Reach and Pull

Musings on Infinite Jest

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oneflewoverthecuckoosnest9

Written by reachandpull

December 14, 2016 at 12:54 am

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David Foster Wallace: Prophet

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Gonna sound trite. Like, oh, right, of course, he prophesied our current videophoning disconnected double-bound ever-more-prodigious earth-polluting aggrieved-terrorist substance-dependent entertainment-captured post-postmodern existence. But, uh, no. Not just that. (“Just”, lol.) No. Way more specifically, did he soothsay. “Huh?” Just…wait. Good news, though: Not too late! Perhaps now would be a good time to reevaluate how sad Hal really was as he and Gately unburied JOI’s head. Yes, “very sad kid”, “sad kid”, “sad kid”…”makes the face of somebody shouting in panic”…right. Seriously, real question: Do most Infinite Jest readers suffer from a type of comprehension-retardation? Are wraiths of ill-will clouding your mind, lol? All of you? Do you not remember something really, really important about how Hal’s expressions have become all fucked-up and opposite-meaning? No, apparently, because basically all of you, maybe literally all of you, seem to think that “Too Late!” is a tragic note, portends disaster, consummates the epic sadness that Wallace promised, is the final tragic two-word chord that seals the book’s status as The Saddest Book Ever Written. Good news, though: The only thing that makes Infinite Jest the saddest book ever, is how fucking sadly it has been understood — or rather, pathetically misunderstood — not only by the entirety of its readership for 18 years, but also by the professionals who are paid handsomely to understand deep literature for the rest of us and to test us as to whether or not we understand it as well as they do and to review books for us so we can tell whether or not a book is good enough to buy, but even misunderstood by the very professionals who helped edit the goddamned thing. Really. It’s so, so, soooo fucking sad. Almost makes me want to cry. But, alas, eternal optimist that I am, thanking whatever gods may be: I can only laugh! I laugh at you all…hard, so fucking hard. Fools are funny, yes. But what’s funnier than a fool? Why, naturally: An arrogant fool! Especially an arrogant, snide, oh-so-solemn, oh-so-twee fool who views with condescending scorn if not outright pity and indifference…the one fucking schmuck in the world who actually understands enough of the book to get it. Oh, oh, ohhhh…THAT is the funniest fucking thing in the world, in fact. So, thank you, morons, for occasioning such roaring, life-affirming belly laughs. Your idiocy helped saved my soul. I learned how to not give a shit if I was alone, how to enjoy life anyway. Really, I owe you an eternal gratitude. Cannot thank you enough for being so fucking oblivious. But, now, what’s not to get? All the book’s self-help gist has been mined and distributed. All the academic exegesis-factories have sacrificed forests’ worth of paper dissecting the book’s keen insights on all the latest and greatest literary theories and psychological studies and mathematical patterns and cultural trends for which the book serves as an exhaustive compendium. Yeah, uh, big problem there. (Besides my Lyle and dream “theories” — errr, FACTS still awaiting widespread recognition.) Problem is: The book was not meant to serve the purposes of college professors who need thesis material or hipsters who need a more sophisticated excuse-system by which to live like hypocrites. The book was meant to, basically, you know, save the fucking world. “But how? It’s so sad!” Nooooooo, dipshit, it’s not sad. Hal’s face intends, despite its appearance to Gately, to carry in it a look of pure triumphant joy. Not sadness. JOY. J-O-Y. “Too Late!” In other words: “Hahahaaa! Suck it, bitches! You lose! We win! Too late!” You’re thinking I must be wrong. No. I am right. I have been right about nearly everything claimed and speculated about in this blog. It is youuuuuuuuuuu who have been wrong. All of you, or at the very least literally 99.9% of you, fellow readers of Infinite Jest. Idiots, lol. “Why are you so angry at us, at me?” Hmmm, gee, because when I wandered the online earth looking for an open mind and a kind ear and a set of functioning eyeballs, softly murmuring or calmly stating or desperately urging or frantically screaming (wound up that no way would work, no one could hear me, see me, as anything more than marginally mammalian) the words “Help. Help! HELP!”, what I got in return as a response from you fine souls who pride yourselves on having digested the other-loving lessons of your favorite book, was…can you guess? That fucking sign, pinned to my back: “HELP WANTED”, lol. Yes, funny. Really, one of the book’s great, cruel lol-able moments. But, but: NOT SO FUNNY IF YOU’RE THE PERSON ASKING FOR HELP, you fucking assholes, lmao. Anyway, yeah, thanks. Thanks a million! For real. Your vapid, vicious indifference did not kill me. It only made me stronger. And wiser. [CORRECTION: There were some people who attempted to help, and did help, even if only by attempting in the first place. But some did truly help. Way, way, wayyyy more than you helped. Unless by “you”, that now refers to one of the true helpers, reading this right now. Several people who commented here, you can find their screennames beneath the entries below, the same entries you should absolutely read in full, all of them, as soon as possible, like, now. Also, several people on Facebook, especially those who joined the Lyle group, who celebrated “Lyle is a wraith” Awareness Week, which had first been scheduled to begin on 4/8/2013, but was then re-scheduled to begin on 4/15/2013. To be celebrated in the city of…Boston. My city. My hometown. And no, lol, I had no hand whatsoever in that day’s or week’s events; nor, luckily, did I lose a hand…or a leg…or my life, obviously. Although, I might have. If I had not had a powerful premonition of impending disaster related to a job offer on which I bailed out in a sudden paralysis of paranoia and claustrophobia and acrophobia at 8:15am on the morning of 4/8/2013, a job that would have had me placed literally across the street from the second blast. I like to take regular smoke breaks. I also enjoy catching a little bit of the marathon whenever I can, every year I happen to be in the area, but especially around the time of day when the race is well over but the heartfelt amateurs begin to crowd and stream down Boylston Street, jogging for one or another good cause. You do the math.] My three favorite quotes ever:

“Amor fati.”

“Is there no other way the world may live?”

“Sapere aude!”

So, wanna know something? Do you dare, lol? Well, I already told you. It’s funny what you don’t recall, lol. It really is. What YOU don’t recall. Not me so much. Anyway, yeah, prophet. Wallace. That, he is. Way more literally than you might think. It’s actually ridiculous, the extent to which he is literally a prophet. (Or, was. Ugh. You stupid, brilliant, sorry, magnificent bastard. RIP.) Here’s a line that just caught my eye tonight, randomly: “It’s Friend, not Fiend.” Oh, is it? Not maybe…the other way around? You sure? You? Really sure? Be sure, now. Allow me to inform you, for fucking once, finally, and believe me, for once: You are not sure. You’ve been wrong before. You are wrong now. About what? Pfff-hahaha, yeah, no way I’m going there. See for yourself. Good luck, lol! I predict good things, a good year, full of good news. The Year of Fun! Real fun. Not too much fun. But…just enough.

Written by reachandpull

May 16, 2013 at 2:10 am

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The 1st Annual “Lyle is a wraith” Awareness Week

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This is a week to remember (or discover) that the character Lyle in the novel Infinite Jest is, throughout the whole book, a wraith. It is also a time to become aware (more aware, or aware for the first time) of the implications that Lyle’s wraithness has for understanding the core of the novel [e.g., Endnote 145] and perhaps more [e.g., The object-estimating “bootstrap-type scenario” on Page 395]To celebrate this occasion, anyone participating is asked to do one trifling thing: Tweet out a link to a blog entry where Lyle’s wraithhood is proven beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt, for all time, and — just as importantly — broadcast said link to a well-known comedy writer (Michael Schur) who owns the film rights to the book, so that any future film adaptation will be sure not to omit nor to underestimate Lyle and his wraithly existence as a key to Infinite Jest comprehension. Adding the hashtag #infinitejest is optional. The link is:

And the Twitter screenname to be included somewhere next to the link is:

@KenTremendous

(Schur’s Twitter and SoSH alias)

 

Happy “Lyle is a wraith” Awareness Week, everyone!

“And the Lord said: Let not the weight thou wouldst pull to thyself exceed thine own weight.” – Lyle

“Suppose I were to give you a key ring with ten keys. With, no, a hundred keys, and I were to tell you that one of these keys will unlock it, this door we’re imagining opening in onto all you want to be, as a player. How many of the keys would you be willing to try?” – Lyle

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” – Lyle

“You might consider how escape from a cage must surely require, foremost, awareness of the fact of the cage.” – Lyle

“Do not underestimate objects.” – Lyle

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April 8, 2013 at 2:35 am

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Gotta love the discussion pages on Wikipedia

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Written by reachandpull

September 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm

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On a related note: I considered the lobster…

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…and I wound up granting it a pardon:

Some miscellaneous quotes from the experience:

“Don’t you fucking die on me.  Look alive!”

“Stop trying to pinch the hand that frees you, dumbass.”

“Ever wonder what water is like?  You’re about to find out!  Good luck!”

(Note on the photos: Cross your eyes and look only at the overlapped image in the middle.)

Written by reachandpull

October 3, 2008 at 4:38 pm

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Ghost Town FTW! (“for the win!”)

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I saw Ghost Town by myself last night, and I get the feeling whoever wrote it either has or should read Infinite Jest.  Ghost Town is a crude caricature of Jest’s paranormal premises.  Crude, caricaturish…but very funny and very moving.  I didn’t think it was possible, but it has surpassed Stepbrothers in my mind as The Best Movie of 2008.  It might have even earned an instant inclusion in my Top Three Favorite Movies of All Time, alongside The Jerk and Groundhog Day.  Ricky Gervais, Mrs. David Duchovny (David, my birthday buddy, read Infinite Jest if you haven’t!), and Greg Kinnear all deserve a role in whatever film version of Jest gets made.

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October 3, 2008 at 3:11 pm

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A tip for people who don’t like big books

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My rule of thumb for years had been, if the book is longer than 300 pages then it can wait until I’m either hospitalized for some surgery or incarcerated for some crime.  I hated (and still do, IJ excepted) big books.  Maybe it’s a byproduct of television and magazines…or maybe I just constitutionally prefer short-form communication, a la Nietzsche.  Anyway, when I first decided I would read the book, I devised a plan to divide the book up into smaller sections, pretending at first that the book was a trilogy written in three volumes, and then when I noticed the main body was 981 pages, I figured why not also divide each volume into three.  I pre-earmarked the book every 109 pages.  This was before reading a single word, and way way way before encountering the dial setting for WYYY.  In addition to being a neat way for megabibliophobes to tackle the book, there also seems to be some underlying structural pattern to the whole 1/9th and 109 thing.  Perhaps it has something to do with that pyramid/fractal thing Silverblatt mentioned to him on NPR (one of the few items of secondary literature I happened upon before/during/after my reading) (oh, and if anyone was wondering — no, I’ve never read the reader’s guide, and I’ve only perused a handful of thesises on Fantods, none of which really spoke to my understanding of the book…so far I’ve only felt an affinity toward the analysis of Jesse Simms).  To be frank, all the Wittgenstein/math layers in Infinite Jest elude me.  I’d need a meta-tutor to even begin to grasp it.  If there’s one thing above else all that distinguishes me from Will Hunting, it’s that I don’t understand jack shit about math.  There are other Will Huntings I’ve known who are math savants.  Not me, though.

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October 1, 2008 at 8:33 am

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