A very large prime number can be sold for quite a bit of money in today's economy, and I think that it's interesting that something as mathematical as that has changed from being a tool for a war effort to something that is currently exploited for profit. You can see this difference in L. Waterhouse and R. Waterhouse's motives. Randy call the hacking a game and even "romantic." If something as pure as mathematics ends up being exploited for economic gain, what's next?
"Kivistik had gone for the usual academician's ace in the hole: everything is relative, it's all just differing perspectives" (83).
It is annoying when an argument goes that way, but Randy vs. Charlene's friends didn't really seem to go to one side or another. I'm wondering if the novel is seting up for a discussion of relativity, whether the shades of gray we use are progressive or counterproductive, whether we're limited as a society because of it.
After all the discussion about being forced out into the world and forced to abandon infant-like innocence I though Pamela Hoffman-Jeep's character, the girl that "spent most of her life passed out and sleeping" was an interesting example of someone that is managing to retain that infant-like innocence. Only such a character is perpetually taken advantage of, and the "single passivest person" Gately's ever met (924). So staying "beyond" the corruption of the world isn't really that attractive either. As "Death's Poster-Child," is she an illustration of how someone that resists the world is just waiting for death?
It was mentioned at some point earlier that ETA didn't buy into the idea of a corporate sponsorship for the entire academy as Port Washington did, but Wallace still draws distinct connections between tennis and consumer culture. I thought it was interesting that he'd take the time to mention who was sponsored by whom, who's logos were plastered on whose gearbags. And this is just in the Jrs, the tournaments that rarely make it on television.
In our reality, sports is a huge outlet for consumerism, the incredible SuperBowl ad prices, and the brand recognition that seems to skyrocket the moment a popular athlete signs on with the brand.
Though there have been several death scenes laced with humor, I found Clipperton's suicide to be one of the novel's least humorous thus far. I remember there was a section before page 435 talking about the human incapability of dealing with achieving an ideal, I think it may have involved Schtitt's philosophies, but does anyone think they might know what I'm talking about?
I saw/ the novel made some parallels between Clipperton and NaCN-Quik kid (blue-faced suicide technique 437), there were both subject to "unprepared-goal-attaintment-trauma" (437). Clipperton's No.1 ranking is the result of inprobable bureaucratic shuffling, but it's unclear how NaCN-Quik kid suffered from this, any ideas?
I saw parts in this section's Maranthe/Steeply interaction that reminded me of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale."
"but what of the freedom-to? Not just freedom-from. Not all compulsion comes from without. You pretend you do not see this. What of freedom-to. How for the person to freely choose?...How is there freedom to choose if one does no learn how to choose?" (320)
Published in 1986, Atwood's novel deals with a dystopian world in which this "freedom-to" is extinguished for a significant amount of the population, and its loss is particularly obvious with the protagonist stuck in a role not of her own choosing. She implies that the loss of "freedom-to" resulted in dystopia, whereas Wallace's novel suggests that freedom-to" has always been lacking.
This is a bit of a silly post, but it's things like this that are making Infinite Jest infinitely easier to read for me than the other novels. The book is alienating sometimes (Joelle section starting 227) when I don't understand it, but Wallace includes some odd stray thoughts that I've pondered before, thoughts that I never imagined I would see in print. I'd be grateful if someone could tell me what's going on in that 227-235 section though, is she just watching one of James Incandenza's movies?
But back to the odd tidbits, on 221, in the middle of a lengthy description of a city street drenched in rain, Wallace describes the swish of cars driving by: "sheening by with the special lonely sound of cars in rain, wipers making black rainbows on taxis' shining windshields" (221). It was strange to read this because I've always considered cars driving on a rainy day lonely. All the windows stopped up, and sheets of water, glass and metal effectively plug people up in their cars, and the cars from each other. The wiper noises are the cars whining.
What struck me about the admissions scene was the university officials' stubborn labeling of Hal's "sounds" as "subanimalistic." They compare him to a goat, a stick of butter; this organism can be anything but human since they are incapable of understanding him. They can't see beyond his lingustic difficulties/differences and instantly feel like they have to regulate him to a "lower" species because of it. "We witnessed something only marginally mammalian in there, sir" (15).
"And who could not love that special and leonine roar of a public toilet" also seems to imply some irony. They accept that "roar" of the toilet on a regular basis, but can't take similarly animalistic sounds with actual substance behind them?
"That wasw the baseball his dad had given him as a trust, a gift, a peace offering, a form of desperate love and a spiritual hand-me-down. The ball he'd more or less lost. Or his wife had snatched when they split. Or he'd accidentally dumped with the household trash" (611).
This section with Chuckie and Louis was interesting in that it brought back the baseball and waste themes along with a commentary on family structure. It's interesting that this baseball that everyone's looking for is originally a desperate attempt to connect to a son, then a piece of a petty breakup, and finally waste along with the rest of his household trash.
I was looking around on Omnifile and found this excerpt from an interview with Delillo in a book review--
"He has admitted to being strongly influenced by the cinematic techniques of Jean-Luc Godard, and in an interview with Tom LeClair (referred to in LeClair's very interesting book on DeLillo called In the Loop), DeLillo said that the cinematic qualities which influenced his writing were "the strong image, the short ambiguous scene...the artificiality, the arbitrary choices of some directors, the cutting and editing."
The reviewer is convinced that the "arbitrary" component of Delillo's backwards swerves in time is actually the dominant component of the entire scheme, and presently, I'm inclined to side with him.