Okay, sorry about the down time (I’m really just talking to myself now. This book will do that to you). That last two pages felt like ten. Maybe because that was the longest footnote I can ever remember. Is it the longest footnote in Infinite Jest? Only time will tell.
So I got to the episode where we learn a bit about Hal’s parents, and that included footnote #24. I’m assuming that this footnote brings back a lot of painful memories for anyone who has not only finished the novel, but read each footnote with care. That’s because it is many pages long, and consists of a list of all the films and videos that his father made. As tempting as it might be to gloss over, if not outright ignore, these diversions, a careful reading actually gave me a number of insights, too many to go into with a single post.
First of all, I now have a suspicion that we are in a some kind of fictitious reality. Is Infinite Jest a sci-fi novel disguised as a literary goliath? Perhaps.
Based on the dating of the various works on the filmography, each year is sponsored by some kind of commercial product, like Year of the Trial Size Dove Bar. The real clue is that for earlier dates, they use the designation B.S., standing for Before Subsidization. This leads me to believe that in the world of the novel, there was some kind of corporate takeover that has redefined calendar conventions.
This might also explain why there are some weird technologies that don’t seem like they were a thing in the mid-90s, such as the teleputer, which is presumably a television combined with a computer (which now we would just call a phone).
In addition, there is also a number of references to previous episodes, like Hal’s trip to the professional conversationalist. We learn bits and pieces about his father’s health issues, both mental and physical, along with allusions to his mistreatment of his son.
There are also four attempts to create a film entitled Infinite Jest, which seems to be where the book takes its name.
I have a feeling that if I ever reread Infinite Jest, there will be a lot more meaning to be gleaned from what on the surface just seems like a list of silly movies.
Some of my favorite James Incadenza film titles include The Night Wears A Sombrero, the American Century As Seen Through A Brick, The Domestic Life Of An Arizona Advertising Executive, Very Low Impact, Fun With Teeth, and Baby Pictures Of Famous Dictators.*
Vocab Word: Concupiscence strong sexual desire; lust.
You are reading my live blog of Infinite Jest. Start at the beginning.
*Only one of these titles is made up. You’ll have to read the footnotes to figure out which one.