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An affinity, a sadness.

07/21/2009

According to the Handy-Dandy Infinite Summer Reading Schedule and Bookmark In One, I’ve made it to August.
It’s getting to the point where the weeks in pages are flying by and I can’t help it.
I have to keep reading. I can’t wait around for all the discussion and recapping. I have to know what happens to Hal and to Mario and to Pemulis and Don W. Gately and to Joelle Van Dyne and hear more about J. O. Incandenza (is it any coincidence that his initials spell out JOI? Joy…Jest? anyone? )

It appalls me how much I am enjoying this novel. Laughing is understandable–Infinite Jest is a satire, after all. But aside from all the humor, there is so much pain and dysfunction (relationships, bodies, Substances, ambition gone awry, suicide, abuse, etc etc etc) in the novel I’m surprised I haven’t broken down crying yet.

A fellow colleague commented (obliquely) on how he’s jealous of my emotional connection to the novel.
I find myself doing things like making literal thumbs-ups at characters (today at D. W. Gately on him “now go[ing] to Any Lengths to stay clean”) or wincing in pain (at Detox stories) or just wanting to give some of these characters hugs (Mario, of course) and of course, laughing aloud REAL laughs at some of the ridiculous comparisons or roundabout references (the ‘Help’ lady from the Alzheimer’s center at Ennet Marine was heard at the dawn drills at ETA).

DFW, somehow, has taken all these characters from somewhere inside of his brain and captured them in a web of connections, albeit in a fascinatingly fragmented fashion.
But what’s most fascinating to me is that he’s made me Love Them.
I’m drawn day after day to the bright blue cover with green letters because of the people inside who aren’t actually existent but who are nevertheless compelling Alive, though only on paperback-weight leaves of an off-white mass-produced beige.

Many of the commentators on IJ at Infsum have said that by reading DFW’s novel again (or for the first time, or all the way through for the first time, etc) they are again slapped in the face with the loss the literary world has suffered since DFW passed away.
The blog entry from one of his colleagues was especially touching to me. She emphasized the importance of not trying to understand Wallace and his decision to “eliminate his personal map” (as he’d put it IJ would put it) through his fiction… not looking for it to explain anything.
Separating ‘Wallace’ from ‘Dave’ was how she put it.

I’ve never read DFW before but I too am finding that I am sadder and sadder as I read IJ because the astounding mind that crafted this novel is no more. There’s still plenty more of his that I haven’t read, but that’s hardly a consolation in comparison with a vibrant intellectual life.

Anyway, more Marathe/Steeply tomorrow.

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