Book review: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace


I require a mild neurosis, based in air-drawn wish fulfilment, of the ideal that I frequently step in a prelapsarian coppice by slats of warm-light breaking the docile canopy and then filtering on downward through the trees to come to a swirling perceptible rest and thus luxuriating golden in c~tinuance the forest floor – the early part of the day fontanelle, in its softwarm glade, peeping fully, making way for noontide and the ossified cranium pivots towards Jupiter – my be in possession of dumb-wondering skull swinging gallantly to the heavens, and therefore back again to the social globe, where the overtly self-conscious auteur be possible to record the very thing itself, Kantian analysis of the process of reasoning, which  is seemingly, scant upon the get a~ these post-modern, non-ideological, apart from very great consumerism and neo-liberalist agenda(s), days. Recently, I looped the metamodernist, hyper-realist circle and went for David Foster Wallace’s encyclopaedic, metadata fictitious narrative, Infinite Jest; I figured that during the time that sedate prose is at the commandment of book seller’s, and publishers, expedient and modes of production for the masses, I imagination ‘To hell with this, bestow me a novel with shtick.’ So through means of reposed epidural, I plugged into Foster Wallace’s needleshaped vein, man, and plunged the conjecturer right on in to the other-side.  And it is shtick totality the way.

In Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents, in division two, ‘Civilized’ Sexuality Morality and Modern Nervous Illness he opens the beginning paragraph by making the distinction of the ‘natural’ – luxuriant? –  sexuality in the human and the conducive, moral sexual behaviour in ‘civilized society’ which delineates into sublimation and thus one’s efforts are thrown altogether into Art and cultural activity. One could cause the assertion that David Foster Wallace, straddled the tumescent, ~iness-ridden world of the former and that time found his comfort, and solace, in the last mentioned where the rotating, tangible Gods are other thing within one’s reach if they put in action themselves and actually get down to it and, libidinal energies aloof, write. [1]

On social media, to particularize Twitter, a few people remarked that they had undertaken the David versus Goliath battle with Infinite Jest and retreated to safe passage, beaten some two hundred pages in. I believe this may be permissible in others only not for the prepared for the challenge, creative reader like this reviewer. So through slingshot in hand, I strapped in successi~ my leather sandals and headed loudly to the dusty milieu to seize with the colossal swinging giant.

What surrounding the plot of Infinite Jest? The reach of thought, for this reviewer, is tertiary to Wallace’s cognitive powers and ego in flux. The scheme is pure vaudeville to the majority circus, big-top act which is the reason of Foster Wallace himself and the pre-brow-band cortex mythology which he conspires to appoint and then exudes, seemingly, so effortlessly. And what about competently, I hear you water-newt, did Foster Wallace write a gifted work? That is down to the ethical subjectivity of the reader. That is into disrepute to the reader’s own relevant comprehension of what literature is and in what state far they are willing to make an excursion to meet such a work. This is not a lineal prose tale as we know it. What I deduced, and I hold to be honest here, I skim-read some of the work, ~-end I was able to perceive was that basically, the plat is a protean, Joycian, quotidian essay at the Epic; idea enough to convulse one in their cotton socks and caoutchouc-soled plimsolls.

Foster Wallace’s ground of trust on using nomenclature, acronyms are, well, unimportant when you forget all the organisations he coins; we accomplish know, for example, that ONAN stands in the place of Organization of North American Nations, a benign of dystopian superstate which comprises of Mexico, United states and Canada, and that the fictitious narrative takes place during ‘The Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment’ Y.D.A.U. It opens through tennis. Wallace was a court re-enforce, he liked to court tennis and he schlongs his tumult into being more often than enough into this be.  If we look at Wikipedia’s access on the setting to give further scope:

The novel’s primary locations are the Enfield Tennis Academy (“ETA”) and Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (separated ~ the agency of a hillside in suburban Boston, Massachusetts), and a mountainside outward of Tucson, Arizona. Many characters are students or readiness at the school or patients or stay at the halfway house; a multi-portion, philosophical conversation between a Quebec dissenter and his US government contact occurs at the Arizona marking out the limits. [2]

The claustrophobic proposed cannabis-deal delaying scene near the start of the romance is very telling about Wallace’s, one assumes, own neurosis’s about the partaking of cannabis and the strong surrounding miasma of paranoia one finds themselves in due to that situation: the middle-rank, sweaty-palmed, heart thumping moment-~ dint of.-moment judgement(s) formulated in the expectant’s thought of what is going out in that place in the less-than-fictional, delusionary, environmental ‘action.’ We find ourselves in his fastidiously neat, and small, apartment with the narrator and I felt this was the beyond all others kind of writing which Foster Wallace was known for, where he was at home at, the foetal arche~ of self-hatred and mild-deaden with narcotics use which enveloped his almost Jacobean, disobedient nature.

Technology – he talks relating to ‘cartridges’ film and the goal of the Americanised company, a cartridge, the end game, without perception cartridge which when one watches they would be turned into a stupefied, quivering wreck in stand opposite to of the flickering images never to mount again – a kind of gruff Lazarus  – dead-eyed and owned.

Some of the characters: There is the stay who is mad about tennis and optics, who sticks his principal in a microwave and is superseded by his prodigal talented son, Orin Junior.  Mental Health sufferer, Kate Gompert – whom I think to be true is Foster Wallace spliced with Orin; Demerol aficionado Don Gately; and the all Incandenza family clan.

There are four mighty plot themes to be mindful of:

A fringe clump of Quebecois radicals, the AFR, plans a unjust geopolitical coup, and is opposed ~ means of high-level US operatives.

Various residents of the Boston sphere reach “rock bottom” with their reality abuse problems, and enter a residential deaden with narcotics and alcohol recovery program where they progress in recuperation through AA and NA.

Students retinue and study at an elite tennis scientific body run by James and Avril Incandenza, and Avril’s adopted brother Charles Tavis.

The recital of the Incandenza family unfolds, focusing forward the youngest son, Hal.[3]


the minutiae detail of Foster Wallace’s grasp of U.S pharmacology drugs that are available for those requiring a be suitable to.

Montreal/ Québec separatism.

The City-scape(s), the psychogeography of the description feels sterile and a mish-mix of flimsy, dilapidated rooms in recovery house, Ennet House and the Tennis Academy, Enfield.

The transvestite junkie, in the ~-table squirting and paranoid about voiding of the feeling due to needing a hit, without ceasing this, toilets and toilet bowls, are places of spared plague from the envisaged masses; they take a cheap, cool plastic, refuge kind which sooth feverish junkies, and you be possible to almost hear the banging doors of the Johns in colours of alligator-pear green or beige muting to a irradiate, chequered grey.

The way he uses mathematics to delineate the way a brass-heavy means-handle falls off a cupboard and rounds forward the hardwood floor is comic allowing that not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; although I take read similar physics/math Fibonacci-led workings in Foster Wallace’s hoard of essays, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster.

This is not some easy novel to read. It is a moiety-empty farmhouse grain-store of, in this impression, nine hundred and eighty one pages ~ing with additional footnotes at the back which Wallace could not crow-bar into the force text; you have to do a catalogue of the work yourself which on account of the unattended, ephemeral mentality of the in the present age impatient-person may find this a hard to be understood concept to grasp. This is a drudge which should come with the most good Thesaurus out there and a British Usage Dictionary.  One assumes that to scrawl this David Foster Wallace swept audibly The Urals with a dustpan and handbrush or [put in similar analogies here.] The event itself is not too masterful but the brushstrokes of ingeniousness and dedication to his Art, were – are. Capitalising the A in Art on this account that writers like David Foster Wallace are/were clothe-side sailors who learned to hold their ropes tightly, then lash the tackle onto their work and raise it, creaking, up from the plumy depths forward up far into the azure, inconsiderate swirling heights, and this has to have ~ing applauded, the meridian of achievement in the of literature field, for what Foster Wallace implemented in this place was no easy feat – the quill-driver, and the unyielding precipice of the exhaust page –  and then to tumultuous force in and fill it with more, any, kind of syllogistic meaning, wow, true wow.

Is Infinite Jest a disdainful comment on American society? Of beat it is.

In a few years time I may understand it again. Who knows?

Neil Burns – North London. July 2016.

[1] Sigmund Freud ‘Civilized’ Sexuality Morality and Modern Nervous Illness page 85. Penguin Modern Classics

[2] (Setting).

[3] (Plot).

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