The “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace Analysis Essay

David Foster Wallace is an unusual writer. It is difficult to say whether his emotional disorder or just a great talent was the reason of his uniqueness. His name is associated with tennis, a unique worldview and the ability to notice the smallest details and depict them in his fiction essays.

His novel “Infinite Jest” is his most famous work.

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The first 200 pages are, at first glance, chaotically mounted cutting scenes, descriptions, and dialogues, which are difficult to compile into a single picture.

It sounds and looks ridiculous. All the literary courses of future prose writers teach how important it is to start and grab the attention of the reader. Wallace, who himself taught literacy skills all his life, does exactly the opposite: he writes a text in which the first two or three hundred pages all heroes should be marked with bookmarks, so as not to lose them in the darkness of the imagination.

His novel “Infinite Jest” is his most famous work. The first 200 pages are, at first glance, chaotically mounted cutting scenes, descriptions, and dialogues, which are difficult to compile into a single picture. It sounds and looks ridiculous. All the literary courses of future prose writers teach how important it is to start and grab the attention of the reader. Wallace, who himself taught literacy skills all his life, does exactly the opposite: he writes a text in which the first two or three hundred pages all heroes should be marked with bookmarks, so as not to lose them in the darkness of the imagination.

The whole first part of the novel is a kind of filter. Stretching the introduction, making it unbearable, and the author seems to be trying to weed out the superfluous. At the same time, this approach gives the title and the whole text an additional post-rhythmic dimension, because the “Infinite Jest” is a book about the destructive force that our craving for pleasure has.

The whole first part of the novel is a kind of filter. Stretching the introduction, making it unbearable, and the author seems to be trying to weed out the superfluous. At the same time, this approach gives the title and the whole text an additional post-rhythmic dimension, because the “Infinite Jest” is a book about the destructive force that our craving for pleasure has.

This is a very populous novel. However, a clear system is visible in such a complex structure. The action, for the most part, is closed on two characters – Harold “Hal” Incandenza, a young man with outstanding linguistic abilities and a budding tennis player, and Donald “Don” Gately, who is a dimedrol addict. All the events are deployed in two locations – the Enfield Tennis Academy and the rehabilitation clinic Annette House.

This is a very populous novel. However, a clear system is visible in such a complex structure. The action, for the most part, is closed on two characters – Harold “Hal” Incandenza, a young man with outstanding linguistic abilities and a budding tennis player, and Donald “Don” Gately, who is a dimedrol addict. All the events are deployed in two locations – the Enfield Tennis Academy and the rehabilitation clinic Annette House.

The text is quite symmetrical from the architectural perspective. While Hal slowly slips into drug addiction and further into insanity, Don, on the contrary, desperately fights with his demons – goes to meetings of anonymous alcoholics and tries to clear blood and mind from stimulant drugs. Throughout the novel, two heroes seem to balance the author’s intention: one gradually loses clarity, the second seeks a way to find it.

The text is quite symmetrical from the architectural perspective. While Hal slowly slips into drug addiction and further into insanity, Don, on the contrary, desperately fights with his demons – goes to meetings of anonymous alcoholics and tries to clear blood and mind from stimulant drugs. Throughout the novel, two heroes seem to balance the author’s intention: one gradually loses clarity, the second seeks a way to find it.

On this storyline, Wallace screws up much other contemporary fiction and anti-utopian schemes. It takes action in the near future in which the consumer society has sold absolutely everything, even the calendar: now it is subsidized by corporations, and instead of the number every year is called by the name of the firm that paid for the “advertising space.” Madness is not only happening in the calendar. Politicians, too, completely became crazy. The United States, Canada, and Mexico have united into a single state and now an eagle in a sombrero, which in one paw clasps a maple leaf, and in another, a cleaning means, symbolizing the extreme degree of the hypochondria of the president is depicted on the national flag. Canada has become a nuclear waste dump and a separatist base.

On this storyline, Wallace screws up much other contemporary fiction and anti-utopian schemes. It takes action in the near future in which the consumer society has sold absolutely everything, even the calendar: now it is subsidized by corporations, and instead of the number every year is called by the name of the firm that paid for the “advertising space.” Madness is not only happening in the calendar. Politicians, too, completely became crazy. The United States, Canada, and Mexico have united into a single state and now an eagle in a sombrero, which in one paw clasps a maple leaf, and in another, a cleaning means, symbolizing the extreme degree of the hypochondria of the president is depicted on the national flag. Canada has become a nuclear waste dump and a separatist base.

All these strange, bizarre and unrelated plot elements Wallace connects through the reference to the film “Infinite Jest,” whose audience literally dies of laughter while watching it. Attempts to find or at least track the movements of the last remaining cartridge with the picture eventually hurt almost all the characters and add to the already intricate plot, even more, noise, hysteria and truly insane fun.

All these strange, bizarre and unrelated plot elements Wallace connects through the reference to the film “Infinite Jest,” whose audience literally dies of laughter while watching it. Attempts to find or at least track the movements of the last remaining cartridge with the picture eventually hurt almost all the characters and add to the already intricate plot, even more, noise, hysteria and truly insane fun.

This novel is amid the best American essays. With his novel, Wallace opened a new direction in literature. It is a challenge to all postmodern literature with its sarcasm, cynicism, and refusal to search for meaning. David Foster Wallace is the first American writer to declare war on irony, and his “Infinite Jest” at the same time is his manifesto, an attempt to find a new benchmark and reproach the writers of the older generation.

This novel is amid the best American essays. With his novel, Wallace opened a new direction in literature. It is a challenge to all postmodern literature with its sarcasm, cynicism, and refusal to search for meaning. David Foster Wallace is the first American writer to declare war on irony, and his “Infinite Jest” at the same time is his manifesto, an attempt to find a new benchmark and reproach the writers of the older generation.

In the 1950s, after the culture survived the reset, the postmodern with its ironic distance and the cult of uncertainty seemed the only possible tool for cognizing the world. Today it is already obvious that all this eclecticism, parodies, narrative games, deconstructionism and eternal flirtation with pop culture no longer work. And it is not accidental that the title of the book is a quote from the monolog of Hamlet, which he utters, looking at Yorick’s skull. Wallace wrote his thousand-fold opus, looking at the bare skull of postmodernism.

In the 1950s, after the culture survived the reset, the postmodern with its ironic distance and the cult of uncertainty seemed the only possible tool for cognizing the world. Today it is already obvious that all this eclecticism, parodies, narrative games, deconstructionism and eternal flirtation with pop culture no longer work. And it is not accidental that the title of the book is a quote from the monolog of Hamlet, which he utters, looking at Yorick’s skull. Wallace wrote his thousand-fold opus, looking at the bare skull of postmodernism.

The main idea is a call for sincerity. It became a binding solution of the “Infinite Jest” and made it one of the most important novels of its time, and the author himself became a national treasure. The irony, in conformity with Wallace, is like anesthesia. In small quantities, it really helps to blunt the pain of reality and keep the soul and aesthetic balance, but it’s worth a bit to exceed the dose and postmodernism, and then pure buffoonery turns out.

The main idea is a call for sincerity. It became a binding solution of the “Infinite Jest” and made it one of the most important novels of its time, and the author himself became a national treasure. The irony, in conformity with Wallace, is like anesthesia. In small quantities, it really helps to blunt the pain of reality and keep the soul and aesthetic balance, but it’s worth a bit to exceed the dose and postmodernism, and then pure buffoonery turns out.
Modern literature, at the head of which all these “infinitely witty, marvelous inventors” stand, who have chosen an ironic distance and regard naivety as a defective feeling, is not viable. The only way to defeat it and win the war with the entropy of “infinite wit” is to be honest and open, not to hide behind the grin of an intellectual and not to be afraid of one’s own naivety, stop taking the drug of irony whenever you are afraid to look at the world and begin to take life seriously. One of the most important phrases in the novel sounds as follows. “Have fun as much as you want. But choose wisely”.

Modern literature, at the head of which all these “infinitely witty, marvelous inventors” stand, who have chosen an ironic distance and regard naivety as a defective feeling, is not viable. The only way to defeat it and win the war with the entropy of “infinite wit” is to be honest and open, not to hide behind the grin of an intellectual and not to be afraid of one’s own naivety, stop taking the drug of irony whenever you are afraid to look at the world and begin to take life seriously. One of the most important phrases in the novel sounds as follows. “Have fun as much as you want. But choose wisely”.

References

  • David Foster Wallace – Wikipedia,
  • David Foster Wallace – Google Books,

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