David Foster Wallace in Infinite Jest…
On Humor: This book is often laugh-out-loud funny.
Hal: “I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it.'” (12)
Hal: “I’m an O.E.D. man, Doctor.” (29)
The Narrator on Hal: “His way of answering the phone sounded like ‘Mmmyellow.'” (32)
Hal: “We’re all on each other’s food chain. All of us. It’s an individual sport. Welcome to the meaning of individual.” (112)
Hal: “This induced a spell of involuted marijuana-type thinking that led quickly, again, to Hal’s questioning whether or not he was really all that intelligent.” (136)
Hal: “I’m trying to cut down on patronizing places with ”N’ in their name.” (908)
On Humor and Sadness: In the sense of co-existing in a moment, of humor being an attempt to deal with sadness, a layer over the sadness, and finally melting into sadness.
Hal: “…I have administrative bones 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.” (40)
Still writing beautiful sentences: Again, this is what kept my eyes on the page–page after page after page.
Narrator: “the cold-penny tang of the autumn air” (539)
Narrator: “The sun has the attenuated autumn quality of seeming to be behind several panes of glass.” (623)
On Eschaton (the game): Or on reading IJ.
“Its elegant complexity, combined with a dismissive-reenactment frisson and a complete disassociation from the realities of the present, composes most of its puerile appeal. Plus it’s almost addictively compelling…” (322)
On suicide: Yes, it’s all over the place–the fact of it, the attempt to understand it, and the understanding of it.
Geoffrey Day: “As the two vibrations [exhaust fan and violin] combined, it was as if a large dark billowing shape came billowing out of some corner in my mind. I can be no more precise than to say large, dark, shape, and billowing, what came flapping out of some backwater of my psyche I had not had the slightest inkling was there.” (649) and “From that day, whether I could articulate it satisfactorily or not…I understood on an intuitive level why people killed themselves.” (651)
Kate Gompert: “Time in the shadow of the wing of the thing too big to see, rising.” (651)
Describing: I am astonished, over and over again, at DFW’s ability to nail a description.
Marathe: “Also the living room evening resembled an anthill which had been stirred with a stick; it was too full of persons, all of the restless and loud.” (730)
Marathe about someone else: “…she laughed in the manner of an automatic weapon.” (748)
Mario about his mother’s desk: “…what looks like a skyline of file folders and books…” (760)
Hal about Keith Freer: “He was still wearing the weird unitard he slept in, which made him look like someone who tore phone books in half at a sideshow.” (908)
On story-telling: Remember the “use less words” from the previous post? Add these:
Marathe: “‘Because it is necessary that I leave soon, a central point must be soon emerging,’ Marathe worked in as gracefully as possible.”
Kate to Marathe: “Is the madly-in-love part coming up?” (779)
I’m realizing as of the end of the 700’s that more and more lines I would like to include might be spoilers so I have left them out.
On living in the moment: A recurrent theme.
Gately: “An endless Now stretching its gull-wings out on either side of his heartbeat…Living in the Present between pulses…living completely In The Moment.” (860)
On addiction: Everywhere to every possible thing, and I include “to this book.”
Gately: “Feeling the edge of every second that went by. Taking it a second at a time. Drawing the time in around him real tight.” (859)
Gately: “…everything unendurable was in the head, was the head not Abiding in the Present but hopping the wall and doing a recon and then returning with unendurable news you somehow believed.” (861)
Gately: “the psychic emergency-brake was off…” (906)
Gately: “…he found himself starting to cry like a babe. It came out of emotional nowheres…” (916)
OMG, I’m at the end again…
[4th in a series of 5 posts on finishing IJ]
Such amazing excerpts. Just yes again.
It is amazing, isn’t it, Lisa? Hard to believe.
And yes again. I haven’t read this and had been somewhat put off by the hype, but you’ve changed my mind.
Hi Kathy-So nice to hear from you and to know the post makes you want to read Infinite Jest. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope you’ll be back!