31 March

Gesticulation from the jester on the soapbox. Hands making complex movements cutting the air as he stammers.

And can you do it can you man up and shut up and sit down and do it for once in your life say you’re going to do something and then actually do it;  man up and grab your sack by its balls and hold it like a Molotov Cocktail and and exclaim I AM MAN, and do it.

Speaking to an audience of no one he utters The Challenge: Infinite Jest in a finite, well-defined amount of time. Jestless. Just less time than last time, one time. 30 days, one month, January 31-March 1.

So it came down to 36 pages/night (math is divine and also literally God; pour one out for Augustine). An ostensibly reasonable goal for any book that isn’t so dense as to take 5 minutes/page and require you to keep a laptop or internet-capable phone by you at all times to look up every other word on Merriam-Webster. Jesus you should have known. How did you not know, after this summer and it taking you two and a half months to get through, this Infinite Summer of staying inside and not talking to anyone and not doing much of anything except reading infinite pages and only leaving the house to go talk to your counselor biweekly or play pokemon go out in the brownbrick strip of downtown and not talking to anyone.

Or maybe you did know and that was the point. That’s why a Real Challenge.

Of course a failure, the jester. On track for three weeks. Studious. Audacious. Surrendering, little neophyte before the pages. What was that word DFW used so often. Genuflecting. Little jester serious and egoless genuflecting before the pages, lonely.

I failed The Challenge but read the book so. What. So what. A lesson in it’s okay to set ridiculous goals for yourself and not achieve them. But I still read the book–fin, bitches–and it took me less time this time than last time so maybe next time it’ll take me even less time. I am not unhappy.

But thing about Infinite Jest is I still don’t understand what the fuck happened. I thought that maybe by rereading IJ that I would pick up on all the stuff that I missed in my first reading. And I definitely absorbed more this time. But the thing is so overly stuffed with minutiae that I’m sure I missed some of it.

Gah. It leaves you with so many questions–too many questions–unanswerable questions and I’m beginning to think that this is a flaw. I WANT CLOSURE.

  • Did Himself create the DMZ and put it on Hal’s toothbrush?
  • What happens to Joelle?
  • How do Hal and Don Gately meet and why is John Wayne with them digging up Himself’s grave?
  • Orin had the master copy?

But of course maybe no closure is the point of it all–we have to assume DFW knew exactly how he was blueballing his readers. Still, I can’t help feel a bit dissatisfied. DFW is renowned for his hyperdetailed style and precision and CLARITY, and this is what I and so many others love him for, so to not come away feeling even remotely clear on some of the major plot points is frustrating.

But of course maybe frustration is the point of it all.

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