Infinite Jest

by David Foster Wallace

Pages: 1088

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company


Review by Michael Logan


Napalm Jelly Wax Skidder: Def.:

After erection, slide the catheter inside the urethra opening of the penis head. The penis should be silk worm glowing greased at this point, the noose around the neck taut. The subject should be verging orgasm when the chair is kicked out from under. <<Crucial timing point>> the Vietnamese opium should be pumped through the tube between ejaculate penis spasms, like a swimmer performing an underwater kick turn, the orgasm to be induced, doubled back upon itself between sperm vomit and penal contraction, and enter the blood system of the participant through tiny erection capillaries, spreading sautéed dendrite luxuriant glow across groin area toward the face lift spasms of what is already a "toxic," held orgasm, - the noose about the neck isolates endorphin clusters released during orgasm, dribbling smack through blood gloating exhilaration of the corpus entering the brain (nay, doubling, tripling, kick turning off the bottom and sides of the pool); instead, finding no normal cellular bottoming out nest, the clusters burn out, implode, black hole against the layered anguish of the oxygen deprived thought incubator - the intensity of the trip, which is a near death experience the TV evangelists would pee a wedding wine, immaculate transsexual bleedin' period, which they would have a hard time Lucifer deciphering (or god's gift to man?) on their way to the tampon shelf - for the rope dangling participant, penis sugaring the catheter, opium slathering a Crimean red sunset inside the gray blue fray of damaged nerves.

Administrators of the Napalm Jelly Wax Skidder should not let the participant dangle more than sixty seconds, ninety max. Care should be taken when denoosing: catheter injuries have been reported in ERs (highest ratio nationwide, male population clustered in private university towns and 'burbs where tuition is in excess of 20K per annum). The catheter should remain in place, emptying the gumbo into the joint for two minutes after denoosing.

Variations include: 1. (w/med skilled personnel present presumably) injection of the opium to the nerve cluster fuse box at the base of the brain instead of the catheter rig - hospital staff have been known to use MIR equipment (circulatory ambulance chasers) to videotape the procedure, magnetically resonant models of the orgasmic decline gesticulating within the opium bloom; 2. the procedure performed with the participant's cranium cloaked in a virtual reality helmet, the live environmental feed being monitored and mastered by the new urban MCs, who understand that music is just a one horse wimp out, this being total immersion in the muse, feedback and scratch before the itch; 3. "Deathwatch" - involving double injections of the aforementioned Viet opium, also a speedball to carotid artery (blood pressure must be strictly monitored at all times), the orgasm tumbling into the monstrous clutches of mucus shredding dread blood boils and locust herds eating their way through capillaries, colored contact lenses on the cornea swiveling to look back at the brain fucking itself into a hardwire brown out, while the 17th Century death sentence of hanging by the neck is read aloud;

see also, Vietnamese Lunar New Year's celebrations; the new Dental Periodontics: Virtualing Pain Into Sub-Orbits: New World Hypersonic Exhilaration in the Dentist Chair (Modern Dentistry; Volume XXIV, No.13); Head Tet and Other Southeast Asian Punk Culturing Postures For the Los Angeles Millennium, Art In America, July 1997 issue; Also: Ken Kesey's sniveling rejoinder to acid Kool-Aid test ban treaty as negotiated by the Cherry Garcia Banditos, who have dug up, mutilated and recrypted Jerry Garcia's body in the cartoons of Relix, ten strips thus far, and face charges from the former's estate, mental anguish being the lawsuit, Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1996 edition; New York Times, August 20, 1996; New York Times Travel section, Sunday November 10, 1997: Virtual Vacations for Stay At Homes: Couch Potato Bungee Jumping, The New Travel Agent As Paramedic


Working the High.

We: strung out readers. Addicts.

Feed me, David Foster Wallace, until the words bubble and gurgle depraved, reticular nonchalance et je ne sais quoi, in our bibbed, high chaired infancy. Attempts at the Great American Novel recognize the new Frontier and the infancy of the electorate's pronunciation. The above gloss on Wallace's opus is muscle pumping, a sanctified scholastic tooth brush of delt and pec prescriptions perpetually stuck in academia via tennis academies or detox centers, the thinking man's sport doncha know: eaten to death by toothless hernia mice, more enjoyable than the tonsured schisms of supernerd court strategy bringing the tragedy of non-feeling and fellatio boredom to the net.

Don't believe me? It's 981 pages of text with a compendium of footnotes/errata adjoining up to 1071 pages.

Addicts and pushers are liars. Wallace and we smuggle to each other across the screens of this text - there are TPs, high resolution viewing devices and cartridges which contain maximum programming and technical scored dialogue: "'A measure of resolution directly proportional to the resolved ratio of a given pulse's digital code'" (What is acutance?) "'A halo-shaped exposure-pattern around light sources seen on chemical film at low speed.'" (What is halation?) "'The Cathodeluminescent Panel. No cathode gun. No phosphenic screen. Two to the screen's diagonal width in cm. lines of resolution, total.'" (What is a high def. TP-component viewer?) - bundles of dead nerves we hope may come alive in another's surgical hands. And Wallace is a wizard, Oz clotting transmigrating into trauma so precisely at times that the laser of his eye might rescue Lazarus like a used raisin from the dead and juice him full of piss and vinegar; or maybe salt the piss and vinegar and potato chip market him. He is that special. So I will start the rumor first. David Foster Wallace is dead. Dare you to play this book backwards and understand its Latinate root mantra omming subcutaneously. He arrives from an academic world and it is ever so humbling to understand the depth, volume and timbre of his zeitgeist, but like all academics his approach to the world outside the academy is the street deal, the closed circle of buyin', tokin', an' detoxin'; the dealers are close captioned snake shit, some of that do get cut with da herb, man, but they are like invalids and retards going up in the smoke, the needle, the drexy bumrush until in the haze they resemble smiling lawn jockeys. Wallace is quite close to the bone of a generation of information overload junkies, video heads, a suntan by cathode ray smart set of programmers, computer techs, image processors and short lease money owned by corporations, who in turn are owned by advertisements which now have a quotidian proximity to intelligence and the dialogue of the day. Unedited, of course. I think he's got a lot of it right and I think the post-consumer working class gets bad luck stale beer farts for being the lumpen economy which drives this book into luxuriant overdrive, and ultimately, by which failing to address lumpen, paginates its paranoia and hairdresser pubics hemming the haw of designer jockey athletic clothes into an underground bible of sorts - he is far too classically schooled to ever go benzoid around the goomer anarchic (and what's the point, well taken, it wouldn't register).

You think I exaggerate. Press your nose to this screed, the titles run across the uncorrected proof version (as given to me from the hands of the diabolic writer, David Shields, whose soon to be published, Remote, may be the polemic Wallace did not anticipate as edited at birth, lost in some Youngstown, PA abortion clinic, floored that is, by the video image of its own blood loss, (death being floored that is and a glimmer of Shield's genius caught between documentary and failed television pilots [I'll see you on the pages of that one at its due date]) as such:

A blockbuster epic comedy - about a nation amusing itself to death - from one of the most-watched young writers of our time.

David Foster Wallace's first two books unleashed a torrent of comparisons with Pynchon, DeLillo, Barth, and Coover. Now, with his second novel, he displays a gargantuan talent that is undeniably his own, addressing our most serious concerns - what happens to a nation of people whose highest goal is pleasing themselves -while expanding the very idea of what a novel can be.

Set in a drug-and-alcohol addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most intelligent and screwed-up family to come our way since J.D. Salinger's Glasses, Infinite Jest snowballs farce, drug abuse, heartbreak, advertising, tennis, philosophy, math, slapstick humor, and profound drama in a story that is never less than edge-of-your-seat compelling.

Infinite Jest is a stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your friends book, a novel that may well become the generation-defining book of the 1990s.

A dynamic writer of extraordinary talent....He lays his artistic self on the line with his incendiary use of language, at times seeming to rip both the mundane and the unusual from their moorings, then setting them down anew, freshly described.

-New York Times Book Review

on Girl with Curious Hair

David Foster Wallace is the award-winning author of The Broom of the System and the story collection Girl with Curious Hair. His short stories and nonfiction have appeared in many magazines, and excerpts from Infinite Jest have been featured in the New Yorker, Harper's, and the Paris Review. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

I have only read one hundred eighteen pages of this tome thus far, meaning we are stuck with this one for awhile. It's not just that you get high. The high becomes your best friend, the key to your fucked up life. If you could get inside that high, understand its gestalt, not just feel its miserable effects, the whole process might turn outward into beneficence: the anti-capitalist essential tension stretching point become da revolution?

Girl with Curious Hair is masterful work. The Broom of the System did me no good and I couldn't finish. Infinite Jest I will digest in one hundred page chunks, sending you these flares of misprision. As of now, suffice it to say, there are tantalizers spread through the first one hundred visualizations of a novel (visualization has replaced pagination in the year of Newt); characters orgiastic in landing their inner dialogue; characters slim fast in peregrinations; captives on the spider web of plot awaiting the spider to gather them together, shell the husk, show us the guts of the viscous aliveness of this process cannibalism.

Emergency Navigational tools: Click and acronym, a democracy reduction symbol, a bar code strip tease, or Please Call the Police, I need fuck authority, depending on who you talk to, but understand at least these:

O.N.A.N: Order of North American Allied Nations. The configuration of North America has changed. So far as I can tell, Vermont and Maine have been ceded to Canada, yet they are relatively inert wastelands filled with marauding, feral hamsters and encephalitic headed babies. Years are named for consumer products, i.e., Year of the Trial Sized Dove Bar, Year of the Adult Depend Undergarment, etc.

A.F.R: "Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents, a.ka., Wheelchair Assassins, pretty much Quebec's most dreaded and rapacious anti-O.N.A.N. terrorist cell." (footnote #39.a)

"Le Front de la Liberation de la Liberation de la Quebec, rather a younger and rowdier and less implacably businesslike cell than the A.F.R., and symbolically adopting certain cultural customs, musics and motifs associated with Hawaii, supposedly an ironic nod to the idea that Quebec is now, too, a kind of annex or territory of the U.S., a Canadian province only on paper, and separated from its real captor-nation by distances of space and culture that are unbridgeable."

B.S.S.: the Bureau des Services sans Specifcite, or Office of Unspecified Services. A faction of the Separatist Quebecois Left.

That's the short list. There's more. And there's hints of hyperventilation at being pinned down when scoring; the junkie shakes: me, you talking to me? I ain't high, don't touch the shit, c'mon man, that kinda shit, to which this footnote sentence plays brilliantly:

36. Low-Bavarian for something like 'wandering alone in blasted disorienting territory beyond all charted limits and orienting markers,' supposedly."

The qualifying staple of video fed, postmodern ur-reality, "like," backed against the limp "supposedly." Either you're a scholar with all the asides to Middle Old English and mathematical extra linear dynamics, or a briefcase masquerading as a junkie barf bag, or a tennis physics guru, but for Christ sake stand up and say it. The qualifier like should be castrated and drummed out of the language. "Like," not the economy or mass murder or the war on drugs, is the problem with modern day America.

Can the eavesdropping sensation of death by pornographic virtual interfacing be transmigrated onto the clownish courtesy of smarmy tennis pros seeking to gurgle crowds tourniquet headed genitals and spit them into death on hard clay surface and be captured by live TV? There's terrorists at every break point. And then a headless fountain of bloody punk rock youth at match point, poised.

I am ripping up yellowed copies of John Barth's Giles Goat Boy and stuffing the insulation into the occlusion-like fractures of the opening one hundred sequences to Infinite Jest. Neuter panic is a reality. Check in with me after the next one hundred. Stare your gerbil in the eye and tell who's free.

To be continued.....