This was 16 years, 6 days ago

Whenever I listen to songs by the band Los Campesinos!, I always think of Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. Assuming that I've listened to at least one of their songs per week since the summer, that means that I've been thinking of Infinite Jest at least once per week.

I'm sure there's a connection to my final year of high school, and how the two eastern windows both took in the sunrise sunlight, and also looked over the tennis court. I don't know Boston's neighborhood, but I imagine that the Enfield Tennis Academy would also have marvelous Turner-esque sunsets, with its campus filled with brick buildings and green grass. Does Hal Incandenza take the T? Does he march into the city in his spare time and in a painfully deliberate and self-conscious process of 'wandering'? It snows a lot in New England; I also know that feeling of being awake before night with only the red figures of an alarm clock in a dark room, watching the snow fall across the field, seeing the windows fog up.

David Foster Wallace talks about the book as being shaped like a fractal. I can see what he means; the ending of the book is neither a chronological or a meaning-related ending; rather, the ending of the book is the ending because it lies at the end of the narrative timeline of the book which is based of the notion of expanding its characters and events like fractals: cause and effect begetting cause and effect. A Sierpinski gasket, DFW says. To me it feels more like a Koch snowflake being filled with a steady stream of water, the speed of the rise in water level speeding up and slowing down rapidly. Like how the Koch snowflake culminates at a point, the narrative also zips inwards, a rapid and relentless implosion towards the end. It's fitting in every way, and it also helps to see the book as a whole, a Trafamaldorian novel..

Something about Los Campesinos!'s songs always remind me of Hal. Such a young but hoarse voice, something about the chords reminding me of both dusk and dawn, the clamor of instruments, an eager and almost impatient beat marching forward, forward, maybe even sadly. Here is Hal: a faultless mishap at five later manifesting itself into an almost god-given punishment, a fall from grace. Here is Hal: watching the snow; Here is Hal, discovering his father gone; Here is Hal. (Oh, I am inarticulate.)


For me, the kicker moment, the epiphany is when it is revealed to us near the very end of the book that Don Gately was an excellent football player; he, too, was going to be part of the Show, an entertainment creator. All of a sudden, it's clear as day: here are these two alter egos staggered in time: Here is Hal Incandenza, thin, small, intelligent, a teenage tennis prodigy, foraying into drugs, at a private boarding school. Here is Don Gately, corpulent, gigantic, not-so-sharp, a former football could-be-great, recovering from drugs, at a halfway house. Members of the Show, creation of entertainment, both severely attached to another form of entertainment.

Is it maybe that these two are the citizens? The father, James Incandenza, heavily addicted to alcohol, creator of the 'Infinite Jest' film cartridge that makes everyone who watches it horribly addicted to the point of mindlessness -- the father, also a consumer-creating-the-consumed? And the contents of the tape, this master Entertainment cartridge, a wordplay-pun taken literal: death is the mother of new life. So is that it? Entertainment is the pursuit of happiness, aligned with our progress towards death: in other words, to David Foster Wallace, entertainment is the forward, forward progress towards death made bearable, enjoyable, even desirable. (After all, what supposedly makes the Infinite Jest film so desirable and addicting is the presence of the personification of death, and the beauty of its (Joelle Van Dyne's) naked body.)

But maybe that's such a simple view, an easy A stands for B kind of symbolism that I'm enforcing above everything. What was my point? Los Campesinos! and Infinite Jest. I forget: it's 6am, I'm sleeping.