Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Jest: pages 343 - 388

Pages 343 – 357: This section also subtitled “Gaudeamus Igitur”, but this describes Boston AA. After a description of a game about the end of the world, a description of real life and the possibilities of putting lives back together, so it isn’t so odd that both sections have the same subtitle.

Page 344, 15 lines from bottom: imbricate, overlapping like roof tiles, describes plant or animal parts that overlap in a regular pattern.

Page 346 line 18: formicative, (yes, with an m) a feeling of insects crawling on skin, a neurologically based hallucination in which somebody feels as if insects are crawling on his or her skin.

Page 347 line 22: The Face in the Floor, also on p. 62, where it appeared first.

Page 347 line 23: “…and the face is your own face in the mirror…” See p. 1025, note 129, and how Pemulis dickies with the mirror over the bureau in the little recessed part of your subdorm room so that when you look in the mirror in the A.M. to comb or tend to a blackhead or something you see something staring back at you that you’ll never entirely get over. Another point of commonality between widely divergent E.T.A. and Ennet House.

Page 348 line 9: Balaclavan, (with the initial capital) the Turkish infantry in the Crimean War from the village of Balaclava, where the Charge of the Light Brigade was conducted. See wikipedia .

Page 348 line 10: prognathous, having projecting jaw, describes a jaw that sticks out markedly.

Page 350 line 5: A Cage reference.

Page 351 bottom: Only in Boston AA can you hear a fifty-year-old immigrant wax lyrical about his first solid bowel movement in adult life.

Page 352, 4 lines from bottom – page 354 line 10: One incredibly long sentence.

Page 353, 9 lines from bottom: fremitic, in the manner of a vibration or tremor, resulting from a physical action such as speaking or coughing, felt by hand and used to assess whether the chest is affected by disease.

Page 354 line 7: majisculed, in the manner of large printed letter: a large letter used in writing or printing, for example, a capital letter or any of the large rounded letters used in ancient manuscripts.

Page 357 line 7: "Like most young people genetically hardwired for a secret drug problem..." Do Hal's genetics have anything to do with his condition at the beginning of the book?

Page 359, 11 lines from bottom: another Cage reference.

Page 362, 14 lines from bottom: venulated, with a large number of small blood vessels visible.

Page 363 line 21: Another reference to Clenette Henderson

Page 364 line 4: refers to Gately’s dream on p. 358 line 15 – p.359 line 12.

Page 366 line 8: apicals, consonant sounds pronounced with the tip of the tongue, e.g. “t” or “d”.

Page 366 line 29: “…put her head in a RadaRange.” That’s how James O. Incandenza did himself in.

Page 366, 2 lines from bottom: Another Cage reference.

Page 367 line 5: caparison, decorative covering for a horse; harness or saddle decorations; elaborate clothing.

Page 368 line 15: cunctations, hesitations or procrastination in the performance of some things.

Page 371 line 14 submammalian; DFW seems to have a thing for this genus.

Page 372, 9 lines from bottom: Go ahead, work out the acronym for this 12-step group. (Starts on p. 370, first full paragraph.)

Page 1024 line 13, note 145: orthochromatic, reproducing accurately the colors found naturally in a subject; describes film that is sensitive to all the visible colors except red.

Page 1027 line 13: après-garde, probably a DFW neologism meaning the opposite of avant-garde.

Page 1027 line 14: atavism, the recurrence of a genetically controlled feature in an organism after it has been absent for several generations, usually because of an accidental recombination of genes. But what does it mean to be intentionally atavistic? OK, it can happen. Atavism isn’t only genetic.

Page 1027 line 15: chiaroscuro, artistic use of light and shade: the use of light and shade in paintings and drawings, or the effect produced by this use.

Page 1027, 19 lines from bottom: Here is the definition of Found Drama, which James O. Incandenza invented. This definition might explain why the films “Found Drama I” through “Found Drama XI” were “concept, conceptual, unreleased.”

Page 376 line 1: anti-confluential, a DFW neologism, defined more fully in end note 61; we can parse it out:
anti-, opposed to something, expressing or holding an opposing view, particularly regarding a political issue or moral principle.
confluential, merging into one, merging together.
So, anticonfluential probably means a drifting apart or spreading apart. Could very well describe this book.

Page 379, 11 lines from bottom: chyme, a thick fluid mass of partially digested food and gastric secretions passed from the stomach to the small intestine.

Page 380 line 16: Here is mentioned that an American (James O.) married a Canadian (Avril). A union of the United States and Canada, i.e., O.N.A.N.?

Page 1029 line 10: “…—unlike, thank God, John—…” What has the Moms just revealed here?

Page 1029 line 25, note 148: I don’t think a harquebus is a hat.

Page 380, 1 line from bottom: tendentious, written or spoken with personal bias in order to promote a cause or support a viewpoint.

Page 381 line 6: falcate, curved and tapered to a point like a sickle.

Page 382 line 14: “a surreal union of both Rush L. – and Hillary R. C. – disillusioned fringes.” A contemporary reference here.

Page 1029, note 150: A brief explanation of annular fusion (very, very brief). This text explains that annular fusion involves consuming waste to produce fuel whose waste was also fuel…

Page 382: Explains the collapse of the U.S. political parties (all of them). After note 150, referenced at the very beginning of this text, the collapse of the U.S. political party system seems very much like annular fusion (fueling itself with its own waste.)

Page 384 line 16: imbricate, overlapping like roof tiles, describes plant or animal parts that overlap in a regular pattern.

Page 385, 7 lines from bottom: prandial, related to a meal, especially lunch or dinner.

Page 385, 16 lines from bottom: Who is J.J.J.C.? Seems to be the prime minister of Canada, but what do the initials stand for?

Page 385 line 22: jejune, boring, uninteresting and intellectually undemanding; childish, lacking maturity or sophistication; without proper nourishment, lacking or not providing proper nourishment.

Page 387, 2 lines from bottom: fulgurant, flashing with or like lightning.

Page 388 line 1: glabrous, smooth and lacking hairs or bristles.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ESCHATON!!! pages 321 - 342

Page 321-342: Eschaton!!!

Page 321, bottom: Begins an explanation of Eschaton. Subtitled “Gaudeamus Igitur” (Let us then be merry).

Page 322 line 23: vademecumish, like a useful book, guidebook, handbook, or manual, especially one carried around or designed to be carried around constantly and referred to often.

Page 327 line 6: thanatoptic, perhaps thanatotic, the death instinct, esp. as expressed in violent aggression.

Page 329 line 21: first mention of Hal’s tooth starting to ache.

Page 330 line 18: MVL = Most Valuable Lobber (from p. 1025 note 128)

Page 333, 6 lines from bottom: refer to note 129 (p. 1025), reveals Pemulis’s vengeful side.

Page 334: The map/territory confusion could be legitimate. If the map represents the real world, and it is snowing on the map, does that represent snow in the real world? This would mean that snow was falling everywhere in the world at that moment (extremely unlikely). Page 334, 11 lines from bottom, clarifies this.

Page 340 line 24: Hal is watching a representation of the End of the World As We Know It.

Page 322 line 3: Calls Eschaton a “homemade Academy game”, but on p. 284 line 16, Eschaton originated at Palmer Academy in Tampa.

Some useful notes about Eschaton:


AMNAT: 3 players

SOVWAR: 3 players

REDCHI: 1 or two players

LIBSYR (later IRLIBSYR): 1 or 2 players

SOUTHAF: any remaining player

INDPAK: any remaining player

Or any other, like, terrorist cell: any remaining player


MAMA: major Metropolitan Area

CONFORCON: Conventional Force Concentration

SSTRAC: Site of Strategic Command


SPASEX: spasm exchange

SACPOP: Strike Against Civilian Population

INDDIR: Infliction of Death Destruction Incapacitation of Response (points used for the final score)

SUFDDIR: Suffering of Death Destruction Incapacitation of Response (opposite points used for the final score)

TRIGSIT: Triggering Situation

Target representations:

folded gray-on-red E.T.A. T-shirt = MAMA

red tennis shirt w/gray trim = CONFORCON

red shorts (not tennis)w/gray trim = SSTRAC

Stolen motel towel = airfield, bridge, satellite-linked monitoring facility, carrier group, conventional power plant, important rail convergence

Black E.T.A. armband = atomic power plant, uranium-/plutonium-enrichment facility, gaseous diffusion plants, breeder reactors, initiator factories, neutron-scattering-reflector labs, tritium-production reactor vessel s, heavy water plants, semi-private shaped-charge concerns, Annular Fusion research labs (especially point-heavy)

Sock = missile installation

Boy’s tennis sock = antimissile installation

Boy’s street sock = isolated silo-cluster

Girl’s tennis sock (w/bunny tail) = cruise-capable B2 or SS5 squadron

Girl’s tennis sock(w/o bunny tail) = (MILABREV)

Worn-out sneaker = submarine

White Beanie: signals temporary cessation of SPASEX between two combatants (p.332 line 17)

Black Beanie: ?

Red Beanie: signals utter global crisis (p. 336, bottom). Flicking the red beanie propeller signals a worst-case and utterly decontrolled Armageddon type situation (p.340, 6 lines from bottom).

Page 323 line 2: synoptic, constituting a general view of the whole subject, pertaining to synopsis.

Page 323 line 11: There really was a computer called the DEC 2100. It was based on Digital Equipment Corporation’s Alpha chip.

Page 1025 note 129: It states here that Pemulis is a real revenge-as-a-dish-best-served-cold gourmet.

Page 334, 14 lines from bottom: The wind spinning the propeller on the white beanie. On p. 336, bottom, Lord flicks the propeller on the red beanie (he puts on before p. 336, bottom), signaling a worst-case and utterly decontrolled Armageddon type situation.

Page 336: Instead of calling the worn-out tennis balls used in the game “balls”, DFW calls them warheads, keeping within the mapping of the game. It gives the reader a mental picture of 11- and 12-year-olds playing with nuclear armament.

Page 323 line 10: EndStat, such an appropriate name for the math software used in this game.

Page 336, 3 lines from bottom: solander box, a book-form case used for storing manuscripts, maps, prints, documents, etc. It is commonly used in archives and libraries. The case is usually constructed of hardcover or wood, and has a hinged lid connected to its base. The front-edge of the case often contains a clasp for closure. The exterior is covered with heavy paper, fabric or leather, and its interior is lined with padded paper or felt.

Page 338 line 12: J. J. Penn, now that the players have been mapped into the territory in the previous four paragraphs, proceeds to map the articles of clothing that Ann Kittenplan is wearing as targets (refer to the table of clothing/target correspondence on pp. 323-324).

The Jest: page 311 - 320 (from the end notes)

Page 1016: 14 lines from bottom: Hal’s toothache.

Page 1018, 14 lines from bottom: “…Pemulis, who’s pacing and holding the Constantine bust in his hands and examining it at close range, shaking his head.” A scene from Hamlet?

Page 1019 line 21: swivet, a flustered or agitated state.

Page 1019 line 26: falcate, curved and tapered to a point like a sickle.

Page 1020 line 16: Anschluss, the annexation of Austria into Greater Germany by the Nazi regime.

Page 1021, 18 lines from bottom: mayhi, an attempt to make mayhem plural?

Page 1021 line 25: anapestic, in the manner of a metrical foot of three syllables with the stress on the third syllable, or of two short syllables followed by a long syllable. The word “unconcerned” and the phrase “up the hill” are anapestic.

Page 312, 6 lines from bottom: Charles Tavis was present at Mario’s birth, having arrived 6 months earlier; too short a time to have been the father of Mario, but Mario was “terribly premature” (see p. 313 line 5), so the question is still up in the air.

Page 313 line 19: This paragraph seems to describe the effects of Thalidomide, which was a popular tranquilizer in Canada during the mid- to late sixties; probably too early for Mario’s gestation. I’ve heard some speculation that Mario’s deformities could be the result of a brother/sister coupling, but C.T. was Avril’s half-brother and unrelated by blood.

Page 312 line 18: “…seven month pregnancy”; so C.T. could have been Mario’s father.

Page 313, 13 lines from bottom: The description of Mario’s arms: “impressively – almost familial-dysautonomically –pain-resistant.” Interesting choice of adjective-adverb.

Page 313, bottom half: Boy, Orin does not care for his younger brother!

Page 314 line 22: Mario’s hair looks like C.T.’s hair. And a cute jab at C.T.’s comb-over.

Page 314, 8 lines from bottom: Ages of the Incandenza brothers: Orin, 17; Mario 9; Hal 8. So, Orin is 8 years older than Mario, and Mario is 1 year older than Hal.

Page 314, 5 lines from bottom: Mario is the only individual at E.T.A. that is physically challenged in any way.

Page 1022 note 117: The author’s mild apology for a piece of text that he should have place earlier.

Page 312-317: this part about Mario—incredibly revealing of the Incandenza brothers and the Moms.

Page 318, 5 lines from bottom: Marathe is talking like a drug dealer, absolving himself of any responsibility for the damage his product brings.

Page 319 line 25: The “razzle incident”, what is it? Perhaps p. 87 middle paragraph.

Page 317-321: Every time the Jest brings up Marathe and Steeply in the desert, it gets deeply philosophical.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Jest: pages 238 - 310 (plus end notes)

Page 270 line 13: erumpent, bursting through or as if through a surface or covering.

Page 271 line 23: sedulously, working persistently, painstakingly.

Page 272 line 11: nictitated, to blink or wink.

Page 1001 line 27: redolent, suggestive or reminiscent of something, with a particular scent or odor.

Page 274 line 7: Eugenio Martinez, a.k.a. Gene M. – refers to the Disease as The Spider. Orin and James O. Incandenza were terrified of spiders. Spiders a recurring theme or symbol.

Page 280 line 23: supporating, forming or discharging pus.

Page 280 line 14-25: This whole paragraph about Pat Montesian’s dogs and their part in Pat’s admissions interviews is just amazing.

Page 279 line 26: Mention of Randy Lenz going back to Chianti and ‘ludes and getting assaulted by sidewalks. Mention of the killer sidewalks to come. DFW does this, drops hints of an idea or concept that he explains more fully later. Sometimes all that you learn about a character or situation is what DFW sprinkles on you a little bit at a time like this.

Page 280 line 11: Talwin, a trademark for the drug pentazocine hydrochloride, the brand name for pentazocine lacatate, a potent analgesic, which is as effective as morphine. Talwin is a controlled substance.

Page 281 line 7: distaff, referring to a wife’s or mother’s side of the family. In this case, I think DFW is simply saying the women’s team.

Page 281 line 16: The reader need only guess what happened to Pemulis’s opponent to figure out why he became so lethargic in the second set or found the balls to be too pretty to hit, or a number of other behavior changes during the day. This supports the hypothesis that Pemulis had something to do with Hal’s “change” in the beginning of the book.

Page 281, 5 lines from bottom: nystagmic, an involuntary movement of the eyeball.

Page 282 line 16: “Schtittless”: interesting play on a name.

Page 283 line line: “the tumescence of O.N.A.N.ism.” That says it all. And DFW had to have deliberately chosen Organization of North American Nations just for the acronym.

Page 1003 note 94: neurasthenic, marked by chronic mental and physical fatigue and depression.

Page 284 line 3: afflatus, creative inspiration, usually thought of as divine.

Page 284 line 16: A little more about Eschaton. Orin was the first Eschaton Grand Master at E.T.A. But Eschaton seems to have originated at Palmer Academy in Tampa.

Page 285 line 16: The Moms, a contortionist of other people’s bodies.

Page 284 line 20: deafflatusized, A DFW neologism, must mean loss or removal of afflatus.

Page 1003, note 98: lordotic, an unusual inward curving of the spine in the lower part of the back, which may be medically significant.

Page 286, 15 lines from bottom: felo de se, an act of committing suicide, somebody who commits suicide.

Page 288 line 6: Salic Law, a body of Medieval law. the best known tenet of Salic law is agnatic succession, the rule excluding females from the inheritance of a throne or fief. See Wikipedia.

Page 289, 13 lines from bottom: strabismic, having eyes that are not aligned in parallel or move the eyes so that they are not aligned in parallel.

Page 290 line 17: ascapartic, Ascapart or Ascupart was an enormous giant, thirty feet high, who carried off Sir Bevis, his wife Josian, his sword Morglay, and his steed Arundel, under his arm. Sir Bevis afterwards made Ascapart his slave, to run beside his horse. In this context, it probably means “big guy”. See WordWizard or Wikipedia.

Page 290 line 1: Where the term P.G.O.A.T. came from.

Page 290, 12 lines from bottom: attar, essential oil extracted from flowers.

Page 292 line 16: CNS = Central Nervous System

Page 293, 7 lines from bottom: factota, pl. of factotum, somebody who does many jobs.

Page 293, bottom third: DFW seems to be really making a statement about the fear of expanding one’s boundaries.

Page 294 line 15: Actaeonizingly, and again on p. 295 line 19, in Greek mythology, Actaeon was a hunter who was turned into a stag after inadvertently catching sight of the goddess Artemis bathing. This word is probably one of DFW’s to mean the sight of one so beautiful that it physically changes the beholder.

Page 299 line 14: “Madame P.G.O.A.T. …”, a sly hint at her future name, perhaps? This page seems to describe one of those life-changing events for Orin, then the opposing football team makes contact with him. What exactly happened to Orin? DFW is only dropping his usual hints.

Page 299, bottom: Introducing Poor Tony Krause. Poor Tony was mentioned on p. 128, 7 lines from bottom, and throughout the whole story on pp. 128-135. Poor Tony was the thief who stole the lady’s handbag with her heart in it, on pp. 142-144.

Page 301 line 22: neurasthenic, marked by chronic mental and physical fatigue and depression.

Page 301-303: An absolutely chilling description of heroin withdrawal.

Page 310 line 21: SACPOP, an achronym from Eschaton, soon to be explained.

Page 1005 line 5: The Unexamined Life: a great name for a bar. When I open a bar, that’s what I’m going to name it.

Page 1005 line 20: Interesting observation, that all of Emily Dickenson’s poems can be sung to “The Yellow Rose of Texas”. But this really isn’t true. I guess this is the kind of observation that Orin would make but that Hal would rebut.

Page 1006 line 8: solecism, a grammatical mistake, error, or breach of good manners.

Page 1009 line 1: Ainsi, French, meaning something like thus, so, in this way. Makes sense that Orin is using it; probably the Quebecois influence of the Moms.

Page 1009 line 7: gynecopia, a word that Orin just made up (has to be), a cornucopia of female genitalia.

Page 1014, 8 lines from bottom: A reference to Avril Incandenza’s forgiveness of Orin for killing her dog (Orin and Marlon Blain).

Page 1016 line 2: “Chortles are good. We like chortles.” Orin echoing Avril, from p. 1006 line 26.

Page 1016 line 27: “Me tell the truth? Me lie?” When Orin tells the truth, he’s lying?

Page 1016 line 29: ascapartic, again, previously on p. 290 line 17.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Jest: pages 221 - 237

Page 222: 3rd paragraph (if you count the ½ paragraph at the top of the page); “Joelle Van Dyne is excruciatingly alive and encaged,…” Another Cage reference.

Page 222, 9 lines from bottom: more about the Cage.

Page 223: A list of the years of Subsidized Time. Note this list: you will need it to keep track of what’s going on. You will wish you had it about 222 pages ago.

Page 224 line 2: “The encaged and suicidal…” Two characteristics of the same person, or one or the other being sufficient for the object of this sentence. Either way, another Cage reference.

Page 224 line 4: “the second cage”. Another Cage reference.

Page 224 line 9: Material capitalized like the Entertainment.

Page 224, bottom to page 225 top: Film cartridge suicide notes; was The Entertainment a suicide note from J.O.I.?

Page 225 line 2: Joelle’s personal name for him was “Infinite Jim”.

Page 225 line 19: James O. Incandenza, among many things, was a great hailer of cabs. But so was Avril, but I can’t remember where in the text.

Page 225 line 28: Joelle Van Dyne a.k.a. Madame P., the two outright equated.

Page 225 line 28: tumbrel, a cart used during the French Revolution to carry condemned prisoners to be executed by guillotine. What a word to use for a cab, but how appropriate for a suicide.

Page 226 line 19: How the U.H.I.D. was founded, and how Winston Churchill initiated its founding.

Page 226, 13 lines from bottom: scopophobic, fear of being looked at or upon.

Page 227, 2 lines from bottom: “…that Joelle’s been in a cage…”: a reference to the U.H.I.D. veil? Another Cage reference.

Page 999, note 80: “…although by the time of Joelle’s acquaintance with him Jim wasn’t in a position to be lovers with anybody,” see p. 31.

Page 229 line 3: “…the encaged rapacious thing…” Another cage reference.

Page 229, 22: Y.D.A.U. ‘s Minimal Mambo, this autumn’s East Coast anticraze… It seems that everything in this book is like adolescent rebellion against the status quo.

Page 229, 5 lines from bottom: “…retroironic by having the frames themselves framed, in wry allusion to the early-Experialist fashion of making art out of the accessories of artistic presentation…” More adolescent rebellion.

Page 230, 16 lines from bottom: “…the difference between suicide and homicide consisting perhaps only in where you think you discern the cage’s door: Would she kill somebody else to get out of the cage?” Another cage reference.

Page 232 line 22: phenomenology, in philosophy, the science or study of phenomena, things as they are perceived, as opposed to the study of being [ontology], the nature of things as they are; the philosophical investigation and description of conscious experience in all its varieties without reference to the question of whether what is experienced is objectively real.

Page 235 line 16: afflated, creatively inspired, usually thought of as divine.

Page 235 line 5 on down: the concept of Too Much Fun.

Page 237 line 19: Joelle and her own personal daddy.

Page 239, 8 lines from bottom: First mention of P.G.O.A.T.

Page 241 line 25: acclivated, upwardly sloping.

Page 240, last line: “…Dicalced monastery…” maybe a misspelling, discalced would mean that the monks go barefoot.

Page 243 line 18: propitiate, to appease or conciliate somebody or something.

Page 243 line 21: apotropaic, intended to ward off evil or bad luck.

Page 245 line 26: lacuna, a gap or place where something is missing, e.g. in a manuscript or a line of argument.

Page 249 line 14: Hal’s use of the word telemachry, which Orin corrects as telemetry, is a Freudian slip. Telemachus was the son of Odysseus and Penelope, who contrives with his father to slay his mother’s suitors.

Page 250, 18 lines from bottom: asphyxuated, a misspelling? But it appears again on page 251 line 14.

Page 252: Hal’s sessions with the grief counselor after his father’s death, cf. his sessions with the “professional conversationalist” on pp. 27-31.

Page 252 line 25: synclinal, like a fold in a rock formation that is shaped like a basin or trough and contains younger rocks in its core.

Page 254 line 7: Here is where Hal says the nightmares and the face in the floor dream (see p. 62) started, with these grief therapy sessions.

Page 255 line 10: “The nearest library…and step on it.” Ref. p 12 line 3.

Page 255 line 28: paroxysmic, a sudden and uncontrollable expression of emotion.

Page 258 line 10: Hal corrects the use of asphyxuated on p. 250 line 18 and p. 251 line 14.

Page 260 line 20: revenant, a dead person believed to have come back as a ghost.

Page 260 10 lines from bottom: Note 87 refers to the James O. Incandenza film “Homo Duplex”.

Page 262, 2 lines from bottom: hypertonic, describes a body part such as a muscle or artery that is under unusually high tension.

Page 262-263: I believe Pemulis’s pre-game nerves are mentioned earlier, but not sure where.
Page 265, 13 lines from bottom: VAPS, An E.T.A. term meaning Vector/Angle/Pace/Spin. See note 236.

Page 237 line 7: Schacht’s reason for Pemulis’s vomiting.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Jest: pages 186 - 220

Page 187 line 20: steatopygiac, one with an accumulation of fat on the buttocks. (Yes, there is such a word.) No wonder they needed special slacks.

Page 187 line 27: U.H.I.D., Union of Hideously and Improbably Deformed. An agnostic-style 12-step program for what it calls the “aesthetically challenged”. Started in 1941 by that matron that Winston Churchill insulted. More on p. 226, and it's f'ing hilarious.

Page 187, 2 lines from bottom: “Like most marriages, Avril and the late James Incandenza’s was an evolved product of concordance and compromise,…” This phrase first appears on p. 183 line 28.

Page 188 line 9: L.A.S. = Liberal Arts School

Page 188 line 12: mens-sana, latin for “sound mind”.

Page 188 line 13: ad valoremized, according to value, in proportion to the value of something. So Avril’s “flinty mens-sana pedagogy wasn’t diluted so much as ad-valoremized…”

Page 189, 2 lines from bottom: “Her voice seems low-depth familiar to Mario…” Of course it does, considering that J.V.D. was one of J.O.I.’s prime actresses in his films while Mario was essentially an apprentice under J.O.I.

Page 190 line 9: lazarette, quarantine facility.

Page 190 line 9: oubliette, a dungeon made so that the only way in or out is through a trapdoor at the top.

Page 192, 5 lines from bottom: The caller describes the moon as never turning its face away from the Earth, much like viewers of The Entertainment never turn away from it.

Page 195 line 15: “Apeshit has rarely enjoyed so literal a denotation.” Man, that’s good!

Page 195, 11 lines from bottom: aminating, (not animating, with the m and the n transposed), the chemical process by which an amine group is introduced into an organic molecule. What’s this got to do with a needle?

Page 195, 7 lines from bottom: Residents of Ennett House get regular urine tests, just as the students of Enfield do, but no M. Pemulis selling them Visine bottles of clean piss. (Where would Ennett House residents get clean piss, anyway?)

Page 196 line 1: “…thoroughly eliminated personal map…” Map meaning, what, consciousness? I wasn’t paying attention to the occurrences of “map” up to this point. I’ll have to do that on the 3rd reread of The Jest.

Page 997, note 67: First use of the word figurant. Also in this note: the woman in Ennett House #5 (where the catatonics are kept) who, the security guards reason, is so terrified of being blind that she keeps her eyes tightly shut, afraid to find out if she is really blind or not. (Same sort of reasoning for catatonics and a fear of being paralyzed.) The fear so terrifying it cannot be faced.

Page 200 – 205: This reads like “Tennis and the Feral Prodigy”, pp. 172-176, but w/r/t substance abuse. It’s even in 2nd person narrative.

Page 202 + note 70 on p. 998: Inventorying every possible substance or activity that can be abused (and wrapping up, in note 70, of the ultimate consequence of stopping that abuse. Is it that we are all abusing one thing or another? Is that the point of our lives?

Page 208 line 6: Calvin Thrust : Charles Tavis; same initials, Calvin Thrust @ Ennett House, Charles Tavis @ E.T.A.

Page 208 line 8: magiscule, perhaps majuscule, a large letter used in writing or printing, for example, a capital letter or any of the large rounded letters (uncials) used in ancient manuscripts.

Page 208, 6 lines from bottom: mucronate, ending in a sharp point.

Page 209 line 19: “…St. Columbkill…” The Columbine High School shooting did not occur until April 20, 1999, but Infinite Jest was published in 1996. A tempting reference, but ahead of its time.

Page 209, 4 lines from bottom: autolyzed, broken down by cells by an enzyme that is produced within them. In this context, the tattoo fading away by the natural enzymatic action of the skin cells.

Page 213 line 25: titration, a method of determining the concentration of a solution.

Page 211 – 215: Details about DMZ.

Page 214 line 18: The Vaught twins get counted as one entry in the Dorm Room Draw. An explanation of why at p. 217 last line to p. 218 line 9.

Page 214, 16 lines from bottom: “’I mean literally lost his mind, like the massive dose picked his mind up and carried it off somewhere and put it down someplace and forgot where.” Like being lost, without a map. Yet another map reference.

Page 214, 9 lines from bottom: Axford speculates that maybe DMZ explains Lyle and his more-or-less permanent lotus position down in the weight room.

Page 215 line 22: DMZ nicknamed “Madame Psychosis”, (also see p. 170, 3 lines from bottom). Follows with the transmigration of the soul. Pemulis got the DMZ from two reputed Canadian separatist insurgents (see p. 171).

Page 216 line3: otiose, with no useful or practical purpose, with little or no value.

Page 216 line 10: entrepôt, a bonded warehouse.

Page 998, note 75, refers to losing a match as demapping.

Page 999 line 3, note 76: glabrous, smooth and lacking hair or bristles.

At the tail end of note 76, the description of the afterglow of Hal’s literary prodigity (hey, if DFW can do it, so can I) seems a lot like a description of the effects of viewing The Entertainment (not described yet, but I remember from my first reading).

Page 219, mid-page on: Introducing Joelle Van Dyne.

Page 220 line 9: another reference to map elimination.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Notes from The Jest: Page 157 - 185

Page 157 -158: Description of Marlon Brando and sprezzatura.

Page 159 line 28: parping, british slang, to break wind. In this context, literally “farting around”.

Page 159, 6 lines from bottom: rutilant, glowing red.

Page 170 line 15: Introducing DMZ. DMZ may parallel The Entertainment, in the way that DFW seems to parallel everyone and everything in Infinite Jest.

Page 996, note 56: fitviavi – eventually defined on p. 170. Also I like the simile: “…DMZ resembles chemically sort of the way an F-18 resembles a Piper Cub…”

Page 170, 3 lines from bottom (last para.): DMZ is also called Madame Psychosis by the Boston chemical underground.

Page 171, last 2 para.: This reads like Hal is making a purchase from Pemulis, after Pemulis has just made a transaction for DMZ. Has Hal purchased the DMZ from Pemulis?

Page 172 – 176: Tennis and the Feral Prodigy. Understand fully the word feral before reading this piece.
feral, gone wild, describing animals or plants that live or grow in the wild after having been domestically reared or cultivated; savage, similar to or typical of a wild animal.

Page 173, 10 lines from bottom: Hal’s father succeeded at everything he tried; Hal’s father’s father failed. Neither one seemed any happier or mentally stable for it. What does that make Hal?

Page 173, 12 lines from bottom: “Talent is its own expectation”

Page 173, bottom: So, the irony of working very hard when you’re very young to be good at something means that when you finally become good at it, it is seen as a talent that now you have to work even harder to develop and fulfill.

Page 174 line 7: formant, a frequency range where vowel sounds are at their most distinctive and characteristic pitch.

Page 174 line 7: fricative, made by breath friction, describes a consonantal speech sound made by forcing the breath through a narrow opening.

Page 174 line 7: trochaically, relating to, belonging to, or consisting of trochees.
trochee, a metrical foot of one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable, e.g., the word “human”.

Page 174, bottom: “Expect some rough dreams. They come with the territory. Try to accept them. Let them teach you.”

Page 175, top: “Keep a flashlight by the bed. It helps with the dreams.” Cf. page 62: the face in the floor. The narrator on p. 62 also kept a flashlight by the bed.

Page 175, 8 lines from bottom: “…sometimes words that seem to express really invoke.”

Page 177, 11 lines from bottom: formication, a neurologically based hallucination in which somebody feels as if insects are crawling on his or her skin. It is found in some case of chemical toxicity and among drug and alcohol abusers.

Page 180, 5 lines from bottom: Reference to Clenette.

Page 183 line 28: “Like most marriages, theirs was the evolved product of concordance and compromise.” Spoken as a sound check by Madam Psychosis. But M.P. has a history with James O. Himself. Maybe this is a Freudian slip, or a bit of sarcasm.

Page 184 line 5: Madam Psychosis == metempsychosis, the passing of the soul at death into another body. (A lot of sources make this connection.) This character, Joelle Van Dyne (a.k.a. the PGOAT) seems to represent this concept.

Page 184 line 18: WYYY-109, Largest Whole Prime on the FM Band. Actually 107.9 MHz is the highest frequency on the FM band, but this is DFW’s book and his made-up reality, so the FM band can be whatever he wants it to be.

Page 185 line 14: treillage, a trellis or piece of latticework.

Page 185 line 29: dramaturgy, the art of the theater, especially with regard to the techniques involved in writing plays.

Page 185 12 lines from bottom: après-garde, opposite of avant-garde?

Page 185, 11 lines from bottom: anticonfluential, a DFW neologism, defined more fully in end note 61; we can parse it out:
anti-, opposed to something, expressing or holding an opposing view, particularly regarding a political issue or moral principle.
confluential, merging into one, merging together.
So, anticonfluential probably means a drifting apart or spreading apart. Could very well describe this book.

Notes from The Jest: page 104 - 155

Page 105 – 106: A conversation between Steeply and Marathe that, as I recall, continues throughout the book. This conversation goes in many directions and covers a slew of deep philosophical topics. On these pages their conversation seems to compare Luria Perec (Rodney Tine’s undercover stenographer, see p. 92 line 23, also p. 94 line 32) to Helen of Troy. Steeply is making this comparison, but perhaps only to bait Marathe. Then, a comparison of Rod Tine’s love for Luria Perec to Marathe’s own love for his wife.

Page 108, 7 lines from bottom: crepuscular, active in low light,describing fish and land mammals that are active at dusk and dawn.

Page 108, 3 lines from bottom: End note 45 refers to Note 304 sub, just as end note 39 does. Note 324 explains “La Culte du Prochain Train”, the Cult of the Last Train, whose survivors formed “Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents”, the Wheelchair Assassins.

Page 110 – 120: Big Buddy/Little Buddy sessions

Page 111: Hal and Kent Blott talking about love of tennis along the same lines as Marathe talking about love and fanaticism on pp. 105-108.

Page 117 line 21: ancipitals, two-edged instead of rounded, of or being two-headed or two-edged. In this case, referring to those teeth that have two edges.

Page 120 line 19: guilloche, decorative border of interlaced bands; in architecture, an ornamental border formed by two or more interlaced bands around a series of interlocking circles.

Note: I was reading these pages on September 12, 2008, the day that DFW killed himself.

Page 121 line 3: aperçu, a revealing glimpse or insight, or a concise outline or summary.

Page 121 – 126: Mario and the U.S.S. Millicent Kent

Page 122 line 15: osseously, made of or resembling bone.

Page 122 line 16: reticulate, having a network structure.

Page 127 line 22: eidetic, able to recall with startling accuracy.

Page 127 line 27: murated, walled up, imbedded into a wall [Italian, murare]. Also appears in Note 304 at page 1056 line 9.

Page 127 – 128: Lyle, the Sweat Guru

Page 128- 135: Who is yrstuly in this soliloquy? Here is mentioned “C” (not Clenette, because C dies here) and Poor Tony Kraus and Susan T. Cheese and Lolasister.

Page 140 – 142: A comment on the post-modern hero.

Page 142 – 144: The woman who had her heart stolen. (It was an artificial heart she carried in a purse.)

Page 144 – 151: The arrival and departure of videophone.

Page 151 – 156: Michael Pemulis and his urine enterprise.

Page 151, 13 lines from bottom: “Competitive junior tennis is meant to be good clean fun.” Here, in a text about beating the drug tests. A sly note of sarcasm.

Page 155 line 27: erumpent, bursting through or as if through a surface or covering.

An Editorial Comment

In response to the complaints and the "whinging", I have broken up my marathon posts into smaller, bite-sized chunks. I can only imagine the fantods it must have given some readers to see posts over a thousand lines long; it certainly gave me the jaw-clenching, tooth-grinding fantods to type that much in. And I still have many pages to go just to catch up with my place in the book now.

Notes from The Jest: pages 87 - 103

Page 87 line 22: (block of text in the middle of the page) candidiatic, related to a fungus that causes yeast infection.

Page 88 line 1: “area code 6026” Four-digit area codes!

Page 1056 line 9: murated, walled up, imbedded into a wall [Italian, murare]. Might be one of DFW’s neologisms. This text refers to the “Great Concavity”, created in the Year of the Whopper, the first year of subsidized time.

Page 1056 line 36: The use of O.N.A.N. throughout the book: an acronym for Organization of North American Nations, or also a reference to onanism, particularly in regards to the focus on entertainment throughout The Jest.

Page 1057 line 3: also line 10: euphemismic, probably a variation on euphemistic.

Page 1057 line 32: Y.P.W.c. = Year of the Perdue Wonderchicken.

Page 1058 line 4: stelliformism, from stelliform: shaped like a star (?), but in context seems to refer more to political movements.

Page 1058 line 6: cui bono, the legal principle that somebody who would gain something from a particular act or event is probably responsible for it.

Page 1060 line 17: numinous, mysteriously associated with a deity; having mysterious powers that suggests the presence of a spirit or god.

Page 1060 line 31: “Faire un Bernard Wayne”: John Wayne’s father? In Le Jeu du Prochain Train, he didn’t jump at all.

Page 1061 line 28: DFW points out that James Struck is writing a term paper about being struck by a train, thereby using his own name as a verb.

Page 1061, last para., to 1062: The Cult of the Endless Kiss, compare to Orin’s nightmare on page 47.

Page 91 line 22: agnate, relative descended from the same man. But this adjective is used to describe Marathe’s and Steeply’s shadows. Opposite of distaff, which appears with relative frequency.

Page 91 line 32: pedentive, from pedate, having a foot or feet.

Page 92 line 19: The effects of The Entertainment, like the effects of DMZ? (DMZ not mentioned yet.) (Just a thought.)

Page 92 line 23: Rodney Tine, the architect of O.N.A.N., aka “Rod the God”. Rodney Tine’s stenographer was also stenographer to M. DuPlessis; named Mlle. Luria Perec, of Lamartine,county L’Islet, Quebec (same county as the widow of a certain film producer.)

Page 93 line 11: pedalferrous, soil with aluminum deposits; soil without a layer of accumulated calcium carbonate, but in which iron and aluminum have tended to accumulate. (And there is a reason for this. Incredible attention to detail by DFW to note this.)

Page 93 line 12: fulvous, of an orange-brown color.

Page 93 line 26: teratogenic, an agent, for example, a chemical, virus, or ionizing radiation, that interrupts or alters the normal development of a fetus, which results are evident at birth.

Page 94 line 32: A hint of a sexual liaison between Rodney Tine and his stenographer. Rodney seems to be aware that his stenographer is a foreign agent.

Page 94 line 31: Marathe: “We get paid to drive ourselves crazy.” Man, that’s good!

Page 94 line 33: Remember, M. DuPlessis was the victim of Don Gately’s botched burglary (see p. 58-59). Marathe is suggesting B.S.S (nee O.U.S.) involvement.

Page 98 line 33: ephebes, in ancient Greece, a young man aged between 18 and 20 who had just reached manhood or full citizenship and was undergoing military training. DFW is taking a more liberal interpretation of this word here.

Page 99, 5 lines from bottom: piebald, marked with patches of white.

Page 101 line 3: semion, [no idea]

Page 101 line 12: extant, still in existence.

Page 103 line 17: carminative, purgative.

Notes from The Jest: pages 79 - 86

Page 79 line 26: Lebensgefährtins: Seems like this term would be sort of like “little farts”, if not in German or some Germanic language, then in some phonetic imitation of German.

Page 79 5 lines from bottom: leptosomatic, same as ectomorphic.

Page 80 line 6: post-prandial, after a meal.

Page 80 line 7: quincunx, an arrangement of five things in a square, with on at each corner and one in the middle.

Page 80 line 16: bradykinetic, slow moving.

Page 80 line 25: varicocele, swollen veins in scrotum.

Page 81 line13: tympana, plural of tympanum, an architectural recess, especially between the top of a door or window and the arch above it, or between the cornices forming a classical triangular gable pediment.

Page 81 line14: aphoristic, like a succinct statement expressing an opinion or general truth.

Page 82 line 5: simpatico, sharing similar temperaments or interests.

Page 82 line 8: Extra-Linear Dynamics; near as I can tell, DFW made all of this up.

Page 82 line 12: prolix, again (see p. 61) tiresomely wordy.

Page 82 line 15: aleatory, depending on chance or contingency, having the sequence of given notes or passages in a piece of music chosen at random by the performer or left to chance.

Page 83 line 3: palestra, a public sports ground or gymnasium in ancient Greece.

Page 83 line 8: experialist, DFW obviously made this word up (which he’s entitled to do, being the author), but now it’s up to the reader to figure out what he means by it. I suspect it means the opposite of imperialist, (i.e. empire-building, the policy of extending the rule or influence of a country over other countries or colonies) in that a country gives up its territory, influence, or rule over other countries.

Page 83 line 15: “Except why do you let DeLint tie Pemulis and Shaw’s shoes to the lines, if the lines aren’t boundaries?” Is this statement intended figuratively or literally, considering that it is Mario making it? My choice is figuratively. And if Mario said this (as it seems he did, following the conversation between him and Schtitt), then not a bad observation from the slow-thinking boy.

Page 83, 12 lines from bottom: Mario, who is young and moves like an old man, next to Schtitt, who is old but athletic (see p. 80).

Page 84 line 16: (2nd paragraph) refer back to p. 42 and Hal’s discourse about a flag at half-mast.

Page 86 line 1: The reference to “pisscatchers” I’ve been looking for. “Happy Slippers”, slippers of green foam-rubber with smiley-faces embossed on the tops. In my first reading, I really pictured the footwear called “Crocs”, but I guess The Jest was published before they became popular, and Crocs aren’t made of foam rubber, either.

Page 86 line 9: skallycap, a scally cap, or flat cap (q.v. Wikipedia) commonly worn by and associated with Irish immigrants.

Notes from The Jest: pages 65 - 78

Page 65: chiaroscuro, artistic use of light and shade: the use of light and shade in paintings and drawings, or the effect produced by this use.

Page 65: Festschrift, a volume of writings by various
people collected in honor of somebody such as a writer or scholar.

Page 64: The birth of the Incandenza’s first child (that would be Orin) had been at least partly a legal maneuver, part of the “bureaucratic tribulations involved in obtaining an Exit- then and Entrance-Visa, to say nothing of a Green Card, …”

Page 64: enkephaline, a peptide produced by the body that has analgesic properties, e.g., endorphin.

Page 64: psychodysleptic, a hallucinogen.

Page 64: deliquesce, dissolve, become liquid, form many branches without a main stem.

Page 67-68 [block of text]: This first-person narrative describes a dream sequence that may be about Eschaton, although the name “Eschaton” never appears here.

Page 69 line 22: hypocapnia, a physiological state in which the carbon dioxide level in the blood is lower than normal.

Page 71 line 7: diagnostic plexor, a hammer used in diagnostic percussion.

Page 71 line 26: plangent, resonant, expressing or suggesting sadness.

Page 73 line 16: tetanic, spasm-producing, such as the muscle spasms produced by tetanus.

Page 75 line 12: thigmotactic, same as stereotaxis. Neurological surgery involving the insertion of delicate instruments that are guided to the relevant area by the use of three-dimensional scanning techniques.

Page 75 line 18: A play on words. The meaning becomes clear in a couple of paragraphs.

Page 75 line 24: synclinal, like a fold in a rock formation shaped like a basin or trough.

Page 75 5 lines from bottom: “One kid makes you ask him to please commit a crime.” That kid would be Pemulis.

Page 78 line 30: “That old cartridge, Nichols and the big Indian.” A reference to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

Notes from The Jest: pages 32 - 64

Page 32: 9 MAY – YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT (one year before the first episode) Introducing Mario and Orin.

Page 34: Sufism, from Sufi, a Muslim mystic.

kif, marijuana, especially in North Africa.

Page 39: anfractuous, twisty: with much twisting and turning.

Page 39: Introducing Bruce Green, Mildred Bonk, Tommy Doocey, and Harriet Bonk-Green. These guys live in a trailer. Tommy Doocey deals pot and other sundries and keeps snakes. Are these the people in the trailer, ref. p. 17-24 by Erdedy?

Page 42: Introducing Orin Incandenza.

Page 45: Orin is overdeveloped on his left side. I noticed the asymmetric physical development of Orin and the tennis prodigies. Hal’s right arm is overdeveloped (I think; need to check this out).

Page 44: Hobbesian: from Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679)
English philosopher and political theorist. In Leviathan ( 1651 ) he advocated absolute monarchy as the only means of controlling clashing human interests and desires and guaranteeing their rights of self-preservation and happiness.

Page 45: First occurrence of “howling fantods”.

Note to self: Need two bookmarks for this book: one to mark your place in the book and one to mark your place in the end notes.

Page 47: phylacterish, as in "phylacterish bird”, variation of (?) phylacteric, magical or talismanic.

1. JUDAISM Jewish aid to prayer: either of two small leather boxes containing slips of paper with scriptures written on them, traditionally worn by Jewish men during morning weekday prayers as reminders of their religious duties (often used in the plural)
2. reminder: a reminder of something important
3. amulet: something worn because it is believed to have special powers, for example, the power to keep away evil spirits (archaic)

Orin’s dream of his mother’s head bound to his own: a memory of incest? See pages 1061-1062, the Cult of the Endless Kiss.

Page 51: pargeted, from parget
1. plaster for walls or chimneys: plaster, whitewash, roughcast, or any similar material used to coat walls or line chimneys
2. plasterwork: ornamental plasterwork on a wall

Page 55: Introducing Don Gately.

Page 57: chiffonier, chest of drawers: a relatively tall narrow chest of drawers that often has a mirror attached to the back

apocope, omission of end of word: the loss or omission of one or more syllables from the end of a word, for example, the shortening of “kind of” to “kinda”.

Page 59: comm-il-faut, variation of comme il faut, being in accord with conventions or accepted standards; proper.

Page 61: prolix, wordy: tiresomely wordy.

Page 62: reglet
1. ARCHITECTURE flat molding: a flat narrow architectural molding, or a narrow strip separating moldings or panels
2. PRINTING piece of wood for spacing type: a piece of wood used to separate lines of type in traditional hot metal printing

The face in the floor, and the nightmare about it. Not clear from the writing who the dreamer is; DFW writes this in the first person about the reader in the second person, but this second person could be any character in the book.

Page 63: dipsomaniacal, variation of dipsomania, alcoholism: a habitual and uncontrollable craving for alcohol.

James O. Incandenza invented cold annular fusion. It was called annular for a reason. A side note: I just read on Slashdot that researchers have discovered how to make a light wave travel in a circle without decaying or dying out, using some sort of newly discovered optics. See and
The researchers foresee this as a means of making fusion possible.

Page 64: optative
1. of choice-making: relating to the making of choices (formal)
2. GRAMMAR containing a verb expressing a wish: containing a verb in the subjunctive mood that expresses a wish or desire, as does the independent clause “God save the queen”

Since there is a reference on this page to end note 24, this would make this the first reference to “The Cage” in the book, in the form of James O. Incandenza’s title of his film/entertainment cartridge works. Beginning on page 986, this filmography lists five films titled, “Cage”, “Cage II”, “Cage III”, “Cage IV”, and “Cage V”.
Check out Sidney Peterson’s 1947 classic, “The Cage”:

Page 986: incunabular, from incunabulum, PRINTING early printed book: a book printed from movable type before 1501.

The J.O.I. filmography also lists five makes of “Infinite Jest”, with possibly a sixth.

Page 988: Just a thought: how small can a flame be and still be a flame?

Also in the J.O.I. filmography, DFW brings up the concepts of the antinarrative and the antidocumentary, which one can only imagine.

“Found Drama VI”, the ultimate concept film, being conceptually unfilmable. Doesn’t this just hint at Goedel?

In “Mobius Strips”, a theoretical physicist who can only achieve mathematical creativity during an act of creation (sex).

This end note is also the first reference to “Madame Psychosis”, if you refer to the end notes in the order encountered in the body of the book.

Page 991: The J.O.I. film, “Baby Pictures of Famous Dictators”, makes perhaps the first reference to Eschaton: “Children and adolescents play a nearly incomprehensible nuclear strategy game with tennis equipment.”

Page 991: propitiate, win somebody’s favor: to appease or conciliate somebody or something (formal)

Page 985: In the James O. Incandenza filmography, Pam heath seems to play the role of Death in all of J.O.I.’s films.

Page 993: According to this James O. Incandenza filmography, Infinite Jest (V?) was the last film he made, and it was apparently lost. I suspect this one was The Entertainment.

Page 993: sui testator, as near as I can tell, this is Latin for “in its own creator of a valid will”.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Notes from The Jest: pages 17 - 31

Note: The page numbers jump in and out of order because I'm noting the end notes as I encounter them.

Page 17: Introducing Erdedy
· A woman who is bringing him a fifth of a kilogram of unusually good marijuana for $1250.
o From a guy in a trailer in Allston, who has a harelip and keeps snakes and has no phone.

Page 20: Erdedy realizes how he is like the insect in the girder of his shelving unit. 15 lines up from the bottom of this page.

Page 21: Another comparison of Erdedy to the insect, 10 lines down from the top.

Page 22: pleurisy, inflammation of pleura: inflammation of the membrane ( pleura ) surrounding the lungs, usually involving painful breathing, coughing, and the buildup of fluid in the pleural cavity

1. mixture: a piece of creative work, for example, in literature, drama, or art, that is a mixture of things borrowed from other works
2. use of pastiche: the creation or use of a pastiche
3. imitative work: a piece of creative work, for example, in literature, drama, or art, that imitates and often satirizes another work or style

majisculed: maybe a variation in spelling from this:
majuscule, large printed letter: a large letter used in writing or printing, for example, a capital letter or any of the large rounded letters ( uncials ) used in ancient manuscripts

Hal is 10, will be 11 in June.
Note the day.
Low saliva output; anything to do with that mold he ate when he was five? (see pages 10-11.)

Page 30: amanuensis
1. scribe: somebody employed by an individual to write from his or her dictation or to copy manuscripts
2. writer’s assistant: a writer’s assistant with research and secretarial duties

Noticed on this page that the Moms was dosing Hal’s morning cereal with “esoteric mnemonic steroids”.

Page 31: mise en scène
1. CINEMA THEATER arrangement of actors, scenery, etc: the positioning of actors, scenery, and properties on a stage or movie set for a particular scene or particular production
2. setting for something: the physical environment in which an event takes place
[From French, literally “putting on stage”]

anaplastic, having lost distinctive cell features: relating to or characterized by the loss of distinctive cell features ( anaplasia )

gastrectomy, operation to remove somebody’s stomach: surgical removal of all or part of the stomach. It is usually performed in the treatment of stomach cancer or severe stomach ulcers.

prostatectomy, surgical removal of prostate gland: surgical removal of the whole or part of the prostate gland.

pancreatectomy, surgical removal of pancreas: whole or partial removal of the pancreas by surgery.

phalluctomy: variation on (?) phallectomy, Surgical removal of the penis.

Yeesh! No wonder Himself killed himself!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Notes from The Jest: pages 1 - 17

Here is a web site that just might help with the words DFW used in the Jest

Page 3: 2nd paragraph: “I am in here.” A number of ways to take this sentence; in this room, in this body, in this body in this room… Almost like Hal has just come to some conscious realization of the reality he is in, like he is waking up or something.
Here is the layout of the room and the characters in it as I picture it.

Page 4: wen skin cyst: a cyst containing material secreted by a sebaceous gland of the skin, usually on the scalp or genitals. It may grow to an appreciable size and become infected.

Page 5: Kekulean knot: I couldn’t find any definition on this, but check out this link: other people have had the same question I had. Worth a search on Google, but not much to be found.

Page 7: lapidary
1. engraved on stone: engraved in stone or on a gemstone
2. of engraving gemstones: relating to the art of engraving gemstones
3. dignified and elegant: careful, elegant, and dignified in style (formal)

1. decadent: characterized by decadence, overrefinement, or overindulgence
2. weak: lacking or having lost the strength or ability to get things done (archaic)
3. barren: no longer able to reproduce

Montague Grammar: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Semantics of Physical Modality: Again, I couldn’t find much about this topic, at least, specifically about this topic as worded. But check out: Here there is this note: "Richard Taylor's 'Fatalism' and the Semantics of Physical Modality". Department of Philosophy of Amherst College; March 22, 1985. [NOTE: This is DFW's Philosophy Thesis, decidedly not written for laymen.]

Page 8: “The familiar panic of being misperceived.” Who among us hasn’t experienced that?

Page 9: Oxford Quadrivium-Trivium: a curricular model. Here’s what I’ve found.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
About the quadrivium, Proclus Diadochus said in In primum Euclidis elementorum librum commentarii:
Arithmetic is the Discrete At Rest
Astronomy is the Discrete In Motion
Geometry is the Continuous At Rest
Music is the Continuous In Motion
DFW explains this a little later in the book.

Page 10: posit
1. put something forward: to put something forward for consideration, for example, a suggestion, assumption, or fact
2. position something: to place something firmly in position

Page 12 line 9: Dennis Gabor invented holography (for real). Holography seems to have something to do with the TP cartridges of recorded video that will appear later in the book.

Page 13: “I’m in here.” Echo of the statement on page 3. But the p. 3 statement was something Hal thought. This is spoken, although from what it seems is going on it probably didn’t come out that way.

pase, matador’s movement with cape: a movement a matador makes with a cape to attract the bull’s attention and make it charge.

1. vulnerable position: a position in which troops are exposed to gunfire along the length of their formation
2. raking fire: gunfire that strikes a body of troops along its whole length

Page 16: “At the only other emergency room I have ever been in, almost exactly one year back, …” I’m hoping to find out what made that previous emergency room visit necessary.
“…a T-shirted woman with barnwood skin and a trucker’s cap and a bad starboard list…had almost a parodic Quebecois accent…” I found it interesting that Hal picked up on the Quebecois accent.

hypophalangial: I couldn’t find a flat-out definition, but can piece together what this probably means.

hypo- prefix
1. under, below • hypodermis
2. abnormally low • hypotonia
3. in a lower state of oxidation

relating to phalanx: relating to a phalanx or the phalanges
1. tight group: a group of people, animals, or objects that are moving or standing closely together
2. ARMY HISTORY body of troops: especially in ancient Greece, a group of soldiers that attacks in close formation, protected by their overlapping shields and projecting spears
3. (plural phalanges) ANATOMY finger and toe bone: a finger or toe bone of a human being or vertebrate animal

So, from hypo- (2) and phalanges (3), it must be abnormally low or abnormally small fingers.

1. study of causes: the philosophical investigation of causes and origins
2. medical specialty: the branch of medicine that investigates the causes and origins of disease
3. cause of a disease: the set of factors that contributes to the occurrence of a disease

Page 16-17: The opening scene of Hamlet, played out by Hal, Don Gately, and John (N.R.) Wayne. This seems to connect the three of them. I was aware of the connection (in the book) of Hal and Don Gately in my first reading, but at that time John Wayne seemed almost incidental.

Alright! Alright! Alright!

It all began with a second reading of David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest", which is just an outstanding piece of literature. My son gave me a copy for my birthday, and it just absorbed me for the next three months. After that, I never was quite the same. I quit calling it a book and referred to it as a mind-altering literary experience.

So, I began to read "Infinite Jest" a second time. But it took me over a year to get up the gumption to open it again. The Jest demands much from the reader. At 1079 pages, it takes a good while to read, and the end notes add another challenge. The depth of the material is hard to work through. There are more characters than you can shake a pencil at. And there are plots within plots within plots. It is really quite intimidating.

(My advice to any reader: have at least two bookmarks; you're going to need them. One to mark your place in the book and the other to mark your place in the end notes. You need to read the end notes, every one of them, as you encounter them, and you're going to be flipping back and forth in the book a lot. But you need to read them. They really add a lot to the story.)

But it is so rewarding to the reader who pushes through it. When I finished it the first time, it was 1:00 in the morning, and I had to get up and walk around my neighborhood for the next two hours going "Wow! Oh, Wow!" It really was a profound experience for me.

So, it took a good while to work up the nerve to face it again, but I did. And it is at least ten times better reading it the second time. For one thing, the jumps in time aren't as foreign the second time around and are easier to keep up with. The reader has more background about the characters, the terminology, and all the other background stuff, so the individual pieces begin to make sense together. And overall, the plots and subplots and the characters all begin to pull together into a bigger whole. Still, it is a very complicated book. I bought a moleskine journal and began taking lots of notes as I read.

(More advice to any reader: keep a journal. It will help you keep track of everything that is going on, and there is a lot going on.)

My son thought my notes were worthwhile, for some odd reason, and prodded me to put them on the web. I was hesitant, partly because I found other web sites and blogs that seemed to do a much better job at describing the Jest than I felt I ever could (q.v. or, partly because I thought there were better minds than mine out there with a lot more to say about the Jest, but mainly because these notes were my own personal thoughts about the book.

But [blast him!] he started putting my notes up on his blog (see, if you're interested) and so, basically, shamed me into starting a blog of my own. Now, I'm not sure a blog is the best way to present reading notes. For one thing, the blog entries are going to be in reverse chronological order, with the latest appearing on the web page first. To read the blog entries as they appear on the blog page will be like reading the book backwards. So the reader must locate the first blog entry and read each entry in the order in which they were posted, to read them in the order that they were written from the book. Personally, I think a wiki might be a preferable way to publish reading notes, if one is going to publish them while reading the book, as I am doing now.

I'm about halfway through my second reading now, and I have a considerable backlog of notes to hammer in on my keyboard. But I'm going to type them in to save my son the effort of putting them up on his blog when he really should be working on his college papers.

I'll also put in the definitions for words that I had to look up. There were a lot of them. "Infinite Jest" is a real vocabulary builder.

(One more piece of advice for the reader: get a dictionary, a really big, thick one. You're going to need it.)