shiny helm

Some things I noticed this time

If you are a "what the hell is going on" kind of person, the "conversationalist" section, p27-31, is important.

The filmography (endnote 24) has a bunch of interesting tidbits.  I mostly skipped it the first time through, and kept going back to it as references to the films pop up later in the text.  But even in the first 63pp of the main text some things are worth noting.

P989, The Man Who Began to Suspect He Was Made of Glass.  One of Hal's essays mentioned on p.7 is "A Man Who Began to Suspect He Was Made of Glass".  What the change in the article could mean, I have no idea.

Kinds of Light, p986 and Kinds of Pain p987- The number of frames and the running times don't jibe.  The first is supposed to be 4,444 frames in 3 minutes (note this is just over 24fps, normal film speed).  The second is only 2,222 frames, but 6 minutes. Yet both are said to "REQUIRE[] PROJECTION AT .25 NORMAL SPROCKET DRIVE".

Wave Bye-Bye to the Bureaucrat,
p990.  "Possible parody/homage to B.S. public-service-announcement cycle of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" - with a footnote that starts with "See Romney and Sperber".  Mitt Romney, a well-known Mormon, ran for Senate from Massachussets in 1994.

It Was a Great Marvel That He Was in the Father Without Knowing Him
, pp992-993. Exactly what relationship does this film have with pages 27-31?  Note that the main text section has none of the expository material associated with Hal's first-person scenes.  But it's dated April 1 Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad, while the film is from the following Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar.  Could the main text scene be the script for the film?  Or is it a real event that Himself later transforms into a movie?  If the movie is based on the real event, how did Himself manage to write the script?  Did he understand at some times or on some level that his perception of Hal's silence was unreal, or was he merely working from what other people told him?  I prefer the latter - poor tortured J.O.I. remembers his pathetic attempt to draw out his silent son, and "imagines" what his son's replies were, subconsciously remembering every word Hal said and transcribing them verbatim.

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shiny helm

(no subject)

Caution: I'm a second-time reader, so whatever I think about any passage is informed by that fact.

During the opening scene with Hal, we find that there's a huge divergence between Hal's internal state (including his perception of his external appearance and actions) and what everyone around him can see.  In the crucial* "conversationalist" scene, we find that years before, Hal's father believed Hal was mute, or at least mute in his father's presence.  And somewhere along the way, we learn that the family refers to Hal's father as Himself.

So  in the Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad, Hal is unable to communicate with Himself.  By the Year of Glad, Hal is only able to communicate with himself.

Insight, or just a half-clever turn of phrase?  I don't know.

*Yes, this passage is much more relevant and revealing than I thought the first time through.  Even if it's James O. Incandenza's delusions, the fact that Himself believed them is important, I think.


Early impressions

Two thoughts to share (nothing plot specific). I started IJ a bit early, so I'm up to about pg. 240. I tried to read this in college and never made it, and I had this impression I'd gotten up to maybe the 200s. But based on what I'm remembering I think I probably never made it to even page 100. Judging by my pace, my interest level (substantial) to this point, and the fact that I still know what's going on, and am in fact quite into it, there's no reason to think I won't finish this time. So anyway:

1. I found the first 80 pages or so sort of tough going. It was fascinating, but tedious (well, what's a word that means the same without the implication that it was boring?). It took me a week to get through them, but then I covered twice that much over just this weekend. So what I'm saying is, if you're finding it slow going at first but are still liking it, stick with it, and you'll probably find yourself more in its groove. Agree/disagree?

2. DFW's style reminds me a lot of Neal Stephenson. I love Stephenson, and have read several of his books. He has the same meandering remarkably brilliant style, only a lot nerdier. I guess I'd characterize Stephenson's digressions and details as more mathematical or scientific, while Wallace's are more humanistic. Anyone else read any Neal Stephenson (specifically, Cryptonomicon?)
ebj, green thing, dude

Some Kindle Stats

For those of us doing the e-reader* thing for this, I've done some calculations which I think might come in handy:

Infinite Jest Kindle Edition
File size: 2195KB (that's 2 megabytes of TEXT people)
Print pages: 1079

Total locations: 25756 (eek!)

But there's good news:
The foreword ends at location 144, the actual book starts with 145 (Year of Glad)


The endnotes start at location 22404

So, we actually have to read through 22259 locations total.

22259/92 days = (about)242/day == 1694/week

I plan on running this through a spreadsheet for myself so that I know where I need to be each week. If there's interest, I can be sure to pipe up with where we should be location-wise when others are giving the same info for page #s.

*I'm not sure how the sony e-reader (or others) handles locations/page numbers and the like, so this is only really for Kindle**

** look, I can do endnotes too!