(something of sculpture in response is in the works)
Monday, September 21, 2009
Well I just finished Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace) a couple days ago and I still don't feel like I've full recuperated. The book is so mammoth, simply in size, that I feel like I'm missing an actual physical entity now that it's over. I spent about two months lugging it's child sized girth around with me and I read it to the point where the back cover ended up being used as my bookmark, and now it sits, worn and ragged, on my bookshelf. The books physical presence, however, pales in comparison to the mental footprint it left. The book cultivated such an incredible world; each character, though all seemingly reflective of the author, was so painfully individual and human that I felt I knew them better than I know my own friends and family. Each character was so fraught with emotion and contradiction that, no matter how extreme, they were all likable.... Here I could choose to turn this into something of a book review or synopsis, but right now that seems highly unnecessary. This is not an attempt to persuade people to read Infinite Jest, it may even be the opposite, though I'm quite sure that it was the greatest book I've ever read (I think?). One of the principal ideas streaming through the book is that of Addiction, of dependency, and about coping with a loss of that addiction. The book, for me, had an addictive quality and I found myself unexcited about doing much anything besides laying in bed and reading (especially towards the end). Now I will not say anything of how the book ended, only that the ending left me feeling.... slack, empty...At a loss? It's hard to describe how I felt when the book ended, I wanted to cry and scream and curl up into a little ball and tear the book to pieces and then apologize to it and hold it tape it tenderly back together all in one split second. Now that the slackness of my jaw and the rawness of my being has subsided I'm left with a feeling much like pondering infinity. Something thats both incredibly natural and totally incomprehensible. All these feelings almost have a beauty to them that I would cherish if it weren't for the fact that the Author eventually took his own life or as he would have put it "De-mapped himself". Now I wonder if I can ever forgive him for consuming my mind so absolutely, to leave me poking at the void which his book left smoldering in it's wake, when in the end he himself couldn't stand workings of the very mind I've grown so fond of...
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Beautiful comments! I think we should recommend it to people, and we should be there with them to help them understand what is happening to them when they read it, too. Becuase it is so important to be prepared for that wave of absolute emotion that rolls over us at the final page/lines. Even if the story is not "over", the reading of it is, the relationships are, and it is such an all-suffusing feeling that one cannot shake it for a while. (I have felt sorry for the "kindlers" who missed out on the physical experience of IJ that you describe, and which has grown to be a part of me, too, but now is a lack that calls to me.)
In any case, whether the de-mapping frustrates you or not by giving a new void, we have nevertheless been given a total gift such as few have ever been able to give. Ever.
I agree, he left us all with an astonishing gift. But one which he personally could not handle. His views into humanity are so lucid and poignant that they drove him to his death. To read Infinite Jest is to allow his mind to actually seep into your core and I just don't think I can recommend that to anyone. I can only tell them what the book made me feel and let them decide for themselves.
congrats zac. despite your reservations i am certainly going to read it sometime soon.
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