Why you shouldn't read Infinite Jest; or, A Thread for Haters

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Why you shouldn't read Infinite Jest; or, A Thread for Haters

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1absurdeist
Editado: Dez 7, 2012, 4:31pm

Why You Shouldn't Read Infinite Jest

Some of you may already hate Infinite Jest. But are reticent to say anything, surrounded as you are by so much "icky and irksome IJ adulation" in this fanatically obsessive hive. Some of you, I'm sorry to say, may soon hate Infinite Jest in the coming New Year. It's inevitable, and certainly permissible. You may need a safe place to vent your strong negative emotions on the matter, should the hatred well up in you like so much uncontainable magma. "Infinite Jesters" welcomes any and all eruptive rants in heartfelt denigration of Infinite Jest. Lord knows I've hated on Ulysses a time or two. We understand.

2slickdpdx
Dez 10, 2012, 12:36pm

It is a tough book for a dog lover who can't keep in mind that it is a work of fiction.

3MeditationesMartini
Dez 10, 2012, 12:38pm

Or a human lover!

4absurdeist
Dez 10, 2012, 1:22pm

'Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic, and a dyslexic.'

'I give.'

'You get somebody who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there's a dog.'

~ p. 41, Infinite Jest

5Mr.Durick
Dez 10, 2012, 6:48pm

Oh, oh! Does a dog get hurt in this book? I don't like dogs getting hurt in books; I haven't been back to Richard Russo since Empire Falls because of the dog however much I liked the cat.

Robert

6anna_in_pdx
Editado: Dez 10, 2012, 6:53pm

*spoiler*
(scroll down if you don't care)

(eta) whoops I guess LT ignores hard returns. in that case I will have to fill this space with Enrique-style ramblings. Mary Mack's mother's making Mary Mack marry me, my mother's making me marry Mary Mack, I am already out of things to say and am not smart enough to fill this space with ramblings about abysses and voids and assorted other nightmare paraphernalia so maybe tongue-twisters can do. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, Betty Botter bought some butter, the sixth sheik's sixth sheep's sick....

This is not easy.

Maybe paragraph breaks are going to be enough.

OK, spoiler protections over.

.....Yes they do.... and cats, and assorted other small mammals.

7A_musing
Editado: Dez 10, 2012, 7:05pm

It still gets me in Moby Dick, what they did to the whales. And how that horrid man in Anna Karenina did to the horse. At least in Moby Dick, though, the big whale evened the score.

8anna_in_pdx
Dez 10, 2012, 7:08pm

Heck, there's a part in Black Beauty (the part about how poor Ginger ended up) that gets me every time. Cruelty to animals seems to really hit people hard, in general.

9absurdeist
Dez 10, 2012, 7:14pm

Old Yeller scarred me deeply as a boy.

10Mr.Durick
Dez 10, 2012, 7:39pm

Well, I've been wondering whether I should go see Anna Karenina, and now I have more reason not to.

Robert

11Crypto-Willobie
Editado: Dez 11, 2012, 7:51am

But it's FICTION... the author didn't actually hurt any animals... it's the character or the need of the story to reflect reality that just pretended to do it.

My wife hates John Updike because Rabbit let his baby drown...

12kswolff
Dez 11, 2012, 2:36pm

11: People who don't understand the concept that Author and Character are different entities are either:

a. objects of ridicule.

b. need psychiatric help.

c. suffer cognitive dissonance from having their heads up their own asses.

13anna_in_pdx
Dez 11, 2012, 2:55pm

People can get emotionally upset by fiction. They still know it is fiction. Knock off this pointless name calling you guys.

14Crypto-Willobie
Dez 11, 2012, 3:49pm

> how about empathy overload?
and, although she doesn't know it, my wife says you can kiss her ass.

15kswolff
Dez 12, 2012, 11:44am

14: After seeing news stories about gun-toting youths mixing up reality and fiction, my empathy wears a bit thin.

And there is a difference between emotional upset caused by fiction and the inability to differentiate between fiction and reality. I wasn't name calling, I was citing a common behavior.

16slickdpdx
Dez 12, 2012, 2:05pm

I don't think it's wrong to react to fiction like this - its a mark of success on the part of the writer. When I read about a tragedy in the newspaper - its only intellectually that I know it is more worthy of my emotional response. The fiction writer can do a lot more to wring that response from me.

17kswolff
Dez 12, 2012, 3:15pm

16: The fiction writer can do a lot more to wring that response from me. Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult understand that completely.

18slickdpdx
Editado: Dez 12, 2012, 3:36pm

And its a measure of their success, I suppose. The problem is (I imagine not having read them) the success is one-dimensional. And maybe the writing is nothing special or worse.

19Crypto-Willobie
Editado: Dez 13, 2012, 11:18am

>14 Crypto-Willobie:
Mrs Crypto understands intellectually the difference between fiction and reality, her heart is just too big. As Slick~ says "its a mark of success on the part of the writer." In her case Mr Updike's characters impacted her as if they were real. And I would hestiate to attribute to you empathy, thin or otherwise, in light of your a or b or c diktat concerning what people's reactions must be..

ETA...

Well, I'm probably over-reacting but a varmint orta be chary of impugning the sanity, sincerity and cognitive consonance of a feller's gal...

{tips over king...}

20kswolff
Dez 13, 2012, 10:38am

19: And I would hestiate to attribute to you empathy, thin or otherwise, in light of your a or b or c diktat concerning what people's reactions must be..

ETA...

Well, I'm probably over-reacting but a varmint orta be chary of inpugning the sanity, sincerity and cognitive consonance of a feller's gal...

{tips over king...}


Alas, the limitations of Ye Nettertubes does cause some fracas every so often. Not an ideal medium for the dissemination of sarcasm, that's for sure. (At least not in discussion threads.) Still ... still ... after everything you've said, it needs to understood that the Reader (in General; not yer gal) knows it is a work of fiction: Even, as you said, the characters are written as if real,* the Reader still knows they are reading a piece of Fiction. It isn't a news broadcast** or an oral history testimony.***

It isn't a conscious process, but probably an unconscious one, where the Reader understands that the characters, etc. aren't real, but given the writer's ability (or lack thereof) to convey emotional connection and create compelling characters for the Reader to love or despise.***** One can real reactions to fiction characters. I mean, duh? Right.

*" 'Reality' is what you get away with." -- Robert Anton Wilson
** As factual as those are, manipulative editing aside, especially when Sweeps roll around. And if it bleeds, it leads.
*** As factual as is allowed, given the usual biases of nostalgia and memory.
****Counter-example: Ayn Rand's gilt mannequins in Atlas Shrugged, who were less characters in any narrative sense (since Rand had no narrative, common, or moral sense) then filibuster-delivery devices for her anarcho-capitalist temper tantrums some of our ancephalic right-leaning minions mistake for a coherent philosophy.

So, pistols at dawn? Now I shall go procure a second.

21slickdpdx
Dez 13, 2012, 11:09am

I was just thinking that a conversation that is so far OT better get some fn.s to bring it back in line.
How about those Marathe & Steepley bits?

22absurdeist
Editado: Dez 13, 2012, 1:51pm

But Marathe & Steeply really aren't all that dull. Please read them again, slick, and give them another chance. They're only pretending to pretend to be dull. And look at #20s use of footnotes in that post! Four footnotes in a single post! That could be construed as a reason not to read IJ. How many readers have simply gotten fed up with all those freaking footnotes? Back and forth, back and forth. The book can physically tire a reader out -- just the thought of having to deal with that drama of footnotes -- which also becomes another way that the book can exhaust a reader mentally.

23anna_in_pdx
Dez 13, 2012, 2:10pm

I am going to see if I can manage this time without skimming those bits. I have to admit I did kinda skim them when I read this book for the first time.

24A_musing
Dez 13, 2012, 2:31pm

This is a thread for haters, but, speaking as a fictional character, let me just say I take offense.

25Crypto-Willobie
Editado: Dez 13, 2012, 5:18pm

As to the rightness of footnotes in anything and everything, I appeal to the authority of Slwakenbergius in Book Two of De Nasis where, in reply to Kysarcius, he {illegible...}

26Porius
Editado: Dez 13, 2012, 5:54pm

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_K4mBfVJr5E0/SdzjuBovsSI/AAAAAAAAAFc/zjq_qOmgrhk/s400/n...

The counterpart to this is, of course, the flâneur. As he wanders through the streets, the flâneur accumulates impressions. His ideal is not to impose his towering subjectivity upon the world, but rather to seal it off so as to admit more of the outside; Benjamin writes that the “dialectic of flânerie” is “on one side, the man who feels himself viewed by all and sundry as a true suspect and, on the other side, the man who is utterly undiscoverable, the hidden man.” The flâneur, in short, is a dark persona upon which the world leaves its traces.

27absurdeist
Dez 13, 2012, 9:56pm

Here's a real hater.

28beelzebubba
Dez 13, 2012, 11:08pm

27: Couldn't read more than a few paragraphs. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, I suppose. Even when that person is a consummate smeghole.

29Mr.Durick
Dez 13, 2012, 11:55pm

Well, we'll see.

Robert

30slickdpdx
Editado: Dez 14, 2012, 12:38am

I enjoyed it. A few really funny lines. Even agree somewhat about Vollman, who I love when he's at his best but has mostly become a magazine writer. The big flaw is that everything the writer of the essay says can be true AND these books can still be good reads. Also, writer is as big a scold as anyone, just coming from a different direction.

31anna_in_pdx
Dez 14, 2012, 11:26am

It seemed the axe that that reviewer had to grind was a) with people from upper middle class backgrounds and b) with AA and other twelve step programs. If you are against those things, you could very well hate IJ.

32Sandydog1
Jan 2, 2013, 7:41pm

Hey, doesn't someone toss a dog out a window in The Idiot? Then there's of course, Bambi. Relatively small animals are getting whacked all the time.

34anna_in_pdx
Jan 6, 2013, 8:12pm

33: wow that was so thought provoking. One of my main takeaways from recently reading the Max bio was that DFW wanted to subtitle IJ "a failed entertainment". I really think RSB is on to something.

35absurdeist
Editado: Jan 6, 2013, 9:26pm

The reviewer says that Infinite Jest is "rarely touching" but "always intelligent". It has a brain but not a heart, in other words. It's just Tin Man abstractions for solely snooty in-crowd intellectuals devoid of what makes true literature true literature: Story. Right.

The book has as much heart and passion as any Cupid-apprentice could ever dream of possessing in his quiver. Beyond brains, it has guts and yes it even has soul and spirit, as anyone who reads it to the end will see for themselves in the recovery and inspiring perseverance -- in the very heart -- of Don Gately. Strains credulity how this writer overlooked the obvious.

What's funny to me too is that IJ is the book that got me in to literature and out of just SF; I wasn't in to IJ because I was already captivated by hoity-toity literature, as the writer claims are IJs sole "in-group" audience, those hi-falutin' avant-garde snobs, but in to it because it's packed with passionate creativity and absurd, over-the-top satirical intrigue. As if those are bad things in fiction!

And never mind that Wallace's favorite books weren't literature but that supposed genre-shit like Clancy, Grisham, and Tom Harris. Was this writer really Jonathan Franzen in disguise, nitpicking on IJ like he colossally failed to dismantle The Recognitions?