Week Twelve – Pages 795 – 876 (endnotes 333 – 353)

Week Twelve – Pages 795 – 876 (endnotes 333 – 353)

Hal tries to go to an NA meeting, Gately meets a wraith, we don’t know what has happened to Kate, and Ortho Stice is stuck.

November 19 (?)  – Kevin Bane nurtures his Inner Infant
Following the meeting schedule booklet Johnette has given him, Hal travels to Quabbin Recovery Systems for an N.A. meeting, feeling “pathetic and absurd” (p. 796). Intense level of description of the building, the hallways, the colours. Hal’s confusion about what to expect (he’s brought a couple hundred dollars with him just in case there are fees), makes the revelation that he has found himself in wrong group, and that he knows snuffling, infantile large, bearded Kevin, leaves Hal is to some degree played for humor, but progressively gets more sober, darker, as Hal will later remember Kevin’s “head up on a woblly neck and looking up and past Hal, his face unspeakable” (p. 808).

November 11- 19 (?) Gately lays in the hospital
We spend 35 uninterrupted pages and then another 16, with Gately in his hospital bed, wracked with pain, slipping in and out of consciousness and maddeninlgy unable to extract the info he wants from his visitors, who mostly treat him like a “huge empty confessional booth” (p. 831). Herman the Breathing Ceiling reminds me of the Face in the Floor. Is there a theme within this impermanence of space & the shifting, monstrous qualities of our surroundings?

Tiny Ewell tells his story of a” third-order crime. Of theft cubed” (p. 814). The way the situation quickly ran out of his control must be similar to other “white-collar” criminals who end up in an elaborate, yet doomed plan to cover their own asses. It seems to me that this may be the second most noted reason for suicide besides clinical depression. Many business men who have been ‘caught’ demap themselves.

In the dream Gately has about his mother being caught up in a hurricane, Don’s “mother’s tiny rotating imago faded against the ceiling” Is “imago” a typo, and should it read “image” or did DFW actually mean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imago?

Calvin Thrust lays out what has happened at Ennet since the shooting. Thrust let Lenz  “rikky-tick out of there” (p.822), and Kate Gompert never returned from NA (p. 824). We learn about Dave K. the man who scuttled on hands and feet like a crab that Marathe had seen earlier.

Gately’s recurring nightmare of the “tiny acne-scarred Oriental woman looking down at him” (p. 828)  has parallels to Infinite Jest’s wobble-eyed crib-perspective camera work, though later when Gately dreams of that (or rather the Wraith puts it in his head), he doesn’t consider the similarities.

And we meet the Wraith (p. 829). There is some REALLY important reason the wraith has taken the energy required to make himself known to Don.

JOI’s spirit pays multiple visits to Don. The words he puts into his head: ANNULATE..CHIAROSCURO… etc also includes a few Hamlet references “LAERTES…POOR YORICK” (p. 832).  We are introduced to the concept of  “figurants” and how trapped and encaged they are in their own “mute peripheral status” (p. 835).  The wraith confirms that IJ VI was made as an attempt to reach out to Hal. Though we are still unsure of he degree that JOI’s assertion that Hal had become “blank, inbent ,silent, frightening, mute” (p.838) is accurate, we know Hal is on the path to his ultimate end in the Year of Glad, and maybe JOI saw past Hal’s attempts at presenting normally, to the figurant he was becoming.

And Don is falling for Joelle. I was entranced by the passages that spoke of building a wall around each moment to be able to take the pain of withdrawal, the psychic battle of addiction.

November 19 – The AFR make their moves on ETA

We learn that Marathe has not told DuPlessis that he found Madame Psychosis (p.845). Poor Tony and Lenz have been paired up in the screening room. Lenz, even when submitted to the Entertainment is able to remove Poor Tony’s digits instead of his own.  Luria P___  and DuPlesss are off to have a ‘technical inteview’ with Orin (we last left off at DuPlessis’ arrival at Orin’s door) and the AFR are planning on diverting/killing a school bus full of Quebeker tennis kids to trade places at the academy showcase.

For your consideration: Since Clenette was the one who brought in the bag of TPs from ETA (p.825), of which we know several have a smiley face affixed, I propose that she in indeed the ETA staff that DuPlessis has set up on the inside. This would also add another level of purpose to the section on pages 37-38, narrated by Clenette.

November 20 – Stice gets Stuck

In one of the few first-person Hal perspectives (has it really been since page 67?) Hal wanders the halls of ETA. He is now presenting completely  differently than he is feeling. Stice, who can’t even see his expression, thinks he is laughing, and Kenkjle the janitor tells Hal his face is “a hilarity-face. it’s working hilariously. At first it merely looked a-mused. Now it is open-ly cach-inated” (p. 875).

There is also a figure in the stands as the snow swirls around – is it the Wraith? Is it Steeply? (p. 867).

Why is the Wraith manipulating Stice? Why was he picked to be the witness to the moving furniture [he promises to show Hal “some parabnormal shit that’ll shake your personal tree but good” (p. 871)] and was he compelled to this fenestration by the Wraith?


  1. Someone who knew I was doing an infinite summer just sent this to me!


  2. So many questions still after reading some IJ followup online. I would NEVER have pulled plot points together on my own which I don’t think is the book failing me, but rather me failing the book. Looking forward to the debrief.

    • Johanna Schwartz

      I JUST found plot points that had eluded me on my first through fourth reads (like the connection between 60s Bob and the Antitoi Bros), so I really think there is no failing on either side, just one incredibly detailed piece of work, that DFW deliberately, and mischievously, made very very dense.

  3. Like MFleury I also finished the book last week and am wondering if the books has failed for me 🙁 That said, having researched some of the vast amount (infinite?) of online IJ summaries I see some relief. Looking forward to our group’s perspectives.


  4. Denise Mamaril

    I’ve finally gotten in sync with everyone! After being way ahead and then reading to the wrong location in my Kindle version last week, I finally started using the page numbers instead of the location settings.

    I just wanted to shared that I was really pleased by the return of Gately to the narrative this week. I had spent the prior week wanting more info on how he was doing after the disaster with the Canadians. I find Gately one of the few truly sympathetic characters. And the appearance of the wraith and the slow recognition that this isn’t just some pain-induced hallucination was fantastic.

    Also, a quick thank you for this. Knowing that I need to get to a certain point before your email comes out each week has been just the kick in the pants I needed to get back into IJ. Thanks!

  5. I just finished as well. I like how the book converges, but also diverges. As I said earlier in the summer (I haven’t posted much – oops), DFW really seems to be playing games with the reader.

    That said, though, this is a really enjoyable piece of the book. I also like how the shift in weather accompanies the rush towards the inevitable… although the inevitable what?

    • I’ve been reading a few other sites’ posts about IJ, and I have to clarify something: although I think a big part of the book is in its structure and form, and the DFW was up to something in terms of playing with the reader, I don’t think that is ALL that the book is about. IJ is NOT a joke on the reader, but rather a more ambitious attempt at hyperfiction, before such a thing really existed. It’s also about some pretty big ideas/themes, most centrally the human condition in the late 1990s.