Final Portfolio

Reflective Essay

Since I have read Infinite Jest once fully, and also a second glossing, it is rather difficult to remember when sections had the biggest impact on me. Often times, a section I read the first time through made no sense to me; however, upon a second reading, things seemed to jump off the page a little more. In the end, the sections that really affected me were the ones that showed my own prejudices toward postmodern literature and how I could learn to appreciate it in spite of all this. I claim to only appreciate neat and clean narrative. However, whenever I actually get my hands dirty in some postmodernism, I end up better for it. I have a desire for clear character and plot development in my reading. Asking for that in this day and age seems pointless. However, I have begun to more fully believe in the role the reader is required to play. I was always hesitant to invest too much of my own perception into a novel. However, today we do not have a choice. I think I am getting better at it. Infinite Jest ended up being a tool for me to once again question my own perceptions and expand upon them.

The first section which jumped out at me was the yrstruly section. I think that the secondary source I had read aided me in realizing this. I have already summarized and analyzed Erik Mortenson’s article concerning this section. While I agree with his argument that this section displays the humanity of otherwise vile characters, I was fascinated more simply with the description of their life of debauchery. As a reader, I have always taken a keen interest in portrayals of extreme low culture. It is a realm out my understanding. Although I did not grow up in an affluent home, I was still not privileged to witness heroin junkies on a regular occasion. Wallace’s portrayal is extreme but offers a full image of the junkie lifestyle. Up until that scene, the reader has been privy to the inner workings of several drug addicts. While the Kate Gompert and Ken Erdedy scenes show the reader the dark side of addiction, the scene featuring yrstruly takes it to new levels. Furthermore, it seems like the reader is given a fuller “day in the life” type narrative. The lives of Poor Tony, C., and yrstruly are filled with violence, thievery, drug abuse, and prostitution. While the section seems unreal, I think that’s why it stood out to me. It developed a world almost alien to me.

In many ways, the section is reminiscent of the “Wardine” section that we have been agonizing over. The narrator uses a dialect and expresses very controversial ideas. Yrstruly is a racist, immoral drug addict. Despite this, I felt pity for him. Perhaps this involves the Christmas setting and how yrstruly observes the holiday’s impact on his life: “its’ a never ending struggle its’ a full time job to stay straight and there is no vacation for Xmas at anytime. Its’ a fucking bitch of a life dont’ let any body get over on you different” (Wallace 129). Unlike the other addicts, this crew displays the downward spiral connected to the drug addict life, and the collateral damage (to the rest of society) it causes. For Kate Gompert, the drugs were a better alternative to her life of pain. For Erdedy, it’s an escape from the banality of regular life: a vacation from himself almost. The yrstruly section functions around the drug as life.

In terms of the novel, I think that this section renewed my hope for a narrative I would enjoy reading. Up until that moment, I was not quite sure what to make of the story. Before this, the treatment of drugs was realistic, but I did not care particularly for any of the characters. The pure grit of yrstruly’s tale made me become more invested in the other characters. I am a firm believer that nothing in writing is accidental. Wallace gave us this image and I took it as a way to examine and observe other characters. Additionally, the reader is given a fuller image of a character rather than the snippets that Wallace had thus far given us. This move was refreshing, and helped me find a point of reference in the novel. The ability for a human being to decline into disaster became a key way that I would interpret the rest of the novel. Also, the fact that I wanted some type of full character development reveals a good deal about myself as a reader as well.

I have never been a big fan of the postmodern bag of tricks. I try to enjoy them, but often I am left wanting more from the narrative itself. Although Infinite Jest can be described a maximalist text, I find that Wallace floods the reader with a surplus of information, but not all the pertinent facts. Although we do not learn a lot about yrstruly, we know what the locus of his life is. In my opinion, knowing a person’s drive may be the best way to understand them.

Wallace does a good balancing act of revealing pertinent details, withholding details, and also incorporating postmodern stylistic elements. This balancing act made me appreciate the stylistic elements a bit more. The vile, and yet eerily human nature of the section is underscored by black humor and other postmodern elements. Surprisingly, I greatly enjoyed it. The eye dialect, the nonchalance, and everything else could be jarring, but it seems appropriate. While I think an overabundance of these aspects can make a section too much, I think Wallace walks the line. Furthermore, it ultimately made me more open minded to these techniques as long as they are done well.

Another section which really spoke to me was the meeting between Marathe and Steeply. While this scene only takes place over one evening, it is loaded with theoretical discussion which just got me hooked. It seems like I was the only one in the class who really got into this section. Generally, the other students seemed jazzed up on Hal’s identity problems or Gately’s battle with addiction. These sections were also good, but the political backdrop of the Entertainment, and O.N.A.N. politics really got me going. I attribute this interest to my background as a history student. Furthermore, even as a grad student, I have tried to gear my work into socioeconomic and political landscapes (WoW and the value of virtual economies for one!). I had a difficult time framing up the novel until I reached the Marathe/Steeply section. However, when I read their discourse, everything began to make more sense.

I’ve basically broken down the novel into primarily three different genres: the spy novel, the teenage angst novel, and the redemption novel. I think that in the world of academia, the spy novel is generally not considered high literature (hey, who hasn’t made a Tom Clancy joke?). I think with this logic in my mind, I felt a little embarrassed to pay so much attention to this type of section. This feeling got reinforced when it became apparent that nobody cared much for these wheelchair bound assassins. However, I think that I need to stick to my guns on preaching the value of this section.

The Marathe/Steeply section was the meat and potatoes of the novel for me. It sets up the fundamental world that all of the other sections take place in. In this way, I consider it the lynchpin of the novel. The theoretical discussions between the U.S. agent and the Quebecois insurgent raise issues well above interdependence. The discussion of freedom proved to be one of the more interesting sections for me. It gave me a context to take my reading of the rest of the novel. I traced that Entertainment and how it related to the various plotlines that intersected very slowly. Considering the reviews, which often talked about “the pursuit of happiness,” it seems like following an item that promises complete gratification (the entertainment) is a worthwhile endeavor.

Freedom is a major point of discussion for the two men. In American ideology, freedom is intrinsically tied to the pursuit of happiness. How can a novel so drenched with drug use and other debauchery be tied to the pursuit of happiness? Is happiness real if it is drug or entertainment induced? These were questions I was asking myself, and ones that Wallace himself seemed to be grappling with. Marathe simply asks, “Your freedom is the freedom-from: no one tells your precious individual U.S.A. selves what they must do…But what about freedom-to? Not just free-from. Not all compulsion comes from without” (320). This idea resonated with me. Freedom is not only about avoiding oppression, it’s about choosing good personal choices. With Marathe’s ideas in mind, I began to consider the characters by their ability to make good life choices. Ultimately, their meeting gave me a MacGuffin (the entertainment) to trace through the rest of the novel, but it also gave me a framework to use in relation to characters like Hal and Gately.

Every time I read anything written in the postmodern vogue, it is a struggle. I have a hard time developing a theoretical framework to take the novel’s rambling with. However, the Marathe/Steeply section provided me a set idea with which to approach the other sections. It worked. The other sections began to flow more easily. Like the earlier scene, it provided me with the drive and tools to survive my personal issues with the novel’s structure.

Thinking of a final interaction with the novel, I must discuss when I first got the book. There was not a time when I felt more frustrated with doing the work involved with reading Wallace’s text than when it arrived in the mail. I think my apprehension dealt with the little knowledge I actually had of the text. I knew of Wallace only through other people’s perception. The only thing I knew was that Wallace was a little out there. I think I was intimidated by the sheer size of the novel. More than that, I think I was more intimidated by the typeface. While the narrative comes in at about 1,000 pages, I was confident it was something more like 1,500-1,700 based on the formatting. I was no stranger to long novels. I have read the entirety of the Lord of the Rings several times over. However, I knew Wallace was a different type of character than J.R.R Tolkien.

As I have stated earlier, I tend to get really frustrated with contemporary literature. I get lost in books that make the reader really work for the payoff. I do not consider myself a lazy reader. I read well and I read often. I think my lack of a strong English background before grad school really is the culprit. Before entering Saint Rose, I was mainly focused on medieval text. This background gave me little preparation for working with the literature of the last fifty years or so. I suppose I like things wrapped up in a nice little package. Based on the reviews I read of Wallace’s work, I knew I was going to be required to read, reread, and explicate carefully. Furthermore, I knew the message was going to be far from didactic. It was a tall order: one thousand pages of information that I was going to have to connect and understand.

I suppose I was inclined to think about the book in the way that Scott Waldman described it: a “Herculean effort.” When we finished the book and had read Waldman’s article, we literally laughed at the article’s tone. He presented the book as an impossible feat. Since we had read the book, and did hard work to understand, Waldman seemed wrong. However, in hindsight, I think his tone is appropriate. If I had not been required to read Infinite Jest, I probably would never have. I understand its rising position in the canon and the great technical skill of the novel, but I do not think it would have been on my to-do list. For me, as a reader, it did seem like a Herculean effort that I would not have enjoyed very much. But, as it usually goes, I ended up enjoying and becoming a bigger fan of contemporary fiction.

The more and more recent fiction that I read, the more I like it. I think I am just a bit too closed-minded. Somewhere along the line I developed an unmerited phobia of postmodern literature. I have no idea where. When I am not required to read the literature, I do not. When I am forced to do so, it always becomes a good experience. When I opened that package from I had already made my mind about the text. I did not want to give Wallace a chance. I am glad I did. Actually cracking open the novel and diving in the text was the only way I could see my own prejudices. I approached the text with the hesitant gait of a frightened deer. However, as I parsed through the text, I found places where I can both satisfy my desire for strong development of characters and plot, and an appreciation for the stylistic elements of the postmodern vogue. Infinite Jest was another step in becoming a better reader and loving critic of contemporary fiction. Previously, I had only focused on what the medium could not do for me. Now, I am more willing to analyze what it can satisfy and how it does so.

Primary Wiki Entries:

-Suicide in Infinite Jest (Deep Analysis)

-Medical Attache (Stub writing)

-Mario Incandenza (Stub writing)

Secondary Source Wiki Entries:

-Timothy Jacobs’ “American Touchstone: The Idea of Order in Gerard Manley Hopkins and David Foster Wallace.”

-Erik Mortenson’s “Xmas Junkies: Debasement and Redemption in the Work of William S. Burroughs and David Foster Wallace.”

Primary Wiki Entry Response:

-Thread on AA (two parts)

Blog Posts:

-Blog Post #1: A little about me before we get infinite

-Blog Post #2: Disguises Abound

-Blog Post #3: The Science of Suicide?

-Blog Post #4: Why pursue happiness?

-Blog Post #5: Irish Luggage Everywhere

-Blog Post #6: Simple Melancholy

-Blog Post #7: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost

-Blog Post #8: Wrapping it up

Blog Post #8: Wrapping it up

In thinking about the novel as a whole, I’m going to stick to my guns that Wallace’s original title A Failed Entertainment speaks volumes about the novel in general. I think Wallace’s aim was to create a gigantic piece that offered something for everyone. Doing so is impossible! In the end though, the book is well worth the read. However, the only real trouble i see is the language. I’ve noticed though that the complicated language tends to take place during the Hal sections mostly. Perhaps this is appropriate.

The Hal section seems to be the most complicated to organize and understand. Hal’s section may be for the high intellectuals. The Gately everyman story of redemption seems to be for any reader looking for an emotional roller coaster of highs and low life. Finally, the political story seems to be filled with the mystique of a Tom Clancy thriller. Maybe not all of the sections need to be accessible. Maybe, one is suppossed to slog through those sections to find the more personally satisfying parts.

Personally, I liked all the sections, but cared the least about Hal’s life. I wanted to lnow more about the politics and drugs, and, of course, the macguffin in the form of the Entertainment. I don’t think that my lack of interest in Hal’s section makes it a failed entertainment though. The entertainment in Hal’s section frustrates and confuses me at times, but it keeps me coming back for more. That seems to be the connection with the entertainment in the work: the novel stops, but makes you want to know more and you keep coming back.

I’m starting to think that the novel itself is a direct representation of the entertainment of the novel. Wallace aimed to create a very postmodern work that required hard work. He gave his work emotional depth, and limited irony, so that people would want to do the work. A great novel makes you want to keep coming back. You need it. It seems like Wallace was the type of guy who would think that highly of his work. The connecting of the dots aspect is what he wanted all throughout our reading.

Plot wise, I’m inclined to think that Hal did happen to watch the Entertainment. However, his reaction may have been different than everyone else’s. I know we’ve been focusing on the idea that everyone is on an equal field in the novel, but, in terms of the entertainment, Hal is unique. The film was made with him in mind. I think that his reaction would be different than all the others. Hence, we have Hal totally alive and expressive in his mind, but unable to voice it. While this is all speculation, I think it’s interesting to consider how his decline through the novel  is affected by an Entertainment designed for him.

Blog Post#7: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost

Seeing as were finishing the novel, there is going to be plenty of stuff to chime in about. However, since we will be posting about that later, I figured I would comment on the section I found most interesting in this section of the book.

The appearance of Hal’s father to Don Gately ties up many questions that have been raised across the novel. However, the first thing it does is humanize this almost mythic character we have  not seen yet. James O. Incandenza has taken on a mystical quality throughout his mentions in the novel. Since we never actually see here him talk (outside of in a disguise as a communicator), he has been very shadowy at best. Also, the fact that he is often referred to by nicknames adds an extra mystique. His suicide, his relationship with the family, and his art have all just given more questions than answers.

The fact that he appears to Don Gately is significant in itself. From the outset, we have wondered how these two characters are connected. On pg. 17 we get Hal recall a very strange memory: “I think of John N.R. Wayne, who would have won this year’s WhataBurger, standing watch in a mask as Donald Gately and I dig up my father’s head” (17). We have known all along that they were destined to meet, but until now, the connection has been hazy at best. Hal visits Ennet (786), but Gately isn’t there. Besides this interaction between Gately and Himself, we have gotten no clues about their relationship beside their mutual pleasure in recreational drugs.

Appearing to Gately seems like an odd choice. After the wraith discusses how hard it is even to manifest itself, Gately ruminates why the wraith doesn’t “have an interface with the fucking son” (840). However, it has become obvious that Himself is incapable of communicating with Hal. He even used to imagine that Hal wasn’t speaking when he was. This madness also become clarified from this encounter with Gately.

James wanted desperately to communicate with Hal but saw him slipping away. This echoes Hal’s own inkling that he is empty inside: “The boy, who did everything well and with a natural unslumped grace the wraith himself had been so terribly eager to see and hear and let him (the son) know he was seen and heard, the son had become a steadily more and more hidden boy” (838). In James’ ghostly mind, his strange relationship with Hal was for the boy’s benefit. Once again, James takes on an almost mythic role. He has knowledge none of the family has, and he actually understood the boy’s inner life more than anyone has given him credit for. To reach him, he created an entertainment that “the gifted boy couldn’t simply master and move on from to a new plateau. Something the boy would love enough to induce him to open his mouth and come out-even it was only to ask for more” (839).

This entertainment sounds quite similar to Samizdat.I assume it is (although assumptions aren’t your friend in this book). The tape must be his gift to Hal, but would Hal be able to survive the images unlike the others? If he is empty on the inside, maybe the tape would have an opening effect on him rather than a destructive one.

Thinking of Gately, I cannot quite figure out why he is the one Himself appears to. I have a theory related to something Gately said. Gately postulates that the Wraith can quantum over to his son and talk to him. Also, the ghost says that he has been waiting the “wraith equivalent of three weeks” to talk to him. I’m starting to think that in the novel, the ghost operates on a different concept of time. Perhaps, time of the future, past , and present exist almost simultaneously. Thus, he is the only one who knows how this thing is going to end. He knows about the quest for the tape, and where that quest is going to take Hal and Gately. In the context of the unwritten time from ETA team gala to Hal’s admission interview, James may be the deus ex machina. Perhaps what he tells him will be invaluable as the narrative progresses.

In regard to the beginning of the novel, did Hal watch the tape? I’m inclined to think so. James wanted to come out of himself, but Hal ends up having a full body spasm instead. Maybe that is one’s fate if it is too long. Hal has been slowly getting lonelier and lonelier throughout the novel, and his interior dialogue from the beginning is the most expressive we have seen him. The flood gates of Hal’s inner workings have opened, but he is simply unable to express them to the world.

Thinking about Hal

I may have been a little harsh in my feelings about poor Hal Incandenza earlier. As I was driving home, a song came on that reminded me of his story. Now I don’t want to be one of those people who connects the dots haphazardly, but I think there is some nice correlation here.

Also, the singer of this song committed suicide by drug overdose before this song and album was released. And, he (Nick Traina) was the son of Danielle Steele. She actually wrote a biography about him after his passing.

It made me think a little more kindly of poor, introverted Hal.

Blog Post#6: Simple Melancholy

The return of Kate Gompert’s depression seems like a rather significant section in that it reveals more of Wallace’s view of depression problems.

When Kate Gompert’s mindset comes back into play, we begin to see some qualifiable differences between varying types of internal depression. Simple melancholy, or anhedonia, is the type of depression which inhibits one from experiencing any solid form of emotion: “the anhedonic can still speak about happiness and meaning et al., but she has become incapable of feeling anything in them, of understanding anything about them, of hoping anything about them, or of believing them to exist as anything more than concepts” (693).

The narrator then connects this concept to the death of James Orin Incandenza. However, it is clearly stated that this is not the type of depression that led to Himself’s demapping. Rather, it becomes important that this is how the ETA students view his suicide. They assume that Himself offed himself because he had achieved success and still wasn’t satisfied. The narrator outright tells us that this symbolizes the internal characteristics of these junior tennis prodigies. They assume that one must achieve some type of goal before a homeostasis can be achieved; “the idea that achievement doesn’t automatically confer interior worth is, to them, still, at this age, an abstraction, rather like the prospect of their own death” (693).

Once again, Wallace goes for abstraction, and he’s right to do so. The broad range of emotional pain and addiction in the work attempts to present a full menagerie of internal problems. The broad range also aims to highlight the unstable ground of dealing in mental issues. This becomes even further complicated by the image of the lionel train hobbyist.

This person, encountered by Kate Gompert, suffered a head injury and began to suffer a sadness somewhat equal to Kate: a psychotic depression. She cannot even understand how this man functioned: “The man’s case gave Kate the howling fantods. The idea of this man going to work and to mass and building minaturized railroad networks day after day after day while feeling anthing like what Kate Gompert felt in that ward was simply beyond her ability to imagine” (697). Kate can try to explain the issue(the burning building analogy), but she cannot even relate to another body. Trying to understand the nature of depression seems like a fruitless endeavor. If this man can function, why can’t she? Also, the fact that the problem can result from a head injury as much as it can happen naturally is a terrifying prospect. Himself’s reasons are not clear, and we cannot even make guesses. It is ultimately too problematic.

If one case results in complete shutdown and suicide (Gompert), and another results in man working to rise above it (Lionel), how can we guess where Incandenza fits in. Surely though, it is not from achieveing everything he wanted to. It is far deeper than that because some people simply reach “a level of psychic pain wholly incompatible with human life as we know it” (695). That does not seem to be a sudden happening.

Blog Post#5: Irish Luggage everywhere

Well, this section of the reading is certainly chock full of happenings. We have John N.R. Wayne (of Homo Duplex fame) having a late night role play with Moms. Also, we have Gately manhandling some gentlemen and suffering a bullet wound. However, the most interesting section for me has to be Randy Lenz’s nighttime activities.

Thus far, we have seen characters obsessed with hurting themselves. There’s Himself and the microwave, Joelle with the freebase, and Kate Gompert ending the inhuman pain she deals with everyday. With Randy Lenz, we see the first outwardly violent person with some type of addiction. In addition to this drug issues, he is also hiding out from both the police and drug dealers. As stress goes, Lenz is pretty much overloaded. Rather than internalizing these problems and choosing to perhaps demap himself, Lenz becomes a killer of helpless animals.

As we have seen, animals (specifically insects) have played a rather decent sized role in the narrative. With Poor Tony, his withdrawl is likened to be eaten by fire ants. Don Gately also refers to the addiction as the spider inside. Thus far, wild and untrainable animals have been symbolic of the inner conflict of addiction. Suddenly, we see Lenz torturing rats, cats, and dogs. The rats are not entirely domesticated, but they live alongside humans rather comfortably. Therefore, all three are rather helpless in the face of human scheming. His torture of the rats naturally escalates into the torture of bigger lifeforms:

“Randy Lenz found that if he could get an urban cat up close enough with some outstretched tuna he could pop the Hefty bag over it…then he could tie the bag shut with the complimentary wire twist-tie that comes with each bag. …light a gasper and hunker down up next to the wall to watch the wide variety of changing shapes the bag would assume as the agitated cat got lower on air” (541)

The domestic animals wrestling for air is a rather good metaphor for the various forms of withdrawal and depression that we have seen. As I imagined the animals trying to break out of their plastic prisons, I recalled the images of Gompert’s description of her pain and all the addict imagery. The domesticated animals become trapped by a parasite in the form of Lenz. Lenz has demonstrated that he has little dedication to getting clean. He indulges on the side, and never really buys into any of the getting clean ideology. In a morbid way, he refuses to become the victim, and instead becomes the oppressor. He orchestrates this reversal on the trusting animals that are as helpless as the human addicts. He refuses to give in to ideology without question, and the result is horrifying.

Is Wallace once again vindicating the entity of AA? Is it worth suffering if the goal is worthwhile? Lenz does not give himself over to anything, lives in his stress, and becomes a monster. Additionally, he almost gets several people killed. This continues the trait of being selfish (as most drug addicts are), but takes it to new levels of danger and morbidity.

Additional notes:

Tine’s Ruler!: p 548. USA style incarnate?

Wheelchair kidknapping. The AFR gets a little active. p. 626.

Blog Post #4: Why pursue happiness?

So in reading many of the reviews of Infinite Jest, it seems like many people have defined the book as a quest for happiness, satisfaction, etc. However, in reading the novel more and more, it seems like the goal of happiness is losing more and more stock. The possession of happiness or satisfaction becomes a very bittersweet event actually. Mario seems genuinely happy, but he’s horribly disfigured and disabled. Additionally, in the previous sections we have seen successful people, doing what they love supposedly, who aim to end their lives (primarily Joelle and Himself). This section continues that trend with the figure of Eric Clipperton.

By all accounts, he seems like someone desperate for glory. He plays tennis with gun drawn and threatens suicide if he falters. His opponents, when faced with this prospect, cannot be an accomplice to that: “the legend’s story goes, Eric Clipperton never henceforth loses. No one is willing to beat him and risk going through life with the sight of the Glock going off on his conscience” (409). However, when Clipperton is awarded top spot, he cannot deal with his success. He blows his brains out in front of both Himself and Mario. It appears the Clipperton had dedicated himself so much to his journey that he lost all hope when it was over. Connecting to the idea of addiction again, can we become addicted to the quest for happiness? This obviously connects to the idea of a positive addiction that we have broached. Can the withdrawal once we reach that goal be dangerous?

Clipperton’s suicide becomes a parable for Schtitt to tell  his disciples:  “when an E.T.A. jr. whinges too loudly about some tennis-connected vicissitude or hardship or something, he’s invited to go chill for a bit in the Clipperton Suite, to maybe meditate on some of the other ways to succeed besides votaried self-transcendence and guy-sucking-in and hard daily slogging toward a distant goal you can then maybe, if you get there, live with” (434).

Schtitt views the hard route as the more successful one. However, is he correct? The answer gets greatly complicated by other factors. Many people who make it to the show burn out, and have fates not incomparable to Clipperton. Furthermore, we have been previously given the image of Himself’s suicide. His path to success was arduous, and he still sought a way out. Schtitt oversimplifies the scenario to fit his means. Clipperton’s suicide simply proves that happiness may be overrated. In that way, his suicide becomes all the more powerful. In this way, it also begins to echo the entertainment.

The entertainment brings ultimate happiness. Pure sensory overload that satisfies every pleasure seeking molecule of the body. The side effect of this is death as well. Maybe Clipperton really did achieve pure happiness.

Steeply understands the allure even knowing the side effects: “You’ve never been even slightly tempted? I mean personally. You the person. Wife’s condition be damned. Kids be damned. Just for a second, slip into wherever you guys keep it and load it and have a quick look? To see what’s all the fuss, the irresistible pull of the thing?” (490). Is pure happiness worth the cost of life? Perhaps. Steeply is curious. It seems like others would be as well. If death is the result, then true happiness may be simply unattainable.

It becomes a matter of the trade. Can we deal with pure satisfaction? Clipperton couldn’t. Himself couldn’t deal with success. These successes are hollow endeavors. The matter of the journey is unimportant. If the person isn’t strong enough throughout, success seems to be too much to handle.
Additional Notes:

-Obviously, Eschaton is an important sequence that raises issues of the metaphysical identity of it’s participants. In reading that article for our wiki, Tim Jacobs raises the idea that Eschaton somewhat stands for Wallace’s view of the faults in fiction writing. Players(writers) are merely an apparatus for the game, they cannot be targets or the subject of the game. Thought that was interesting. Any additional ideas?

-I’m not sure what to make of Lyle’s levitating chair story. I think we should discuss that a bit more. Who in the novel underestimates objects? Reference to the entertainment?

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