Week Seven – Pages 430-503 (endnotes 175 – 208)
Each week while I prep for this recap, I grab the pages I’ve just read between my fingers and am always amazed at what a small sliver of the book the week’s reading represented, and within that 1/4 – 1/2 inch of paper how many stories were covered.
This week, we wrap up a few threads that began last week (Clipperton, the rest of Mario’s film), we spend a lot of time with Don, and learn the intricacies of am drills at E.T.A, get the back story on Pat Montesian, hang out on the ledge with Marathe and Steeply, are privvy to the last moments of the Antitoi Bros. lives, and hear JOI’s voice for the first time, as he reflects on a childhood experience that later became the film “Valuable Coupon Has Been Removed”
The Death of Eric Clipperton
I got a Columbine-shiver at the description of Eric as a “spectral trench-coated figure.” I am intrigued by the relationship between Mario and Eric, and how Mario has never shared even with Hal the details of their conversations, and Mario’s need to clean the room on his own. He and Eric obviously bonded on a very real level. Thoughts on what Clipperton represents? The ultimate desire for the win, the show, taken to its morbid end? Is this the path LaMont Chu is on? Darcy, I remember you mentioning how fantastical the Clipperton scenes seemed, in context of the realism vs. fantasy of IJ, and I enjoy how DFW goes to lengths to set this up fairly straight forwardly – the initial games had no adult supervision, so no one stepped in to stop him – yet then lets the tale meander into absurdity, as his reign continues unfettered, met with ‘witheringly slight and scattered applause’ but then brings his suicide very much plausibly back into reality.
The second cautionary tale, of the un-named kid from Fresno, devolves into dark comedy with the continued Drano poisonings (and the pathos of the little pajama-clad feet -Damn DFW is good with pathos), and very much mimics the death of the Medical Attache et al.
Back to E.T.A, November 8, Interdependence Day film screening
By now, “Hal’s eyes are fevered and rolling around in his head” (p. 438) That seems bad. Mario (?) includes Orin in the history of subsidized time, though a note on chronology states that this would have been historically inaccurate.
My Respect Grows for Don Gately
His steadfast commitment to sobriety, including his daily cleaning of the (shudder) Shattuck shelter, his honesty about struggling to name a higher power, and the story of lil Bim and his vodka-soaked mother…I just want to hug that big galoot. And I don’t want to know what happened to Nimitz the kitty. I loved the description of him driving Pat’s car, and just want happiness for him. But every time I think I am falling in love with Gately, DFW goes an mentions that terrible Prince Valiant haircut.
Time jump to late October
Hal is dreaming about losing his teeth, and Madame Psychosis is off the air. Mario is agitated after seeing her screen in the booth. This confused me for a moment because I assumed that Joelle’s OD at Molly’s party on Nov 7 was when she would have stopped doing the show, but apparently she had quit the show earlier.
November 9 at E.T.A – Drills and skills
Hal appears to be better than he was yesterday, at least physically. Otis P Lord is back after the Eschaton debacle, but with the monitor screen still on his head with shards dangerously pointing at his throat. Schtitt lectures the boys, speaks of the new type of citizen they are turning the boys into, ones who are “Citizens of this sheltering second world” of the tennis court, inspiring, or demanding, that they put aside the complaints of the outside world (too hot, too cold) and grab the opportunity for a “chance to occur” (pg. 459) within this second world, which is both the court and the mind. Anyone else get a Werner Hertzog vibe from Schtitt?
Marathe and Steeply talk p-terminals, MK-Ultra, and Canadian experiments
I doubt there is a Canadian of a certain age who read this passage without thinking of this Heritage Minute ad (Doctor, I smell burnt toast!). Steeply’s discussion of Canadian scientists developing p-terminal stimulation techniques, and the non-deviant young Canadians who lined up for the leathal treatment is a bit heavy handed in its regard to the Entertainment. The discussion of MK-Ultra was a favourite topic of Pynchon (right Bill?). We also know that both sides have copies of the Entertainment at the ready!
Bonjour/AuRevoir, Antitios Brothers
I love how DFW is weaving all of the stories together. As Gately drives Pat’s car through the streets of Boston, the tires send a plastic cup into the air, hitting the window pane of Antitois Entertainment, sending Lucien (who cannot speak French!) to investigate. As he closes the door, it oddly continues to squeak, until he discovers that it is indeed the AFR, come for the master Entertainment tape they believe is being kept by the brothers. Oh that demise. So terrible. It reminded me of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.
My guess: The old hippie that traded the DMZ and bag of “blank” cartridges is Steeply in disguise? Or another USS agent?
My question: Why does AFR think the master was stolen in the DuPlessis burglary and that the Antitois would have it? Did Steeply plant it then tip them off? Why? If Gately actually did take it while “stripping the Brookline home as bare as a post-feral-hamster meadow” (p. 58) where is the master?
A Different Kind of Squeak
We end this week with an excerpt from “The Awakening of my Interest in Annular Systems,” where JOI, as a recognized pioneer of annual fusion, reflects on the day he realized, um, something important, about how the “cycloid’s standard parametric equations were no longer apposite” and I’m just gonna have to take your word on that James. BUT first, we are treated to the tale of JOI’s drunken father’s attempt to find the cause of a squeak in his bed. Another amazing example of DFW’s stellar characterizations and dialogue. The filmed version of this story, a ‘possible Scandinavian-psychodrama parody’ actualizes the father’s claim that it sounds like rodents.