My brain capacity is probably never going to be enough to take in and process the contents of something as voluminous and as big as Infinite Jest. I insisted on doing this, mapping my progress on it, because I don’t have a child, or any other thing that’s sufficiently distracting with which to eliminate the need to do this type of questing.
I thought it might be a good idea to track my whereabouts, plot-wise, which is obviously not such a wise thing to do with Infinite Jest, since it’s big. Where I’m wrong is in tracking my progress, checking my comprehension or degree of amazement thus far. What I should have done, I should have just sat back and read. It’s been a major slog but believe self-absorbed people talking about books when they say, IJest is great.
I thought maybe this questing is because of the need to talk about something.
It makes perfect sense that most blurbs read like as if it’s God himself they’re praising when they rave about something, at least within the pages of the book they’re praising, in their concise, sliced form, the blurbs. With this book, it seems particularly justified although last resort-like, such as that it’s bravely brilliant, a tour-de-force of nature, et al because, and I’m just guessing, book appreciation doesn’t always translate to comprehension, and maybe some book critics/appreciators are just fishing from their reserves of usable and trusty wells of praises when they have/want to describe books as marvelously intellectual and funny as this, which is very understandable since it’s beginning to look like its reason for existence seems to be to dazzle, because everything’s so eloquently laid out and there’s nothing left to do but say wow, or pick a word from your well.
What I should have done or should aim to do is to just let the reading experience be and spare what/whoever (WordPress) of my impressions since they’re so elementary anyway, and there are only but a few signs that I am understanding what I’ve been reading.
But for example, that conversation between Joelle Van Dyne and Don Gately, about how the principles of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and UHID (Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed) greatly differ, through Joelle’s gorgeous explanation to Gately that UHID, as opposed to the belief system(s) of AA, believes it’s important to acknowledge the shame of being shamed about his (Gately’s) shortage in intellect and perception of things while poking at Joelle’s need to hide under a veil all the time, that was great for me. It’s just like what I’ve been doing, actually; tracking the reading progression and at the same time being self-deprecatory about my inability to really comprehend, just so I won’t appear totally stupid. So I talk about this, admit my shortage in comprehension, and proceed to talk about it anyway.
What you do is you hide your deep need to hide, and you do this out of the need to appear to other people as if you have the strength not to care how you appear to others. You stick your hideous face right in there into the wine-tasting crowd’s visual meatgrinder, you smile so wide it hurts and put out your hand and are extra gregarious and outgoing and exert yourself to appear totally unaware of the facial struggles of people who are trying not to wince or stare or give away the fact that they can see that you’re hideously, improbably deformed. You feign acceptance of your deformity. You take your desire to hide and conceal it under a mask of acceptance.
In this, I am the YOU and you are the wine-tasting crowd who sees through the ‘deformity’. If I were you I am probably thinking, I really don’t get it and yet I still talk. It’s fine.
I wanted right now to talk about this, a book, because I’ve been despairing, really, one of the worst kind, where I dread things that happen on a very regular basis, from Monday to Friday, as a matter of absolute fact, and I have applied for a job where I told the people in authority I love books, and what kind of a book lover am I if I don’t talk about the few pages I’ve read of Infinite Jest. The so-called quest is not for nothing.