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Michael Maiello's picture

Infinite Topics: Catching Up On Goldberry

This one goes out to you, whomever you may be...

The significant numbers of city mayors or EMs closing schools, then creating private charters with TFA instant teachers? 

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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 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.

Michael Maiello's picture

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).

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