Infinite Jest, Week 3 (169-242)

This is my least favorite chunk of IJ because it's sandwiched between two super long chapters about Madame Psychosis/ Joelle van Dyne, beginning with her radio show and ending with her intentional cocaine overdose in her friend's bathroom during a party. I can't really articulate why, but I just found both passages so grueling to get through both times I've read them.

Nonetheless, some important bits to remember:

  • Pemulis, and the incredibly potent DMZ (also note the date of the chapter)
  • The introduction of Madame Psychosis and her radio show, specifically what makes her show so compelling to Mario

One of the reasons Mario’s obsessed with her show is that he’s somehow sure Madame Psychosis cannot herself sense the compelling beauty and light she projects over the air, somehow. He has visions of interfacing with her and telling her she’d feel a lot better if she listened to her own show, he bets. Madame Psychosis is one of only two people Mario would love to talk to but would be scared to try.

and my favorite parts:

  • Hal's description of being a tennis player and an ETA student

- Here is how to avoid thinking about any of this by practicing and playing until everything runs on autopilot and talent’s unconscious exercise becomes a way to escape yourself, a long waking dream of pure play. The irony is that this makes you very good, and you start to become regarded as having a prodigious talent to live up to.
- Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.
- If you are an adolescent, here is the trick to being neither quite a nerd nor quite a jock: be no one. It is easier than you think.
- Be a Student of the Game. Like most clichés of sport, this is profound. You can be shaped, or you can be broken. There is not much in between. Try to learn. Be coachable. Try to learn from everybody, especially those who fail. This is hard. Peers who fizzle or blow up or fall down, run away, disappear from the monthly rankings, drop off the circuit. E.T.A. peers waiting for deLint to knock quietly at their door and ask to chat. Opponents. It’s all educational. How promising you are as a Student of the Game is a function of what you can pay attention to without running away. Nets and fences can be mirrors. And between the nets and fences, opponents are also mirrors. This is why the whole thing is scary. This is why all opponents are scary and weaker opponents are especially scary.

  • Don's description of being an addict at Ennet House (look for similarities in these two passages!)

- That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable.
- That ‘acceptance’ is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else.
- That, perversely, it is often more fun to want something than to have it.
- That it is permissible to want.
- That everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else. That this isn’t necessarily perverse.

I'm so excited about the next parts though!!! This week marks the hump of IJ; after page 250 ish I really started to get into IJ.