Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: The Monsters We Carry

    I have just reached a scene in Infinite Jest where 17-year-old Hal Incandenza reflects, in conversation with his deformed brother Mario, about the monsters he once feared and what he fears now:

    'Boo, I think I no longer believe in monsters as faces in the floor or feral infants or vampires or whatever. I think at seventeen now I believe the only real monsters might be the type of liar where there's simply no well to tell. The ones who give nothing away.'

    'But then how do you know they're monsters then, then?'

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Trump: The Republican Civil War Has Begun

    Hmmm... I swear there was a post here, but it disappeared.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: The Causes and Effects of Terrorism

    Infinite Jest is a terrorism novel. This is, in a lot of ways, no surprise.  David Foster Wallace counted Thomas Pynchon and Don Delillo as influences and both of them were interested in the topic of terrorism.  Also, it's an interesting topic for fiction and though we tend to talk about it in terms of a post-9/11 vocabulary, terrorism has always been a way that a few people have tried to influence masses and it hasn't changed all that much.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Meta: How To Fight at Dagblog

    So, my plan has been to only blog about Infinite Jest until I'm done with my second read of the book.  That also gives me a nice chance to play in the comments on the other posts and not be one of the loudest voices in the room re: The Primary.

    That said, we've seen rising tensions re: The Primary.

    Now, I've played my fair share of War Games online...

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: President John Gentle and the Rise of Donald Trump

    As recapped in the excellent biography by D.T. Max David Foster Wallace loved television and could binge-watch with the best of them in the years before streaming Netflix. Netflix is, by the way, something that Wallace seems to have seen coming. In Infinite Jest, Netflix is an entertainment company called Interlace that sells both streaming videos and entertainment cartridges. Interlace basically destroys the advertising industry and the big television networks, by offering people the entertainment they want, when they want it.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: An Artistic Dilemma

    I think that a problem artists have, when trying to deal with the world, is that we tend to know ourselves better than we know anyone else and we tend to be a cerebral, analytical and, to borrow an old term from Woody Allen, "verbal," lot.  David Foster Wallace was, artistry aside, a genius level intelligence.  He was not only extremely facile with the English language and possessor of a large vocabulary, but was highly educated in arcane modern branches of philosophy and mathematics as well.  He also had excellent understandings of music and competitive sports.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: The Stages of Grief

    Within the first third of Infinite Jest we learn what happened when Hal Incandenza, a brilliant tennis player on the rise and son of filmmaker James Incandenza and brother of professional football kicker Orin Incandenza, found James after his suicide by microwave.

    James is the auteur behind the movie "Infinite Jest."  His suicide, perhaps on impulse after relapsing into alcoholism, was extremely gruesome.  He rigged a microwave so that he could put his head inside, effectively turning his cranium into a pressure-activated flesh bomb.

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    Infinite Winter: Umberto Eco Is Dead

    I’ve never seen David Foster Wallace connected to Umberto Eco.  That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. But sometimes it is too tempting to compare writers just because they happen to write long books that are intellectually driven.  There are many ways to conquer the beast of the novel of ideas and these two writers may not have shared many tactics.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: Hamlet as Baseline

    One of David Foster Wallace’s goals (he said, sometimes) as a fiction writer was to help people combat loneliness.  Writing fiction allows the writer to reach out to an audience of strangers.  Reading it allows the audience to reach out to an author they will likely never meet.  Reading texts in common, like with Infinite Winter, gives us a chance to have a shared experience. I think a shared intellectual experience is why a lot of us have nostalgia for school (both high school and college).

    Michael Maiello's picture

    What If Bernie Broke Up The Banks?

    I'm not blogging politics right now because Infinite Jest.

    But if Rolling Stone has room for me, who am I to say no?

    Here's my take on what would happen if Bernie got his way on Wall Street.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: The Hurt of Smart and Talented

    A huge theme of Infinite Jest is that there are pains inherent with talent.  A big part of this is athletic talent, which David Foster Wallace could write about because he was an immensely talented tennis player, just shy of pro. Another part of it is intellectual talent, which he could also write about because, well, if you’ve read him, I don’t have to try and convince you.

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    DFW Told You What About A Fish?

    We have reached the 20th anniversary of the publication of Infinite Jest and I have just finished reading Signifying Rappers, a short book of essays written by David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello, designed to ape the style of the late music critic Lester Bangs, but about the burgeoning commercial and underground rap artists of the late 1980s and early 1990s.  It was a bit of a shock to realize that DFW hated The Beastie Boys but then, those were the “Fight For Your Right To Party” Beasties.  We have all grown up so much these days and some of us have died.

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    Live Blogging the Democratic Debate (Without Watching) OPEN THREAD

    Opener.  Bernie looking confident.

    Bernie:  You're going to be first against the wall when the revolution comes!

    HRC: Bring it, Trotsky.

    Martin O'Malley -- will not be utilized for these purposes.

    ***

    HRC: I was actually a member of Seal Team 6, then.  Never mentioned it before as it was classified. We dumped him in Mississippi.

    ***

    Bernie: Guns wouldn't be a problem if people had unions.

    ***

    HRC: I can't tell if The Revenant is a great movie or just a shallow revenge tale.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Trump-o-Nomics or, How To Bully China

    Okay, this is a brilliant reveal of the Donald Trump worldview which is, really, that a big borrower has all the power in the world, assuming people want to get paid back. Discussing how, as president, he would force China to handle the problem of North Korea, he says:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Obama's America: The Final Year

    Four years ago, The Daily assigned me my last piece -- a look back at Obama's America from the vantage of 2016.  The finished product is no longer online, but I do have a draft in my Google docs.  In a broad sense, my predictions turned out pretty well.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Revolution of the 1%

    I know that I'm supposed to fear that the political ascendancy of Donald Trump is just evidence of our society sliding, like Weimar Germany, into unrepentant fascism, but I still think his campaign is a lot of fun because he is a very powerful man bent on speaking truth to power.

    Take, for example, his "sorry, not sorry," apology to Republican power brokers:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Obama Should Not Have Spoken Tonight

    What happened in San Bernardino represents an unwelcome threshold between the ideal behind Islamic-inspired international terrorism and homegrown violence.  Obama made a mistake tonight by elevating a criminal event into an international incident.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Social Safety Net Isn't Good Enough

    A fascinating analysis in The New York Times today takes a crack at the Thomas Frank problem of why people vote Republican, against their own economic interests. Alex MacGillis reports his way to a new conclusion -- people using government assistance aren't voting at all.  Those who have used it, successfully, to clamber into the lower rungs of the middle class are voting and they are voting against the programs that helped them succeed.

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    The Anger of the West

    Richard Roger Cohen, who seems more and more like a left-leaning Western declinist with each column, writes angrily today in The New York Times about America's incapacity for anger in the wake of the Paris attacks.  Cohen is remarkable tone deaf, given the history of Western anger in the Middle East and what it has wrought for us since 9/11.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    For the Love of Wall Street!

    If you get your news from Politico, you are a strange person, but they have been pushing the line for months that Wall Street likes Hillary Clinton and also Jeb Bush.  The line is that anonymous financial services types find both acceptable.  The inference for liberals is that this means Clinton is as much a tool of the financial industry as a member of the Bush family.

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