Ok, so I guess its not the last one.
One of the things that has been on my mind for the past couple weeks is the question of the authorship of Infinite Jest. The things that sparked this were 1. one of my previous classes (Pre/Post Modern Novel) which brought up the question of authorship for almost every book we read and 2. footnote 123. In the footnote (if you are too lazy to go look it up (which I would be if someone else were reading this post)), which is on page 1023, it begins with Pemulis stating he is dictating to Hal. The immediate implication is that Hal ended up writing down what Pemulis dictated to him. The secondary implication/question is then, how did it end up in Infinite Jest, as a footnote? Finally, a brief conjecture that it seems Hal is the author of Infinite Jest: The Novel as compared to Himself, who made Infinite Jest: The Film.
With that said, I’ll finish this tomorrow hopefully, after I get some sleep.
Back to finish finally.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish this without using the end of the book, so spoilers exist after the cut.
Most of my support of the claim that Hal is the narrator of Infinite Jest occurs at the end of the novel. On page 851, we see Hal narrating in the first person, much like we saw in the first scene of the book. (This has interesting implications of its own by the way). For the rest of the novel, until the preparation for the gala (p 964), whenever we see Hal, he narrates in the first person. The only hint of a first person narration by any other identified character was Himself’s “Spontaneous Reminiscence” (FN 208) about his father trying to discover why the mattress frame is squeaking (491). But this turns out to be an excerpt from a published book. If we accept the premise that Hal is the overall narrator of the work, then the other “I”s that pop up, either in footnotes, or elsewhere in the book, (the face in the floor), are easily taken care of.
The problem that still remains is then how would Hal know about the other threads that occur throughout the book? The two threads that are most fleshed out are Gately’s story and the Steeply and Marathe interview on the rocks. We then need to see how Hal came to know their stories. The problem is that there is no textual evidence of any sort to suggest that Hal and Gately or Hal and Steeply or Marathe have ever met. So this, like my original premise, is pure conjecture.
To see how Gately and Hal are connected, there are two ways in which I could see them meeting. The first is that Hal is taken to the same hospital where Gately is trying to live through the pain moment by moment. They meet and either through an interjection by the wraith, or by pure chance, Gately finds out that this is the son that Himself was talking about. The second is that after Gately recovers, (I guess we really never know if this happens), he goes searching for the mute son that the wraith wanted him to see. My main reason for thinking that the second could occur is that Gately seems like the kind of guy who, when asked to do something, would.
The possible ways in which Hal and Steeply or Marathe would have met are a bit shakier. The first is that Steeply and Marathe could have gone after Hal after they had gone after Orin. The only textual connection here is that someone seemingly connected with the AFR (Luria P—- on 972) is interviewing Orin in a giant glass tumbler. The AFR could have decided to go after Hal after failing with Orin. Steeply seems to be a step behind, by interviewing Joelle, which would then lead to Orin, or possibly directly to Hal if he was feeling ambitious. Another chance for Hal to come in contact with Marathe would be if he decided to participate in the Tennis Gala, which Hal would be attending.
A final possible item of support is the end of the first scene in the book. Hal is lying on the stretcher in the hospital, and someone asks him “So you then man what’s your story?” and the Novel is Hal’s response.
I admit there are a few holes that can easily be poked in this overall theory. The biggest one is simply: Why would Hal decide to act as a third person omniscient narrator for the first 800 pages of the story and then suddenly switch to a combination of that and first person until the end? Smaller holes exist when trying to find out how Hal found out about the smaller threads of stories in the Novel, unless he simply made them up for some reason. Finally, at first, I thought it would simplify things to set up the Novel with a single narrator, but now it appears to introduce many more complications than allowing for a simple third person omniscient narrator, or maybe multiple narrators as we discussed in class.
Wow, that was long…anyway…