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Week 2 Update

Hey everybody,

Sorry that this update is a little late, but to be on pace you’ll probably want to be around page 150 or so to get to 181 by Wednesday. Here are just a few things from the reading that I’ve found interesting:

Always looking forward to hearing your thoughts–you can post here or at infinite-eph.blogspot.com! Have a great week and check back on Wednesday for next week’s page numbers!

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#1 Comment By David On July 20, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

You should recruit some other commentators to make posts in addition to (or replacement) of the ones that you are making. That is the best way to improve participation, assuming that matters to you.

#2 Comment By sophmom On July 20, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

I am curious who else is reading? Cuz, I’d love to have some dialogue on this. I posted a couple of points and queries last week with no response, boo-hoo. And I really could use a little back and forth with this beast.

For one, what about the characters on the periphery of the periphery? Like the Wardine-Clenette section, and then there’s Katherine Gompert and the doctor…Bruce Green and Mildred Bonk…and the whole drug crazed night on the town with yrstruly and Poor Tony…(egads). I suppose these characters could easily funnel into the larger story at a later point, but there is a distinctly different handling to them that makes me wonder about DFW’s intention.

And to address your points above:

*109-121: This section was almost painful to read, mostly because of how it sets us up for the first scene in the book, the Year of Glad. While there is huge contrast between this Hal, and the Hal in that first scene, we do see the signs of what we know is yet to come. There is a sense of trying to reach out, a bit of desperation revealed in what he’s thinking, but not quite able to say.

(BTW, the memo on pgs. 138-140? Not sure what the heck this was about, but it sure was entertaining.)

*140-142: IMO, Hal’s “hero analysis” is a testament to grief. Count the times he uses the word “lonely”, “alone” and “loneliness”. I would bet that all of the characteristics he brings up, are clues to the “Himself” we don’t yet know, for good or for worse. And the emphasis on TV characters and shooting tactics, camera angles, all connected with his father.

* IMO, DFW’s analysis of videophone technology was superb. Clever, funny, irreverent, and prescient commentary on more than just the phone. I get the feeling this is the kind of verbal riff that came naturally to Wallace in real life, when he was feeling good, and hanging out with friends… and that to witness it must have been a rare treat.

Confused as I might sound, I am enjoying the book immensely. Wallace was a gifted writer/thinker, no doubt about it.

Okay, I am off to finish reading about Himself and his father…ouch.

#3 Comment By JG On July 20, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

Popping in to say that I am reading, but behind. I’m trying to get mostly caught up before another 90 pages get “assigned.” Seriously I think 60 page chunks might have been easier…but such is life.

SM – will comment when I am actually at the places you mention hopefully :) I’m happy to chat with you though, to the extent I am able, either here or via email or phone. You know how to find me!

#4 Comment By The Swamped Fox On July 21, 2009 @ 11:45 pm

@sophmom: Thanks so much for keeping up with it–I meant to respond to some of your stuff last week but it’s been a crazy week. You can also always email me (cjf1@williams.edu) if you have questions-I would love to chat via email on top of everything.

* I think you’re right that there are those “extra” or seemingly filler sections that may funnel in but they feel like riffs that DFW was using to make a point rather than tell a story. The quote I used from the Katherine Gompert section about sarcasm and jokes in the last update always gets me.

* I also think that while the hero analysis deals a lot with loneliness, that’s also what Hal associates in that first section with what it means to be an individual. It’s this “aloneness” that DFW seems to be exploring and how entertainment, drugs, and even phones can keep us there. There is something though about the idea of a hero of “non-action”, the “catatonic” hero that makes me wonder if we are supposed to see Hal (with all his trouble speaking in the first scene) as that “hero.” But maybe all individuals are heroes in this world where passivity and addiction seem to play such a large part.

* And I have no idea what that email from 138-140 is about but DFW has this thing where every once and a while he’ll end a section right before something is about to happen. This email is a good example of how he can be entertaining and then cut you off suddenly and leave you unfulfilled, disappointed even. I’ll try to find another example…

and in response to David, there are some people who comment on ephblog who I have not figured out how to contact via email, so if you’re out there and are at all interested or would like to learn about how to contribute something more, please email me at cjf1@williams.edu –I’ll be “in what’s left of the Berkshires” (57)