In our discussions today, we only got through about page 240, and I have quite a few more passages from later on that I was hoping we could talk about. But I guess the blog is just as good a forum for discussion as class is!
On page 295, Orin is trying to explain to Joelle how and why he switched from tennis to football at Boston University. I understand that he was burnt out from tennis, and that his recently discovered superhuman punting skills allowed him to be able to join the football team. He also tells us that he decided to join the football team to spend more time near Joelle, aka the Prettiest Girl Of All Time.
But Orin then explains why he decided to stay on the football team, and this is the part that confuses me. Orin “believed it wasn’t all athletic, punting’s pull for him, that a lot of it seemed emotional and/or even, if there was such a thing anymore, spiritualâ€¦ here were upwards of 300,000 voices, souls, voicing approval as One Soul.” Is this seeking of approval a form of vanity? Orin mentions that he enjoyed the massive cheers at a football game much more than he enjoyed the short and quiet applause at a tennis match.
Or maybe it isn’t all vanity, because Orin also compares these deafening cheers to “the sound of the womb,” a place where “he literally could not hear himself think.” I’m interested in the comparison to the womb here, because I think it is pretty obvious that Orin has a tension-filled relationship with his mother. In a lot of the passages about the Incandenza’s, DFW strains to make it clear that Moms did not try to pressure her sons at all into making any decisions, and yet both Orin and Hal seem to be under this immense pressure and keep their mother at a distance that seems to incriminate her for making them feel this way.
I guess it wouldn’t be right to call Orin vain just because he enjoys the deafening noise of a cheering crowd. He justifies this claim by explaining that the noise allowed him to escape himself: “his own self transcended as he’d never escaped himself on the [tennis] court.” So now my question is, why does Orin have this desire to escape himself? Is this a desire that we all harbor, or is Orin’s case more serious?