Week Six – Pages 343*- 430 (endnotes 141 – 174)

Week Six –  Pages 343*- 430 (endnotes 141 – 174)

This week we attend a dark and brutal AA meeting, learn about the birth of O.N.A.N through Mario’s Interdependence Day film screening, follow the growth of Inter-Lace, and talk pea soup with Marathe and Steeply.

We go out to a White Flag AA Meeting
*I adjusted the reading schedule last week to keep the Boston AA section intact, and I am really glad we did that. For thirty-six pages I was sitting in one of those metal chairs, right in the front row next to Gately, truly feeling the howling fantods listening to the speakers as they went on their Commitments.  Needless to say, the stories of It and the baby with a serious bio-viability problem were horrifying and heartbreaking, (and oh my god there were children there listening!). And the story of John L.’s bowel movement was hilarious.

I was completely engaged by the description of how exactly AA works, according to Gately. The process of Identifying, the trite slogans that you fight against in their seeming meaninglessness, the bottom that is hit, or rather the cliff that you are ready to fall off of, when you finally Come In, face hanging down around your knees, the support the crocodiles, with their geologic amounts of sober time, offer.  My heart is definitely with Gately and the Ennet House residents.

johnny gentle


We spend Interdependence Day (post Eschaton) watching Mario’s puppet-filled tale of O.N.A.N.

Like the highly adaptable Eschaton game (see last week’s Decemberists video), I would love to see someone take a stab at recreating Mario’s film. The script is right there, all laid out! The history of O.N.A.N. as told through headlines is one of my favourite parts of this section (I love how we also follow the failing career of a nameless drug-addled headline writer).

Johnny Gentle, Famous Crooner, has come to power with a sweeping victory for the Clean U.S. Party. He has nullified NATO, named himself chief of newly configured O.N.A.N, strong arming Canada to join. It seems Mexico came along fairly willingly. Luria P seems to be the brains behind the ‘gifting’ of much of the now highly-toxic northeastern US to Canada “Allow me to illustrate what Lur – just what the president means.” (p. 403). Intrigue! Why would a Quebecker want that?  I am sensing a double agent thang going on between Luria and Rodney Tine.

Hal’s seventh grade paper sheds light on InterLace and Subsidized time, with the failure of network television, the success of Viney and Veals advertising agency (Nunhagen Asprin! NoCoat tongue scrapers! Johnny Gentle’s campaign!) – didn’t Erdedy work for V & V? – and Noreen Lace-Forche’s fiber optic pulse, satellite and 4.8 mb diskette service. Basically Netflix, but with news and sports. InterLace is firmly in the Gentle administration’s pocket if headlines are to be believed (p. 392).

Lyle is licking kids and handing out advice
The guru helps LaMont Chu understand the double-bind of fame, and gives advice to Ortho about his moving bed, as well as a supporting story about the man who didn’t underestimate his chair.

A few of JOI’s films are expounded on

Two of Incandenzas’ ‘anticonfluential’ films (“characterized by a stubborn and possibly irrationally irritating refusal of different narrative lines to merge into any kind of meaningful confluence” – e. 61), Medusa and Odalisque and The Joke are given extended descriptions. The description of the audience in The Joke hit a little close to home for me J.

Eric Clipperton, Suicidal Tennis Player

The rest of Clipperton’s story will come next week. We know the film of his suicide is likely buried in JOI’s grave along with Infinite Jest V.  Mario crafts a parodic scenario of Johnny Gentle being “willing to eliminate own map out of sheer pique” in reference to Clipperton’s penchant for playing tennis while holding a Glock to his temple.

What would you do for a single serving of Habitant?
Steeply tries to understand why exactly the AFR, with seemingly with no political motivation are so set on causing extreme chaos and death to U.S. citizens. Marathe doesn’t really answer Steeply, but instead counters with his parable of the can of soup, trying to get Steeply to admit that Americans are controlled by self-interest? This section is interesting, because neither agent really succeeds in making his point, or getting the information they are seeking. We are however privy to a detailed description of how ugly Steeply’s feet are.


  1. Sorry I’m late. Had to catch up on my procrastinating (if i’ve used that before I’m also sorry about personal redundancies).
    The Burger King’s Pillsbury getting the rights to the New Year is ridiculously hilarious and brilliant, which are usually the same thing. Burger King owning Pillsbury is I think another funny aspect, unless that is already the case.
    As someone who spent a career as a headline writer (I let the slot do the editing), i found that whole collection amusing and accurate (except the point sizes were small, perhaps because it was a presentation). In fact, I was at “tabloidish NY Daily” and we might have done something close to Canada ‘Knuck’les Under. Heck, i might have done it myself. I was there a long time and refreshments were served.
    Speaking of which, from what I’ve heard, the AA stuff was pretty close to reality, allowing for Boston and subtracting the infant.
    The continuing Tucson mountain top scene grows more harrowing, and frustrating. It’s “Of Mice and Men” for all the marbles.

  2. Ev Matrick

    Haven’t finished this week’s reading but I wanted to throw something out there re the White Flag meeting.
    The concept of Americans needing something to ‘give themselves away to’ comes up between Steeply and Marathe and it was also one of the major talking points DFW brought up in interviews circa the book’s release. One thing that I’m noticing in my second read through is that the AA meetings / programs requires you to give yourself away as much as the drugs / various addictive substances. So, really it’s more of a trade.

    • Ev Maverick

      -Sorry, sent this one off prematurely-

      A trade in that yes, being in AA is an objectively more stable life situation. But it’s still an outlet for people who are too much / not enough for themselves / people who seem to be profoundly lost, maybe?

      -Also, not sure if this has been pointed out anywhere, but in footnote 145- the funny/grotesque interview with Orin & Helen:

      “And the protagonist doesn’t know he’s the protagonist in a Found Drama because in Reality nobody thinks they’re in any sort of Drama.’
      ‘Almost nobody. That’s a very good point. Almost nobody.”

      That ‘almost nobody’ kind of sounds like a character from another DFW book, doesn’t it? Lenore Beadsman maybe? Call it an easter egg, or self reference, or neither.. Anyone?

  3. Something I noticed: the theme of “the cage” was highlighted by Gately several times in the readings last week, in the context of Addiction/The Disease.

  4. Rob Hinchcliffe

    Hello! Just checking in so you know I’m still alive. I’m behind though. Was all great up until last weekend and then I travelled up to watch the Tour de France go through the town where I grew up… And left my copy of IJ at my parent’s house ( I thought my beg felt light).

    So this is the bit in the war film where I say something like “I’ll be fine, go on without me. You’ll see me again soon guys…” And I promise you will. Double speed reading for me this week.

    IJ playlist hmm? Spotify maybe?

    • Johanna Schwartz

      Tour de France AND Harry Potter? I have some friends who fall into a very specific niche that would go bonkers for your lifestyle…Spotify hasn’t made its way to Canada yet, but will be available in the ‘coming months’ Just one more blow to this side of the convexity.

      • Singapore has Spotify now; I’m surprised Canada doesn’t yet.

        How about Deezer? Is that popular?

        • Ev Matrick

          To my knowledge, Deezer is not popular here (In Canada.) Anyone please feel free to correct me.

          We have RDIO (which is a pay only service) and Songza (which plays mixes of music based on your interests.)

          I believe it has something to do with our CRTC. Which, to date has kept our digital pirates (mostly) safe and our streaming services (Netflix included) somewhat hobbled. Give it a few more years and a few more blows to net neutrality and I’m sure we’ll be right up there with the USA and Singapore.

    • pandora or 8tracks maybe? My 20-something’s say no one they knows pays for any music whatsoever. Not that I’m encouraging anyone to do something illegal haha…

  5. Darcy Frisch

    To me, Lyle is the single most mysterious character in the novel. I have something of a theory about what his deal is (mostly informed by online theories), but I’ll stay mute until the novel is finished.

    And while we are definitely in the meat of the book at this point, there is a point coming up (around when Randy Lenz starts his late-night walks) where the action picks up speed and doesn’t really stop until the end.

    P.S. I finished the novel on Friday. Same as the first time I read it, I couldn’t hold back and devoured it in four weeks. Since then I’ve been reading Stephen Burn’s “Infinite Jest, A Readers Guide,” and I just acquired Martin Boswell’s “David Foster Wallace and The Long Thing, New Essays on the Novels.” I’m still intrigued by everyone’s comments!

    • Johanna Schwartz

      It will be great to dive in further on what the hell is up with Lyle (and a few more odd characters to come). Darcy, did you finish it via audio book?

      • Darcy Frisch

        Yes, a 60+ hour audiobook! Not quite as enjoyable, and the audio did not have the footnotes, which, while I could remember most of what was in them, was a definite detriment to the experience.

        Lyle is at least once mentioned in conjunction with the “terrible accident” that resulted in the removal of locks from ETA sauna. I believe that is something of a hint…

  6. Oops… spoke to soon. The Calgary connection has now been scheduled. “For those of you in Calgary, we will be having a meet-up on Sunday, August 10 at 1:00 pm at Broken City (613 11 Ave SW) – hopefully we can sit on the rooftop patio, weather permitting.”

    Adrienne – I would love to hear of the music for your accompanying ‘soundtrack’. Since Johanna’s earlier reference to Nick Cave the music tie ins have been drifting into my thoughts.

    • I’m sad I won’t be able to come out and meet everyone, but if you guys won’t think it awkward for a computer to be present– I could try to be up an to say hi to everyone via Google Hangout!

      • Johanna Schwartz

        My sad ol’ macbook won’t support audio anymore (glowing red eye of death) but if any other locals want to bring their laptop down to the meet up, we could dial Cat in!

  7. Adrienne

    I don’t have a lot to say this week except: What the hell is up with Lyle? I know there’s a lot of bizarro stuff going on this book but this one seems sort of the most out of left field to me in a way. All the other bizarro bits seem at least borderline plausible, at least in a type if not severity kind of way. I think? But Lyle is just… I don’t even know. What?

    Things coming together – “Don’t underestimate objects” (p. 394), Medusa film, Joelle affecting people with how she looks even when veiled.

    Big Dork Alert: I keep thinking of the music I’d have as a soundtrack if IJ were a movie. I even started a spotify playlist but it’s still very short. I’ll share it soon depending on how dumb I decide it is in the end but if anyone has suggestions please let me know. Such a personal thing though. Seems like a lot of sort of wistful music so far.

    • Adrienne

      Update: Apparently a lot of people have thought of accompanying music. I’ll investigate and report back if it’s worth it.

      • I can’t wait to share playlists! Since this is my first time to devour IJ, I might have to wait till the end to put mine together. This book is definitely affecting my LIFE, though.

        I also noticed about Joelle affecting people even when veiled. Shiiiiiiiyeeeeet.

  8. A few things this week…
    • If you are like me you may not always read the email that Johanna sends out to announce that her recap is now posted (I often just jump to the site). If so, you may have missed her invitation to those in Calgary to a get together she is tying to schedule. http://doodle.com/ykwu9aepcgcrh3b7
    • Curious as to some of the voices we heard from early on; Jill J., Jaron… hope you are still with us?
    • I’m with Bonnaventure when he pointed out earlier “I feel like we’ve finally got to the meat of the book”. The Lyle and Lamont Chu section was especially captivating. The insights that were offered by the man who lives off the sweat and dreams of youth “And I believe I see a drop on your temple, right… there… “ crystalized a number of themes in the book for me. “The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you” ‘You burn with hunger for food that does not exist”. Great lines that made me think of the residents of Ennett house and may of the other IJ characters and their struggles with their past, addictions etc.

    • Johanna Schwartz

      What? Not always read my emails? For shame! Jaron and Bonnaventure are the same person, so mystery solved, and you will get to meet each other in person on the 10th.