with? :fawk:
I thought that was where your mom came in? :scratch:
 

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Where?!
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Funny...I was just contemplating picking this book up after reading about it while doing some research at work...
 

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:bump:

YEAR OF THE SAMSUNG 4K TELEVISION

So, The Infinite Jest has been on my books-to-read list from as of when I first found out right here in this thread, possibly, a few years ago. I wasn't looking for it, but there it was, in the English section of the bookstore. And it called out to me, and I liberated it from the shelf and took it home, though I didn't have a home at the time. I thought, man, this is going to take a long time to get through. But now I'm 160 pages in or so and toying with the idea of committing myself to finishing it before YEAR OF THE VALVE STEAM BOX AND POSSIBLY HALF LIFE 3.

Drew, that passage you quoted is my favorite as well. What I like the most about David Foster Wallace so far -- aside from the fact that he was a terrific writer who could churn out a piece of work like this in only a few years -- is the way he projects the human condition with frightening accuracy or honesty on some version of the future that isn't necessarily accurate or honest.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
How far in are you? This is one of my favorite passages, but I'd be hard pressed to choose just one, and there's a few other scenes in there that are depicted so vibrantly that I wasn't shocked at all when the news broke Wallace had hung himself. :/

Also, it's just Infinite Jest - there's no "the." The title is a reference to a line from Hamlet (actually, most of the book is a bunch of oblique references to Hamlet, including the central storyline about a tortured son obsessed with the death, perhaps wrongful, of his father) - "Poor Yorick, a man of infinite jest!" as the maybe-insane-maybe-not son holds and addresses the dead man's grinning skull.
 

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I'm just past the part where some of those tennis academy kids
sell clean urine to the drug-using students so that they can pass a mandatory drug-test.

A few other bits that stood out to me:

1) The one with the girl at the psych ward. Once she gets comfortable with talking to the doctor and opens up, it's as if she has some ulterior motive. She says she wants the treatment so that the pain will go away, with an eagerness that suggests that the approval that comes with being cooperative in a psych ward is equally important to her.

2) The part about video calls and self-consciousness. It's arguably more relevant today than it was back when the book first came out. Most people now have a video-call-capable device in their pocket. And anybody with a Facebook account is to some degree a participant in a global vanity fest.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yeah, considering this was written during the early-mid 90s and published in the mid-late 90s, Wallace was way ahead of the curve there, wasn't he?

As to your first point, I don't really agree - one of the points Wallace stresses as the book goes along is there IS a level of psychotic pain such that simply making it go away trumps all other considerations. It sort of becomes a little more clear as the story goes along (and what Gately wrestles with is pretty explicitly about that, how one can fight that kind of pain), so give it some time.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You're thinking of Gravity's Rainbow, dude. :lol:
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
:lol: I give up. Not enough broadswords, right? :fawk:

Enter Garrett in 3... 2... 1...
 
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