39 Followers
66 Following
Binnudeya

Binnudeya

A reader with the attention span of a hummingbird.

DFW, You Monster!

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

This is a message to future wiser older me from a clueless 21 year old, here goes...

 

So to borrow from a great comment once on youtube, "Any motherfucking hipster think they got this, is motherfuckin lying!!"

 

Now that is out of the way, this is a massive 1079-page book with 200 pages of endnotes in tiny font and passages that goes on for ages. First time I started it it was last March I read the first 17 pages, closed the book, took a nap and woke up as good as new. Second time around took me 3 months to get past the first 250 pages and it was still this dense-I-have-no-idea-what-you-want-to-say, but then around like 320-350 page magic happened and I was hooked. It was still hard don't get me wrong specially to my english-isn't-my-native-language-self, but it was worth it. The first book i ever took a pen and kept writing in the margins all relevant and irrelevant ramblings. Good news is I'll read it again and again and again, bad news is I have to! you feel compelled once you hit the 981 page (yes the last 200 pages are endnotes i wasn't lying you know...) to go back to page 1! it's a dis-ease.

Helpful references:

http://www.wallacewiki.com/david-foster-wallace/index.php?title=Infinite_Jest

http://wiki.ursinus.edu/index.php/Infinite_Jest_Chapter_Summaries

and for the second reading may be:

http://www.thehowlingfantods.com/dfw/images/theses/chronijfinal1.3.pdf

 

 

To me it felt like two people have wrote Infinite Jest, this magnificent brilliant, messy, over detailed, beast. There is the pretentious Wallace that wants to write a hard book that is for the reader that actually reads (not the type that reads and runs according to Salinger), one of the best writers/voices of his generation and whats not. And then there is the DFW that is telling simple stories and observations about the world around him. Where everything is only vague and implied, some kind of a whisper in your ear and you're not entirely sure whether you heard it or not. His unique style of telling a story, his wicked sense of humor, all of his characters (there are dozen of them) that are so perfectly portrayed to show how imperfect they truly are, they are cruel and grotesque, nice and humble, they are able to make you lose your faith in humanity, and restore it in the same page. The way he tells a story is he finds the most complex way to tell it, he'll shove a simple situation down your throat, leave it there, hangs you to dry, goes and does his thing, drawn you in personalized descriptions, tells you their family history, going back and forth, mathematical equations, chemical expertise, some more family secrets, goes back to base touch up some details, by that point your own imagination of the scenes and those ridiculously humanized characters and his own subtle telling are so intertwined they are inseparable, like you both have built it from scratch, and you're emotionally attached to them all you wanna do is jump in and say it'll all be okay knowing full well it won't. And it changes the way you look at people, how much we don't actually know about all those who surround us, like what could be their stories and how much can you know someone, like really know someone. 

 

So what is it all about? it's about entertainment and addiction and desire, desperation, witty, genius, and fart jokes(too many perhaps...), it has a plot, and subplots, and sub-subplots, a maddening conclusion. All in all it's a sad book about sad people, brutally honest, genuine and personal, by a brilliant writer, that knew about sadness himself (after all he eliminated his own map), that was too smart for his own good, which makes me really sad to even start to think about him.

 

What it kept coming back to (in toto), what all this was about, for me it was about empathy. how you are thrown into the back row of denial, with cigarette smoke in the air and an addict on the podium sharing their story, and it's teleportation you're no longer here holding a book and reading fiction, you are there, either sitting your face covered in linen in the back rows, or pore-range close, you take their stories and you sit their and you do, empathize. and it makes me think of Holden Caulfield asking the cabbie where do the ducks go when the pond freezes over?! 

 

I read this book because of Jesse and Dean from Liberal arts (2012), and the raving reviews on Goodreads, but still mainly Jesse and Dean.