11/6/11: O.M.G! This is a far different experience from reading Brief Interviews With Hideous Men or Consider the LobsterI finally took the plunge...
11/6/11: O.M.G! This is a far different experience from reading Brief Interviews With Hideous Men or Consider the Lobster. I.J. is going to be a job to read! I've had to halt my reading in order to do some research w/r/t all the acronyms, characters, and cryptic references in the book. I think this is going to be a sloooooow read. Hope I come away with some sense of it afterward. Well, I'm off to tape together a 12 page diagram of all the characters and their connections to each other. What the hell did I get myself into?!
11/7 a.m.: Last night I dreamed I talked to DFW about Quentin Tarantino. I yelled across a room to him, "What do you think of Quentin Tarantino?" I sat with him for awhile and we talked, but I don't know what either of us said. Our conversation was interrupted by someone, and I was sure I had been boring DFW. So with my head hung low, I decided to leave. Just before I left he grabbed me by the arm and said, "Where have you been? We were having such a great conversation! You come over and sit down with me." And he led by the arm to a sort of cushioned cube. I felt so honored. End of dream.
Still in pause mode. Still researching...
11/7 p.m. I've been listening to part of a 1996 interview with DFW about Infinite Jest, part which relates to my concerns about where postmodern-induced nihilism is leading us:
It seems to me that one of the scary things about sort of the nihilism of contemporary culture is that we're really setting ourselves up for fascism. Because as we empty more and more...values of motivating principles, spiritual principles almost, out of the culture, we're creating a hunger that is eventually is going to drive us to the sort of state where we may accept fascism just because the nice thing about fascists is that they'll tell you what to think, they'll tell you what to do, they'll tell you what's important, and we as a culture aren't doing that for ourselves yet.
This makes me think back to The Big Lebowski again, and something that Walter said:
Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, but at least it's an ethos.
We cannot bear living in a vacuum - having no guiding ethos, so if we are at sea with no sense of direction, we become easy prey for fascists.
I wonder if DFW ever saw The Big Lebowski and what he thought of it. Maybe I'll have another dream about him, and can ask him... ;-)
11/8: Started reading from the beginning. Love it! It's an interactive experience - I read some, then research, read more, research...
11/9: Just from the little I've read so far I can see how a person could become obsessive about Infinite Jest, kind of like people do about Dungeons and Dragons. I'm barely into it, but there's so much to study and discover. What an intricate world! I'm starting to feel like I don't want to do much else other than read this book. I'm so excited I'm shaking!
11/10: Note to self. Rent cabin way up in the mountains away from everyone. Buy enough groceries to last 3 months. Make sure cabin is stocked in firewood so I can stay warm and cozy during the freak blizzard that will rage outside my window nonstop for the duration of my stay. Bring cat for company. Hermitize for 3 months and do nothing but read Infinite Jest. My dream...
11/17: I've been reading this exceptionally slowly. I just finished slogging through that long film endnote. i read ahead to page 121, but I'm behind on the endnotes for pages 65-121 so I restarted at page 65. I've been keeping a file on characters, acronyms, vocabulary, and other references. It has gotten very involved. I find myself looking up references and then looking up references within the original references. Plus I'm looking up maps and photos for as many things as I can. Even with all this work I'm getting the sense that IJ will take me more than just one read before I might have a fairly coherent grasp of it. One reader said she read Infinite Jest seven times in a row! Even with just my baby toe dipped into it, I can see that there are layers and layers (some of them that the reader might create themselves) of understanding, and lots to untangle concerning the connections of the characters. Right now I feel as if I'm just starting to piece together a very elementary skeleton. I've never undertaken anything like this before and I find it fascinating! This is not just reading; it is a very involved process and project. I like one reader said in his review: Infinite Jest offers a penetrating critique of American entertainment culture by actually being an example of how entertainment could be, and proves that "fun" and "work" don't actually have to be antonyms when it comes to art.
11/23 The way that I had been keeping track of information is not organized enough. Now I'm reorganizing and making spreadsheets. At the rate I'm going, this project will be called Infinite Year
12/4 I've been stalled for 2 weeks and have not read any of IJ. Starting up again soon I hope.
12/7 Setting aside for awhile. I have too much practical world stuff going on right now to focus on this the way i would like to. maybe i'll pick it up again after christmas. ...more