Infinite Jest readalong pages 442-489


I’m late this week with the blog post but school and soccer and the state fair all started this week, so forgive me. It’s been kinda crazy around here

This week we’re talking about chapter 24 which covers pages 442-487 in Infinite Jest. This chapter was mostly about the mind (dreams and memories) and the head.

p. 442 Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. More Don Gately at AA. I found this section interesting, as it repeated some Don in AA stuff we’ve read before. I know that DFW and his editor Michael Pietsch edited this book closely, so I don’t think it can be a mistake. Why do you think we’re getting things about Don and sobriety again, like how the people thank him after he’s honest, or driving around? There is new stuff, though, such as his alcoholic mother.

The fish story on p. 445 was later the basis for DFW’s famous Kenyon graduation speech, This is Water, which you can watch on Youtube here.

DFW was given pressure during his life for including too much fact in his fiction, and too much fiction in his supposedly factual non-fiction pieces. The “Tough Shit But You Still Can’t Drink” group name seems like a perfect DFW name rather than a real one, which I bet some of them are (like Advanced Basics.)

p. 449 Very Late October Y.D.A.U. Hal has bad dreams about shattering teeth. Mario is upset that Madame Psychosis is gone, and we learn in note 180 that Corbett Thorp drove Mario to the radio station to investigate, learned she performed behind a screen, after which he became agitated.

p. 450 9 November Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. More about ETA. It’s confirmed that Tavis might be Mario’s father. Tavis

knows what James Incandenza could not have cared about less: the key to the successful administration of a top-level junior tennis academy lies in cultivating a kind of reverse-Buddhism, a state of Total Worry. (451)

The section goes into detail about grueling tennis drills and ends with Hal telling Schtitt that inside the head is “Where I’m going to occur as a player.” (461)

Next section, 461-469, Don is the cook and gets to take the car to go shopping and drive dangerously. Don’s accidental killing of Fortier is no longer on the books, but his driver’s license issues could come bubbling up at any time, rather like the memories in the earlier Don section. Don doesn’t want to go back to prison, not because he’s afraid of the inmates, but because it’s easy to use there and there aren’t many recovery meetings. During Don’s intake to Ennet House Pat Montesian told him about blackouts.

I recently read Sarah Hepola’s memoir Blackout. In it, she notes that the latest science says that blackouts happen at about a blood alcohol of .30. The person continues to function, but others can’t tell when the blackout starts or ends. What happens in the brain, though, is the hippocampus shuts down, stops making short-term memories, so the person is simply reacting to what is going on around them, and then not storing what happens.


p 470-475. Marathe and Steeply again, discussing overloading on pleasure, brain stimulation, government experiment called MK Ultra (probably referenced also in the recent movie, American Ultra).

Back to Ennet House 475-480 where Don takes the car out, and while driving recklessly hits a cup that hits the door of the Antitoi brothers, and then the point of view switches for the rest of the chapter from 480-489.

The Antitois are Canadians, sent down to be a tiny cell of rebellion, which they’ve done by selling drugs to people (Poor Tony, Pemulis). Lucien is the big stupid one, not unlike Don Gately, who likes to sweep and made his own broom. Too late, he hears the squeak. The AFR assassins interrupt his brother Bertraund’s dinner of Habitant soupe au pois, used as an exampe by Marathe earlier in the book, and demand to know if the brothers know where the master copy of a certain cartridge is. Like Fortier, killed by Don, Lucien doesn’t understand and dies a gruesome death.

For next week, we’re reading our last entire chapter (chapters are marked by moon thingies), which is 25/28. The last three chapters will all be split up into small chunks, as they’re the longest.

What did everyone else think, and why do you think the Don G. repetition? I’m suspecting it’s because someone else narrated an earlier section (Hal? Joelle?) but Gately himself narrates this one (note the use of the racial slurs, as Gately does.)

Here’s the rest of the schedule as a reminder. Meet me here next Tuesday and I should be back on track blogging up to page 538.

9/1 pp 489-538
9/8 pp 538-575
9/15 pp 575-619
9/22 pp 619-665
9/29 pp 665-711
10/6 pp 711-755
10/13 pp 755-808
10/20 pp 809-854
10/27 pp 854-902
11/3 pp 902-941
11/10 941-981 THE END

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