Cruel and Unusual Publishing

Bill at Pinklightsabre and I are reading Infinite Jest, just because. In this massive, plot-less book, there’s a filmmaker whose techniques include picking someone at random from the phone book and secretly following that person for the day. That’s the film. Except he doesn’t actually film the person. It’s all a big joke to the filmmaker but not as big a joke as the arts critics falling over themselves to praise this post-post-post-modern technique.

In other words, reading Infinite Jest, I don’t know whether I’m the filmmaker, the subject or the critic.

I started to write more like this but the only good thing I came up with was the title. So I passed the title on to Bill, who is much smarter, though not as good looking. Have a read:

Bill Pearse

I’ve been keeping a list of words I need to look up from David Foster Wallace’s 1996 Infinite Jest. Yesterday’s included erumpent, sedulously and egregulous — and sure enough, I got duped. Egregulous was made-up, and landed me on a website called Infinite Detox.

From there, I splintered off to other websites analyzing the book and similar epic novels (Gaddis, Pynchon, Joyce) looking around for signs of life, hostile forces, breathable air.

I don’t know how to answer what the book’s about, which is what people want to know. I can answer ‘why are you reading it,’ which is different, and not linked to what it’s about.

And I don’t know that I’d recommend the book and now I’m not sure why I’m rereading it, to be honest. And were I to tell you it’s metamodernism or possibly the end of ‘New Realism,’ the ‘you’ I’m addressing would X me out and…

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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12 Responses to Cruel and Unusual Publishing

  1. Ned's Blog says:

    I never really thought of myself as the David Foster Wallace of columnists, but I think most people wish they had their time back after reading my posts.

  2. pinklightsabre says:

    I’m not a humorist like you guys (strikethrough clowns) but will make you call me The Loneliest Monk when I get up on stage with my sax, and it’s my turn. And wasn’t it Martha Quinn they accused of saying that? I’m not a historian or a pop cult person either. In writing this now, I’m not even sure I know who I am. So perhaps I will write about that and we’ll all go down that dark alley together, so we can say we did, we’ve been there. It was like the first liftoff to the moon, and we made it back safely. “Learning to see in the dark,” yeah right.

  3. goldfish says:

    I’ve tried reading Infinite Jest several times over the course of my life. I get about a quarter of the way through and give up. I guess I’m not in on the joke.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I understand that’s where a lot of people hit the wall. I’m just about halfway, and I think I’m in for the long haul. Much of the writing, thankfully, is quite powerful. But then there are periods of tediousness. I’ll get back to you…

  4. byebyebeer says:

    I put a hold on this book from the library and went to pick it up when it was ready and almost immediately handed it back over. Instead, I carried it home and gave my triceps (biceps?) a decent workout. The plot you described sounds pretty interesting. Maybe I should work out my biceps (triceps?) again. Or just enjoy it vicariously through you two.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I’m at the halfway point, and there is some terrific stuff in there. On the other hand, I know far more about tennis academies than I ever needed to know. Very big and heavy discussions about addiction and AA also, by the way. I’m reading an iBook version, which has its disadvantages (my burning eyes!) and advantages, including built-in dictionary. I really can’t say I can recommend it yet, and may never. Maybe I’ll end up recommending certain sections. We’ll see. I’ll get back to you…

      • byebyebeer says:

        One day my husband brought home a small print excerpt of some of his writings. I recall a chapter from Infinite Jest and an essay on writing and a few other gems. I fell in love. (I’d never read anything by him before.) That’s what prompted the hold on IJ. We’re so conditioned to stick with something and read the whole thing, but thinking certain sections might be the way to go with him. I’m curious about the parts on AA/addiction. Anyway, thanks for doing the hard work. You should win a t-shirt or something.

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