Here lies a poor bastard who died never finishing David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest, though this bastard tried, so hard. Ahh, rest in peace, sucker.
Was entirely prepared to have that etched onto my gravestone. Oho, but what’s this? Behold, do not call me ‘moof’ anymore; I now answer only to the title “Lord of the Universe, Eater of Worlds’ because….
I finished it. I finished it.
I motherfucking finished it.
::dance dance dance dance dance dance dance::
I have been reading IJ, on and off, for what seems like at least half a year. ‘The truth will set you free, but not before it’s done with you,’ an addict old-timer says on an AA podium–he was talking about addiction; hah, he was talking about this book. He was talking about everything, I suspect.
Warning: Coherent review will not follow.
‘What is that book about?’ Legitimate question, as I am always lugging this enormous brick around. I mutter lamely. I make gestures…
‘There’s this virtuoso junior tennis player… who also happens to be a sort of weekend-genius… there are two spies, an American, and a Canadian paraplegic, talking in the desert… there is a half-way house of drug/alcohol addicts, their handlers, caretakers and overseers and their mysterious ways… there is a horribly addicted girl who covers her face with a veil… and a movie (what they call in this strangely North-Ameriparallel but not QUITE North American modern world ‘an entertainment’ of such supremely sublime pleasure value that one glimpse of it will leave you drooling and foaming for more more more until you die.’
Let me start over.
Infinite Jest is about addiction. Addiction to highs, natural, synthetic, emotional, psychological–addiction to excellence, to top performance, to weed, to horse, to tennis, to killing animals, to DILAUDID, to love, to work, to sex, to fame–addiction to lows, and when Foster Wallace goes low, he goes really low, like rip out your eyeballs low, like can you please remove that last five pages from my memory banks low, because you write so VIVID, it’s like I’m having a false memory now. Like I was there.
This is a book about entertainment, like ‘entertainments’–what is entertaining, why do humans crave to be entertained, stimulated, sometimes, at any physical and emotional cost; why, just on this book, you will find many reviews of readers, perhaps rightfully complaining, that a book so long winded, so unorganized, so hard-to-finish has no right–to what? Exist? Be lauded as a genius masterpiece creation? Does an entertainment fail when too many people don’t ‘get it’? And speaking of those annoying fucking air-quotes to let you all know I am too hip to use a phrase as pedestrian as ‘get it’, are we as a society getting strangled by our insistence of always being more clever, more jaded, more issue-laden, more washed-out, more fact-oriented and more cliche-conscious than the next guy? Is David Foster Wallace asking that question, or is he demonstrating, by shanghaiing me into reading 1000+ pages of codswollop, that that is, in fact, what is happening here? I will plow through this because I don’t want anybody to think I did not quote unquote get it??
Sometimes, this book is just one big joke and you, as in I, are the personal hairy butt of it. Because (and addicts often have this mentality too) I am at the center of the universe, correct? Well, my universe, at least.
I was offended by this book. So deeply. Multiple times, I said fuck it. I can only be jerked off for soooo long. Thank you David Foster Wallace for making my wiener bloody, thank you.
Sometimes, ‘Infinite Jest’ and I were on hiatus. But a book and our interface with one is a metaphor for many things, a relationship amongst others, book to reader, and then author to book to reader, and if I think of it that way, that David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest and I were engaged in an on-and-off metaphysical threeway for the last six months… well then I’d say it was totally worth it. ~_~
My advice is hang in there. Getting frustrated by the SAT vocab bombs? You were not alone… You’re starting to chaff after a 20+ page description of a tennis match? Grab lube, keep on. Getting queasy after the tenth page intimately describing a father nightly raping (or was she enjoying it?) his severely physically disabled daughter and her present adoptive sister’s reaction to it? Skip it. But try to hang in there. Haha, like at an AA meeting.
One day of sobriety at a time. Sometimes, I crawled along, eye-balls pulsing, one measly page at a time.
Absurd, uplifting, stinky, drug-ridden, ambitious, truthful, synthetic, flowing, nonsensical, earnest, disgustingly smart and often hilariously funny. You know, like life. Adored it and despised it and will remember it forever.
PS: bricolage, cachinnate, febrile, fuliginous, inutile, scopophilia, and tear-assing down a hill.