I plan to track my attempt at reading Infinite Jest on this site, but also at this interesting social media app that I find useful, BUBLUP. You are all invited to view and comment on the folder I created to gather related materials on David Foster Wallace and Infinite Jest. Here’s the link.
Interesting and overlooked social media sharing – Bublup.com – If you join through my link I think I may get free storage, so.
I was inspired to try to go through the book again by my poet friend Jennifer Patino who writes at thistlethoughts.com– she has a written a couple of poems inspired by her reading of the novel. Last time I got about half way through its 1,000+ pages, and don’t remember exactly what conspired to buck me off, but I do remember it was a beast with a lot of complexity, and a lot to offer. I think there is likely plenty of guidance on different interpretations of the book online by now but also a lot of bad takes and reductions of the author as well, who commited suicide in September of 2008 at age 46.
I do feel a bit intimidated by the work, frankly, but hope to get through it this time, and have more hope that I will this go round, especially since there are some themes that I’d like to perhaps explore in parallel to themes in my own writing I’m currently undertaking. Including the philosophy of ‘entertainment’ and commercialism versus – whatever, and I am curious on this, Wallace may be offering as a restorative against the exhausting perturbations of burnout that a culture predicated on this shallow end pursuit can lead to. Though on some level, and not to speak ill of the dead, I see a person who commited suicide so young as a cautionary tale, and inevitably will view their work – fiction to me being an undertaking of imparting wisdom, guidance in a certain sense – with some merited reticence. And I say this, full disclosure, as someone who had more than one suicide attempt in my twenties.
But I also love what I’ve seen of Foster’s attitude, his kind of gleeful abandon to the spirit that confounds stupefaction, from his descriptions ‘what insanity must sound like. No wonder mad men clutch their heads and scream.’ To moments, reactions, character’s thoughts that howl with absurdity: “I ate this.” “Something smells good.” And the line that first endeared me, turned me completely smitten: