Week Three – Pages 137-211 (endnotes 49-72)
A few of my favourite forgotten sections popped up this week. The combination of the nonlinear nature of the book, its sheer volume, and my fragmented memory means there are many little bits whose place in the book I can’t recall, even after five readings.
So, as usual, I will present what we’ve read in a quick(ish) recap with some of my thoughts, to get the ball rolling.
1. We spend a good amount of time at Ennet house, including:
- a brief history of the founder – Guy Who Didn’t Even Use His First Name, who encourages feldspar-munching as a sign of total surrender.
- Brief Interviews with Recovering Addicts – the selected transcripts of (mostly) unnamed residents as they talk to Pat Montesian. I love these small character studies. We now know that Bruce Green is in Ennet, former roomie of harelipped Tommy Doocey, and that Mildred Bonk and Harriet Bonk-Green have hit the road. (p. 176-181).
- a detailed description of the layout of the Enfield Marine Public Health Hospital grounds where EH is Unit #6, and the the neighboring units, including #4 for Alzheimer’s patients, #5, The Shed, home to the ‘objay darts’
- Don Gately again, he of the unfortunate break-in that caused the medical attache’s death, who has moved from resident to staffer at Ennet.
- A moving description of ‘exotic new facts’ about various issues that arise with substance abusers (endnote 70 speaks to being able to become so ‘escapeless’ that one becomes no more than a ‘fine dusting of off-white ashy stuff’ – a contrast to the ‘escaping’ results of the Entertainment), and Tiny Ewell’s tattoo investigations, which are a great way to introduce the Ennet residents (some of whom can now be connected to the Montesian transcripts)
2. There are a number of vignettes that take place outside of the general actions of the month of November YDAU, such as:
- the hilarious story of Dwayne R. Glynn and the barrel of bricks – told through an odd email exchange. Poor guy.
- Hal’s essay about Hill St Blues and Hawaii 5-0, written at age 12, predicting a ‘catatonic hero’
- “Helen” Steeply’s article for Moment Magazine (p. 137) – as DFW does often, more information is divulged in the cheeky ALLCAPS title of this section (we now know that Steeply is undercover as a lady to interview Orin, and that James Incandenza committed SUICIDE BY MICROWAVE OVEN). Now we are reminded of Orin’s comments to Hal in the last section in Week Two when mentions he has met ‘a possibly very special somebody” and wants to learn more about Separatism. (p. 142). In the article, the description of the purse snatcher sounds a lot like ol’ Poor Tony.
- a helpful description of the Canadian Anti-O.N.A.N. groups – I can tell you that the Calgarian Pro-Canadian Phalanx is made up, but the Bloc Quebecios, Le Front de la Liberation de la Quebec (FLQ), and Parti Quebecois are indeed real. The FLQ were a very violent group. Not sure about the Montcalm and Papineau ones.
- And one of my favourite pieces – the rise and fall of videophony. As someone who HATES facetime, this describes exactly why.
3. Over at E.T.A:
- Urine tests are being held, and Pemulis has it all figured out. We now know that he is the one Kate Gompert mentioned who insists you ask him to “please commit a crime” when buying drugs.(p. 156)
- We are introduced to the extremely powerful DMZ.
- Tennis and the Feral Prodigy – obviously NOT written by Mario – agreed?
4. We flash back to Arizona, 1960:
- We now have almost all of the info to figure out exactly what year it is. In the story of James Incandenza and his father, it is 1960, and James is 10, so he was born in 1950. He dies at 54, which would be 2004 in our calendar year, and is the Year of the Trial Sized Dove Bar. We just need to know when YTSDB is situated in subsidized time, and it will be revealed! There have been clues about when each year takes place, but we will see the full list next week…
- Also, I found it interesting how much emphasis James’ father put on insisting that head is body, and that thoughts are just the sound of your body.
- The description of James’ knees against the tennis court….ugh.
5. A new location and character – WYYY station and Madame Psychosis (it’s October 22, YDAU).
- Madame Psychosis has many many mentions in JOI’s filmography, and I believe has her first role in Infinite Jest (IV).
- The station is in M.I.T’s new Student Union building, which is shaped like a giant head.
- Mario loves listening to her program, and it seems he really wants to get Hal’s attention while she is reading the pamphlet for the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed.