Saturday, June 15, 2013
Summer of Jest Part the Eighth - Chapter 11, Mostly
So now the Entertainment, aka the Samizdat, has claimed lots of victims, we meet yet another character (Tiny Ewell) who's on his way to his rendezvous with all of the other characters in rehab, we've learned that the United States Bureau of Unspecified Services thinks the Quebecois Wheelchair Assassins are responsible for the distribution of the Entertainment (and have only gotten hints so far, via perhaps the extensive footnote that lists JOI's entire filmography in exhausting detail, as to who the creator of said Entertainment might be) by way of protesting/fighting against the Great Concavity/Convexity (into which the United States' Empire Waste Disposal service literally flings great catapult loads of U.S. trash -- it's a giant uncleaned Superfund site-cum-landfill occupying territory that used to be Maine and Vermont and New Hampshire, is the Concavity), and that junior tennis players are stressed out, self-medicated and weird.*
I won't say that all the pieces are in place, but quite a lot of them are, enough to where DFW now indulges, in Chapter 11, in quite an extensive round of character development via first, a bitching session in the locker rooms of E.T.A. after PM drills, when all the upperclassmen are showered and trying to work up the energy for dinner and Little Buddy time and are just venting their frustration and paranoia and annoyance and exhaustion, and then the Little Buddy sessions as well, in which DFW winds up pulling a Ted Sturgeon (for an explanation of that see footnote to this post) in that midway through the Big Buddy riff he stops identifying speakers and rooms altogether and just lays heaps of dialogue on us and we can tell which speaker is easily, if we've been paying attention at all.
Curiously missing in all of this, I notice this time around, is any actual spoken dialogue from N.R. (as in "Not Really") John Wayne, the one ETA student most clearly destined for the pro circuit ("The Show"), whose portrayal reminds me a lot of DFW's real life portrait of middling pro Michael Joyce for Esquire magazine (also collected in his A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again); he is focused completely on his game (and on a certain semi-illicit liaison we'll learn about later, but that doesn't require him to talk much, either. Though how he'd get a word in edgewise...) to the point of seeming terribly dull. He says close to nothing, letting one of his Little Buddies do the talking for him in his session and his only contribution to the conversation in the locker room bitching session is to lift one leg, Canadian style, to fart.**
Which speaking of farts, there is a hilarious conversation about to fart or not to fart in one of the Big Buddy sessions, conducted in earnest, that kills me every time.
There really is something for everyone in Infinite Jest...
*Like using Lemon Pledge for sunscreen weird. Which my friend Heather and I are now borderline obsessed about, this time around. Are there people out there who really do that? Because it has the weirdly specific ring about it of something that DFW, once a middling junior tennis player himself, actually did and is recalling with his trademark mixture of fondness and horror. Does anybody know? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
**Again, I'm wondering if this is really a thing. I've spent a bit of quality time in Canada and never observed this behavior and suspect it's urban legend, but...?