The Infinite Jest Challenge

Day 17 – Sunday reading blues

Posted in Aaron's Postings by aaronjoseph on February 4, 2008

Things I have read this weekend besides Infinite Jest:

1. Diary of a Bad Year by J. M. Coetzee. Each page of this novel is split into two or more narratives which continue side by side. The first section consists solely of the main character’s polemical observations of politics, literature, and culture. The second and third sections feature the voices of the writer and the woman who he hires to type the writings that make up the first section. They vaguely correspond to the first section in their underlying concerns. Unsurprisingly all this was much less confusing than Infinite Jest.

2. I finally caught up on my Facebook wall messages. There were messages from my birthday in November that I still hadn’t responded to. There were actually people I still hadn’t told I was back from Kyrgyzstan. Oops.

3. The really annoying scroll at the bottom of the Super Bowl. My sister put it best when she said that the only people who care about player stats already know all the numbers. We firmly belonged to a second category of Super Bowl viewership that consisted of people (a) who work in advertising for a living, (b) plan their 3rd grade lessons while watching TV, and (c) like to take naps in front of TV. On the bright side, I totally called the Giants win. Barring any personal investment, I choose the underdog at all costs.

I have to admit that I’m hitting a plateau over my excitement with this book. I’m finally caught up with the schedule, but I’m still trudging through certain chapters. I think we now realize that everything is quite artfully placed in this novel and there is a meaning behind its organization; it’s just not within my capabilities during this first time through to grasp those hidden easter eggs. I find myself longing for a straightforward narrative and I even read through a few chapters of a Tobias Wolff I had sitting on my night stand (In Pharaoh’s Army, if you must know) just to remember what clarity sounded like.

Anyway, I was thinking about writing a letter in the voice of one of David Foster Wallace’s girlfriends or old classmates, but, like all my good ideas in life, it was already executed by The Onion in this article.

DFW's Dear John letter DFW's girlfriend

DFW’s imaginary Dear John letter and ex-girlfriend from The Onion

Please, please give me a reason to go on. You must give me a challenge.

P.S. Make Me A Supermodel is meaningless eye candy when compared to the brilliance of Project Runway. Set your TiVo accordingly.

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5 Responses

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  1. Billifer said, on February 4, 2008 at 5:40 am

    A reason to go on? You’ll find it on page 784. But you won’t understand it until page 922.

    As for all your good ideas already being executed: This entry slapped me in the face, as I was unaware of Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year, but I had previously started my own fictional work much like it about 2 years ago. Bah!

    And a final thought: Don’t get so drawn into the gravitas of Infinite Jest to forget to laugh. It was only when I took a good long break did I realize just exactly how much of a HOOT it was that Marathe and the AFR were carrying out the things they were doing considering their size and dependence on wheelchairs. One scene in particular sticks out in my mind — but you’re not there yet.

  2. eazzolini said, on February 4, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    You (Billifer) are the Pied Piper of Infinite Jest – tempting us further underground until we’re completely lost. What happens on 784?
    You (Aaron) underestimate me. I never miss Project Runway (except for last week, when it wasn’t on.) There’s no reason to ever change the TV from Bravo, really. Not even for the Superbowl.

  3. aaronjoseph said, on February 4, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Billifer, don’t let Coetzee get you down. Where would DFW be if he hadn’t decided to crib off Hamlet? Plus, I’m pretty sure Coetzee started after you.

    Liz, I indeed underestimated you. I also underestimated the scheming ways of Victorya Hong, who I’d pegged to be gone long long ago. Prediction for final three: Christian, Sweet P, and Jillian. Have I just lost all credibility for our comments section? Oh well.

  4. Billifer said, on February 5, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Liz — You’ll see. :)

    Aaron — Thanks for the shove to get writing again. Like many of our era, I at least realize that there are no new thoughts or ideas.

  5. Billifer said, on March 18, 2008 at 1:17 am

    @ aaronjoseph — I picked up Diary of a Bad Year. I’m reading it slowly, but I quickly noticed that Coetzee’s technique is actually nothing at all like I had (possibly) invented quite some time ago, but never published. Thanks for turning me on to Coetzee and to this book specifically.


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