Thursday, January 26, 2006

It Begins...

So I finally started it again yesterday (and was going to post most of this last night if Blogger hadn’t been doing maintenance—thank goodness they don’t have the outage problems MySpace does).

A while back I’d mentioned on the Book Snobs Facebook group board that I was going to reread Infinite Jest again (this is correct, really. I am reading it for the 3rd time.) And as we all know, nothing has to be true and accurate (hell, nothing is more true and accurate) than things on not-quite-dating-but-you-can-meet-people sites like Facebook (note for late 20s non graduate student readers: Facebook is MySpace, but only for folks with valid college email addresses.)

But that was a while back (as I said) and I hadn’t gotten around to it—I was distracted by both the mess of finding a new job, the problem of running almost out of money, and several other books (some good and some the picture of “meh.” The New York Trilogy was great, as was If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler, Prozac Nation was decent—although my reading was made a little nervous by resemblances between Elizabeth Wurtzel and a certain she-who-shall-not-be-named-but-I-sometimes-call-The-Devil-Herself I used to spend a bit of time with—and Love Monkey was the picture of “meh”.)

But now here we are, me and nearly 1,100 pages of dense, mind-numbingly good writing. And this time I’m going to blog the experience.

The opening reads more and more like an incantation now.

‘I am not what you see and hear’ (12.)

On the surface, it’s Hal speaking, but (note: spoilers here on out) but that’s part of the beauty of the setup. Though you’re not supposed to know why, the words Hal says/thinks he says (which are the quoted words—and don’t forget this section is narrated by Hal too) are not the words anyone else hears. There’s reaction to those, but whatever’s wrong with Hal is whatever he hears himself say isn’t what anyone else gets. But there’s also a metafictional foreshadowing here…IJ is not a tome in the Middlemarch tradition. It’s big, but there’s a lot under the surface…things “not seen and heard” and in a way, this opening is a warning/incantation. Plus there are many funny moments and one hell of a mini-monologue to drop on folks at parties:

‘I read…I study and ready. I bet I’ve read everything you’ve read. Don’t think I haven’t. I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM-drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.” My instincts concerning syntax and mechanics are better than your own, I can tell, with due respect.’

Or maybe I’m just laughing at the prospect of someone saying this in a job interview…and loving Wallace’s choices in verbs. Seriously, how cool a word is “tear-assing?”

1 comment:

Sisyphus Walking said...

Kaiser, that's one bada** monologue. I want to say that crap to people at parties. Keep putting good bits up here, so I can write them in my notebook, spend an inordinate amount of time memorizing them at night, and then quote them acting like I'm uber-hip and have actually read the book. Funny stuff about the college kids a couple posts ago. Hope well is all. Late.