Mariel's Reviews > Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
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's review
May 19, 2012

it was amazing
Recommended to Mariel by: M
Recommended for: q, q, q
read count: 2

The older Mario gets, the more confused he gets about the fact that everyone at E.T.A over the age of Kent Blott finds stuff that's really real uncomfortable and they get embarrassed. It's like there's some rule that real stuff can only get mentioned if everybody rolls their eyes or laughs in a way that isn't happy.

There are so many wonderful reviews of Infinite Jest on goodreads and what could I possibly add to them blah blah blah to hide my usual self kicking fist in mouth when I see the eloquence of others...before I throw myself in and admit lonely shit all over again. My back of the mind voice is saying shit like that. Never mind, mean inner voice. I relate to and love this book same as everyone else who related to it and loved it. It knows me. It might mean something to me to try or I'll feel bad like I usually do over my failure to feel human like other people are human in self expression. If there's a raised by wolves kind of human, that's what I feel like.

I am somewhat envious of the Boston AA meetings, I have to admit. I feel a prickling on the back of my neck when I recall any openness, as if I might have imposed, or did some thing of more than anyone would ever want to know injustice. I would be trying to meet feet underneath the table to play footsie and kicked too hard instead. I would have failed in not putting up a safe barrier of art that demonstrates shades of truth and untruth, and other places to go. If I'm honest, it's way worse than a prickling. I'll call it shame and regret. I can't seem to stop doing it again, though (and again and then again). It's some thing about just being yourself that I forget not to do. What if you don't like yourself? I may as well have Mario's misunderstood big (upside down) grin on my face and be doomed to always say the wrong thing when something that has already happened vomits up in my throat. "Oh god! Is that what happened?" Like if you had just bored someone for an hour with a detailed description of your rabbit dreams. Then I imagine that there are expressions on other's faces, pulling away, the dreaded doing something else on the video phone because I said Too Much and felt Too Much (they were reading magazines and you could hear the somewhere else glossy magazines if it is most phone conversations I've ever had). I'm envious of the good to hear you at those AA meetings. It's not that my revealing moments are meant with horror (Mostly are, in real life. Goodreads is mostly pretty damned amazing and generous). The best times I feel less alone with me. It's more like I can't shake this feeling like I violated others anyway, and I didn't have the right to talk about some stuff and that I was only supposed to do it or get it in fiction. People don't go around talking about this stuff. In the Boston AA everyone had the same old stories, pretty much, if you stopped to listen. I was relieved. I know a lot of things. I KNOW things and then I don't know them. There's a chapter in Infinite Jest about the things that most people don't know (I know more than I think I do). I know that people aren't thinking of you and the way to not care what people think is to realize that. Sometimes I know it.

You know what I really liked about it? And what I really love about David Foster Wallace, if I boil it down to its essence and smoke it? It's not that bad. DFW wouldn't pretend that something was better or worse than it really was. Far from letting onesself off the hook if they did something shitty it's just not pretending that that's all they ever could be. My soul is not exhausted when I read David Foster Wallace. It's not shit, shit, shit, shit, shit and more shit and there's not some complicated sewer system connecting everybody's shit. There's totally a sewer system. I got that out of those meetings in the behind the fences belief fight. Try to shock me, try to get them to kick you out. I remember my first tag along AA meeting (family stories that way too many people have similar stories, and I've talked about it on here before). I was pretty young. I thought it was a bunch of bullshit and cry babies blaming everyone else for their problems. Well, yeah. It's not really about imposing shit, right? It's listening and seeing if you can identify and maybe it's not always shit. I know they have helped people in my family stay sober and off drugs for decades. I wouldn't mentally mock "Phoney" at them now as if they wanted anything from anyone else. I know about doing anything to get away from some things. I liked that no one was asking anyone else and kind of throwing yourself on the chance that it would help. Who knows if talking about anything is going to be a relief? Crying doesn't always feel good.

I know what my infinite jest is. It's stories. They are my chance to get out, enough, of my own hell of being me. Mostly embarrassing self hate I would really rather pretend I didn't have. Nothing so scenic as ennui or a simple melancholia. It's anguish, despair and torment. I love thinking about stuff, what people are like. I don't mean Michael Bay type of escapism shit (is that escapism? Or just a vegetable state? No offense to vegetables). I have to have it all of the time or I'm just drifting. It's like a chance to believe that things aren't that bad. I don't feel closer to Kate Gompert's It if I can stay out of all Me enough to keep giving a shit about other things and other people. If I cared enough in those times I would be envious that she didn't hate herself. I've seen how bad she is face to face and I hated myself for thinking "Well, hers isn't ALL the time." Kate's face is that of people in my family. It destroyed me to hear them and accusations of people who want them to play the game. People don't want them to play the game (well, not most). What game? I don't even know what other people want except not to be alone with themselves. That's what I want and I feel bad about basing this on myself. Other times I realize some things really are universal (big revelation, Mariel). My face would be Gately's square head or Mario's smile as I was reading. I would lie as well as Pumelis (my twin has her own method of lying. She is fond of saying that she delivers all lines as a lie. It's pretty infuriating). I would not look for the Moms love in other women. I wouldn't know what the game was because I could KNOW what I know about other people. I am afraid of those Kate Gompert times more than anything and I'm also afraid of the regular old pain that's all the time. I wish I could make it a story like Infinite Jest for myself that would last all of the time. Then I wouldn't be alone with me as much. DFW makes me want to notice those people things I feel connected to mostly in stories, but for real (Infinite Jest is real, though. It feels real). Distraction from self. That's what I aspire to. Is there anything else? The only thing I can figure is the something else that's better is this book. It's a it's not all shit reminder. And he made me laugh and that's so much better than being in a Kate Gompert time. Avoid at all costs.

One of his troubles with his Moms is the fact that Avril Incandenza believes she knows him inside and out as a human being, and an internally worthy one at that, when in fact inside Hal there's pretty much nothing at all, he knows. His Moms Avril hears her own echoes inside him and thinks what she hears is him, and this makes Hal feel the one thing he feels to the limit, lately: he is lonely.

I want to tell you... My head is filled with things to say... I don't mind... I could wait forever. (That reference to Tbe Beatles was great. Of all the things to compliment...)

I reread IJ because I couldn't stop thinking about what Mario thought. I never have figured out how not to feel like that unless it's fiction.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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howl of minerva I love DFW. Although... I skipped most of the footnotes when I read this. Someone later told me that it was a big mistake as the footnotes practically constitute a novel in themselves. Guess I'll have to re-read it at some point...

Greg This is a really review / reaction / essay whatever you want to call it about Infinite Jest. And I love the Michael Bay, no offense to vegetables line.

Stephen M Goddamnit this review is beautiful. I just unliked and reliked it. I hope more people find it.

Mariel I had deleted and reposted it last may. I had a skin peeling feeling about it.

Stephen M You shouldn't. It's peppered with great lines. I'm just glad it didn't get lost forever.

Mariel Thanks, Tommie. I hear you, I really do.

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