So. Upon taking a break around midnight I decided to unwind with a bit of ye old Entertainment. The hows and the whys escape me--the interwebs, like a magical forest, tend to lead to many unsettling discoveries--but I stumbled upon this little... gem, the website for the Montana Meth Project. Warning: The videos and the ads aren't exactly for the faint of heart. The blurb on the site sums it all up pretty nicely, 70-90% of teens in Montana are supposedly seeing these about three times a week--saturation-level advertising they're calling it. The ads themselves are... well... abhorrently grotesque. Like the Nunhagen-Aspirin ads, but there's nothing remotely artistic or what have you about this. "Not even once" is the general theme...
I was amused at Himself's movie about nuns. The fact that he is using nuns and violence to talk about AA and the very things we discussed in class: trading in one addiction for another one (cigarettes, coffee, AA meetings, God).
Also, the young new nun is disfigured, and addicted. This all made me think of Joelle's experience at AA. This film would have been made before all this, but it still seems like it might connect.
This has already been posted on a billion times, I know, I'm just too lazy to find the right post to comment on.
On 677 Ms. Steeply (the reporter) and DeLint and watching the match between Hal and Stice and DeLint talks about the pressures of winning- "Winning two and three upset matches, feeling suddenly so loved,so many talking to you as if there is love. But always the same, then. For then you awaken to the fact that you are loved for winning only. The two and three wins created you, for people. It is not that the wins made them recognize something that existed unrecognized before these upset wins. The from-noplace winning created you. You must keep winning to keep the existence of love and endorsements and the shiny magazines wanting your profile."
I'm really interested in socially construction rules and limitations, and the various effects of transgression. The overarching dichotomic structure of drugs v. tennis in the novel can be read as an exploration of this theme: American culture encourages discipline, focus, and specialization, and tennis is an acceptable venue, whereas drugs are not. Why is this? The commonsensical answer - something along the lines of "well drugs are bad" - I think requires further interrogation. Why has drug use been devalorized to such an extreme degree? Answers will vary depending on one's analytic framework, but I'm inclined to say it's because drug addicts do not serve the interests of capital, or, more rigorously, stigmatizing drug use and relegating to marginalized sectors of society (which is a deeply racialized process) serves the interests of capital by legimitizing oppression - the diagnosis of drug problems within a community tends to justify cutting funding for social programs and what not.
I find it interesting that the Ennet House Drug and Alchohol Recovery House (sic) is right next to the Enfield tennis academy, because it got me thinking about some parallels between tennis and drugs (or more specifically, sports obsession and substance addiction).
When the book was going over some of the things that addicts/mental patients learn during recovery, it kept mentioning a bunch of strategies and lessons patients are taught in order to regain control of their lives. These continous lessons of control reminded me of the strict sports lessons of James's Incandenza's father, which were then taught by James to his son, Hal (especially those regarding controlling your body). I'm drawing closer parallels between mental patients and tennis players as the novel goes on, in their similarly obsessive, struggling, carefully monitored existence.
I think the initial "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment" segment depicting the torturous wait for drugs in the midst of addiction is fascinating when taken in the context of the role drug use played in the other two novels, especially because his mental state comes off as somehow desperately paranoiac, though in a very different way from what we've seen thus far in the course. The idea that something like drug use becomes compulsory, something "he would force himself to do...even if he didn't want it. Even if it started to make him sizzy and ill. He would use discipline and persistence and will and make the whole experience so unpleasant, so debased and debauched and unpleasant, that...he'd never want to do it again" (22). I think this comes off as pathologically alienating because it's so teleological: I'll smoke now so I won't want to / have to smoke later. This mindset undermines the present moment completely, to the extent that we want to say, Look if you're going to smoke, you might as well enjoy it. It's like an activity that was once a guilty pleasure - pleasure now and maybe some guilt later - now induces the accompanying feeling guilt instantaneously, always-already right now, like the whole experience has been compressed into the present moment, but thereby cheapens it. Something like: overstimulated simultaneity in the present overwhelms and effectively eradicates the present. The drugs have lost their meaning as a mode of escapism, too, because the esacpe has become so routinized: "marijuana breaks" every few weeks have become a dependable part of his life. Smoking doesn't offer anything in the way of calling his subjectivity into question; it is constitutive part of that subjectivity. This reflects a larger trend that I observe in contemporary society: resistance to / disillusionment with the system is built into the system itself. Why is The Office such an hysterical show, or Office Space an hysterical movie? Because ultimately, jobs are "supposed" to be alienating. We've come to expect (and maybe even desire?) menial work as the status quo, and opposition is systemically built-in - the fact that workers or students will waste time is assumed and therefore preempted by stretching out the work day. Habits of all kinds, drugs and alcohol among them, are now just ways of coping (some more acceptable than others). Such is the production of the conditions of re-production of late capitalism. I'm not sure quite how, but I feel like this relates deeply to the idea of the action as its own antithesis or cure. The idea of taking drugs to kick the habit follows curious logic indeed. Maybe its a question of biopolitics, that is to say, how the system maintains, regulates, and distributes, bodies: if something like taking drugs is now somewhat of a requisite, or at least not a surprise, then the ultimate tool of biopolitical control would be to make the use of drugs themselves coincide always immediately with its own negation (lack of pleasure, breaking the habit, etc.). That way we offer a highly controled and ritualized, but ultimately vacuous way of dissipating behavior that threaten (are are perceived to threaten) society at large.
All three of our novels have now dealt with the relationship between drugs and paranoia, perhaps Infinite Jest most directly. It almost seems to be an integral part of encyclopedic novel, perhaps because of the role of drugs in modern society, or perhaps even more scarily as an aspect of their prophetic nature. Reading the section about waiting for the marijuana delivery reminded me a lot of the GR section about freedom and drugs. In some ways the concept of marijuana addiction seemed like a bit of a stretch, but there is a definite sense of not being able to resist. Especially in the way we keep hearing about how he doesn't even know why he does it any more -- this seems to be almost the opposite of what GR was talking about.