Sunday, August 02, 2009

Feral jest

It's absolutely feral. Of a feral imagination is Infinite Jest.

Listed in the filmography in endnote 24 (p 991, referenced from p 64):
A documentary (Stand Behind the Men Behind the Wire) of a hunt for an outsized feral infant.
A movie (The Desire to Desire) featuring an attack by an oversized feral infant.

We learn of herds of oversized "Feral Infants," formed by toxicity (endnote 304, p 1055, referenced from en 39, referenced from p 89).

There thundered a herd of feral hamsters (p 93).
Earlier(?) (YDPAH), a house is stripped as bare as a post-feral-hamster meadow (p 58).

Tennis and the feral prodigy (p 172).

A feral and flux-ridden state with respect to talent (p 173).

I know I read feral potential and feral genius in there somewhere.

Another feral infant (p 211).

A couple weeks ago Kevin Guilfoile puzzled over how Tarantino might've come into the text, how in 1996 (or earlier, following the argument of the background below) he merited mention among other film greats:

There is an almost unbearable (for the author) amount of time between the day the manuscript is "finished" and the day it is published. I’m not sure when Wallace handed in the complete manuscript to Little Brown, but with a book as big as Infinite Jest — both in terms of heft and hype — you could easily expect a couple of birthdays to pass through the edits and the copyedits and the sales efforts and the marketing push. This period can be pretty anxious for writers, and one of the fears that can obsess a novelist during this time is that some part of his book he thinks particularly clever or original is going to be preempted by a similar plot or character or conceit in another book, film, or TV show. Or real life, even.


So but about Tarantino, how could DFW know?

Which brings me to my own bugbear: Gilles Duceppe.

The thing: Endnote 304 refers to "newly elected Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe" (p 1057). According to Wikipedia, IJ was published February 1, 1996 (and give or take a few days, or weeks even, I think my point stands). At this date, Gilles Duceppe had been BQ leader for only a couple weeks and not elected, but serving as interim leader until an election could be held (Duceppe did not in fact win leadership till about a year later). Millions of copies of IJ already printed and shipped by the time Duceppe took the interim reins. Perhaps the Duceppe name was a truly last minute blank filled in according to how the political breeze blew that day the book was sent to the printers. How could DFW possibly know to what prominence Duceppe would rise in BQ's history?

"[...] What all do you know about Separatism?"

Hal stopped for a moment. "You mean in Canada?"

"Is there any other kind?" [p 137]


The wiki entries for Meech Lake and Charlottetown, mentioned in Hal and Orin's phone conversation in endnote 110, need fleshing out. The geography is unimportant; the names are used as shorthand for the accords pounded out there and the national discussion about them.

Maybe this book will bring me, in sorting out DFW's fictions from actualities, to finally get all my facts straight regarding Quebec's histories.

For the record, the Montreal Tulip-Fest (p 59) does not exist, nor can I imagine it ever coming into being in this city that while clean and even on occasion sculpted is not particularly gardened, although there is one in Ottawa.

I hate the fact that I'm still way behind schedule. The page number I daily set as a goal fails to take into account the possibility of running into an 18-page endnote.

"Pemulis makes his face very long for a while and then very short and broad, then all sort of hollow and distended like one of Bacon's popes." I love this description. I know those popes.

I love that I am acquiring many exotic new facts (p 200–205), pages of them:

That boring activities become, perversely, much less boring if you concentrate intently on them. That if enough people in a silent room are drinking coffee it is possible to make out the sound of steam coming off the coffee. That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt. That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. That there is such a thing as raw unalloyed, agendaless kindness. That it is possible fall asleep during an anxiety attack.


"That no matter how smart you thought you were, you are actually way less smart than that."
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