Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Portrait of a Young Man (Not Necessarily an Artist)

After reading the Jest, it seems quite natural to me to pick up some more heavy reading, so why not "Ulysses", right? And (thanks to my son (again)) Joyce wrote some background for "Ulysses", e.g., "Dubliners" and "A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man". I had an encounter late this morning that, now that I'm through "Dubliners" and halfway through "Portrait", just screamed for an entry with the above title.

Early this afternoon I stopped for lunch at the local Subway. I was on my way to pick up my car, which in the midst of my unemployment had started overheating. (The timing could not have been better, really.) Since I was without wheels, and not averse to a little exercise, I walked the three miles to the Goodyear dealer where my car was located. The car still wasn’t ready; the filler cap that it needed yesterday still had not arrived. All it would take would be to screw on that cap once it got here. After that three-mile walk, and a very early breakfast, I definitely felt that an early lunch was in order.

So while I’m placing my order, this guy walked in and asks for some water. The counter staff ignored him like totally, which I thought was a bit rude. I was scanning the people, looking for reactions, when he looked directly at me and said they were messing with him. They were always messing with him. They messed with Bruce, too, and Bruce stopped coming around. It wasn’t exactly a rant, but there was an odd sort of edge to his whole soliloquy. (I call it a soliloquy because, although he was facing me, he didn’t seem to expect a reply or even an acknowledgment. It seemed more rhetorical than anything else. But, well, he was looking right at me.)

As I paid for my sandwich and drink, I asked for another drink and gave it to the guy. He said thank you, thank you very much, and his eyes actually started tearing. It caught me a little by surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such gratitude for such a small act. I encouraged him to fill his cup and enjoy his drink.

He sat down. I sat down at the next table and asked, “So, what’s your story, if you don’t mind me asking? I mean, I’m just curious to know. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” He said no, he didn’t mind and offered the chair across his table to me, where I then sat.

He said he was handicapped and these people were stressing him out. He sipped on his drink, appreciatively and gratefully. He said he was on medication. For stress and for high blood pressure. The high blood pressure medication surprised me, because I guessed he couldn’t have been much more than 30. But considering his nervous and highly agitated state (which seemed to be a more or less constant condition for him) it made sense.

I tried to make more sense of him. He wasn’t homeless; he said he lived with his parents, who he said would fight all the time, stressing him more. Said his mom was always yelling at him, and that stressed him more. His brother borrowed his mom’s car that morning, but he knew his brother had driven it to the local liquor store. Or he had driven it to one of his friend’s, and the friend had driven him to the liquor store. Or he left the car in his mom’s driveway and his friend drove him. It was hard to make sense out of his story. But he didn’t seem strung out on drugs or medication or anything. But I got the sense of a somewhat underdeveloped adult in a very bad home life.

He look like he was scared. Constantly scared. That kind of scared like being constantly under attack by everyone around you. His hands shook the whole time I sat there at the table with him, and he had those vertical furrows in his brow, between his eyebrows, that someone under constant worry gets. He spoke with long pauses between each sentence, like something else was demanding his attention. My impression was of hunted prey. And, yes, I could see how someone not quite sharp enough to deal with the world around them could become prey to at least some elements of the world.

He had mentioned Bruce. I remembered Bruce from several years ago. I used to hang out at the Starbuck’s next door, and there was this character named Bruce who would come in there once in a while. Bruce was unquestionably mentally handicapped, but a very pleasant guy, really, and liked to talk, although you had to use simple sentences in any conversation with Bruce. Compound phrases just totally lost him. Bruce’s big thing was always asking for a hug. Eventually his conversation would always turn to a request for a hug. Most people, myself included, indulged him, disregarding whatever social discomfort it produced, which seemed pretty minimal in retrospect. And Bruce always appreciated a good hug. He always said thanks.

But there was an unfortunate side to Bruce as well, which you would find out if you talked to him for a length of time, that is, if you took the time to actually talk to him. Bruce had a hard life. He talked about his parents beating him, and of how hard it was for him to keep a job, and how he had to live at home because he couldn’t live on his own. Talking to Bruce, I could imagine the frustration of his parents dealing with their son who (through no fault of theirs, his, or anyone's, really) just didn’t have the mental horsepower to function on his own in the world and who would depend on them probably for the rest of his, and their, lives. This, in no way, excused the beatings (if, in fact, there were beatings, keeping in mind the child-like intellect I was talking to here.)

And this guy knew Bruce, apparently reasonably well; well enough it seemed to identify with him somewhat. He seemed familiar with Bruce’s situation, so I reasoned that this must be what his handicap was, as well.

He said I reminded him of his uncle Darrell, the way I calmed him down was like his uncle Darrell could do (but, hell, all I did was listen to him!), but his uncle Darrell died several years ago, and he missed him.

Aside from the store owners stressing him, there were these two kids on the sidewalk in front of the stores that were always messing with him. The cops were always chasing these kids away, and they were always in gang fights up the road. These kids threatened him with all kinds of things, and he gave them money to make them go away. I pointed out that giving them money was only encouraging them to keep threatening him, but he seemed to have trouble getting his head around the concept, and all I could see was predator and prey, a sort of intraspecies Darwinism. Considering that it was humans involved, it kinda made my stomach lurch; I guess I’ve held out hope that, just maybe, we could be better animals.

After going on about these two kids who seemed to be terrorizing him on the sidewalks in front of these stores, he told me that he guessed he needed to block out those kids somehow. His tone was kinda flat; his statement came across as, I dunno, a request maybe, or a confirmation or admission of sorts. But his face looked like a mixture of hope, deprecation, maybe a little embarrassment, maybe more. All I could think to tell him was some breathing exercises that seem to work for me; I didn’t know if they would work for him or not, because everyone is different, and our feelings are the hardest things to control.

After finishing my sandwich, and after one of the more interesting lunchtime conversations I’ve had in a while, I excused myself to go see how my car was doing. The kid wished me good luck on my job search (I thought of him as kid, because however developed he was physically, he still seemed to be a kid, a confused lost kid in a world he was trying very hard to figure out), with probably the most sincerity I’ve ever witnessed from another human being. I said, yeah, good luck to both of us, right? And he almost smiled.

Monday, March 23, 2009

More Signs of the Times

Earlier this week, in my pocket change, I found a wheat penny. Wheat pennies have the image of two stalks of wheat stamped on the obverse side, where modern pennies have the Lincoln memorial. Nowadays they are scarce and maybe somewhat valuable, and as coin collectors hoard them they are becoming scarcer and more valuable (perhaps). This one in my pocket change is worn from years of apparent penny-pinching and bears the date 1929, the year of the last great depression.

This morning, as I was getting the oil in my car changed, I witnessed a drug bust on a street corner of my pretentiously upscale, suburban bedroom community. The county officer making the bust was very business-like and no-bullshit, definitely getting the job done. He smashed some sort of paraphernalia under his heel as the two perps, already in handcuffs, watched, then he made one of them deposit the smashed-up bit of paraphernalia in a nearby trash can. The perp making the deposit looked very unhappy. I'm not really sure what to make of this observation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sign of the Times

In keeping with the general tenor of the times and of the economy, I lost my job. No, not like I drove all the way in to work and then realized, “Dang, it was here yesterday”. Actually, my job was taken from me. My company gave me two week’s notice.

Not like I didn’t see it coming. At the end of January, I was cut from the project I was working on due to cost overruns. (Severe cost overruns, I might add.) What happens in my company whenever anyone gets off of a project, they get assigned to a “special” office, where their job becomes to find a job. While they are performing this very special job, they charge their time to a very special charge number. (More about the very special charge number later.) Now, if you find yourself in this position, there are numerous resources at your disposal. For example, your manager helps you locate jobs within the company, but you must realize that your manager is up to his ass in alligators trying to deal with the cost overruns that put you in this very special office to begin with, so he (in my case it was a he) doesn’t have a lot of spare cycles to devote to your personal catastrophe. Nonetheless, I had a good relationship with my management (including the guy up to his ass in alligators) and they were very useful in getting other manager’s attention focused on my particular job application.

That very special charge number that I mentioned earlier? Well, it’s an overhead charge number, which is just an accountant’s way of saying you are now costing the company money. See, before, when you were on that project that was hemorrhaging finances so badly, you were actually making more money for the company than it cost to keep you employed. (Or so it appeared; don’t ask me how the accountants figure that.) Now that your circumstances have changed, this equation has flipped over, and you are now costing the company money. Now you get to charge your time to that very special charge number, so the company can keep track of exactly how much you are costing them. You can only suck on that tit for so long before it runs dry.

All this I knew when I walked in to that very special office and began my very special job. Almost immediately I formed a plan; a plan and a schedule. It looked something like this.
  • Week 1: Search the company job resources for jobs within the company and apply to them, as many as I possibly can. Involve my manager.

  • Week 2: Same as week 1, but if no interviews by now, start to worry. Otherwise, keep searching and applying for as many jobs in the company as I possibly can.

  • Week 3: If still no job interviews, begin looking outside the company at job prospects, but continue to apply within the company and involve my manager as needed.

  • Week 4: If still no job interviews or interviews are not resulting in jobs, put my resume out on the streets (applying for as many of those jobs as I possibly can). Begin looking seriously outside the company. I felt no need to mention this move to anyone in the company, nor did anyone ask. I’m not sure how I would have answered if they did ask.
Events began to follow my plan uncomfortably closely. I was not getting any interviews for company jobs. I wasn’t even getting acknowledgments for my applications. (Here’s where a manager comes in handy as well. A word to my manager, and he would drop a word to the hiring manager, and I would very quickly hear what my standing for the job was. Generally, it was not good, but at least I knew.) But by week 5, I was getting interviews outside of my company. Incredibly, the market was far more responsive than my own employer. (Go figure!); there were jobs out there. By week 6, I was getting job offers from outside my company, nothing from the inside. There were jobs, just no jobs in my company. It was looking like I was going to have to change employers.

Back to that very special charge number; there are ways to minimize your use of it. In my case, I found training, lots of it, as much as I could find. If there was a training course within the company, and I could get to it, I enrolled in it. You see, training is also overhead (you’re costing the company money) but it’s more like an investment. You are learning skills that the company can market to its customers and, thus, make even more money from you. So training is a more acceptable form of overhead than simply sitting on my ass and waiting for the next great job to come my way.

So to all you other bread-winning life forms out there, the secret is to get up off your fat asses, guys. Here’s what I’ve learned you can do instead of waiting for that choice plum of employment you feel so entitled to.
  • Get up and look. Hit every job search resource you have at your disposal and hit it hard.

  • Network. Network like crazy. Get out of your comfort zone and go talk to people. (You're going to wish you had started this a lot earlier.) Yeah, you hear this one all the time, but only because it works. Networking deserves its own blog entry, at the very least. There are more networking books on the market than you can shake a pink slip at. Some of them are probably worth reading, but since it’s your economic survival at stake, maybe you should open one or two of them.

  • Have a plan. Knowing that you have a course you are going to follow calms the mind and gives you confidence. You are going to need confidence going into the numerous interviews you will be doing, because you aren’t going to have much of it when you get out.

  • Follow the plan. As your confidence wanes, it’s going to become harder and harder to hit the job searches and go to the interviews. And you need to hit the job searches and go to the interviews. See, getting a job is all a numbers game. To get a job, you need at least one job offer. To get that offer, you need to go to at least ten interviews (just a round number, but you get the idea. Your mileage may vary (and not necessarily for the better!)) To get an interview, you have to have submitted at least ten applications. Right there, that’s a hundred jobs you have to apply to, to get the ten interviews, so you get the one job offer. Having a plan helps you do all this on autopilot. Realize this, and be empowered.

  • Involve your manager(s). Managers can be extremely powerful tools when wielded properly. All you have to do is ask. Even the busiest manager will spare a minute or two to make a phone call on your behalf. Besides, it’s good networking.

There are those who may point out that my approach is perhaps optimistic, maybe a bit naïve, maybe a little too positive, perhaps even unrealistic. All I can say is, I have a new job.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Connections: Ulysses and Infinite Jest

I'm tackling James Joyce's Ulysses now and finding similarities between Ulysses and Infinite Jest as well as insight into The Jest. Here's one example.

3.416-417, in the Gabler edition of Ulysses is this little piece of text: the veil of the temple. I was actually looking on Google for anything about airing his quiff, from 6.196, and came across a good description of this phrase in Ulysses Annotated, by Don Gifford. Poking around in Ulysses Annotated, I found the veil of the temple, and then the A-Ha neuron fired.

Get this (from Ulysses Annotated): 3.416-417 the veil of the temple...shovel hat -- As described in Exodus 26:31-35, the veil acts as a multicolored screen between the outer "holy place" and "the most holy" (behind the veil). And this veil is rent at the moment of Jesus's death (Matthew 27:51). Berkely argued that "Vision is the Language of the Author of Nature" (The Theory of Vision [London 1733], section 38); in other words, the visible world is like a screen with signs on it, a screen that God presents to be read and thought rather than seen. Thus, the signs on the screen could be regarded as something taken out of one's head (or hat). A "shovel hat" was worn by some Church of Ireland and Church of England clergy in the eighteenth centure.

So, Madame Psychosis sat behind a tri-fold screen during her FM broadcasts from the MIT student union. And she wore a veil.

This seems to mean so many things on so many levels; I'm still piecing it together. And I'm just blown away by an intellect that can intentionally make connections and references like this, although I realize my admiration may come from reasoning more like the Watchmaker argument of Creationists (i.e., the Universe is too well put-together to have come about by chance, therefore, there must be a God.) Maybe DFW just accidentally put veils and screens in The Jest just because he read a lot; I just have trouble believing that it was accidental.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Trivium

David Foster Wallace mentioned the Trivium and the Quadrivium in Infinite Jest as the foundation of the curriculum at Enfield Tennis Academy. The Trivium/Quadrivium was (and still is) the classical liberal arts curriculum. This was how the young were taught to reason and communicate in the classical era and through the Middle Ages.

My son gave me a book on the Trivium, titled The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, by
Sister Miriam Joseph, One Tough NunSister Miriam Joseph. The Trivium explains the three liberal arts that compose the Trivium, grammar, logic, and rhetoric. This isn't your standard "i before e, except after c" kind of grammar. This is grammar in its most abstract, most general, all-encompassing form, applicable to any language, really. This is more like foundational linguistics than grammar. The book links grammar to logic, and logic into rhetoric. Thus, the student learns how to express thinking, how to reason, and how to present thinking and reasoning to others.

This is such foundational stuff that I wonder why it isn't taught in this form any more. (If it is taught, it is exceedingly rare, e.g, E.T.A.) The ability to express ones' thoughts, to reason, and to present would seem to me to be the most important abilities any young student could cultivate. The ability to reason and to discourse seems to me to be fundamental to any civilization as complex as ours has become. It was certainly fundamental in the classic years.

I've been taking reading notes, but the book is very tightly written. There is not a word that goes to waste in this book. It is demanding very close and very careful reading to grasp what it is presenting. It's difficult to note it without leaving out large and important pieces. I'm halfway through, and my copy looks like it was salvaged from the Titanic.

This is really valuable stuff to know, and worth the struggle to know it. But I wish I had learned this stuff back in grade school.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Jest: pages 917 - End

Page 917 line 14: The capitalized Virus, again.

Page 919, 10 lines from bottom: LISLE, a strong smooth fine cotton thread or fabric, used in gloves and stockings.

Page 919, 9 lines from bottom: EMBRASURE, an opening in the wall of a building for a door or window, tapered so as to be wider on the inside than on the outside; a slanted opening in the wall or parapet of a fortification, designed so that a defender can fire through it on attackers.

Page 920 line 3: CIRCUMAMBIENT, surrounding.

Page 923, middle: What is the connection between James O. Incandenza and Don Gately? Why does the wraith, which is clearly the ghost of James O. Incandenza, appear to Gately and converse with him?

Page 926 line 26: The FREE MILKEN bumper sticker is an historical reference. I wonder how long it will be before readers of Infinite Jest will no longer remember that it refers to Michael Milken, known as the Junk Bond King, from the 1980s? But how much of, say, Shakespeare’s plays and writings made reference to significant events of his day that are no longer remembered? (Not that Michael Milken will be forgotten, given the extent of information on the Internet, as much as lost in the volume of available historic fact.)

Page 928 line 10: post-coital vestibulitis, DFW just had to have invented this condition. He seems to have exaggerated every athletic coach’s fear of pre-game sex and his player’s performance.

Page 933 line 12: The first hint at Mt. Dilaudid (i.e., mountain of Dilaudid).

Page 933, 7 lines from bottom: It seems that Lyle is somehow on the same plane of existence as James O. Can he somehow commune with the dead, as a psychic, or is he, like, really dead?

Page 934 line 11: In Gately’s dream, the grave scene. Ref: p. 16 – 17, where Hal has the same dream or vision.

Page 935 line 4: Fackelman is watching “Various Small Flames”, one of James O. Incandenza’s films. See p. 988 line 1.

Page 938 line 15: “His rising was more like the floor lowering.” C.f. p. 12 line 16: “The chair recedes beneath me.”

Page 938, 8 lines from bottom: I believe this is Joelle answering questions from someone else. Note DFW’s Q and A format, without the Qs.

Page 938 – 941: Joelle describes making the Entertainment, at least what she remembers of it. Says the master, as are all masters of his films, is buried with James O. Incandenza, whose grave is in the Annular Zone. The Annular Zone doesn’t even belong to the U.S. anymore. Joelle makes this reference as “your country”, so she must be talking to someone from the U.S., or O.N.A.N.

Page 939 line 9: Joelle must be talking to Steeply.

Page 934 line 12: From the way James O. Incandenza died, there wouldn’t be much left in the way of a head, now would there?

Page 941 line 7: This text starts out in the third person, but by line 12 on this page (“He was sitting on my…”) reveals the first person (Hal (?)). But it actually makes sense.

Page 943 line 11: No, he said “bolted”. See p. 942 line 25.

Page 943, 10 lines from bottom: Here the word “map” means Stice’s face.

Page 943, 8 lines from bottom: Coyle’s comment to Hal: “I don’t see what’s so funny about it, man.” Hal seems to be stuck in a facial expression of perpetual mirth, i.e., Infinite Jest.

Page 944 line 1: This is Hal’s situation, too. Has it been his mind’s (map’s) alteration that has him playing such good tennis?

Page 945 line 19: The Virus, this time given its full name: It, the Human Immuno Virus.

Page 946, 18 lines from bottom: Kaposi’s Sarcoma = Spider, and therefore all other spider references in the book?

Page 951 line 22: A surreal memory of a steamed lavatory mirror with a knife sticking out of the pane. See also page 16, 18 lines from bottom.

Page 951, 10 lines from bottom: The Moms felt that Himself was uncommunicative, as Himself felt that Hal was. Maybe Hal has been uncommunicative all along; maybe he’s been leading up to the condition he’s in for a long time.

Page 952 – 953: Hal, who memorized the Oxford English Dictionary up to “R”, can’t remember things from his past and is starting to lose memory of word definitions. Is this situation here the reason he never got past “R”?

Page 953, 9 lines from bottom: kyphotic, involving a permanent curving of the spine that makes somebody look hunched over.

I just noticed that in these last few pages Hal is recalling his past as Don Gately was in the 20 or 30 pages before.

Page 954 line 20: “The brutal questions are the ones that force you to lie.”

Page 957 line 13: Has Hal been aware (perhaps just subliminally) of the Moms and John Wayne all along?

Page 958 line 14: The last Clenette reference.

Page 961 line 12: The Assistant DA who has been pursuing Gately is in a 12-step program to help those who deal with someone with a deep phobia, which Gately resurfaced in the Assistant DA’s wife with his little stunt on p. 55, 12 lines from bottom, – p. 56, 17 lines from bottom.

Page 965 line 9: piaffer, (piaffe?) a dressage movement performed by a horse in which it trots in one place and raises its legs very high.

Page 964 – 966: Third person point of view throughout, but p. 966 line 3 reveals that the narrator is one of the E.T.A. players. But which one?

Page 966, 14 lines from bottom: Hal’s face is “weird” with numerous expressions.

Page 966, 9 lines from bottom: Note how this exhibition match is being played inside a brain-shaped structure.
Page 967 line 6 – 971 line 24: The Barry Loach story; a must-read. It’s like DFW has set up Mario all along for this story.

Page 971, 16 lines from bottom – 972, 5 lines from bottom: Orin is being held captive by the AFR.

Page 974 line 4: Abrupt scene change here; from his hospital bed Gately is remembering Mt. Dilaudid and Fackelman’s unmapping.

Page 976, 7 lines from bottom: Girl; red-leather coat; large adam’s-apple; could be Poor Tony if the feather boa was present.

Page 981 line 19: The End. (The rest of the book are the end notes.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Jest: pages 844 - 916

Page 845 line 14: This “eccentrically dressed and extremely irritating without-home man” has to be Poor Tony. He is apparently a “test” subject for the AFR.

Page 848 line 27: Mrs. Waite eventually hung herself.

Page 849 line 9: Gately wrestles with a moral dilemma and wins. Perhaps there is something redeemable about him after all.

Page 849: A couple days after Gately’s birthday and Mrs. Waite isn’t answering her door and the bills and papers are piling up. Her birthday cake to Gately must have been a farewell gesture. Other clues on pp. 848 – 849.

Page 850 line 24: Death’s explanation of death has appeared before in the book. Where did DFW get this mythical concept of death?

Page 851 line 1: Gately’s dream is exactly like the Entertainment. How is he not totally transfixed and absorbed by it like viewers of the Entertainment?

Page 851 line 10: Hal is definitely the first-person narrator here. This section is subtitled “Gaudemus Igitur” like the Eschaton section.

Page 853 line 12: terre batu, literally “beaten earth”.

Page 857, 14 lines from bottom: Use of “to” instead of “too”; has DFW made a grammatical error? Maybe this is Gately’s error and not the author’s.

Page 860, 15 lines from bottom: Gately’s breakthrough realization. Maybe a breakthrough for all of us.

Page 865, 13 lines from bottom: Hal perceives his voice as neutral, but to Ortho Stice it sounds like he’s been crying. Is this the beginning of Hal’s condition at the Whataburger? Also notice that Ortho cannot see hal directly because his forehead is stuck to the window, so he cannot see Hal’s facial expression, whatever it might be.

Page 870 line 28: The ghost of James O. Incandenza reappears.

Page 870, 3 lines from bottom: Has Hal had this, like, disconnect in his speech since he was a kid?

Page 873 line 5: The Betel Caper, like Gately’s stunt with the assistant DA’s toothbrush; p. 56 line 20.

Page 875 line 27: Hal’s voice and facial expressions are not matching.

Page 878, 17 lines from bottom: This meeting has something to do with the Entertainment.

Page 878, 3 lines from bottom: The OUS is trying to counter dissemination of the Entertainment cartridge with PSAs on the Mr. Bouncety Bounce show.

Page 885 line 3: Aaagghhhh!!! Gately has the revelation of his life, the biggest realization he’s ever had, and FF isn’t even paying attention to him.

Page 886, 15 lines from bottom: A preview of Gately’s dilaudid feast.

Page 886 – 887: The MD as the Last Temptation in The Passion of Gately.

Page 888, 10 lines from bottom: the cage again.

Page 889, 3 lines from bottom: “…woke Gately up…” Were the last five pages just Gately’s bad dream?

Page 890 line 24: the cage again, although as an idiom. Yep, this was Gately’s bad dream.

Page 895 line 10: God as a figurant; interesting.

Page 896 line 6: The narrator here is Hal, in the first person. (I wonder if all first-person passages are Hal?)Hal seems to make a massive transition of consciousness here. He would be extremely spaced out if not for being so lucid.
Hal's focus on the "cumulative aspect" (p. 896, 5 lines from bottom) of his life is the opposite of Gately's, who is literally taking one second at a time (see p. 860, 15 lines from bottom). But unlike Gately, who finds hope in taking it one second at a time, Hal is overwhelmed by the volume of the sum total of everything in his life.

Page 898 line 3: Just noticed how the name “Orin” has been passed from generation to generation of Incandenzas.

Page 898, 4 lines from bottom: “…a nearly impossible choice to make…” Like Erdedy on page 27, at the top.

Page 899 line 3: Hal’s return from Natick (the encounter group that wasn’t the meeting he intended to go to) seems to be when his outward facial expressions weren’t matching his speech.

Page 899 line 9: Could it be that Himself’s belief that Hal was not speaking was a fact; Hal was not speaking when he thought he was. And would any of this have anything to do with the Mom’s “introduction of certain esoteric mnemonic steroids…into your innocent-looking bowl of morning Ralston”? (see p. 30) Or with the mold that Hal ate?

Page 901 line 6: A brief glimpse at Charles Tavis’s genealogy. These genetics explain Mario.

Page 902, 16 lines from bottom: This legend is hilarious.

Page 904, 5 lines from bottom: droogs: a salute to Anthony Burgess and “A Clockwork Orange”.

Page 906 line 6: Howl being Allen Ginsberg’s poem.

Page 907, last line: Pemulis, after a week-long absence, has to have a serious talk with Hal.

Page 908, 19 lines from bottom: Hal is declining the DMZ.

Page 908, 5 lines from bottom: Hal echoes Gately in his refusal of temptation.

Page 909 line 5: Hal’s expression apparently still one of hysterics.

Page 909, 2 lines from bottom: A cage again; Hal making a cage of his hands, like the leader at the encounter group meeting that Hal went to by mistake; p. 801 line 12.

Page 911 line 11: teleologic, the study of ultimate causes in nature; an approach to ethics that studies actions in relations to their ends or utility; any activity that tends towards toe achievement of a goal.

Page 914, 2 lines from bottom: the capitalized Virus again.

Page 916, middle text: Pemulis is retrieving the DMZ. Note that the ceiling tiles are broken and in disarray, and there is no sign of an old sneaker on the floor. Pemulis hid his stashes in the toe of a rotty old sneaker to discourage anyone from looking for it. Some possibilities here, that remain for the rest of the book to unfold: 1) someone has been here and already made off with the DMZ. This someone may be dosing Hal with it, and this someone would be a “dish served cold” kind of individual. I was suspecting John Wayne, after his episode with what he thought was Sudafed from Troelch’s night stand. The trouble with this is that he would be more likely to extract this revenge on Troelch. 2) Hal has already taken the DMZ himself, which would explain his disconnection. It would also explain his refusal of the DMZ on p. 908.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Jest: pages 787 - 843

Page 1067 line 34: uncolloped, without small rolls of fat on the body.

Page 1068 line 29: Pemulis blackmails Avril with what he witnessed on p. 552 line 29.

Page 1072 line 15: John Wayne loses it publicly.

Page 787, 8 lines from bottom: R. (‘the G.’) Tine = Rod (‘the God’) Tine.

Page 788: More evidence that “Infinite Jest V” or VI was the real Entertainment.

Page 789 line 1: parturient, related to the process or time of childbirth; about to give birth; on the verge of producing something or coming forth.

Page 789 lines 4 – 8: WOW!!!

Page 791 line 3: olla podrida, a miscellaneous mixture or assortment of things; a traditional Spanish and Latin American stew of meat and vegetables, usually containing sausage and chickpeas, and highly seasoned.

Page 791, 4 lines from bottom: malcathected, wrongly concentrating emotional or psychic energy on something such as an object, a person, or an idea that does not deserve such attention.

Page 793 line 21: A description of Orin’s Thanksgiving dinner with Joelle Van Dyne’s family. Sounds like as much of a nightmare as her Thanksgiving dinner with the Incandenzas on pp. 744 – 747. Here is where the acid gets spilled on Joelle.

Page 795 line 9: What? Notkin must have the name wrong. Or maybe she is deliberately misinforming Rodney Tine.

Page 1073 note 332: Pemulis catches the fallout from the John Wayne public disclosure, see p 1072 line 15.

Sometime earlier in the book John Wayne was in Pemulis’s room talking to Troeltch and complained of some nasal congestion. He helped himself to some Sudafed on the table between Pemulis’s and Troeltch’s bed, but the Sudafed was actually Troeltch’s purloined Tenuates from Pemulis. No wonder Wayne went off on a rant.

Page 1075 line 24: Pemulis tries to play his blackmail (again; see p 1068 line 29), but Avril apparently has had enough (in the following sentence).

Page 1075, 2 lines from bottom: Yep, Avril has pretty much defused Pemulis’s blackmail. Did Avril set up John Wayne to get dosed, just so she could prosecute Pemulis so effectively? Talk about a dish served cold!

Page 753 line 25: “perdant son coeur” refers to note 314, which in turn refers to note 304 sub. See p. 1060 line 27, ties this phrase to Le Jeu du Prochain Train.

Page 799, 3 lines from bottom: Why does the room’s color scheme make Hal uneasy? I thought it might resemble the mold he ate (see p. 10), but that mold was more of a greenish color.

Page 801 line 12: The meeting’s leader makes a cage with his hands, over the bear’s head.

Page 802, top of page: Weird meeting, but Hal arrived early. Is he at a preceding meeting?

Page 802 line 18: “…the cage again on his poor bear’s squashed head…”

Page 802 line 22: Kevin describing his Inner Infant behind the bars of a crib, i.e., a cage.

Page 803 line 28: Yep, Hal’s at the wrong meeting. Here he has just encountered Kevin Bain, Marlon Bain’s (Orin’s doubles partner at E.T.A.) brother. The Bain’s parents were killed in the helicopter crash that Lateral Alice Moore flew.

Page 805 line 1: Hal, who in his childhood was held and told he was loved feels no less messed up than Kevin Bain, who wasn’t.

Page 809 line 15: cytological, the examination of cells obtained from body tissue or fluids, especially to establish if they are cancerous; a branch of biology dealing with the study of cells, especially their structures and functions.

Page 801 – 809: Hal at the (what he thought was) N.A. meeting. Interesting, the metaphysics of the kertwang.

Page 809: Don Gately’s childhood fear was a bulge in the ceiling. Hal’s was the face in the floor; see p. 62.

Page 809 line 21: The blurred figure in the next bed is Otis P. Lord, after the Eschaton debacle.

Page 821 line 5: Corvettes do not have back seats.

Page 809 – 823: Don Gately’s inability to communicate seems very much like Hal’s in the beginning of the book; see pp. 11-17.

Page 825 line 4: Clenette H. reference.

Page 825 line 19: Clenette H. did, in fact, bring all those TP cartridges from E.T.A.; see p. 750 line 12.

Page 809, 3 lines from bottom: “…tall and slumped ghostish figure…”; ghost of Himself.

Page 828 line 24: The tally insubstantial ghostish figure again.

Page 829 line 12: A detailed description of the ghostish figure that Gately’s been seeing.

Page 830 line 26: The wraith (ghost) looks down on Gately, like Madam Psychosis in The Entertainment.

Page 809 – 831: Gately has become everyone’s confessor; it seems that nearly everyone is confessing their sins to him.

Page 832 line 3: strigil, in ancient Greece and Rome, an instrument with a curved blade used to scrape dirt and sweat from the skin after bathing or exercising.

Page 832, 10 lines from bottom: flow of words, here separated for clarity: CIRCUM/AMBIENT/FOUND/DRAMA/LEVIRATE/MARRIAGE

Page 832, 19 to 8 lines from bottom: Might there be a message in this list of words, or is DFW just illustrating the inrush of information into Gately’s head?

Page 832, 3 lines from bottom: The wraith seated in the position of Lyle the sweat guru.

Page 833 line 13: Is James O. Incandenza Don Gately’s understanding of a higher power?

Page 834 line 16: Gately probably means “Northern Exposure”, a real television series from the eighties.

Page 834 line 17: Another Cage reference.

Page 834 line 21: the switch over to InterLace and HDTP seems a lot like our own present-day switch to DTV.

Page 834, 12 lines from bottom: The Wraith explains figurants.

Page 834, 11 lines from bottom: The wraith admits to making films while alive; more evidence that the wraith is James O. Incandenza.

Page 835, last line: agora, in ancient Greece, an open space in a town where people gathered, especially a marketplace.

Page 837, 8 lines from bottom: “…no horror on earth…”; see pp. 11 – 17 and pp. 27 – 31.

Page 839 lines 1 – 13: The Wraith (James O. Incandenza) explains why he made The Entertainment.

Page 839, 12 lines from bottom: Another hint at the Cult of the Endless Kiss.

Page 840 lines 4 to 13: Good question!

Page 843 line 2: Interesting image; flies in deep denial.

Page 843 line 18: from wounded flies to the wounded Nuck.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Jest: pages 739 - 786

Page 739 line 23: “It was like when she exhaled he inhaled and vice versa.” Like the Cult of the Endless Kiss, see p. 1061 last paragraph.

Page 740, 16 lines from bottom: mordant, sharply sarcastic or scathingly critical; having a corrosive effect.

Page 741, 11 lines from bottom: The Shiny Prize Biting Shoats; what a name for a H.S. football team. Shoat, a young pig that has just been weaned.

Page 742 line 17: The alcoholic sandwich-bag salesman must be James O. Incandenza’s father, who was The Man From Glad. Is this sobriquet a sarcastic statement! As in, the Man from Glad, being someone from a place of gladness? Definitely not the case for James O.’s dad.

Page 742 line 26: Could it be that the Cage is one’s own head, one’s own P.O.V.?

Page 742, bottom half: The Medusa v. the Odalisque seems almost as James O. Incandenza’s statement of intent to produce the Entertainment. Also says something about the transcendence of self. There’s a lot being said here.

Page 1062, note 309: boniface, the proprietor of a hotel or restaurant; an innkeeper; after Boniface, an innkeeper in The Beaux’ Stratagem, by George Farquhar, 1707.

Page 743, 11 lines from bottom: J.O.I., famous hailer of cabs.

Page 744-747: the Dinner Scene. (And what a scene it is!)

Page 745, 2 lines from bottom: haplology, the accidental omission of one or more repeated syllables or sounds when speaking.

Page 747 line 28: blancmange, a cold dessert similar to pudding made with milk, sugar, flavorings, and cornstarch.

Page 747 line 28: This last sentence wraps up the Dinner Scene quite succinctly.

Page 750 line 12: Does Pat Montesian have copies [copies, no less] of the Entertainment at Ennet House?

Page 751, last line: katexia, perhaps an alternate spelling of catexia, meaning mental or emotional investment.

Page 752, 9 lines from bottom: restenotic, recurrence of stenosis after corrective surgery on a heart valve. Stenosis, a constriction or narrowing of a duct, passage, or opening of the body.

Page 753 line 24: Marathe’s situation compared to Le Jeu du Prochain Train, see p. 1058, last line.

Page 754 line 9: Another Clenette reference. She brought some donated cartridges down from E.T.A. Could this be where the (possible) Entertainment cartridges in Pat Montesian’s office came from?

Page 766, 2 lines from bottom, to page 767 line 2: The Moms discussing emotions with Mario quotes Dolores Rusk about people being imprisoned, maybe born imprisoned. A Cage reference, or about DFW’s own depression? The Moms may have explained the Cage here.

Page 765 line 23: “He’s not himself today”; a play on words.

Page 768 line 19: Another play on the word “himself”? (Love how DFW leaves it so ambiguous.)

Page 769 line 13: Hal waking up Mario to talk to him, like Mario did to Hal at p. 39.

Page 770 line 5: Hal had a nightmare of losing his teeth. See note 316; also Joelle’s dream on p. 724.

Page 773 line 2 on: Hal speculating how Mario perhaps alters lies into truth before they ever reach him. Compare to the tennis ball trajectory on p.p. 651-682, the exhibition match between Hal and Ortho Stice.

Page 773, 12 lines from bottom: rococo, a style of architecture and the decorative arts characterized by intricate ornamentation that was popular throughout Europe in the early 18th century; any very ornate style.

Page 794 lines 19 – 26: Must Read! Hal figures out what the real Monsters are.

Page 776 line 9: Electroshock therapy or Kahlua and milk; same difference. Saying people drink/get drunk for the same effect.

Page 777 line 10: Marathe refers to the Cage.

Page 778, 14 lines from bottom: Marathe finds his way out of the Cage.

Page 780 line 16: The Cage specifically mentioned.

Page 781 line 20: This reads like Marathe only traded one Cage for another.

Page 782 line 8: Kate Gompert states that she’s a “shitty lay”. (Reading this paragraph, no wonder the real Kate Gompert took DFW to court.)

Page 782, line 1: We (the reader) know what Marathe is offering Kate, but she isn’t picking up on it.

Page 782, 10 lines from bottom, to page 783, 13 lines from bottom: Hal knows why Pemulis sold the O.N.A.N.T.A. urologist (see p. 772, line 12)

Page 785 line 9, to note 321: A hint of what is coming at the Whataburger. Hal dreams of DMZ. Note 321 gives some insight of what Hal was going through at the start of the book.

Page 1062 line 20: a Squeak reference.

Page 786 line 18: Hal’s checking in to Ennet House.

Page 1067 line 17: gonions, the points on either side of the lower jaw where it turns upward.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Jest: pages 652 - 738

Page 654 line 7: cathected, to concentrate emotional or psychic energy on something such as an object, a person, or an idea.

Page 654, 4 lines from bottom: Remember that this section is titled “11 NOVEMBER YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT”.

Page 661: DeLint explains sheltering the E.T.A. prodigies in order to prepare them. Is this the way out of The Cage?

Page 1048 line 34: anaclitic, characterized by strong emotional dependence on a mother or other nurturing person, especially to the extent of exhibiting or causing serious developmental and psychological disturbances. (good word)

Page 1051, 4 lines from bottom: Orin’s re-enactment of his nightmare, see p. 47.

Page 668 line 17: concavitated, a DFW neologism. He makes up words and they make sense.

Page 669, 12 lines from bottom: cute little nursery rhyme.

Page 670 line 21: pace, [pronounced pay-see or pay-chay and used as a preposition] with all respect to, used in front of a name or title as a gesture of real or ironic respect to somebody who is mistaken and about to be corrected.

Page 672 line 17: There’s that mammal thing again.

Page 680 line 8: More weirdness going on around the courts. Hal’s tennis balls seem to go off in a direction of their own. (A continuation of the weirdness from p. 632, perhaps) But Hal seems unconcerned.

Page 635 line 3: A whole new Hal – chemical free. Is this what’s changing his game?

Page 682 line 18 and 31: Does DeLint see what’s going to happen to Hal [by the front of the book]? By what’s happening to him now? Forgetful will.

Page 651-682: Hal Incandenza v. Ortho “The Darkness” Stice. Incandenza = incandescence; therefore light against darkness.

Page 678: Word play throughout on Ortho Stice and his large head, either his tennis racket or his ego.

Page 1052, note 275: s’annular: cancelling out as, like, annulations.

Page 682, last para: Introduces Matty pemulis.

Page 688: synopsis of “Wave Bye-Bye to the Bureaucrat”. By line 31, the bureaucrat is caught between two demands, q.v. Erdedy on p. 27.

Page 691 line 14: epicene, having both male and female characteristics; of neither male nor female gender; indeterminate gender; describing a male having typically female characteristics.

Page 694 line 28: a reference to encagement.

Page 695 – 698: A description of Kate Gompert’s depression. Depressing and chilling.

Page 699 line 15: 11/01 is a Sunday (as stated by the expiration date on the WalMart coupon). That makes Y.D.A.U. our year 2009. Happy new Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.

Page 1053, note 285: catachresis, the incorrect use of words, e.g. by mixing metaphors or applying terminology wrongly.

Page 702, 16 lines from bottom: descant, a melody that is sung or played above the basic melody of a piece of music.

Page 707 line 22: catexic, cathexic, mentally or emotionally invested.

Page 723 line 11: So it really may have been Orin mailing the copies of The Entertainment. See p. 36 line 15: “…the padded mailer is postmarked suburban Phoenix area…”

Page 723, bottom: Joelle Van Dyne concerned about her teeth. It seems that a member of U.H.I.D. would not be overly concerned about appearance.

Page 726 line 8: “An employee at the Academy of Tennis of Enfield has been recruited and joined the Canadian instructor and student already inside for closer work of surveillance.” The instructor would be Theirry Poutrincourt. The student would be John Wayne. Who is this third agent. (Perhaps Clenette? She’s on part-time work at E.T.A.)

Page 726, 11 lines from bottom: “…several curious claims that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was defensive in bed.” I.e., not to be fucked with.

Page 728 line 4: sybaritically, devoted to luxury and the gratification of sensual desires.

Page 729 line 19: agnate, an unfamiliar use of the word here.

Page 729 line 26: “The alley was devroid of cats and rodents both; he did not stop to reflect why.” It is because he’s been here before, killing them off.

Page 726, 6 lines from bottom: demi-maisons, literally half-houses but meaning halfway houses. I guess some idioms don’t translate well.

Page 737 line 11: Don Gately brings up thoughts of the Incandenzas in Joelle Van Dyne.

Page 737 line 16: Orin felt that his father did not acknowledge him in the same manner that the father felt Hal didn’t acknowledge him (the father). See pp. 27-31, the conversational professional.

Page 738: Joelle’s theory of why Orin dropped tennis and started kicking footballs.

The Jest: pages 589 - 651

Page 581, 13 lines from bottom: The Unexamined Life located on the corner of Comm. Ave. and Brainerd Rd.

Page 589 line 25: “It’s weird to feel like you miss someone you’re not even sure you know.” Exactly how I felt about DFW’s suicide.

Page 590, last line: “a woman’s voice, calling for help without any real urgency…” This is perhaps a reference to Don Delillo. In Ratner’s Star, there was the Screaming Lady. But this particular character (in the Jest) in the Enfield Marine P.H.H. compound is mentioned earlier.

Page 592 line 12: “It is increasingly hard to find valid art that is about stuff that is real in this way.”

Page 592 line 19: Pemulis’s idea for a Dial-A-Prayer line for atheists.

Page 592, 2 lines from bottom: Of course it doesn’t hurt Mario. He’s got Familial Dysautonomia; see p. 589, 9 lines from bottom.

Page 593 line 4: the “wide square-headed boy” must be Don Gately.

Caught this idea from somewhere, not sure where: Orin is mailing out copies of The Entertainment, meaning he has the master.

Page 601 line 2: comme on dit, French for “as they say”.

Page 601 line 10: Another Clenette H. reference.

Page 604: A supreme insight: it just happens to be much easier for the rest of to watch over these types of people [i.e., the fuck-ups, screw-ups, general listless non-caring short-sighted individuals] and protect them than to deal with the after-crap of their consequences (which they can’t see will ever happen to them.)

Page 609 line 24: Clenette again.

Page 601 line 22: “…lending weight to yet another cliché.” I.e., where’s a cop when you need one. Ordinarily they’re handing out parking violations left and right at 0005 hrs.

Page 614 line 25: Clenette H. again.

Page 615 line 3: Randy Lenz finally getting some resolution of his pent-up anger- and powerlessness- issues, going “There, there” as he pummels the Nuck.

Page 619, 10 lines from bottom: “And Lo” she said softly. This is how Madame Psychosis would start her radio program. See p. 184 line 12. Joelle v. D. is confirming Gately’s guess.

Page 624 line 21: …because that is as far up as someone can wash and wax a van … in a wheelchair!

Page 625 line 20: That would be Mario.

Page 625, 8 lines from bottom: There’s the squeak.

Page 620-626: WYYY student engineer kidnapped by men on wheelchairs.

627, 5 lines from bottom: R.H.I.P. = Rank Has Its Privilege

Page 632 line 25: saltire, in heraldry, one of the basic designs used on coats of arms, consisting of a diagonal cross.

Page 632: Weird goings-ons at E.T.A. giving everyone the fantods. I suspect it’s the ghost of Himself (if I believed in ghosts).

Page 632 line 27: tektitic, like a small dark-colored glassy object, possibly resulting from meteoric impact, found in groups at various locations throughout the world.

Page 633, 2 lines from bottom: Another Clenette reference.

Page 634, 11 lines from bottom: “Hal is maybe the one male E.T.A. for whom lifetime virginity is a conscious goal.”

Page 634, 8 lines from bottom: colposcope, a magnifying and photographic instrument used to examine the vagina.

Page 642 line 29 transperçant, see Note 216

Page 647, 8 lines from bottom: What Steeply is describing is what happened to Erdedy; see top of p. 27.

Page 648-651: Geoffrey Day describes a horror that cannot be denied or avoided. Perhaps the opposite of the Entertainment. (Might have been DFWs worst depression.)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Jest: pages 529 - 578

Page 529 line 4: The A.F.R. believes Marathe to be a triple agent. This paragraph explains the intricacy of this double-double cross.

Page 531-538: Don Gately and Joelle Van Dyne talk late at night. Not immediately clear, so have to read on. But, damn, this is some intense stuff.

Page 534 line 22: another cage reference.

Page 534, 9 lines from bottom: See pp. 144-151. An explanation of the rise and complete and utter decline of the videophone. D.G.: “Is this like this thing they talked about about people hating their faces on videophones?”

Page 535, last line: another “annular” reference.

Page 536, 10 lines from bottom: “…Ken E. like to get killed by some son of a bitch last night at that Waltham NA thing…” q.v. p. 506-507.

Page 537 lines 1-24: Dang! DFW is on to something here, I think, about totally open honesty as a tautology, because of, what?, a lack of corresponding trust?

Page 538, 9 lines from bottom, to 549: Randy Lenz dealing with his well-known Rage and Powerlessness issues.

Page 539, 2 lines from bottom: mongo, objects plucked/rescued from trash, also means huge; see this definition.

Page 541, 13 lines from bottom: brisance, a measure of the rapidity in which an explosive develops its maximum pressure; the shattering effect of the sudden release of energy in an explosion.

Page 542 line 25: “…a reckless amount of a hallucinogen he’d referred to only as ‘The Madame’…” as in ‘Madam Psychosis”? This text refers to someone who actually took DMZ. Apparently it took several weeks to come off it.

Page 542, 16 lines from bottom: reseau, a grid of lines photographed onto or cut into a glass plate and used as a reference for astronomical observations; a mesh foundation on which lace is made.

Page 543 line 14: “Workers Comp scam gone rye” q.v. p. 138-139.

Page 543 line 15: Another Clenette Henderson reference.

Page 543 line 22: Which is why this particular book, in note 224, has come to mean a great deal to Lenz.

Page 543, 4 lines from bottom: why Lenz’s E.M.I.T. screening on p. 539, 12 lines from bottom, got so fucked up.

Page 544, 7 lines from bottom: scopophobic, fear of being looked at, stared at.

Page 548-549: The Entertainment is popping up all over the place. (Where is it coming from?)

Page 552 line 29: Pemulis catches Avril and John Wayne in a compromising position.

Page 556, last line: threnody, a song of lamentation for the dead.

Page 560 line 22: Randy Lenz blathers on about some cultish group searching for a cartridge of very compelling pornography. A suicidal Nuck cult that worships a kind of Russian roulette that involves jumping in front of trains. According to Lenz, the stuff of urban legends.

Page 562 line 9: yrstruly = Randy Lenz. Also see pp. 128-135 for yrstruly.

Page 1038, note 234, 24 lines into the note: “…went around impersonating various kinds of health care professionals during periods when he believed he was a health care professional…” See pp. 27-31, the conversational professional.

Page 1040 line 25: “She’s got to keep Hal’s skull lashed tight to hers…” ref. Orin’s recurring nightmare on p. 47 and also pp. 1061-1062 (note 304) La Culte de Baiser Sans Fin, the Cult of the Endless Kiss.

Page 1041-1044: Orin relates the story of Hal and the mold he ate. Ref. pp. 10-11.

Page 1042 line 8: Little Hallie wearing Happy Slippers.

Page 566 line 20 to 567 line 13: Wow! What a take on love. E.g., “…Love, which kills what needs it.”

Page 572 line 23: Treating cancer with the annular paradigm; giving the cancer cells cancer.

Page 574 line 7: Eliotical, in the manner of poet T. S. Eliot (as far as I can tell). T. S. Eliot’s 1922 poem The Waste Land, was a landmark in modern English poetry.

Page 574 lines 13-29: Pemulis deals for Idris Arslanian’s pure unpolluted Muslim urine. OMG: Pemulis annulizes urine.

Page 1044, note 239 (from page 575): Yeesh! And I’ll just bet those “…personal and extremely unsavory reasons” involved Charlotte Treat.

Page 575 line 22: Note that the word Virus is capitalized.

Page 578 line 20: A comment on Allston, MA: Kiss me where it smells she said, so I took her to Allston. Can't wait to use that line in some other context.

The Jest: pages 441 - 528

Page 451 line 22: There, he said it. Charles Tavis may be Mario’s father.

Page 453, bottom line: VAPS = Vector/Angle/Pace/Spin, an E.T.A. idiom. See also on p. 265, 13 lines from bottom.

Page 455 line 5: The tip I remembered for drinking water after a hard workout, except this involves Gatorade.

Page 455, 5 lines from bottom: nacreous, like mother-of-pearl, with the iridescent quality of mother-of-pearl.

Page 456 line 2: picric, probably referring to picric acid, a strong, toxic, yellow crystalline acid used in dyes, antiseptics, and high explosives. Picric clouds would be clouds that are yellow and toxic.

Page 461 line 10: revenant, a dead person believed to have come back as a ghost.

Page 461 line 15: morendo, growing continuously softer and sometimes slower.

Page 459-461: Schtitts’ motivational speech about the two worlds, the outer real world and the inner world of tennis. (Is the Entertainment its own world, too?)

Page 463 line 5: pace, [pronounced pay-see or pay-chay and used as a preposition] with all respect to, used in front of a name or title as a gesture of real or ironic respect to somebody who is mistaken and about to be corrected.

Page 465 line 6: misprision, the failure of somebody who knows of but is not involved in a felony or treason to report it to the authorities; a misunderstanding of something, especially a failure to appreciate the true worth of somebody or something.

Page 468 line 1: [like, the very first word on the page] Free, as in free from a cage.

Page 473, 7 lines from bottom: “or off-the-record amputations for daring young train-cultists, no?” Was this to take care of the damage after, or a way for someone to get into the cult without confronting the train?

Page 473: Larry Niven, in his Known Space series of science fiction stories, foresaw this kind of addiction and even gave it a name: wireheading.

Page 474 line 14: Happy Patch; see note 8.

Page 474, 2 lines from bottom: Another cage reference, but not of the kind I’ve been looking for. A figure of speech here.

Page 476, 4 lines from bottom: mysticetously, in the manner of a baleen whale.

Page 478 line 3: Cage reference

Page 479 line 18: propinquous, nearness in space, time, or relationship.

Page 481 line 7: see p. 59 …but it was an unfortunate burglary-and-mucus mishap.

Page 481 line 11: “..quality Van Buskirk of Montreal exotic reflective glasswares…” i.e., mirrors.

Page 481 line 24 to bottom: That wrinkled long-haired person of advanced years in a paisley Nehru jacket would be Sixties Bob.

Page 481, 3 lines from bottom: …which Pemulis purchased.

Page 482 line 1: Part of Sixties Bob’s deal for the Lava Lamp was a trash bag full of old cartridges. Could one of them be the Entertainment? If it is, how did Sixties Bob get it?

Page 482 line 16: The squeak of the door hinge, like the squeak of a wheelchair’s wheels. Find out very soon that Antitoi isn’t really paranoid.

Page 486 line 2: transperçant, (french obviously) to pierce, to skewer, to impale (as far as I can determine).

Page 488, 10 lines from bottom: culcate, doesn’t appear to be a real word, but inculcate means to impress upon somebody’s mind; to fix something in somebody’s mind through frequent and forceful repetition. The latin root, inculcare, means literally “to stamp in”, from its root calcare, meaning “to step on or press in”. In this sense, culcate might mean to impress upon somebody’s mind but without the frequent and forceful repetition.

Page 488: This description of Lucien Antitoi’s dying seems a lot like the Entertainment and its effect on people.

Page 418 line 20: The collapse of network television seems a lot like the collapse of the American political party system (p. 382), and both resemble annular fusion.

Page 498 line 1: Dust that looks like mold, smells like mold, that James O. Incandenza is exposed to. Like Hal’s encounter with mold? Could this mold have had an effect on James O. Incandenza?

Page 502-503: James O. Incandenza’s first concept of annulation. I think DFW is identifying some deeper concept he has in mind, perhaps of something consuming itself to produce itself. This idea has appeared before. I recall myths about snakes consuming themselves eternally, their consumption feeding their growth, which they consume again.

Page 503, 7 lines from bottom: catalepsy, state resembling a trance; actual or apparent unconsciousness during which muscles become rigid and remain in an position in which they are placed. The condition occurs naturally in diseases such as schizophrenia or epilepsy and can be induced by hypnosis or drugs.

Page 506-507: Roy Tony, who seems like a real bad-ass (see pp. 37-39) seems to shock Ken Erdedy into getting with the NA program. Someone so bad actually accomplishing something good.

Page 509 line 27: Hal has had that tooth pulled.

Page 509 bottom: How Lateral Alice Moore got her name.

Page 510, 13 lines from bottom: felo de se, an act of committing suicide.

Page 524: 10 lines from bottom: didn’t Hal have a dry-mouth problem? (see p. 27) But, then again, after withdrawing from “Hope”, the book says one’s mouth starts to water after being dry for so long.

Page 527 line 5: Clenette mentioned again. Clenette’s cleaning cart is compared to Otis Lord’s gamemaster’s cart in the Eschaton Game. So, is Clenette like Lord, god (or goddess) over some sort of game?

Page 527 line 23: sallet, a light helmet protecting the head and the back of the neck, worn in the Middle Ages.

Page 1036 line 4 (note 222): obstreperous, noisy, unruly

Page 528: Steeply talks about a mythic oriental or Indonesian woman so beautiful to the men of that culture that they can't refuse her and are killed. Kinda fits in with the black widow spiders in the book.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Jest: pages 389 - 440

Page 389 line 5: hagiography, biography of a saint or the saints; biography that treats its subject with undue reverence.

Page 389, 12 lines from bottom: “Fame is not the exit from any cage.” Another cage reference.

Page 388-389: Lamont Chu discovers the nature of truth; it can be a crushing disappointment.

Page 390 line 10: turpitude, extreme immorality or wickedness.

Page 390 line 10: C.F.D.C. = Caffeine Free Diet Cola. DFW loves him his acronyms.

Page 393 line 4: pruritis-cream containers = tubes of acne medication

Page 395 line 8: calotte, a skullcap, especially one worn by Roman Catholic priests. This word was used in the description of the I-day festivities, where everyone at E.T.A. is wearing some kind of hat.

Page 396 line 5: Hal’s issue with sugar; is something about his metabolism changing, with puberty, perhaps?

Page 396-397: “The Medusa v. The Odalisque”; a model or concept for The Entertainment? The Odalisque is described later as a purely Quebecois myth, so does this fictional film model the conflict between the U.S. and Quebec in this book?

Page 397-398: If the above is true, or possible, then “The Joke” could be a model or concept of the anti-Entertainment, the video that was supposed to be the cure for the effect of The Entertainment.

Page 399, 3 lines from bottom: The presidential declaration that established the Great Concavity.

Page 400 line 15: January 16th meeting of the Concavity cabinet. My birthday :-)

Page 400-401: All president Gentle can say is “Hhhaaahh Hhhuuuhh Hhhaaahh Hhhuuuhh”. Does he now have Hal’s problem?

Page 403 line 7: “Allow me to illustrate what Lur—just what the president means.” Rodney Tine, influencing president Gentle to give away the Great Concavity, was influenced by Luria Perec, his stenographer. See p. 92 line 23.

Page 403 line 15: The Great Concavity looks like a bite taken out of the old U.S.

Page 404, 5 lines from bottom: brillantined, (maybe intended brilliantined) hair oil, an oily hair cream, used by men to keep hair in place and make it look glossy.

Page 407, 7 lines from bottom: The story of Eric Clipperton and the the Clipperton legend.

Page 411 line 21: Hal, in the seventh grade, has memorized only up to “R” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Did he ever get beyond “R”? Why or why not?

Page 223: w.r.t. the names given to the subsidized years; some are obvious jokes (#6 in particular), but the first and the last might be significant. Maybe the last year (Year of Glad) was something to be glad about.

Page 410, last line at bottom, to page 411 line 1: Describing the effects of sugar (at least on Hal) as a kind of drug, at least sugar’s drug-like effect. See p. 396 line 5.

Page 412-413: The Viney and Veals ad campaign for cable TV, and the anti-ads for Nunhagen Aspirin, and how Viney and Veals almost single-handedly took down broadcast television.

Page 415, 13 lines from bottom: How InterLace Entertainment got started.

Page 417 line 12: Refer to pp. 144-151 for an explanation of how GTE and Sprint stock got so low.

Page 418 line 20: After reading of the success of Viney and Veals (p. 411-418), it starts to become clear how J. Gentle won the presidency.

Page 418, 7 lines from bottom: Marathe lost his legs to a U.S.A. train. But wasn’t La Culte du Prochain Train performed in Quebec?

Page 420 line 2: Steeply’s need to appear grotesque seems to oppose the purpose of U.H.I.D.

Page 420 line 19: Steeply’s description of terrorists, how there is always an agenda or purpose. Compare that to what the O.U.S. is doing to Steeply.

Page 421 line 28: A landing aircraft describes a spiral. Steeply’s tossed cigarette describes a spiral. Note that both spirals are descending.

Page 422 line 20: “…a caged rodent…” Another cage reference.

Page 422 line 9: These two, Marathe and Steeply, are discussing some deep philosophy while watching celebrating and merry-making down below them. (The celebrating and merry-making of a primitive sort, around a bonfire.) They are like gods on Mt. Olympus looking down on the world. I believe Shakespeare did this kind of scene as well, did he not?

Page 423 line 21: “A wife who doesn’t mistake your job’s requirements for your own fetishes.” Ref: p. 419, 12 lines from bottom. Steeply is just a full-on company man.

Page 429, 8 lines from bottom: mafficking, a boisterous and extravagant public celebration.

Page 431, 14 lines from bottom: cuirass, a protective covering, or a means of protection; a piece of body armor made of metal or leather, covering the chest and sometimes the back.

Page 438 line 18: orts, scraps or bits of food remaining after a meal is finished.

Page 440 line 9: A yawning red skull, also on p. 411, 10 lines from bottom; Mr. U. Ogilvie marked it on Hal's term paper.