Infinite Jest Chapter Summaries
Infinite Jest Chapter Summaries page, for summaries and discussion of each section of the book.
This page is part of a grouping of pages attached to Matt Kozusko's FA2008 ENGL 441 course, Infinite Jest
[I recommend we follow Steve Russillo's schematic for dividing the book into sections. I have copied the scheme below, verbatim, from Russillo's wiki page. It is relatively spoiler-free (especially considering that the novel is not strictly chronological). My proposal is that we elaborate on each of the chapters as we go, collectively, without too much digital signature use to crowd the summaries. As you go, just boldface the page number and Russillo's short description (tag with three apostrophes on either side) and then add the date, if available. MBK]
3* · Admissions Interview (November, Year of Glad)
- Hal at University of Arizona for Whataburger Tournament and admissions interview. Hal pretty clearly demonstrates here that he's incredibly intelligent--the "lexical prodigy" characteristic is intact--and that while he clearly has a problem speaking, he has not trouble thinking. He hasn't lost his mind or anything. And on the court he's "possibly a genius," though technically that refers to *last* year's Whataburger tournament. Either way, Hal expects to do well this year, his coaches / representatives from ETA indicate he's done well so far, u.s.w. So whatever's wrong with him seems to be limited to attempts at verbal communication. Not sure what to make of the "infant's random stabs" bit, but note that the use of "whomsoever" as a subject is in fact incorrect, despite the preposition "by" (the whole clause is the object of "by"; "whomsoever" should be "whosoever"). Hal surely knows this (see "Tense Present"), and so the sentence presumably means that "yes, a recent paper would be unintelligible to you, which is ironic, since I know more about usage that you." [mbk]
10 · Hal eats mold
11 · Admissions Interview, cont.
13 · Hal on restroom floor
15 · So yo then man what's your story?
17* · Erdedy pot debauch: (Where's the woman who said she'd come?)
27* · Dad: Professional Conversationalist
32* · Orin's phone call rouses Mario
- Wondering bout "I want to tell you"; "My head is filled with things to say"; "I could wait forever"? , or google any of the lines and "The Beatles." I'd love for somebody to figure this out at some point [mbk]
33* · Medical Attache & mystery TP cartridge
37 · Wardine, Roy Tony, and Reginald. Ebonics. This section is narrated by Clenette, Wardine's half-sister. We learn that Roy Tony is Wardine's mother's boyfriend, both of whom have abused Wardine causing her to flee their home. Wardine has been sexually assaulted by Roy Tony, and once her mother heard of this, she proceeded to beat Wardine Joan Crawford-style. Reginald is Clenette's brother, and together he and Clenette tend to Wardine's injuries. It is also revealed that Roy Tony killed Dolores Epps' brother Columbus, and Clenette's mother is scared of Roy Tony because he killed Columbus in a fight over her four years ago. It is hinted at (strongly) that Roy Tony is Clenette's father. Reginald says he'll die before he allows Wardine to be beaten again, threatening to confront Roy Tony. Clenette thinks Roy Tony would kill Reginald if that happened, then she predicts that Wardine's mother would kill Wardine, and then she would be left alone with her expected child. [MGM]
38 · Mildred Bonk & Bruce Green: Bruce Green fell in love with the "unlikely named" Mildred Bonk in eighth grade. Mildred began hanging with a tough crowd, and the narrator notes her transformation from object of school boy desire to a hair gel and attitude-ridden consumer of illegal substances and lover of low-slung cars. Bruce immediately alters his own behaviors to comply with Mildred's new identity. By graduation, Bruce and Mildred are living in a trailer with his aunt, Harriet Bonk-Green, "another frightening couple," and Tommy Doocey, a drug dealer who keeps an unpleasant smelling aquarium of snakes in what has to already be an overly cramped space. Mildred gets high all day, and Bruce goes to work at Leisure Time Ice. [MGM]
39* · Hal & Mario talk God & don't sleep
42 · Orin wakes. Slowly.; Medical Attache update #1
49* · ETA Physical Plant/Pump Room/ Hal's Secrecy
54 · Medical Attache update #2
55 · Don Gately: Botched DuPlessis Burglary
60 · InterLace, 932/1864 R.I.S.C. Power TPs...
60 · Troeltsch's rapid onset rhinovirus
61 · Evil in the dorm room with you
63* · Dad bio Mom, CT info
Endnote: (#24) James' Filmography
65 · Orin hang-glides into Mile High Stadium
66* · Pemulis' pharmocology seminar
67 · Football field-sized tennis court dream
68* · Kate Gompert, in hospital
78 · Medical Attache catatonic
79 · Gerhardt Schtitt & Mario walk and talk
85 · Tiny Ewell's cab ride
87 · Medical Attache update #3
87* · Marathe and Steeply: "You have ridiculous tits..."
93 · "It's a herd of feral hamsters."
93 · Marathe and Steeply in the desert, pt. 2
95 · Pop quiz in the shower room
97 · Marathe & Steeply, silent at dusk
97 · Exhausted in the ETA shower room
105 · Marathe and Steeply debate Helen of Troy
109 · ETA Big Buddy Meetings
121 · USS Millicent Kent seduces Mario!
126 · Marathe and Steeply: Anti Entertainment
127 · "Your murated nation."
127* · Lyle, the sweat licking guru
128 · Wo dranos C; Poor Tony wants the stole
- what is/are:
- "staying straight"
135* · Orin calls Hal: he's very hot.
137 · Ennet House & its anonymous founder
138 · Absurd Workmen's Comp claim
140 · Hal's term paper, reprinted
142 · Steeply's "Artifical Heart Purse Snatch" piece.
144 · Table: Separatist/Anti-ONAN terrorist groups
144 · The Rise and Fall of Videophony
151* · Buying Urinalysis/Hal & Pemulis bio
157* · James Sr. lectures James (age 10); Ruined Knees
169 · Pemulis scores DMZ from town
172 · Hal: "How To Be A Feral Tennis Prodigy"
176 · Montesian's Ennet House transcripts
181* · Madame Psychosis
193 · Ennet Complex (EMPHH) layout
198 · Weight Room, ETA
200 · "...many exotic new facts..."; Tiny's tattoo jones
211 · The Incredibly Potent DMZ
219* · Joelle VD ponders demapping herself @ Molly Notkin's party...
223 · SUBSIDIZED TIME PRIMER
223 · ...Joelle VD continues her contemplation...
227 · H.P. Steeply: Curriculum Vitae
227 · ...Joelle VD finishes the job.
240* · Enfield, MA, and environs
242 · Hal relates James' suicide to Orin
258* · Port Washington tournament
270 · Geoffrey Day & Gately at Ennis
- In this section we are introduced to a few new characters, and we are given more details about characters we have already seen. Geoffrey Day is new to Ennet House. He was a teacher at a junior college before he drove his Saab through the window of a sporting goods store and subsequently went shopping. After this incident (and a few others) he walked into Ennet House. Day identifies his whole existence with his head, meaning he overthinks everything and connects all things associated with his disease with logic (in Day's case, specifically, he finds AA illogic and inconsistent with its own principles). Day also lives through cliches and over-analyzes everything. He especially annoys Gately in particular. We also meet Burt F. Smith, who is most likely the guy that C, Poor Tony, and yrstruly beat up and robbed before C's Wo-enduced poisoning. My reasoning for this is that Wallace tells us Smith was beaten up and mugged in Cambridge on Xmas Eve of last year...this seems to connect directly with the robbery and drug use of C, Poor Tony, and yrstruly around that same time. Smith has attempted to get clean about 50 times before, his marriage is in shambles, and he lost his hands and feet from being left to freeze after the mugging. Charlotte Treat is another (new?) character we are given details about in this section. She sews all the time, is a former prostitute, has flame red hair, and HIV. Emil Minty is also described...He is a hard-core smack-addict with an orange mohawk. He looks like a man who has been on the streets since youth, evidenced by his sooty complexion...I'm thinking he is also a character we've seen before, my guess is yrstruly, but I'm not sure. Green is another resident of Ennet House; he is the guy we saw earlier married to Mildred Bonk...we know this because of his tattoo. Randy Lenz is a man on both sides of the law, probably in rehab just to avoid repercussions of his drug use/abuse. Gately does not seem too fond of Lenz either; he mentions that Lenz is most likely a knife-owner, which makes him irritated. Gately is described as a bored supervisor of Ennet House residents...he lays lazily on a sofa, silently and unobtrusively observing the rest of the group. He is 29 and has been sober for 421 days at our last update. Even though a lot of the characters are described in relation to how Gately feels about them, I do not think Gately himself is the narrator of this section, because he himself is also described. It seems to be more of an 3rd person indifferent narrator. The section ends with Day and Lenz arguing over Lenz's obsession with time. [vr]
- I think you're right about Emil = yrstruly and Burt F. Smith = victim of yrstruly et al. the previous Christmas. Geoffrey Day ("G. T. Day"), you will all recall from footnote 304, "helms" a "scholarly quarterly," which see footnote 304, where Struck seems to intuit (via the narrator) about Day's quaaludes-and-red-wine addiction. But note that Day doesn't so much live through cliches as bitch about the predominance of cliches in AA.
- Metonymic / metaphoric "heartlesness" and all its implications. The stolen heart, the heart in a handbag.
281 · Bus ride back from Port Washington
- E.T.A. is returning from the Port Washington tournament victorious, recounting the highlights of the match. Both the A and B teams had an outstanding showing, with John Wayne and Hal losing very few games. Teddy Schacht lost his singles match but came back in doubles with Jim Troeltsch for a big win. Pemulis’ opponent was unable to finish their last sets due to becoming mysteriously disoriented and so Pemulis got “V.D.” a.k.a. Victory by Default. (*Pemulis probably gave him the incredibly potent DMZ. - MGM) After the meet, Pemulis’ opponent continues to behave as if under the influence of something, while Pemulis feigns innocence of any involvement with the opponent’s inexplicable change in mental state. There is also some speculation about Troeltch’s own use of illicit substances, indicated by his being “conspicuously energized”. On the bus, the 18’s squads are engaged in conversation or homework. Troeltsch continues to impersonate a sportscaster while Hal and others read books for class and many players complain of various injuries and aching body parts. Mario and Coyle are engrossed in rock-paper-scissors Schtitt never rides the bus back and it is unclear how he gets home, only that he appears back at E.T.A. for early morning drills ready to recount every move that went wrong at the previous day’s competition. Somebody at the back of the bus passes around a leaflet advertising the liason that had gone on between Keith Freer and Bernadette Longley at a September meet, which causes a disturbance among the girls’ squad who rally to admonish the boys’ immaturity at humiliating Bernadette. There is a brief comment about the need for discretion regarding sexual relations among players and then the team stops at Denny’s when they arrive back at Enfield. [MEM]
283* · Orin: Punting, Joelle: Filming
- This section focuses entirely on Orin's past and his establishment in football. We are told Orin is a "low ranking" junior tennis player (which is explained as a relative term seeing as Orin is in the low 70s nationally which disqualifies him from a professional career in tennis but is, realistically, very good.) Orin's apparent options are to accept a prorector position at ETA in the hopes of eventually making it as a pro or to attend college and play college tennis. With some "assistance" from his mother Orin chooses to attend Boston University, which is not known for its tennis program. He receives a "lucrative" scholarship which includes full tuition, living expenses and a job turning on the sprinklers on the football field (which are actually automatic, go figure.) One morning while on the field he sees a particularly pretty pep squad girl (who is nicknamed later the P.G.O.A.T. and we know as Joelle Van Dyne, the cocaine addict) develops quite a crush on her and decides to play football to get her attention. As it turns out, he's not a very good football player, and after several failed attempts to play he is told to leave the field. Fortunately (for Orin anyway) as he is leaving the field in shame, the current punter gets crushed by a defensive player and severely injured. The ball ends up near Orin, who, not wanting to humiliate himself further by throwing it once again or walking it all the way back out, kicks the ball back. The coaching staff and team are astonished by the distance he achieves and the hangtime of the punt and Orin is offered a position as the new punter [it's worth you football fans chiming in here and clarifying why hangtime is so desirable--mbk]. His skills on the field increase with time and much to his delight the PGOAT approaches him at a party and he manages to actually talk to her (as it turns out she's so pretty that all males are too intimidated to actually talk to her) resulting in them soon dating and eventually moving in together. Orin in turn feeds Joelle's obsession with film by introducing her to his father (JOI) who helps gives her an internship of sorts, teaching her how to use a camera and other similar equipment. She often tapes Orin playing, and Orin is quite infatuated with watching the tapes of himself. [EER and JAG]
Compensation? Adequacy? Self-involvement? Close relationships.
299 · Poor Tony withdraws and crashes spectacularly
- This sections describes Tony’s Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. “The old Cold Bird. Poor Tony had never once had to Withdraw, not all the way down the deserted corridor of Withdrawal, not since he first got strung at seventeen.” “Lolasister went down with Hepatitis-G,” signifying what I presume to be the death of Tony’s last friend. Tony, alone in the world and isolated, hid in a dumpster and “began to withdrawal from heroine.” Poor Tony was forced to leave the dumpster, and then moved to a men’s room where he drank bottles of cough syrup to attempt to stop his withdrawal. Poor Tony kept visualizing his father, and his father’s disgust that poor Tony was a transvestite. Tony goes onto the Gray Line train in hopes of finding something to stop his withdrawal. Poor Tony hallucinated that his limbs were not attached, or floating away from him and ants are crawling all over him…” Poor Tony closed his eyes against the ants formicating [interesting, as we see this word elsewhere--from G. Day, for instance] up and down his arms’ skinny length and screamed a soundless interior scream of utter and soul-scalded woe.” & “He watched his limbs become airy white dirigibles and felt them deny his authority and detach from him and float sluggishly up snout first into the steel-mill sparks the ceiling rained.” Poor Tony then had a seizure on the train. Tony’s final concern is that his father “could see up his dress what was hidden.” (clf)
- Does anyone by any chance see some sort of justice in Tony suffering? That is, are we ever shown characters we don't particularly like and who we don't mind seeing suffer? [mbk]
- I think this might be a form of retribution for Poor Tony making C. the guinea pig with Dr. Wo’s Draino-laced cocaine. The fact that Poor Tony dies alone on a train seems to be an appropriate payback for his total disregard for C.’s life and their comradery. [MGM]
306* · Prorected Syllabus; Troeltsch's play-by-play; Mirrors across I-87
- This section first introduces the E.T.A. academic policy of prorector-instructed classes; prorectors, “for certification reasons,” are required to teach an academic course every term. These classes are popular, because, being taught by tennis-centric young people, are apparently quite easy to skate through. Courses include “The Personal Is the Political Is the Psychopathological: The Politics of Contemporary Psychopathological Double-Binds,” which examines such paradoxical questions as “If you’re a kleptomaniac and an agoraphobic, what do you do?” (Schact’s personal favorite) and “Separatism and Return: Quebecois History from Frontenac Through the Age of Interdependence,” which Hal is currently (and reluctantly) enrolled in. As these courses and others are described, we also learn of Troeltsch’s dream of becoming a tennis-based sportscaster (“ever since it became clear (very early) that he would in no way be Show-bound”), as his semi-regular E.T.A-only tournament update “radio” show is played over the PA during class. Anyway, “Separatism and Return,” taught only in Quebecois French, simultaneously irks, bores, and intrigues Hal; somehow, Orin finds out that he’s taking the class and calls him up, asking detailed questions about the Separatist movement that are outlined in Endnote #110. We get a little additional discussion and a few details about the movement’s history at the end of the section – Quebecois terrorism and separatism in general arose from the establishment of the O.N.A.N., and the squabbling over the Great Convexity/Concavity; this terrorism originally focused on the rest of Canada, but soon turned to the States. The A.F.R. delivered the first recognizable terrorist blow to the U.S. with its use of giant mirrors on the most dangerous, narrow sections of the I-87 in the Adirondacks; by stretching mirrors across the highway, the A.F.R. was able to fatally drive unsuspecting motorists off the road, but would remove the mirrors before authorities arrived, successfully baffling them. It wasn’t until a drug-addled woman purposefully drove straight into the mirror that anyone that anyone suspected “anti-O.N.A.N. ill will way worse than anything aroused by plain old historical Separatism, up in Quebec.”
Endnote: (#110) Hal sits on his bed naked soaking his ankle with Epsom salts and looking through a box of old letters. The date is 11/7 YDAU, the next day being interdependence day. Hal reads a letter that Avril had sent to Orin. The letter includes updates on ETA and her saying she was proud of his contract when she had heard the news from Mr. deLint. Hal then reads Orin’s response to his mother’s letter which is a generic note written by the team’s assistant mailroom technician accompanied by a signed autograph photo of Orin. Hal and Orin are on the phone together talking about Orin’s latest subject, Helen. Helen is described as a “girl and a half in all directions.” Orin confesses that he has taken a particular liking to her and is trying to impress her in his response to a previous conversation about the Separatists. Orin asks Hal what the word samizdat means and why their father may be linked to it. Hal responds that the term samizdat refers to banned politically charged media and that there are many terrorist cells that would love to depict their father’s work as anti-American. Orin then questions the motives of the Canadian terrorists for deciding in unison to become anti-O.N.A.N. and defend Canada when their goal is to get Quebec to secede. Hal responds that the Quebec’s hatred for Canada is deeper and more complex than anything the terrorists feel for O.N.A.N. It does not make sense to Orin why the terrorist groups would dissipate themselves to bring trouble into the US on interdependence day and possibly weaken themselves. Pemulis cracks the door open and Hal tries to get off the phone with Orin, but Orin continues pushing the conversation looking into Ottawa and wondering if they had not formally subjoined the concavity to any place would it not help Quebec’s goal of seceding if they offered to take it off everyone’s hands and make it theirs? If Quebec takes the concavity it would rehabilitate Canada’s stand within the world community and get rid of that area for O.N.A.N. Hal responds that he believes the anti-O.N.A.N. insurgency to be too small and half hearted to actually cause any damage showing that the terrorists are still anti-Canadian. (ced)
312 · "Every Inch Of Mario Incandenza"
- Mario Incandenza is described as a surprise, not in the sense that the pregnancy was a surprise, but the actual birth was a surprise. Avril Incandenza hadn't been showing and was menstruating monthly when she suddenly went into labor on a staircase (only seven months into the unknown pregnancy). JOI, having witnessed his father die of a “cerebral hemorrhage on a Tuscan staircase” (313), feared that his wife was suffering a similar fate. Hearing the commotion, Charles Travis (who had been staying with the Incandenzas from the preceding spring) came from the upstairs and took charge of the situation. Mario had to be “more or less scraped out” (313) of his mother “like the meat of an oyster from a womb to whose sides he’s been found spiderishly clinging” (313)
- Mario gets his name from his great-grandfather and in terms of appearance is severely deformed. He has “khaki-colored skin” (314) whose texture gives him a reptilian look. He is described as being somewhere between the size of an “elf” (313) and the size of a “jockey” (313) with “withered looking and bradyauxetic arms” (313). His head is bigger (in proportion to his body), so that it looks oversized. He can’t open doors in the traditional sense, but he can slap the knob open and use block-like feet to kick the “knob-fumbled doors open” (313). He moves in a “lurchy half-stumble” sort of way with his “body tilted way forward” (313). His hair resembles a middle-aged man who is vainly trying to cover a bald spot by growing their hair out (coincidently, Charles Travis is given as an example of someone who groom himself this way). In order for him to stand for long periods of time, he must be “supported by a NNYC-apartment-door-style police lock” (315)
- Mario has completely opposite relationships with his two brothers. Orin is cruel to him, pushing him down a lot when he was younger (which account for his nose’s flat shape). He also tried to fix Mario’s eyelid by pulling on it like one would a window shade and ended up “loosening the lid from it sutures” (314). Hal, on the other hand, worships and admires Mario. He secretly fears that his mother believes that Mario is “the family’s real prodigy” (317). Hal chased away a legate from the Union of Hideously and Improbably Deformed with his Dunlop stick, telling him to “peddle his linen someplace else” (317) because of the way he idolizes Mario.
- Mario’s relationships with others tend to be pleasant. He was JOI’s “honorary assistant production-assistant” (314), helping with JOI’s cinematography work. JOI had a video camera specially built and delivered (post-humorously) on Mario’s 13th Christmas. The camera that had been previously described when Mario was filming the drug testing line. Many of the store owners find him endearing, probably because of the constant smile that is on his face. The E.T.A players, when they go to Denny’s “vie to see who gets to cut up the cut-upable parts” (316) of Mario’s meal. Mario does try to stay put of his “possible half-uncle” (316) way though. [KG]
317 · Marathe and Steeply: Children & Freedom
- Marathe and Steeply are having a conversation in the desert in Tucson. We learn that the Entertainment/samizdat was produced by a man in the U.S. Marathe explains – with great brevity – that the choice facing the U.S.A. – to watch the Entertainment or not – means the difference between the continuation of their civilization and the end of it. He feels a degree of shame in voicing concerns about Americans to Americans, but continues by asking Steeply if the U.S.A.’s answer will entail killing Quebecois the way Columbians were killed in the 80’s for drug trafficking to America. Steeply corrects him by saying that this is different; the Quebecois seem to want U.S.A. citizens dead. Marathe says he’s missing the point, explaining that the very existence of the Entertainment will destroy the U.S.A., and that was DuPlessis plan all along. He reminds him that he knows that U.S.A. authorities know, which is why Steeply is trying to stop it. Marathe also says that the real threat is internal, that someone within Steeply’s own country failed to remind or set out to destroy the people’s ability to choose, so now the Entertainment is inevitable. Steeply suggests that Marathe is coming from a place of selfish personal interest, then compares Canada to the likes of Cuba, Cambodia, and Chad, all countries in which freedom – as it is known in a democracy – is infringed upon in various ways. He writes off the U.S.A.’s current problems as merely “the hazards of being free.” Marathe responds by explaining that there are two kinds of freedom: “freedom-from” and “freedom-to.” The U.S.A., he says, is always preoccupied with the “freedom-from” that ignores any outside constraints, encouraging the individual to simply do as he or she pleases without much regard for the consequences. As he explains this pollution fumes block the desert stars, illustrating an example of U.S.A.’s “freedom-from.” He continues by saying sometimes people need “a father to guide,” to show them the “right” choice. Steeply rejects the idea that the people of the U.S.A. are children to Quebec’s parental figures. Marathe accuses Steeply of putting words in his mouth, which is something a child would do. [MGM]
321* · ESCHATON!
- This is a very complex game apparently perfected by Michael Pemulis (the rules are written down by Hal) in which players gather on four contiguous tennis courts which represents a world map. The teams each represent various nations or factions, and the old, unsalvageable tennis balls are used as weapons (I believe the articles of clothing and such of players are used to represent targets within the territories.) There is a very complex mathematical formula for determining who receives what number of weapons. The object of the game is to cause as much INDDIR while suffering as little SUFDDIR as possible (and hopefully to avoid an apocalypse.) In all, I have to say it reminded me of a very complex, real world dungeons and dragons or something similar. [EER] / The teams are referred to as Combatants, and the amount of megatonnage (number of tennis balls?) given to each team depends on the Mean-Value Theorem for Integrals, or put more simply, the average of all the amounts of megatonnage given to a country in the past. This changes with every new Eschaton, because a new number has to be averaged in. [MGM] Since Erin's summary is quite similar to what I was going to say, I'm just going to throw in this little tidbit: if you look at the terms from the book, the word eschaton is in direct relation to an apacolypse. Coincidence? I'm thinking no. [JAG] / The game devolves over a rules argument involving whether or not the players themselves were targets. What ensued was quite a brawl, many ETA players end up injured and the machine containing all the rules and systems for calculating Eschaton is destroyed, basically the death of the game itself. [DR] / I love that disagreement! "It's snowing on the goddamn map, not the territory, you dick! ... and the sentence about Pemulis's jumping up and down so hard his hat actually jumps off his head is one of my favorite in the whole book: "...which Troeltsch and Axford confer and agree the have previously seen occur only in animated cartoons" (337) [mbk] / I was thinking back to an earlier discussion we had about Hal's paper on the types of heroes including the "post-postmodern" hero of inaction, and I think this section, where all of the upperclassmen sit back and merely watch the game deteriorate into physical violence, may be some kind of support for Hal (and the others, to an extent) being this type of hero. [EER]
343 · Real dependence/Boston AAs (longest chapter)
"Every night in Boston, bumper-stickered cars full of totally sober people, wall-eyed from caffeine and trying to read illegibly scrawled directions by the dashboard lights, crisscross the city, heading for the church basements or bingo halls or nursing-home cafeterias of other AA groups..."
Sorry for the huge quote, but (to me) it really sums up the chapter. I believe that DFW is trying to show the “drug” that AA is and that even the characters in the novel that appear “clean”, are actually addicted to AA. The chapter is narrated by someone who knows a whole lot about AA meetings, but is not Gately or any other character that I can identify. The chapter is written in almost a dialogue between “John L.” and the narrator. For example, John L. will mention a catch phrase of most AA groups and the narrator will go off on an in-depth tirade loosely related to what the speaker is saying.
The narrator has a very cynical angry tone that clearly doesn’t “believe” in the AA movement, other than the fact that he seems stuck in it as well. For example on page 351 the narrator comments, “…and now if the older guys say Jump you ask them to hold their hand at the desired height, and now they’ve got you, and now your free.” The idea of “and now they’ve got you, and now your free” also supports the idea that everyone in this book is addicted to something, whether it be a drug, their emotions, or a group which has taken over their lives. This chapter raises the question (at least in my mind) of whether or not AA is just as much a drug as heroin (or any of the other illicit drugs within IJ). All of the people at these meetings (as they are described--keep in mind) are just as fidgety and apparently crave AA meetings enough that they attend nearly every day/night. When they leave the AA group for good, they always come back "shaking and tottering", but is that from withdrawal from AA, or from the drugs? BDG
367 · Statue Of Liberty snippet
367 · Boston AAs cont./the abused invertebrate sister
- [Chris and Brendan]
One of the more interesting sections within this reading is diatribe released upon the reader starting on page 370. DFW artfully captures the essence of an addicts full disclosure through a tactful stream of conscious writing style. Prior to this tangent, we hear of cleche sayings like "One day at a Time," and that the rookies within the program pay these empty, hollow slogans simple lip service. Wallace basically blows all of the simplistic addiction stories with an incredibly disturbing story of a girl who whitnesses her foster father sexually abuse his biological daughter, who happens to be paralyzed, catatonic, and retarded. Ultimately this is done to bring into question the creation of addictions as well as whether or not drug abuse can be justified. Wallace suggests that "The Why of the desiese [disease?] is a labyrinth it is strongly suggested all AAs boycott, inhabited as the maze is by the twin minotaurs of Why me? and Why Not", a.k.a. Self-Pity and Denial, two of the smiley-faced Sergeant at Arms' more fearsome aides de camp."(373) DFW means to lead us into this labyrinth, simply through the suggestion of its existence coupled with the blast of heart wrench thanks to the young woman who was forced to watch her foster father strap on a Raquel Welch mask onto his own mentally challenged daughter, who is refered to as "IT," whenever he "diddled" her. (CRW) [so what's the point, then? A horrific (absurd and maybe even comic?) story, or a condemnation of addicts' attempts to blame their addictions on something other than themselves? ]
375 · Marathe unsure of Steeply
- In this small section a few additional details are provided about Marathe and Steeply. Steeply has recently been divorced and has just returned to duty. Steeply is currently using the false name of Helen hence Marathe's joke that Steeply's face would not launch even a single ship. So far in their talks Marathe is unable to figure out what Steeply is trying to get from him. Marathe believes Steeply's investigation is about an entertainment filmmaker and his "relatives and inner circles." [DR]
375 · Himself visits Lyle
- Himself is disappointed with the reviews of the critics of his latest release The Man Who Began to Suspect He Was Made of Glass and went to have a chat with Lyle. It is mentioned that Found Drama and anticonfluentialism originated from this talk with Lyle, and the footnote goes into Found Drama much greater detail. Unfortunately, neither anticonfluentialism nor confluentialism are actually words so their meaning remains out of reach at least for me. [DR]
- [see footnote 61]
1026 · Endnote #145: Found Drama / Soft Profile of Orin Incandenza
- This footnote comes from the soft profile that Orin has talked to Hal about. It is conducted by Helen Steeply the same person who is chatting with Marathe, which is humorous considering all the effort that Orin is putting in to seducing Steeply. The questions Steeply asks are all about James Incandenza, or at least one would assume so from the answers, as the questions themselves are not listed. Found Drama was JOI's way to get revenge upon critics of his works. JOI invented a bogus genre of avant-garde theater wherein he throws a dart at a phonebook and makes up a story using whoever the dart landed on. But there was never really any Found Drama tapes, which as JOI had made such a huge deal over Found Drama was the whole joke of the matter. "The joke's theory was there's no audience and no director and no stage or set" because it is supposed to be intensely real and there none of those things in real life. Afterwards he go for drinks with the critics who congratulated him for this Neorealist breakthrough not knowing he was pulling their leg in a way. JOI managed to get 2 grants before the joke got out, and he didn't give them back either. [DR]
376 · Why Deny The Marcescent Child?
- During the Boston AA meeting, following the adopted strippers words, a young woman speaks at the podium. Addicted to cocaine, smoking "Eightballs," previous to, during, and following her pregnancy, this woman makes her money to buy cocaine from prostitution--the cause of her pregnancy. She goes into labor while high and is unable to stop smoking in order to go to a clinic to give birth to the baby. She continues to use throughout the birth and ends up falling asleep with the still-born--faceless, dried up, a dark grey color, and with mucus-webbed toes and fingers--still attached to the umbilical cord attached inside of her. Awaking to face the "business-end of the arrow of responsibility" the woman wraps the "turdlet" into a pink Woolworth's blanket, umbilical cord and all, and proceeds to carry it around everywhere she goes as a mother would hover over her child. The odor of the dead fetus repels clients and the woman is unable to buy cocaine. Friends/associates attempt to tear the woman away from the fetus, but to no avail. Finally, the terrorist-like odor causes a cop to report the woman to the Department of Social Services. Black Chanel business-dressed women catch the woman outside of her mother's old building and they use a solvent to detach the blanket wrapped fetus from the woman and then placed what is left of the fetus into a small coffin. Placed into the hospital in order to remove the impacted placenta within her uterus, the woman experiences substance withdrawal. Upon leaving the hospital she proceeds to abuse alcohol and ends up calling AA at 2am one night. The Boston AA audience, including hard-to-reach Kate Gompert and Tiny Ewell, has no trouble identifying with her story and the narrator explains how this woman's substance abuse story is neither a "Cause" nor an "Excuse" story. --Cawhitehead 23:33, 14 September 2008 (EDT)
379 · Himself & Lyle, libating James and Lyle (and Mario) are in the E.T.A. weight room where Mario is drifting in and out of sleep as his father drinks (of course) and rambles about his problems to Lyle, who is also getting tipsy via his ability to re-absorb the alcohol being emitted from James' skin. Lyle begins reading William Blake poems to James in cartoon voices, and James is impressed by his depth. [MGM]
We're departing from the strictly sequential divisions for this week's writing assignments. Here are basic descriptions and page #s for the week, with names assigned. If I've put you with other people, it's because a topic may require some discussion, so please work together (ie, don't split up the pages and work alone).
Mario's ONANTIAD puppet film: Caroline, Kelly, and Mary.
380-386; 391-394; 398-408; 436-442
- The annual showing of Mario’s puppet show video begins. It’s Interdependence Day, so everyone has their hats on (see footnote 110). The film is an adaptation of one of Mario’s father’s videos, and E.T.A. has shown it every year due to its popularity (among adults more than the children that puppet shows are usually meant to entertain). It’s a very sophisticated parody of the current O.N.A.N. government, and begins with a background intro to President Gentle, the origin of his C.U.S.P. party, and the environmental problems that created it. President Gentle is a former actor, singer, and all-around entertainer with a case of OCD that gets progressively worse. While he’s no longer formally in show business, he still incorporates a lot of his talents into his current “gig” as president of the U.S.A. The president-as-entertainer concept makes you recall politicians like Reagan and Schwarzenegger immediately, but as modern technology has made visuals more important in politics, you can really apply it to any politician since Eisenhower (the famous 1960 Nixon/Kennedy debate was referenced early in the book, the debate that, because of his visible sweating, pale skin, and overall sickly appearance, made even worse by sitting next to the pristine, “healthy”-looking Kennedy, cost Nixon the election). By his side are his cabinet members, a group of “tall-coiffured black-girl puppets in shiny imbricate-sequin dresses,” acts as his sideshow – literally. The president of Mexico and PM of Canada are also in the cabinet, illustrating that the U.S. is the real head of O.N.A.N. The children in the audience are pacified by sweets, if they’re paying attention at all.
There are a series of news headlines, some from legitimate news outlets and some from tabloids. There is a meeting between the presidents, prime minister, and secretaries where they’re trying to devise the ultimate plan for the waste dump in the Northeast (concavity/convexity). They discuss where it’s going to be, and Tine explains (for President Gentle as he’s attached to an oxygen tank) that they chose the territories in Maine, New Hampshire and New York that they did, because the first two states did not permit the C.U.S.P. party on their Independent ballots for the election, and because the Major of Syracuse once sneezed on the president. They discuss the politics behind the definition of terms after the people who live in those areas are pushed out, but are not allowed to be called refugees, because it reflect badly on the government to have native refugees.
- The final scene of the ONANTIAD puppet film concerns what led O.N.A.N. to subsidize time. The debt that has occured from cleaning up the country and from relocating those in the convexity/conavity is so large and the question arises where can the money come from. The idea of it coming from the tax-payers is immdediately dismissed because it would cause a revolt among the people and expert Mr. P. Tom Veals is introduced (of Veals Associate Advertising). President Gentle leads the discussion towards the idea of selling advertising space to get out of debt. Advertising in something seemingly innoucous, using the Forsythia Bowl as an example. The Forsythia Bowl's full name being Ken-L-Ration-Magnavox-Kemper-Insurance-Forsythia Bowl
- ...and "The Medusa vs. The Odalisque," of course. You may want to consult the filmography as you work on this section.
First there is a brief section in which Ortho Stice discusses his sleep troubles with Lyle, mainly that when he falls asleep in the room his bed is on one wall, and when he wakes up it is on another. First he accuses his roommate of moving his bed while he is sleeping, but when his roommate falls ill and is removed from the room, Stice's bed is still moved in the middle of the night. Next he attempts to set a trap for whoever he assumes is picking the lock on his door and moving his bed in the night as a joke. This too fails and he comes to the conclusion that either he is telekinetic in his sleep, someone else at ETA is telekinetic or he's sleep walking. Lyle tells him "not to underestimate objects" before launching into a story about a man who lifts a chair while standing on it.
This section segues into Hal thinking about Mario's love of catridges being influenced by their father and two specific movies he filmed that did not go over well. First was "The Medusa vs. The Odalisque," a film which features an audience watching the Medua and the Odalisque battle one another fiercely. We all know the story of the Medusa who turns men into stone when they look upon her; the Odalisque is a similar creature of Quebecois origin, we learn, only she is supposed to be so beautiful that men turn into gems when looking at her out of admiration. The audience in the film begin turning into stones or gems (depending on which creature they get a frontal view of) one by one until the entire audience is no longer human. Hal reflects that this movie did not do well in theaters and the only movie which did worse was "The Joke." This film consisted of Mario and JOI standing in front of the screen, cameras in hand and taping the audience as they entered (an audience that was strongly advised by ads at the theaters not to pay to see the movie, which many people though was an ironic anti-ad campaign and went to see expecting an artistic film). This image was then projected on the screen in place of a film, causing most people to feel angry or ripped off at having paid to come and watch themselves. The only people who ever stay for long are the critics who seem fascinated to watch themselves watching themselves. JOI later informs Lyle that the critics who defended the film were completely wrong. The idea behind "The Joke" reminded me strongly of the same flaws behind the videophone in that no one wants to see themselves so closely. I'm still not entirely clear if the section on Stice and this section are related or how. [EER]
Mass Media: Chris
Marathe and Steeply: Maura, Catriona, Dani
418-430:Marathe’s wife has been in a coma for 2 years and 2 months at this point. Whenever Marathe cant sleep, he managed to refresh himself through detachment. He learned how to do this the months during his recovery after the train (a U.S.A train, it's particularly noted - bitter much?) took his legs. Marathe then spends a great deal of time discussing how unappealing and unconvincing Steeply is as a female (though Marathe takes note of the feminine manner Steeply "embraces" himself in the cold, and, excepting the feet, "Steeply's preparations for his returning field-assignment had een disciplined and effective") and how ONAN always manages to give their spies ironic disguises (women as men, heterosexual men as homosexual men, Caucasians as people of color, and healthy people as disease ridden beings). Steeply’s feet in particular are unappealing and give his biological sex away. Squeezed into the strappy heels the fat of his feet are bulging along the edges of the pumps resembles soft loaves of bread being squeezed into a place they do not fit. Then, speaking from Steeply’s point of view the narrator talks about how Steeply doesn’t even wonder how Marathe, this wheelchaired figured managed to make his way onto this cliff so rapidly—the narrator suspects a helicopter drop-off, and mentions that the AFR are known for being show-offs in denial of any physical limitations. As far as weaponry goes, as Marathe consistently keeps one of his hands on his Sterling UL pistil underneath the blanket on his lap, Steeply has his Taurus PT9 taped to his shaved inner thigh, with the safety switch off—this is why he never sits. Marathe thinks that Steeply, on some level, "needs the humiliations of his asurd field-personae," that the more unconvincing his disguise, the more humiliated he feels, which fuels his "performance." Steeply tries to understand the goal of the AFR; unlike previous opponents or enemies to the U.S., the A.F.R. doesn't seem to want anything from the U.S - as Steeply puts it, others were "not just wanting negatives...not just wanting some other's harm for no purpose." Marathe's issue (and the A.F.R.'s) seems to mostly originate in the U.S.A's obsession with pleasure; as Marathe says, "Maximize pleasure, minimize displeasure: result: what is good. This is the U.S.A. of you." Marathe and Steeply proceed to have a conversation about the American idea of the pursuit of Happiness. Steeply explains that by every man going for what he wants, everyone is happy. Marathe points out the flaw in this by presenting a conflict involving two people and a one-person serving of Marathe’s preferred soup; how does each man receive what he wants when whomever does not receive the soup will not receive what he wants? Steeply explains that the highest bidder will receive the soup, while Marathe argues that a bid was not a part of the equation. Ultimately, Marathe argues that one has to possibly sacrifice the smaller soups in the moment in order to ensure the bigger soups down the road in life. And, that America are the children who want to eat all of the candy offered in the moments, rather than look ahead to the future. Steeply also talks about the AFR’s no-agenda killing plan for the ONAN; Seperatism and Experialism seem to have a business plan in their attacks, whereas the Québécois appear to make it personal. Both discussions present the intense differentiation between Canadian values and American values. The audience also learns that Marathe has two brothers, both of which dies before a “marriageable age” because of the train. Marathe had witnessed their deaths.
470-474 Steeply tells Marathe about a neurological experiment conducted in Canada in the B.S. 1970s where electrodes are placed in the brain’s temporal lobe to treat epilepsy. It was a very inexact science involving a lot of trial and error of stimulating the electrodes to test the nerves. During their experiments, the Canadian scientists discovered that firing electrodes at certain parts of the lobe could stimulate intense feelings of pleasure; these unpredictable areas were named p-terminals. The scientists, from The Brandon Psychiatric Center in Manitoba, were only testing this p-terminal stimulation on animals, but discovered that if a rat pressed a lever to rouse this area of intense pleasure, then he would continue to do it over and over, ignoring food, water, females in heat and fatigue until eventually it had to be lobotomized because it was unable to want to do anything other than push the lever. The same reaction was found in other mammals tested. They eventually want to move their tests on to human subjects, but of course there are tremendous legalities involved in such a dangerous pursuit. However, when word about the experiment leaked to the public, scores of people, in full knowledge of what happened to the animal subjects, lined up to volunteer to experience this pleasure-stimulation. The fact that so many people were willing to undergo this dangerous implantation for the sake of pure pleasure caused the scientists to perform psychiatric tests on the volunteers to assess their mental stability etc. Surprisingly, all of the subjects were found to be incredibly normal, average Canadians who were willingly “volunteering for fatal addiction to the electrical pleasure.” Out of fear that the technology for p-terminal stimulation would become accessible to unlicensed personnel who would perform illegal implantations resulting in thousands of people giving themselves over to unearned pleasure and becoming catatonic, the funding for the Brandon Psychiatric Center was stopped before the electrode implantation could be further developed. Steeply makes a point of reiterating that these experiments took place in Canada so as to counter Marathe’s argument that it is chiefly an American obsession to be obsessed with entertainment, pleasure, and self-gratification. They also discuss the analogy of the Canadian experiment to the Entertainment and question whether the film somehow achieves an optical stimulation of the p-terminal.
489-491:Marathe and Steeply discuss the Infinite Jest cartridges and how they are killing people. Marathe explains that AFR has Read-Only copies of the cartridges. Steeply asks him whether he has ever been tempted to view one of them. Marathe remembers back to his father death because of a videophonic pulse that threw off his pacemaker. Remy, having never been told to pick up the phone first, just in case it was videophonic, watched his father die while simultaneously hearing the advertisement on the telephone and his mother's sobs. Steeply proceeds to explain how some of ONANs guys are figuring out ways to watch the cartridge. They believe that transforming it into a hologram will make it nonlethally viewable. Steeply explains that one Tom Flatto theorizes that the density of the film is the problem; a holography would elimiate the overintense density.
507-508: The story returns to Steeply and Marathe once again. Steeply is describing the death of two employees in ONAN. An "idiot" intern snuck into the viewing room and his death began. Henri Hoyne, who has diabetes and controls it veyr well, is also the interns boss and ran in to save him and began his death as well. Hank is currently in the hospital with an insatiable desire to watch things. Steeply compares the now strapped down to a hospital bed intern as the child-like figure Remy had been referring to earlier (he eats his candy in the moment). Steeply admired Hoynes steadfast dedication to helping his diabetes; the moment he realized he had it he put down all candy and walked away from it forever. Marathe explains to Steeply that Canada and teh U.S.A. view entertainment in different ways. Canada considers what end the entertainment may serve. Marathe then concentrates on identifying different constellations in the sky; they're bording the horizon, signifying that dawn is coming. Steeply explains that he is as much frightened as he is intrigued by the idea of watching the cartridge. The viewers eyes are "empty of intent," Steeply was told. Marathe notes alloud that temptation seems to be a part of the interest in the video for Steeply. We are brought back peacefully to the nature surrounding them, Marathe notes the U.S.A. insects that surround them.
442-449: At a White Flag "Tough Shit But You Still Can't Drink" (TSBYSCD) meeting that is mostly full of biker and biker-chicks, Don Gately admits that he has yet to find the Higher Power/God that he feels he is expected to find. After ten months sober, he still doesn't understand the idea of a Higher Power, which is alluded to in the third step of Boston's AA's Twelve Steps. He doesn't have the understanding that something is there, unlike others in the program who have been members of organized religion. He prays every morning and night, yet no recognition comes to him at all when it comes to the "God Angle." This is not the first time that Gately has admitted to having no connection whatsoever to a Higher Power, yet he is applauded and given positive criticism again. The meeting goes on and on, with people telling jokes (especially the one about the fish and water), yet Gately cannot escape the sick and empty feeling within his head. The car ride home is no better, and Gately begins to think about his addictions and what it was that got him there (referred to in AA as "Getting in Touch"). It is revealed that his mother was an alcoholic and consistently involved in abusive relationships, and is now under the care of the Long-Term-Care Medicaid Place. His dysfunctional relationship with his mother, as well as his inability to make friends in the neighborhood (he was very awkward), led him to the addictoins he is currently battling. Late that night, Gately falls asleep and dreams that he is completely underwater, though whether or not that is his connection to said Higher Power remains to be seen. [jag}
Gately, cont.: Brendan
461-469 For how short this section is, it really gives an excellent depiction of the Ennet House and who Gately comes to be after his botched robbery. The section opens with a description of a 1964 Ford Aventura which is in immaculate condition. The car is owned by Pat Montesian who originally allowed Gately to live at the Ennet House as part of a program to keep him out of prison. The narrator explains that Gately truly loves the car and gives him “spiritual feelings”.
Quick side note: It is mentioned that Pat may be replaced as head of the Ennet House by Danielle Steenbok [I thought it was Johnette Foltz who might be replaced by another live-in staffer, not Pat, who actually runs the place] “who’s rumored also to attend Sex and Love addicts Anonymous, which engages everyone’s imagination to the max.” This stood out to me because the narrator of this section clearly identifies with Gately and other members of the Ennet House and the line displays a selfish disregard for the woman’s “sickness” which raises the question, how healthy are the Ennet House residents?
The section then moves on to catalog Gately’s crimes which are quite lengthy. Obviously, the most important to us is the botched robbery which left DuPlessis dead. We learn that Gately may spend time in jail for Murder-2. The footnote explains that Murder-2 is when a burglary is committed and someone in the house dies, regardless of how they died (i.e. heart attack from fear). We also learn that the case “vanished from any sort of investigative scene” which probably will play a role in the future.
Another quick side note: Gately isn’t quite sure how he got clean, but the narrator does note that “he’ll now go to literally Any Lengths to stay clean.” Any Lengths, huh? Addicted to sobriety?
We are also introduced to a new(ish) character in this section. Her name is Pat Montesian. Apparently she is “both pretty and not” because of a stroke which she suffered while detoxifying years ago. We learn that Pat allowed Gately in the Ennet House mainly because of his honesty—he explained to her that he didn’t want to get clean but wanted to stay out of jail so this was his last option. Apparently Pat really likes Gately and he has become one of her “favorites”.
The last few paragraphs of this section explain how Gately found some sort of “God” and began praying to him without any real plan other than listening to what others told him. After a while, he began to stop thinking of the drugs and craving them. We also learn that on his one-year sobriety anniversary, the residents at Ennet House baked him a cake (which made him cry) to affirm the cake mix analogy. [BDG]
A.M. Drills: 449-461 Nov. 9, Y.D.A.U. The day after Interdependence Day. ETA has a student population of ninety-five paying and forty-one scholarship students totaling one hundred and thirty-six students. Seventy-two of these students are female, but ETA only has enough facilities for sixty-five female students which is causing some tension within the facility. The A-team players have to wake up early for the first shift of morning drills. The drills consist of eight courts each designated with a different drill. Court one: backhands. Court two: forehands. Court three: Butterflies. Court four: lobs. Court five: serves. Court six: returning serves. Court seven: finesse drills. Court eight: wind sprints. There is a bucket kept on the sidelines of court eight that is designated for “potential duress” (Wallace 456). Hal is being treated somewhat kindly due to his hurt ankle which he initially injured during the Side-to-Sides fitness drill when he was fifteen. The players are done with the active part of the drills by 7:20. They then stand at the baseline and receive a lecture from Schtitt saying that they were sluggish and had preformed terribly. When Chu tries to defend their effort because it is cold outside, Schtitt replies that everyone has to cope with the weather conditions and that this will prepare them for when they are presented with distractions in real matches.
Gately-->Antitoi brothers and the AFR: Daniel
475-488: This section begins with some more information about Joelle, Gately believes Pat Montesian has chosen Joelle as a favorite and that is why she is getting Joelle out of various chores and making Gately get special food for her, but it is equally likely that Pat Montesian knows who Joelle is. The section transitions to Don Gately joyriding around in Pat's car, scaring people into dropping their groceries and being a rather comedic menace to the laws of the road. Apparently he is in no danger of being caught because every drives like this in Boston. As Gately drives past the storefront of Antitoi Entertainment the section abruptly changes focus to the Antitoi brothers Bertraund and Lucien. Erratic, eccentric and ineffective sum up the Antitoi brothers' attempts at terrorism. The section says "Betraund Antitoi is in charge, the brains of the outfit" as Lucien can't even speak French. The Antitoi brothers rent TP cartriges and buy stolen odds and ends, which accumulates around the store as clutter. In a significant moment, Lucien attempts to watch a recently acquired cartridge only to find it blank and devoid of static. What he doesn't know is that it is the Master tape of the Entertainment, and that it can only be viewed on top quality TP. The AFR pays the Antitoi brothers a very squeaky (squeaks most likely coming from un-greased wheelchair wheels) visit to retrieve the Master tape, brutally putting a railroad spike through Bertraund's head. For the second time in the novel there is a lack of communication as the AFR speak only French and Lucien only English. Unlike DuPlessis, Lucien probably would have died even if he had known French. Lucien dies terribly via sharpened broom and the AFR begin searching the store.
JOI's dad again: Courtney
491-503: This sections recounts JOI Sr's investigation of what is making his bed squeak. JOI Sr makes a "tomato juice beverage" and informs JOI that JOI Sr, and his mother need his helps in JOI Sr's bedroom. JOI Sr had taken all the covers off the bed to figure out where the "gibber[s] and squeak[s]" are coming from. Jim (not Sr) "Didn't think he had ever heard the bed squeak before." which I took as JOI's parents not having a sexual connection. There is tension between JOI Sr. and his wife throughout this whole section. JOI Sr's wife smokes and peers out window. Sr and Jim need to remove the mattress in order to find out what the squeaking is. JOI Sr. throws up into dust of the bed as he investigates where the possible squeaking is coming from. JOI's wife vacuums, and "the sound of vacuuming has always frightened me [JOI] in the same irrational way it seemed a bed's squeak frightened my father." JoI runs to his room where he "first became interested in the possibilities of annulation" after a knob falls onto the floor.
- I just can't help myself here, because it's so exciting: where do the gibbers and squeaks come from, literarily speaking? [mbk]
NA meeting: Vanessa
This section takes place in an echo-free vestry of an upscale church in metro-Boston. Johnette Foltz, a staffer at Ennet House, takes Ken Erdedy and Kate Gompert to an NA meeting devoted solely to the discussion of marijuana in order to show them that they are “completely nonunique and unalone” in their struggles with this substance. The consensus of the meeting is typically that marijuana destroys “slowly but thoroughly”. Ken observes the crowd at the meeting, noting that most of the people look busted-up and violent, without any color-sense at all. Some are drooling, staring vacantly about the room during the meeting, but then as if someone flipped a switch they begin hugging wildly after the closing encouragements. Erdedy is horrified by this rampant hugging; a hugging with no regard to whether your hugging partner is someone you’ve ever even seen before. Ken steps aside, avoiding all huggers, while even Kate and Johnette participate in the vigorous maylay. An Afro-American, soon identified as Roy Tony, approaches Erdedy and leans in for a hug, which Erdedy awkwardly denies. Roy Tony is offended, taking Erdedy’s excuse as an accusal of Roy Tony’s personal interest and enjoyment of hugging. Utilizing his massive size, Roy Tony heaves Erdedy off the ground and proceeds to shout at him about his hatred of hugging, arguing that he does it because it is what he is told to do; the mantra ‘Hugs not Drugs’ guiding him to comply with NA rules even though it initially causes him to puke. Roy Tony demands that Erdedy hug him, else he rip his head off and shit down his neck. The threat makes Erdedy so unnerved that he hugs Roy Tony in a way Kate Gompert later describes to Joelle as ‘looking like he was trying to climb him’. Johnette Foltz sees the confrontation and immediately thinks about what the assault report will look like on file, her being the one who encouraged Erdedy to attend the NA meeting. She attempts, without success, to pull Roy Tony off Erdedy, calling him things such as ‘Dude, Man, Esse, Bro, Posse, Crew, Homes…’ in an effort to connect to him personally and convince him to release Ken. [vr]
508 · Eschaton reprisals/In CT's Waiting Room
- Daniel and Courtney
Axford, Pemulis,and Hal are in the headmaster’s waiting room for “fallout from Sunday’s horrendous Eschaton fiasco.” Everything that was “blue” was noted in the room. Pemulis makes “a kind of rapid rodential squeaking that gave Hal Incandenza the howling fantods.” **Here’s squeaking again! JOI Sr searched for squeaking in his bed. The carpet in the waiting room was then described as being “vacummed against the grain.” **JOI hates the sound of vacuum as seen in the episode earlier when JOI SR is looking for the squeaks. Descriptions very uncomfortable. Hal is described as “drooling without being able to feel or stop it.” Hal is still under the effects of Novocaine for his dental surgery, making his face numb. Will this be the end of constant reminders of Hal's tooth pain? **Drooling could be because of the dentist, but could it possibly be because of marijuana withdrawal? Hal’s “left ankle gives a sick squeak when he flexes it.” **What’s with all the squeaks? Tavis’s small physique is described as “the smallness of something that’s farther away from you than it wants to be, plus it’s receding.” However, CT is also described as having the unusual property of downright warping perception when angry, making him seem to take up more space than he usually does. Tavis was interviewing Tina Echt a seven year old tennis player. Hal pretends to have dinner plans to avoid going to eat with his mother, but in reality he is getting high in secret. Avril's unusual Politeness Roulette is described, where she reacts to being told of any problem by taking it out on herself IE giving a hungry Hal her afternoon snack. After CT makes Tina cry with his unusual way interacting with people, he finally has Lateral Alice Moore (called so because of a helicopter accident that left her with a "neurological condition whereby she was able to move only from side to side") escort the boys in shamefully for a discussion of punishment. [clf] added at various points -> [DR]
528 · Marathe & Steeply: Dawn, Odalisque de St Therese
We return to Steeply and Marathe on the overhang while Steeply is describing the way of Oriental myths--one's in particular about a fatally exotic and seductive woman covered with long blonde hair. Men die after having sex with her, knowing death is the outcome, the men are unable to prevent themselves from committing sexual intercourse with her. Marathe wanders into thought about his father and his father's pace maker bulking out in the middle of his sweater. Steeply brings him back into the real world by referring to her victims as "M-o-r-t-s." Marathe notices the American insects again, commenting on their multiple wings and how the sound is similar to the sound of playing cards folded into the bicycle spokes of a little boy, with legs', bicycle. Marathe muses over the dawn that isnt really there--how the slightest bit of light possible is creeping over the horizon, but that the sky lacks the pink of real dawn. Marathe silently thinks about how both the AFR and the USA Office of Unspecified Services anticipates Marathe and Steeply's meetings. Though Steeply's French is hardly worth bragging about, he volunteers for the routine assignment anyways. AFR knows all that goes on between Steeply and Marathe during their meetings, or as much as Steeply tells them. Steeply's BSS superiors, however, do not know that Fortier knows that Steeply knows that Fortier knows Marathe is talking with Steeply at this time. Marathe believes that Steeply practices the U.S.A. feeling that retaining the slightest bit of information from one's superiors is a given. But Fortier doesnt know is that Marathe has decided that he loves his wife far more than Seperatism or AFR's anti-ONAN work. Marathe believes this makes him no better than Rodney Tine and his puppetry. Marathe than comments about the fake dawn to Steeply. Steeply replies by bringing up the Medusa vs. Odalisk story, comparing it to the Oriental myth previously mentioned. Both men laugh knowing full-well the Medusa vs. Odalisk Incandenza film. Steeply explains that the Quebecois cannot look upon Odalisk or they turn into gems; Marathe corrects him, "opals." Marathe talks about how the Greeks do not fear beauty, but rather ugliness, making Medusa their mythological woman. Steeply takes out a cigarrette, but doesnt light it. Marathe thinks about how Steeply likes to discard his cigarrettes over the side of the cliff, knowing full well that cigarrettes are not biodegradable--Marathe notes that both men know each other quite well at this point. Marathe comments that contempt for one's self is a big U.S.A. temptation as well. Steeply replies that Marathe's people are only action oriented. Marathe describes the desert landscape to himself, noting where the light is beginning to show and how a construction sight is in pause nearby. Marathe had purposely placed his watch in his windbreaker pocket, to pruposefuly prevent himself from checking the time and to indulge Steeply's belief that the two managed time based on the interconnectedness between the two of them. Nevertheless, Marathe notes that it is time for him to leave soon. He suggests Steeply sits down to rest his heeled-feet but Steeply explains that sitting in a skirt is not as easy as it may appear, not to mention that bugs could crawl up his dress once he is seated. Someone remarks, "I'd never realized."
531 · Gately & Joelle: So What's Behind The Veil?
Gately and Joelle's conversation begins with Gately telling a story about him and his drunken buddies going out to a bar where one of his friends proceeds to hit on a female whose boyfriend was with her. The boyfriend, naturally, objects and threatens Gately's drunken pal. Once the group manages to get the boyfriend to leave, the drunken buddy convinces the female to play strip-darts with him. The boyfriend re-enters the bar with a gun and shoots the drunken fellow in the head. Joelle shares her experience of witnessing a boy cut off his own hand with a chainsaw when he was yardtrimming and she was fishing with her father. Joelle's father managed to get the boy to the hospital, saving his life. Joelle's manner of speaking is injected with "likes" and sounds a little rough around the edges. Gately is still stuck in his own story, thinking that since they were drunk he and his crew didnt think to immediately take the guy to the hospital, and instead carried him around as they would an OD victim. The friend (Chuck or Chick) bleeds to death. Gately and Joelle are talking very early in the morning. Gately is up because he has to go to one of his jobs and Joelle is up because she likes watching the snow fall outside the window. Joelle tells Gately about a guy named McDade who told a joke at dinner about a woman whose legs were shorter than the other. Gately takes the joke too literally and remarks, "how can a leg that's shorter than the other leg have the other leg shorter than it?" Joelle explains that it was only a joke, but Gately decides to shift the subject to what is hidden under Joelle's veil. Joelle comments, "Bridal thing," "Aspiring Muslim," but Gately doesnt buy it. Joelle explains that she is in another fellowship called UHID (notice what the acronym spells out "you hid")--Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed. UHID is about the shame of being ashamed to show your hideousness. The veil is a way of openly claiming to the world that you are ashamed of your appearance, rather than continue to be ashamed of being ashamed of your appearance. She continues not to tell Gately what "deformity" the veil is covering and Gately continues to pry. As Gately pushes Joelle comments on his hiding tactics as well; Gately is ashamed that he is ashamed of being less intelligent than others. Gately comments that she is just trying to avoid answering his initial question of what is under the veil. They continue in this manner back and forth until Joelle confesses that she is hiding her inconceivably intense beauty--"her beauty is a deformity." Gately thinks she is trying to make him feel like an idiot and doesnt take this as the actual deformity hidden by the veil in any way. Gately would prefer if JOelle would just say, "No, you cannot ask about whats under the veil." Though Joelle has explained her shame and inability to be straightforward about what is under the veil, the fact that she cannot just tell him not to ask remains a big issue with Gately. Throughout this bantering, Gately notices that Joelle's manner of speaking changed when she is speaking about UHID; she sounds much more intelligent and eloquent when speaking about UHID, and much more rugged and urban when speaking about everything else. While Gately continues grilling Joelle about telling him that her deformity was perfection Joelle asks, "what position did you play" (referring to Gately's earlier comment that he played football and quickly was kicked off the team for his unintelligence in English).
538* · Randy Lenz "Resolves" Rats & Cats
- Lenz is an Ennet House resident who walks home from every meeting. The staff notices that Lenz is often gone much longer than it would take to walk, and consider the possibility that he could be using again, but his urine tests come back clean, so they let him be. What they don’t know is that Lenz is torturing animals in back alleys as a way of, as he claims, “getting his issues resolved.” This begins with rats that he kills with chunks of concrete, then moves on to cats that he covers in plastic bags until they asphyxiate. However, some of the stronger cats find ways of clawing the bags open, so he moves on to Hefty Steel-Sak trashbags, which no cat can work its way out of. He lures them with tuna until he realizes that anchovies are more effective. He calls this “A Program of Attraction.” Lenz always tries to keep the Brighton Best Savings Bank’s Time and Temperature screen within view while he’s out. He recalls Mr. Doony R. Glynn’s meeting story wherein Mr. Glynn did a large amount of hallucinogens and saw a large Euclidian grid in the Boston sky. It’s revealed that Glynn is the brick layer who filed the insurance claim on page 138. He is cross-eyed and now has a stooped physique due to the bricks falling on his head. Lenz is still using cocaine while residing in Ennet House, and he keeps it in a hollowed-out cavity in a book called Principles of Psychology and The Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion. However, he uses sparingly compared to how often he used in the past, so he’s convinced himself he’s clean. He never uses when he goes out for walks, because it would be too obvious, and he beats the urine tests by putting vinegar, lemon juice or bleach in the samples. He seems to escalate his methods of killing animals the same way people escalate their use of drugs. He moves on from suffocating the cats to picking them up and bashing them against road signs or telephone poles. He also moves on from alley cats to cats on the porches of their owner’s homes. He poisons tuna/anchovies that he leaves out with Raid, and then somehow (I’m not altogether sure how) they catch fire. One even chased him while on fire. He has a Browning X444 knife that he next plans to use on dogs after gaining their trust with some of Gately’s meatloaf. He also encounters a drunk on the street and envisions killing him, remembering (and agreeing with) a line in his book about powerless individuals feeling the need to act out violently. Bruce Green begins walking home with Lenz every night causing Lenz to go through feelings of withdrawal from being unable to kill anything. However, Lenz also likes the company and Bruce’s sympathy and minimal talking. He isn’t afraid that Bruce will rat him out; he just wants to get rid of him in the most diplomatic way possible. When he can’t do that, his feelings of powerlessness return, and he hastily puts a bird down the Ennet House garbage disposal, but it does little to satisfy him. Editorial note: By comparison, Lenz makes Gately look like a saint. Would all those who said last week that they find Gately wholly unlikeable agree? [MGM]
548 · Tine's Ruler / Dissemination Point
This is a really brief section which combines a tiny bit of background information on Rodney Tine and information about "The Entertainment." We learn that (in typical style for the characters in this novel) Rodney Tine has a strange compulsion for measuring his penis every single morning when he wakes (he keeps the ruler in his bathroom, or carries a substitute with him when he travels) and records the measurement in a small, leather book. In between descriptions of Tine's compulsion, we learn more about the spread of "The Entertainment" which seems to first appear in Berkley in the home of a film critic and his lover. Both are victims of "The Entertainment" as are 17 other people including police and paramedics who are dispatched to investigate, until someone goes to the back of the house and cuts off the power. "The Entertainment" also showed up in New Iberia LA, and in Tempe, Arizona where two thirds of the attendees of an avant-garde film festival fell victim to the cartridge. We learn that the president was not alerted of the situation until the demise of the medical attaché in Boston which we read about earlier. After retrieving the tapes, the government began to attempt to learn what was so compelling about the cartridge, only to lose numerous members of their staff. One apparently sociopathic and mentally retarded Lance Corporal (I'm not entirely sure how you get to be retarded and a Lance Corporal, but whatever)is used to view "The Entertainment" with electrodes and a headset recorder so that the government at least knows the cartridge begins with a veiled woman (presumably Joelle) walking through revolving doors and catching sight of someone. Beyond that, the electrodes could no longer get the Lance Corporal to respond even with lethal voltages. We also learn that the cartridge from Berkley was taken from the San Francisco Police Departmant evidence room where flannel fibers were discovered (I think it's safe to assume the AFR took the cartridge.)Finally, we learn that there is a chance that the cartridge is in Boston once more, where Rodney currently is trying to substantiate the rumor. They believe the dissemination point is along the US border (obviously implicating Canada)with routing hubs in either Boston/New Bedford or somewhere in the southwest desert. [EER]
550 · The Moms & John Wayne
Pemulis is being a bit of a vouyer in this section while he's inside the main office area (and is also dressed in ridiculous attire, the chapter goes to lengths to describe). He overhears Ortho Stice discussing his issue with objects and his bed with Dr. Dolores Rusk (whose opinion is pointedly the opposite from what Lyle said in that she feels he is overestimating objects). He also hears Charles Tavis using the StairBlaster in his office and doing some kind of ritual affirmations for himself. Finally he comes to Avril's office, who he is apparently seeking to talk with, only to find her dressed up as a cheerleader with a whistle in her office with John Wayne who is rather undressed--wearing only a football helmet, shoulderpads, an athletic supporter, socks and shoes. Upon discovery Wayne dresses once more and Pemulis informs Avril he only needs two minutes of her time. This was a pretty disturbing little section and I couldn't help but wonder if this has something to do with Orin's obvious dislike of his mother (he's the only football player in the book that I can recall)and their overall strained and strange relationship. [EER]
553 · Lenz & Bruce Green walk. Lenz Talks.
Lenz likes Bruce Green, but needs a chance to walk home from meetings alone so that he can continue to relieve his stress via killing animals. He stresses about how to tell Bruce that he needs alone time without offending him, because apparently you can't actually let someone know when you like them as it leaves you too vulnerable. In order to get up the courage to tell Green to find his own way home that night, Lenz gets high in the bathroom during the raffle break of one of the AA meetings. This has the opposite of the intended effect, and rather than shooing Green, Lenz ends up babbling at him about almost everything that pops into his head during the walk. He tells Green about how his stepfather who worked for Amtrack and beat him with a magazine when he didn't wind the man's watch to the exact time and this caused his phobia of timepieces. He describes the plots of books he's read. He tells a story about how after the tip of his finger got cut off in a minibike chain it mysteriously grows back. He talks about crocodiles. He analyzes the word dysfunction. He tells a story about killing a man with his akido skills for giving him a hard time about some kind of saliva substitute. He talks about dreams he has. He tells a story about people worshipping an infant without a skull at a Halloween party he went to once. He talks about cults and though NA and AA are cults, he says there are others that are worse. Basically whatever pops into Lenz's head, both fiction and nonfiction (and sometimes it's hard to tell where the line is between truth and fiction), comes out of his mouth and Bruce Green just listens and tells him the time approximately every two minutes. [EER]
560 · Wayne Pokes His Head In
Lenz and Green are talking under a street lamp. Lens reveals that he has no septum. They discuss how Delawarians still believe Virtual-Reality pornography is the key to Shrangi-la. Lenz proceeds to share how fat his stepfather was and how his mother used to ride on the Greyhound buses because she wanted to make him angry. And, that the disadvantage to selling drugs for a living is that your clients show up at 3 am begging for drugs. Green reflects on his own cocaine usage and he understands why the AA calls the drug “Express Elevator To AA.” Lenz talks about how he had been asked to male model. He then reports on the existing cults that are centered on the belief system that he effects of the radiation in the concavity and how it is causing over fertilization and verdant forests that have large patches of desert. One cult, the Rastas, worship the infant and wear tie-dyed parkas. Green says that the Bostan AA is like a cult brainwashing you to think a different way. (ced)
563 · Gately's Informal Moments' Snippets
Wednesday Nov. 11 YDAU. Conversation between Gately and Joelle. They talk ask about if each other’s parents are still alive and then they discuss. Gately comments how it is nice to see Joelle coming out of her shell. It then moves to a conversation between Gately and Foss. Foss informs him that Diehl and Nell G. are torturing the new guy Tingley who is now sitting in a linen closet. Foss brings Gately a butterscotch cookie. The next snippet is between Gately and Yolanda. Gately is informing her that asking god for help is not the same as having relations with a guy. (ced)
565 · Orin and the Swiss Handmodel
This section discusses Orin’s dependency on women or on his “subjects” to save him from himself. He is in a hotel room with a Swiss hand model. One woman is not enough because he feels that just to have one woman he would have to obliterate the line between you and I and make it a we and he is afraid to do that. He hates, hopes for, and needs his subjects. (ced)
Endnote: (#234) Steeply Interviews Orin
567 · Pemulis Lectures Arslanian in the tunnel
Idris Arslanian, a player from Pakistan, is bumbling around blindfolded outside the weight room. He literally runs into Ted Schacht and explains that he is wearing the blindfold because he heard about the blind student who will be coming to E.T.A. the next semester and Arslanian wants to experiment with “volunteer blindness” to learn to play by sound instead of just watching the ball. Arslanian is not having much success so far, having become disoriented on a set of stairs and is now quite lost. Schacht tells him that he is outside the weight room and that the “sound of hysterical weeping and moans” he hears is Anton Doucette receiving counsel from the sweat guru Lyle. When Schacht leaves, Arslanian then bumps into Pemulis. Arslanian explains that he has become lost due to the blindfold but that he doesn’t trust Pemulis to help him get out, considering that Pemulis has already tried tricking him twice in their conversation so far about his identity and appearance. Pemulis tells Arslanian that Doucette has been crying to Lyle because he is afraid of being kicked out of E.T.A. for failing an Energy class. Pemulis thinks this class is incredibly easy and that Doucette’s failure is more due to his fear of failure than an actual inability to understand the material. Arslanian confesses that he also has trouble with the concept of annulations.
Here we once again see Pemulis’ adeptness for math and science as he explains how the cycle works and its effects in the Great Concavity. Annular fusion was invented by the late James O. Incandenza. As best I can explain the process in a superficially scientific way, it seems that JOI developed annular fusion which is “a type of fusion that can produce waste that’s fuel for a process whose waste is fuel for the fusion.” Meaning that the process “feeds on poisons” by using toxic waste as a way of creating energy. This was tested in the Great Concavity where toxins were abundant and resulted in fusion that was so efficient it sucked all the poisons from the ground and turned the surrounding environment, previously unlivable due to the heavy toxic waste now “so fertilely lush it’s practically unlivable.” Everything organic in the surrounding ecosystem no longer has inhibitors to its growth and this explains the feral hamsters and “insects of Volkswagen size.”
The theory/ science of annular fusion is a bit confusing to me, perhaps because I know nothing about nuclear energy, but what are we to make of the connections between JOI and annular fusion to the Great Concavity?
Arslanian keeps interrupting to state his confusion at the theory because it is different from what he was taught in Pakistan. He also repeatedly mentions his imminent need to be directed to a bathroom. Pemulis concludes by asking Arslanian a few questions about his home country and religious practices. Arslanian, a devout Muslim, does not consume any mind-altering substances and his request to be shown to the bathroom puts an idea in Pemulis’ ever-scheming mind. He offers to escort Arlanian to the bathroom where, assumedly Pemulis will take advantage of his blindfold to siphon his urine for drug test Visine-bottling. [MEM]
574 · Orin: Handmodel leaves, wheelchairs return.
- Orin realizes that from the day before Helen Steeply came to conduct her interview until a few hours after she left, he has not seen a single wheelchair, the members of his legless fan club whom he assumes shyly admire his own wonderlegs. After his liaison with the Swiss handmodel, Orin is driving away from the hotel and coming off the high he gets from his encounters with his Subjects when it dawns on him that the man who had come to his hotel door had been in a wheelchair, and even stranger, had the same accent as the Swiss hand-model he’d been with. [MEM]
575 · Bruce Green's parents. Lenz outside the party
This section begins with another Lenz/Green walk. Lenz is doing the majority of the talking, as usual, with occasional "understanding sounds" from Green. Green seems to be a sounding board for Lenz's bizarre and random thoughts. We learn Lenz's mother was so overweight she had to make her own mumus and avoided Parent's Day (apparently she had gone once and wound up breaking a desk and mortifying herself). Lenz comments that her weight eventually led to her death by way of an incident on a Greyhound bus. Lenz's mother was using the restroom on a Greyhound bus when the bus ran over a rather uneven and bumpy section of road. The speed of the bus coupled with the degradation of the road catapulted her into the air, spewing excrement all over her and the bathroom, leaving her stuck in the open window of the bathroom. The door being locked, and her being stuck in the window, led to her travelling quite a distance with her bare ass hanging out - causing second-degree frostbite and psychiatric trauma resulting from insults shouted at her during the debacle. This portion of the chapter is hilarious in its imagery - one can't help laughing at the thought of this woman bouncing around inside this bathroom. Lenz's mother sues Greyhound and the Highway Authority - landing her quite a chunk of money, which she spends by hiring a pastry chef and stuffing herself with his baked goods. She eventually kills herself by choking on Peach Cobbler. Lenz tells us his mom left him nothing, choosing instead to leave the money to ex-husbands, attorneys, and the pastry chef who warped her mind with promises of sweets. Lenz says he grapples with this terrible memory daily. The focus then shifts to Green who is standing quietly waiting for Lenz to finish peeing behind a dumpster. Green's thoughts shift to his own family, torn apart by freak incidences. Green's father was once a renowned aerobics instructer until one of his legs became longer than the other (or one became shorter than the other, no one knows) and he was forced to change jobs. He went bitterly to work for a company that produced gag gifts, or 'practical-joke products'. Green's father apparently thought it would be funny to have his son give his wife a can of seemingly innocent macadamia nuts for Christmas; unbeknownst to the young Green the can is filled with a spring-action fake snake that scares his mother to death. She suffers a lethal cardiac arrest while the snake hangs lifeless from the chandelier. Green is stunned and horrified into silence for (essentially) the rest of his childhood. His father falls into a depression, failing to take down the snake, remove the unwrapped presents, take down the tree, etc. His depression leads him to fill fake cigars with lethal high explosives that wind up grossly decapitating a large number of people. His father is eventually arrested and lethally injected. We are given a list of resulting phobias of which Green now suffers. The sound of luau-music breaks Green from his memory and he realizes he has lost Lenz...
Green is not sure if he or Lenz purposely got separated from the other, so he begins to climb the hill on W. Brainerd Road. Green's mind moves slowly, and he can only process about one thought per minute -- described by his Ennet House counselor as "listening to a faucet with a very slow drip" (582). The Hawaiian music gets louder as Green wanders through the streets, and he begins walking past a neighborhood nicknamed Depressed Residental, a phrase coined by Tiny Ewell because of its dysfunctional residents and their less-than-admirable activities. The Hawaiian music is coming from where Green is heading, and as he walks among chain-link fences and litter, he sees Lenz up ahead of him. He doesn't call out to him, and instead happens upon the apartment blasting Don Ho and the Sol Hoopi Players. He reverts back to a dorm beach party at Harvard, where a very pregnant Mildred Bonk danced around in a grass skirt and bikini top. Fed up with all the Hawaiian stuff going on, Bruce Green ended up ridiculously drunk and losing control of his faculties. So embarrased, he spent the new few days drunk and high out of his mind. Breaking away from his daydream, Green can see Lenz, enticing a dog into a gated area. The Hawaiian music continues to play as Green spies Lenz feeding the dog Gately's meatloaf. He then watches as Lenz brutally beats the dog, killing it. People come running outside, witnesses to the murder, as Green hides behind a tree, not wanting to be seen as an accomplice. [VR & JAG]
589 · Mario feels no pain, wanders down to Ennet
- Mario lies awake on his air mattress with insomnia, which has worsened since Madame Psychosis’ disappearance from radio. He tries to replace her show with an orchestral station, but he feels that this only makes Mario feel worse about Madame P’s absence. Through a description of the pelvic burn that he has recently acquired by leaning against a stove, we learn of one of his many disabilities, Familial Dysautonomia, a condition that numbs him to physical pain; his severe burn is the result of his failure to realize he was being burned at all. He can hear shrill sounds from Avril’s room above, and listens carefully to determine whether or not she is having night terrors.
Mario’s mind continues to wander; he hopes that Madame Psychosis is enjoying a nice vacation, but doubts it, and considers his relationship with Hal. Mario is undyingly devoted to his brother, and is uplifted when Hal shows any kind of affection for him (i.e. asking when Mario will return to their shared room), but is concerned by the fact that he can no longer “read” Hal and his moods. In spite of Avril’s (“nonintrusive”) desire that Mario not walk alone at night, for obvious reasons of vulnerability, Mario goes for an off-campus walk. He enjoys walking among the residences of Enfield, especially observing people going about their nightly activities through first-floor windows. He notices that many of these people are “damaged or askew and lean hard to one side or are twisted into themselves…and he can feel his heart going out into the world through them.” He approaches “Ennet’s” House, where he has apparently been welcomed by Pat Montesian in the past. Mario seems unaware of what Ennet House is really about (especially in referring to Pat as the “Headmistress”), but he likes going there because “it’s very real” in that the people there are open with each other, uncritical, and “getting less unhappy.” Because the public cannot enter after hours, Mario just props himself up and watches the residents through the windows. He picks up snippets of conversation, and most notably overhears someone listening to pre-taped recordings of the oldest episodes of “60 Minutes +/-” (can we assume that this person is Joelle? Mario does note his sense of the person being female…). He considers the possibility of asking to borrow them, and the reasons he fell in love with the show in the first place – again, his reasons involve the “reality” of it. He thinks about how the older students at E.T.A. are squeamish about “stuff that’s really real,” and how in response to Pemulis’ joke about the phone call to God that never gets answered, Mario’s laughter is the only happy laughter. Ennet House residents begin streaming in for curfew, and one of them helps Mario dismantle his police block, which makes him feel better and seems to break his insomnia. As he lurches back up the hill, he sees Don Gately in the office, uncomfortably writing something, which we soon learn is probably a logbook of some kind.
593 · Life on Ennet Staff: Picayune & unpleasant
- In this section, we get some details about Don Gately’s nightly “picayune and unpleasant” responsibilities and tasks as a Staffer at Ennet House. Much of his time seems to involve logging, as in logging attendance, use of medication, infractions of the house rules, and generally suspicious behavior (like Kate Gompert’s cryptic and possibly suicidal comment). His other key, catch-all task is to essentially babysit the residents, ensuring that they do their chores, clean up after themselves (apparently Gately’s got a problem with Rice Krispies Treats and their accompanying mess), and don’t abuse their phone privileges, etc. He attends to individuals as their needs arise, as in the case of Doony Glynn and his medical needs for Motrin and SlimFast. Gately keeps a “wet finger to the wind for potential conflicts and issues and rumors,” without encouraging tattle-telling. One specific detail given is that Gately notices his meatloaf disappearing at an alarming rate. We get to see into his head a little bit, and get a glimpse of his personal worries about what he’ll do when his Staff term is up, and he is forced to go back out into the world, with his sobriety and soul “sucked” by the picayune and unpleasant.
596 · Orin, w/ Swiss subject, is questioned by handicapped surveyor
- An insight into Orin’s mind as he semi-interacts with the Swiss subject after their encounter. While he is a seemingly caring and considerate lover, during and after the act (being intimate after they’ve slept together), it is really a rather contemptuous form of narcissism. He feels the need to act that way so the Subject will view him as a “wonderful lover” (596).
- Despite him wanting her to feel that way he feels no real concern when he goes to answer the door as they lay in bed. He takes enjoyment at her need to hide her presence for fear of someone finding out about her infidelity.
- This perverse enjoyment extends when he opens the door to find a wheel-chair bound man (who he initially assumes is a fan pretending to survey him in an attempt to get his autograph), he delights in thinking of how the Swiss model is most likely suffocating under the covers. Unknown to him, the non-Swiss model actually has a portable Oxygen mask and a Schmeisser GBF miniature machine pistol and is waiting “patiently on her side” (599) of the bed.
- Orin actually finds himself feeling sympathetic to the supposed surveyor and gives honest answers about what he misses. Which is the repetition of commercial television, he is also surprisingly honest about how he used to love feeling superior to people by listening to “stuff so low-denominator” (600) .The surveyor then asks if he can return later when Orin isn’t engaged
601 · Nucks come for Lenz
Bad news residence get tossed out of the home by simply not letting them back in at night. An example of this would be Amy J. who didn’t return to the 5-woman room. There is either an extreme passivity in terms of dealing with patients or an extreme “we don’t need you, you need us” attitude. This way of thought can be attributed to the idea that “the only way your addict learns anything is the hard way.”(604)
There is a very Arrested Development feel when Gately has to heard the vehicular residence just inside the front door. “Gately can hear the her own by the front door at the bottom of the stairs stamping and shuffling and getting ready to maybe disperse.” (605)
Gately has to leave the residence of the home unattended while he gets Glynn's permission and keys so Green can drive his old beat up beatle. While in this discourse, Gately discovers that Glynn is actually sick; and that there is a commotion going on outside.
Gately runs outside to find Lenz being chased around a Montenegro by two massive Nucks; while the other Nuck holds the rest of the addicts at bay with a modified .44 Bull Dog Pistol. The two big Nucks advance upon Gately, and we read that Gately physically protects these addicts because he considers it his duty, his job. This presents an interesting dynamic and really shows the reader that, while the policy's of the house may be strict, the staff and the people responsible for the addicts work hard at thier job.
Once Don takes out the two big fellas, he gets shot in the shoulder. At this time the people from the home leap into action, taking out, and beating the hell out of the three Nucks.
DFW writes a great section from Gately's view point when he is going into shock becuase of the gun shot wound. (CRW)
Sorry for the late post guys—long story as usual.
The Nucks do come for Lenz at the end of the chapter, but the majority of the chapter deals with Gately’s night-duty. We find out that Gately has to close up Ennet at 2230 and that most of the residents come in around that time. Occasionally a few people don’t make it in on time. For those who don’t make it in on time, Gately must mark it down in his notebook but can unlock the door and let them in. On this particular night, Lenz comes in right behind the smokers (moustachless). He also allows Green to come in late because it is his first time.
Part of Gately’s nightly duties include rounding up everyone in the house who owns a car and helping them move the cars across the street so that they don’t get fined or towed (or both). They have to move their cars because of “Boston’s serious fiscal troubles” and this was an easy way to generate money to the city. Before he can let everyone out, everyone must be “herded” together and this is a royal “pain in the ass” for Gately. First, he has to go to the women’s side of the house to get a straggler. Then he has to go get Lenz, who is doing handstand pushups, in a jock strap, “farting in rhythm to the pushups’ down strokes…” Gately, who suspected Lenz from earlier gets a good look at Lenz and realizes that he is “clearly wired on either ‘drines or Bing.”
Gately wants to spot drug-test Lenz, but the group which is herded at the bottom of the steps is beginning to become impatient and he doesn’t want to have to deal with that headache so he allows Lenz and the rest of the residents to go move their cars. This is when the shit hits the fan.
Green screams to Gately to come down and help out. Gately, confused, flies down the steps (two at a time) and runs out the door. He sees two “almost Gately-sized bearded guys” dressed in Hawaiian gear and another guy with a “plaid Donegal” who has a gun. Gately becomes very calm in this situation and it states that his senses were clearer than they’ve been in the past year. He tries to calm the situation while Lenz runs away from the two bearded guys, but to no avail. The three Nucks don’t want to fight Gately and give him a few chances to get out of it, but Gately responds (by body language and verbally) that he has to be where he is.
The fight ensues and Gately wrecks shop. He breaks one guys arm, squishes another’s privates, smashes someone’s head into a windshield until glass spiders appear on it. Lenz helps when he can, which is not very often. Gately is injured in the fight with a gunshot to his shoulder and stab wound to his calf. When Gately gets shot, Bruce Green puts the Nuck in a half nelson and Clenette H. and Yolonda W. kick him relentlessly.
After the fight, Joelle comes to the rescue and brings Gately inside so that he isn’t involved in the skirmish (I’m assuming this would probably be the last straw and he would go to jail if involved). The chapter ends with Joelle Lenz and Green helping Gately to his feet. [bdg]
620* · AFR and WYYY engineer @ Duck Pond draining
YDAU: Every November on a particularly windy and chilly day, the Duck Pond in the Boston Public Gardens is drained. Everyone in the area has experienced at least one suck pond draining. James Incandenza used to go every year before he died. The duck pond is normally still full of birds and is perfectly round so when drained it creates a perfectly round hole in the park. There is always a crowd for this event. A grad-work-study of MIT’s WYYY-109 lies on a hill during this festivity tanning on a silver NASA blanket. He is cold to the point where he has goose pimples. The WYYY engineer stands out because he is not fully clothed and most people are and he is also among people who are homeless (?). The WYYY engineer works for Madame Psychosis’ radio show and is responsible for speaking for Madame Psychosis when people call in to wish her a speedy recovery. He only knows that she is in some cheap halfway home for long term treatment. The WYYY engineer is then captured by a member of the AFR who comes speeding down the hill, scopes him onto his lap, and then wheels him into a van waiting idly on the corner.
627 · Stice plays Hal; Rapacious eating at ETA
Nov. 11 YDAU: All of ETA is sitting down to dinner. The top tennis players get the best table in the dining hall which is by the heat during the colder months and the air conditioning in the warmer months. Before dinner Hal and Ortho Stice, The Darkness, played a match against each other and Stice almost beat him. This causes an unnamed energy in the cafeteria because Hal had been basically untouchable the entire season. Hal should have lost the match to Stice, but Stice had a crisis of faith which concerned the fact that Hal is now no longer getting high in secret or anything. The table is silent for the first few minutes while everyone is eating then Stice explains how his parents fell in love with each other because they put a burning cigarette in between their forearms and neither of them pulled away. Stice refers to his mother as The Bride and he and his six siblings as the Brood. They then move into a discussion about how ETA has changed from real milk to powdered milk and there is some speculation that they are putting vitamins (or something extra) into it. Hal is obsessively chewing but not actually eating anything. Instead, he builds a fortification out of his food. Stice then talks with Troeltsch about how things have been mysteriousy moving around ETA, like Stice’s bed. It is then revealed that one of Hal’s goals is to remain a virgin for life because he feels Orin gets enough action for both of them. Hal and Troeltsch leave the table and Stice stays trying to move a tomato stuck at the bottom of his salad bowl with his mind.
638 • Marathe & Steeply: Steeply's Dad ODs on M*A*S*H Steeply tells Marathe about his father who was “consumed with a sort of entertainment.” Steeply’s father was obsessed with the television show M*A*S*H which began as a “attachment or habit” but eventually progressed into a “withdrawal from life.” Steeply’s recalls “the odor of obsession about the whole thing. The secrecy about the notebook, and the secrecy about the secrecy.” Steeply’s father’s missed full weeks of work because he was so obsessed with the show, and while at work costumers complained “the old man kept trying to engage them in bizarre theoretical discussions of the thematic of M*A*S*H.” Steeply’s father stopped going to work and eventually died in his chair. During the conversation the chair Marathe sits in makes “small squeaks.” 648 • G Day to Kate G: "billowing black sail of hell" Day talks about an incident from his childhood where a horror “rose in me, out of me, summoned somehow by the odd confluence of the fan.” Gompert listens to Day while he talks of his horrors of the fans billowing shape came billowing out of some corner in my mind.” Day says, “If I had to for any length of time with that feeling I’d surely kill myself.” This quote is interested when taking into consideration Wallace’s suicide. Wallace seemed to understand these characters, and their psyche more than readers hoped he did. [clf]
- The match between Hal and Stice isn’t meant to be a “ladder-challenge” (651) but more like an exhibition match, a good portion of the school comes out to watch. We already know the outcome of the match but it is interesting to get an actual look at the match. Both players are exceptional and because they are both left-handed, it complicates strategies and predictions/statistics. At the same time that the match is going on Steeply is in the bleachers with deLint, Steeply still posing as Helen the soft journalist doing a piece on Orin.
- We also get a glimpse of what else is going on under the November 11th in other portions of the country, specifically those integral to the plotline. Done Gately is snoring loudly in his room, Poor Tony is currently held up in the bathroom stall of the Armenian Foundation Library, and Orin is “once again embracing a certain ‘Swiss’ hand-model” (655).
- While the reader doesn’t know Avril’s current whereabouts, we learn that Charles Tavis has managed to smooth things over with the parents of the students harmed in the Eschaton incident.
- DeLint is offers insight into the match between the two boys to Steeply, who is eager to get an interview with Hal. An interview that deLint and Tavis don’t want to happen. Ever since Tavis took over, he hasn’t allowed for interviews with the students. DeLint’s explanation of this is because it’s best for the students mentally and sports-wise. Being the center of attention can lead some to get a big head. When they’re the best, they feel as though there is nothing they can learn. That’s why students come to the academy, to no longer be the “big fish in the small pond” but to learn ways to improve their game away from constant attention.
- The second reason comes back to the idea of the metal health of the player. The newspapers, magazines, people, Inter-Lace, etc. “chew them up” (681) according to deLint. “They” are the students. Considering their young age and the pressure for them to succeed, Tavis and deLint believe that is for the students own good not to be in the spotlight. DeLint also comments on Steeply’s need to interview Hal. He thinks that is she were to interview anyone it would be John Wayne. (Despite the fact that the interview is suppose to be about Orin, a player that he thinks is just a one-trick pony
663 · Marlon Bain on Orin Incandenza
Endnote: (#269) Steeply interviews Orin.
666 · Tunnel Club “LaMont Chu, Josh Gopnik, Audern Tallat-Kelpsa, Phillib Traub, Tim (Sleepy T.P) Peterson, Carl Whale, Kieran Mckenna—the bulk of the ambulatory sub-14 male Eschatonites—plus ten year old Kent Blott” are underneath Hal and Darkness while they play their match during this section of the reading. We don’t learn a lot about the central characters of the book during this section, but we do get a sense of the community at the school and how the upperclassmen and underclassmen treat each other. We learn that the kids listed above are all in the tunnels today as part of a punishment for the Eschaton craziness.
This section felt much more realistic than some of the chapters which we have been reading. The boys are sent into the tunnels to clean out what they can, and identify what they can’t so that someone else can come and take the “heavy stuff”. The interactions amongst the boys are very reminiscent of high school age children and feel genuine. Kent Blott mentions that he thinks he saw a rat and the boys force him to come along and help them find the rodent. Blott hopes that they do find a rodent because of impending punishment from the upperclassmen.
While looking for the rodent, the boys stumble across an old refrigerator which is surrounded by a smell that is “too powerful for a fart.” The boys convince Peterson to open the refrigerator and it is full of rotting food. Everyone freaks out and runs away after they open the fridge because it reeks and is full of maggots.
I believe more than anything else this scene serves to ground ETA in reality because there seems to be no other reason to include this chapter. We see genuine interactions amongst the boys and a scene which probably every adolescent male has been a part of (minus the massive underground tunnels). [bdg]
673 · Steeply, deLint & Poutrincourt watch Hal v. Stice Female prorector Thierry Poutrincourt sits down with Steeply in the bleachers of the tennis match and the two discuss E.T.A.’s disinterest in allowing their students/athletes participate in anything that takes their focus off the game. Poutrincourt, a Quebecer, admits that she was advised to be unfriendly toward Steeply due to Steeply’s intentions to interview Hal. She goes on to explain that E.T.A. students need to develop their psyche in order to cope with the potential fame and fortune that could accompany their future tennis careers. Jim Troeltsch is also on the bleachers, talking into his gripped hand as though it held a microphone, and practicing his newscasts. DeLint is watching Hal and Stice’s match, as well as continue his conversation with Steeply. DeLint and Poutrincout assess the players while Steeply works in sly comments about not being allowed to meet them. Poutrincourt is speaking to Steeply in French, and uses a word that Steeply (who speaks Parisian French as opposed to Poutrincout’s Quebecois French). This could be an indication that she knows Steeply is neither a reporter not female, or she could have figured it out based upon Steeply’s “manly” gestures while operating his lighter. Steeply looks out to the parking lot, and sees the Tunnel Club throwing their plastic bags into a dumpster. Poutrincout returns to the subject of the player’s mental grooming. She explains that with success comes “the Syndrome of Endless Party,” wherein people indulge in nothing but excess, and work harder at celebrating their success than they do the efforts that brought them that success. They then simply value the byproducts of winning, rather than the value of hard work. DeLint and Poutrincout also discuss what makes John Wayne a fundamentally better player than Hal, primarily Wayne’s ability to mentally detach himself from matches. It is again stated that Hal thinks to much. He pays too much attention to his emotions, his successes and failures, to have a purely unfiltered perspective. I wouldn’t call him a sufferer of the Endless Party Syndrome, but he would fall into Poutrincout’s description of a person who is too concerned about the consequences of a game’s outcome (though in that pressure cooker environment, I would think you’d need to be something nearing sociopathic not to be concerned). [MGM]
682 · Matty Pemulis and his Da
- Michael Pemulis’ older brother, Matty is a prostitute. He is sitting in the Man o’ War Grille on his 23rd birthday. Matty is eating soup and looking out the window at Little Lisbon. He sees a homeless woman move her bowels in the middle of the sidewalk and several young people walking. Matty recognizes a very ragged looking Poor Tony Krause closely following Ruth van Cleve and Kate Gompert from Ennet House. This is just after Poor Tony’s seizure on the subway and Matty observes that he looks godawful: sucked-out, hollow-eyed, pst ill, grave ready.” Matty then flashes back to his childhood when his Irish immigrant father would sexually abuse him. His father would come into his bedroom late at night after he’d been drinking, and no matter how fiercely Matty pretended to be asleep out of his intense fear, his father was relentless and would wake him to molest him. [MEM]
686 · "Abandoning All Hope" / Hal views entertainments
- Hal goes to Schtitt’s room to discuss why he had to play Stice earlier that day and run through what went wrong at the match. He finds only deLint working on a large chart of match statistics and is forced to listen to his take on the day’s match. Hal leaves for mandatory P.M. Study Period and goes to Viewing Room 6 where he wants to be left alone. He begins watching several of Himself’s cartridges starring a former E.T.A. student whose name Hal is driving himself crazy over not being able to remember. (A cross-reference to footnote 25, J.O.I.’s autobiography tells us the actor is Philip T. Smothergill.) One of the cartridges, Wave Bye-Bye to the Bureaucrat is about a man who is chronically late for work because he is unable to wake up on time. He is told by his supervisor that if he is late one more time he will be fired. That night the man makes sure to set a dozen alarms to ensure he wakes up, but the power goes out in the middle of the night and the man wakens with barely enough time to race to catch the last possible train and still get to work on time. As he runs across the platform toward the closing doors, he collides with a little boy and decides to stay and help the child, knowing that he will be fired for missing the train. The little boy then looks up and asks the man if he is Jesus. This is Mario’s favorite entertainment that Himself made. Hal has not gotten high in over 24 hours and spits into the trash can next to him as he watches a few more cartridges. [MEM]
689 · Poor Tony Krause heads for Antitoi's
- Poor Tony Krause is on the streets of Boston after having been taken to the hospital following his subway seizure. He is experiencing the post-seizure feelings of well-being and has insisted on being discharged, which the hospital had no objections to because he doesn’t have health insurance. He is feeling much more optimistic about his prospects, having gotten through the agony of his 14 days of withdrawal in the Armenian Library and is on his way to see his acquaintances the Antitoi brothers. Bertraund Antitoi once invited Poor Tony and a dozen other people to take part in the “Front-Contre-O.N.A.N.isme,” an anti-O.N.A.N. protest in which an androgynous figure in a red leather coat, spike heels and an auburn wig burst into a press conference with the Canadian Minister of Inter-O.N.A.N. Trade and threw waste in the minister’s face. In the lobby, Poor Tony and Susan T. Cheese and the other dozen were dressed in the same outfit as decoys and after the incident, fled in multiple directions to confuse pursuers. Poor Tony is remembering meeting the Antitoi brothers as he walks past the Man o’ War Grille. P.T. is beginning to come off of his post-seizure euphoria and is feeling very fatigued. He is following two skinny, easily victimized women (Ruth and Kate of Ennet House) and figuring out the logistics of snatching their dangling purses. He is so engrossed in considering the possibility of arriving at the Antitoi brothers’ with something to offer rather than just begging for charity that he does not realize his old crewmate Matty Pemulis is watching him from inside the Grille. [MEM]
692 · Lenz's frightful hog
This small section talks about the odd tendency for lower class members of Ennet house to name their Unit. In particular Lenz has named his the "Frightful Hog" and describes the Polish curse "Easy on the bottom but tears the hell out of the sides, brother." Apparently Lenz is prone to brandishing the Hog upon demand.
692 · Hal is lonely; Kate G and her Lionel Train friend
This section compares two different kinds of depression. There is the numb, stripped of joy depression where world loses its meaning, where the "carrot" ceases to motivate, which the novel refers to as by the $50 word anhedonia (which isn't in spell check). Hal notes that older players like himself stop valuing the carrot, and in a way that makes them a little worse. Hal recognizes that he is lonely, and ominously claims that "inside Hal there's pretty much nothing at all, he knows." It is revealed that Hal is lonely, and Hal is starting to feel the numb depression but doesn't know that it isn't the worst it could be, and the section transitions to the suicidal Kate Gompert. Kate reveals the far worse feeling of psychotic depression, characterized by unbearable psychic pain which renders things like Suicide Pacts useless. She remembers a fellow psychotically depressed person. The man was civil engineer who enjoyed a model train hobby slipped on oil, hit his head, and was suddenly psychotically depressed. The man's wish became to no longer feel, a sort of longing for the anhedonia that Hal thinks is so bad.
698 · Kate G & Ruth vC walk; Poor Tony
14 November YDAU: Kate Gompert and her "friend" Ruth van Cleve are taking a walk together of Ruth's first day off. Ruth is an addict to substances in the range from paint to ether who abandoned her infant with the hospital id tag still attached. Kate can't stand Ruth, the way that Ruth talks nonstop (reminiscent of Lenz?). NA is criticized by the narrator (Gompert?) as not having as many meetings as AA. At the end of the section it is revealed that Randy Lenz was kicked out of Ennet house for doing drugs and abusing animals. All the while the shell of Poor Tony stalks Kate and Ruth.
700 · Troeltsch sets up for play by play
Troeltsch grooms and dresses like a stereotypical sports announcer and puts in a pro wrestling tape. His roommates flee understandably.
700 · Pemulis moves ceiling tile
Pemulis shifts a ceiling tile from a square setting to a diamond setting. Could Pemulis be behind the chain of "mysterious" events occuring at ETA?
700 · Lyle hovers
Lyle hovers! How is this possible? Is this a reliable narrator? Is this meant to be taken seriously?
701 · Schtitt & Mario in sidecar
Schtitt and Mario take an exciting motorcycle ride together.
701 · Avril phones Steeply Evidence of chain smoking? Avril places a call to Steeply at his business address.
701 · Friends join Hal to view "Blood Sister" / The peanut butter-n-biscuits story NA-splinter CA guy
- Hal watches the opening of "Blood Sister: One Tough Nun" which more or less consists of a nun fighting a man with a power tool and a great deal of blood dripping onto the credits. While watching this scene, several other ETA students enter the room despite Hal's informing the first girls that he was attempting to isolate himself. He takes numerous measures to persuade them to leave from not speaking to them to spitting in the most grotesque way he can manage. The students don't leave and instead socialize amongst themselves, drawing more students into the room in a slow trickle. Hal contemplates what his father was trying to accomplish in making films like "BS: OTN." The film is then summarized: it beings with a "tough biker-chick-type girl" being taken in by an old tough nun who saves her from her terrible life on the Toronto streets. Apparently that is the point of this order, each nun was at one point a tough biker-chick-type woman who was saved by an even older, tougher nun. And so the nun from the movie's opening, who is known as the Blood Sister and is apparently versed in Akido and generally feared, goes out to save another girl who is addicted to drugs. There is a long montage of the two women bonding until the new girl is saved as well. It is reflected by the narrator, not by Hal because it is made clear he doesn't fully understand the meaning of the film, that this is JOI's understanding of AA, bringing us back to the idea that one sort of dependence is being replaced by another. JOI, it seems, never moved past the stage that AA members identify as being not desperate enough to realize that they would do anything to give up their substance. From this we get a scene of Joelle attending a CA meeting, which is a splinter of NA that is not encouraged as the primary source for meetings by Ennet House because it is difficult to find splinter groups with regular meeting times and places. The only reason Joelle is in attendence is because it is being held in the hospital where she was visiting Don Gately (who is alive but unwell and apparently resisting pain medication for his injury so as to avoid addiction). She listens to a speaker who tells his story of joining CA. He has been in CA for seven months. He held down a job but got high on weekends, wasting all the money from his paycheck on cocaine and was thus unable to pay for rent or groceries for his pregnant wife and daughter. One weekend he promised to meet his wife and daughter to deposite his paycheck because he knew he could not trust himself, but instead meets two other men and gets high and wastes all of the money. When he returns home he finds the poor meal his pregnant wife and daughter have had to survive on, biscuits and peanut butter with not even a crumb left in the pan, and is immediately depressed. Rather than killing himself, he walks to Shattuck Shelter (I believe this is the place where Gately works, cleaning out the showers)and is taken to a CA meeting. He learns that his wife went to an unwed mothers shelter and has been there since. She has a restraining order against him, but he was able to talk to his daughter last month. This story is moving for Joelle, who decides she wants to stay clean no matter the cost and contemplates for, what she says is, the "first time in a long time" revealing her face to someone, Gately. [EER]
711 · "Blood Sister" run-through
Kids at ETA watch an entertainment cartridge: Blood Sister finds a girl she saved dead in her cot with her pockets stuffed with substances and paraphernalia. Blood Sister suspects foul play, begins to revert back to her punk ways. B.S. finds out the girl was murdered by Mother Superior, the order's top and toughest nun. B.S. is in a bad way because she herself was saved by the Vice-MS (who was herself saved by MS) so in order to prove her case against MS she must posit these salvation-debts up against each other and unravel all the goodness that has previously been done. Blood Sister then discovers that the Vice-MS was really selling drugs through the Community Outreach Rescue Mission, which is how Blood Sister's ex-punk friend would cope. It then becomes obvious that MS had the ex-punk killed in order to keep her from telling Blood Sister that Blood Sister's savior was in fact a dealer. In a scene in MS's office, Blood Sister is getting her ass handed to her...yet before she can be decapitated by MS is saved by Vice-MS. After this act of compassion, Blood Sister and the Vice-MS stare at each other, not saying a word. BS walks out of the convent, gets on her bike, and drives off.
714 · Poor Tony and Kate & Ruth
This scene shows us who the two interracial women Poor Tony was eyeing up on the street are. Kate Gompert and Ruth van Cleve had been walking down the street, Ruth talking about aliases her baby's dad had used, when an apparition looking a lot like a woman tries to steal their purses. We know this is Poor Tony, evidenced by the description of a foul smell, a red leather jacket, and Kate's notice of facial hair. Kate's purse strap holds tight and because of that she is whipped around by Tony's attempts of wrenching it free. Kate slams into a light pole, which bruises her eye; Poor Tony, the apparition, is fleeing the scene with Ruth on his tail; the random gargoyle screams all the while 'I seen it, withnessed the whole goddamn thing'
716 · Lenz stalks two Chinese women
Lenz is out on the street, having been kicked out of Ennet House. He is following two Chinese women, his nose numb from all the cocaine he has injested. He is decked out in a hodgepodge outfit, which makes him look like a homeless person. Lenz has decided that all Orientals carry their life's worth with them at all times, meaning that the brown bags the Chinese women are carrying are very valuable. His plan is to steal them and he stealthily creeps closer and closer to them.
719 · AFR: "Two ways of going..."
AFR is essentially faced with two options for obtaining a copy of the Entertainment. 1) infiltrate the circles of JOI's associates hoping for a clue of the original copy's whereabouts, 2) obtain a copy on their own. The first option being risky, they are still at the Antitoi brother's shop searching.
719 · Ruth chases Poor Tony. Well.
Ruth is chasing Poor Tony in order to get back the purses he stole from her and Kate G. In the midst of the chase Poor T loses both hat and boa. The narrator that drifts in and out of this section mentions that the two are running very close to the shop of the Antitoi brothers, and PT hopes to use the dumpsters out back to conceal his escape from Ruth. Ruth has a hand on Tony's chignon as Tony crucially pivots around a corner, gaining inches on Ruth. The section ends with the two of them in the alley, still running. Daniel
721 · AFR at Antitoi's
723 · Fourtier sacrifices w/ wheelchair despite alternatives
723 · Joelle dreams of Gately as dentist
724 · AFR conducts interviews, testing motivation range digitally
728 · Lenz and Chinese women
729 · Marathe enters Ennet "clued" by halitotic man
Endnote: (#304) Le Jeu du Prochain Train
During this endnote, Struck is constructing a midterm paper for Ms. Poutrincourt's History of Canadian Unpleasantess course. Deciding that his original ideas concerning his topic have lessened over the course of his research, Struck decides to plagiarise for his paper--Hal finds the art of plagiarism to take just as much, if not more, time and effort as writing a paper from scratch would, and thus, doenst quite understand Struck and Pemulis's habit of doing it. Reading Italic textWild ConceitsItalic text research with Struck we learn about AFR's signature double S over a fleur-de-lis motif and the fear their squeaking wheels instill in thier victims prior to attack. Embedded within his research process, we discover that Struck's father was an alcoholic who ingested tranquilizers on the side and upon intoxication would call acquiantences, leading to a necessary explanation later as to why those conversations took place. Struck's father, on one intoxicated occassion decided to flip into a drained pool, resulting in a permanent neck brace and the end of his golfing career. Following this incident the family experienced an intense amount of tension and Struck was then shipped off to Rolling Hills Academy.
AFR's inception was the result of Italic textLe Culte du Prochain TrainItalic text (The Cult of the Next Train), consisting of the children of miners, prior to the Reconfiguration, in Papineau, Quebec. Ensuing after sunset, the cult would gather by the various train intersections in Quebec with 216 designated participants in the game of jumping in front of moving trains. Only Italic textles directeurs de jeuItalic text (the sort of winners of games long since past) know the train schedules and they oversee the games. These 216 players are divided into groups of 6, in which the object of the game is to be the last of the six in your group to jump past a train without resulting in injury. The game signifies one's courage, nerve, will-power, and "willingness to risk all of any or all of the five waiting beside you at the track." Everyone at least attempts to jump--only once in history has a person opted not to jump at all, resulting in his bad name forever; not jumping appears as an impossibility. One could parallel this competition to the American game "Chicken," in which two people race cars straight at each other and the person to exit the moving car last wins. In Italic textLe Culte du Prochain TrainItalic text those who win usually move on to become Italic textdirecteursItalic text or members of AFR. Other organizations have sprouted from this cult, however; organizations such as Italic textLa Culte de Baiser Sans FinItalic text and Italic textFils de MontcalmItalic text.
Subsequent to the first round of 216 participants, the cult is left with Italic textLes Trente-SixItalic text, six groups of six players. The ultimate title then lies between two oponents, and almost always ends in the permanent injury of one of the players.
Struck finally talks about The Cult of the Endless Kiss. This competition involves the pairing up of 32 couples who are then taped together in a long lasting kiss in which breath is passed back and forth between the couple, resulting in the last couple standing idea. The minimalization of oxygen and the purization of the carbon dioxide parallels the idea of the Canadian's impressive use of waste; one uses every last bit of the breath being exchange, whether or not it retains any actual oxygen, before actually returning its resultant gas. This signifies this cult's indifference to the war between AFR and ONAN over the Reconfiguration because the endless kiss competition utilizes such waste to the max, rather than argue over where to put its remains.
As Hal previously mentioned, the amount of effort one has to put in in order to "camouflage" one's plagiarism seems to make the activity not worth it in the first place; throughout the reading Struck provides us with his images of strangling the author and of the authors clear intoxication and slow dehabilitation during the readings production. Struck finds numerous literary misconstructions on the authors part and finds it difficult to even decipher the author's points most of the time. Knowlingly, Struck even copies down sentences, verbatim, he grammatically disagrees with, illustrating to us the paradoxical activity of plagiarising even when one knows that their paper would read so much better.
736 · Joelle cleans room, remembers 1st Thanksgiving w/ Incandenzas
747 · Marathe checks into Ennet w/ Pat M.
751 · Joelle finishes cleaning Ennet room
752 · Marathe & Pat talk, Johnette pokes her head in
755 · Mario films, while walking, Chu; Moms' talk
769 · Mario & Hal discuss liars
774 · Marathe & Kate G get flapped
782 · Hal fesses up to Mario
785 · Hal visits Ennet/Johnette
787 · Endnote #324 Pemulis reassures Possathwaite w/o throttling Freer, somehow
787 · Molly Notkin tells all re Joelle's history
795 · Endnote #332 Wayne goes nuts on the air; Pemulis confronted
- Pemulis has been summoned to the Dean of Academic Affairs’ office where he is confronted by deLint, Watson, Nwangi. John Wayne is hopped up on ‘drines that he took from Pemulis’ stash, and is currently being visited by Charles, Rusk, and Avril. Wayne and Troeltsch took over the WETA station, and Wayne proceeded to shout insults about virtually every ETA staff member. Pemulis tries to explain this away by blaming it on Troeltsch, stating that this is behavior is completely unlike Wayne. Pemulis immediately notices the disbelief register on deLint’s face. Nwangi and Watson read over Wayne’s statements with Nwangi finding the whole affair hilarious. Pemulis knows that he can’t tell them the truth without disclosing his drug stash, but when the men place all of Pemulis’ supplies (such as empty Visine bottles and pharmaceutical scales), he realizes he is caught. The men remind him that this violates federal laws, and ONANTA and ETA regulations. They tell him he can finish out the term for credit or leave immediately. Pemulis is speechless, but outwardly keeps his cool, finally (and futilely) asking, “And this affects the WhataBurger, my chances?” [MGM]
795 · Hal's Men's Movement Mtg.
809* · Gately convalesces, sorta. / Money-Stealers Club / C. Thrust visits
- Gately is lying in his hospital bed at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital thinking about his past as visitors come and go. He is in severe pain, and is almost entirely immobile. He begins thinking about the Beverly beach house his family frequented that had a gaping hole in the roof that four-year-old-Gately named Herman. Tiny Ewell visits and talks to Gately about his brush with immorality as a child that continues to haunt and affect him today. In third grade, Ewell had become friends with a group of “tough blue-collar Irish lads” who together formed a group called the Money-Stealers’ Club. They wore uniforms and solicited houses for donations to a fake organization called Project Hope Youth Hockey. Because Ewell was the smartest in the group and had a knack for getting people to part with their money through creative and moving stories, he came to run the entire operation. He did all the speaking at each house and he held onto the Chock Full O’ Nuts tin that housed all the money. However, soon he began embezzling it, buying comic books, toys, and candy. Eventually his brawny Irish cohorts wanted their cut. Ewell tried to hide from them, make excuses, anything to keep from having to tell them that the money had been spent. He even went so far as to steal $100 from his father to cover up the losses. Overwhelmed by his guilt, Ewell became obsessed with making himself “good” again. It is precisely what he believes drew him to work in the field of tax law, because it helped people like the ones that he conned into skirting their obligations to Uncle Sam. He also thinks he can attribute his severe drinking problem to the feeling of self-hate that stemmed from this third-grade period, confessing to a barely-conscious Gately that he fear he will never get beyond this. Don slips back into unconsciousness where he dreams that a blue (!) stuffed brontosaurus is being sucked up into Herman. This image flows into a memory of his father beating his mother, something Gately Sr. did frequently. In the dream, Gately’s mother runs screaming from their beach house with a Ginsu knife in her hand as Gately invites her into the water (an image that returns later with Gately’s bath), but she couldn’t hear him. She is pulled up into a tornado, and he awakes sweating, alone, and hooked up to a catheter. Pat visits him next (at least he thinks she does, his dream and waking states often blend together), and tries to catch him up to speed with what’s been going on at Ennett House since the shooting. She says things are primarily back to normal. Joelle visits later, followed by senior counselor Calvin Thrust, who straddles a chair and goes into depth about the goings on since Don was shot. He said Lenz, Green and Parias-Carbo were the ones to take Don inside to Pat’s office before the Finest showed up. Lenz was immediately concerned with getting blamed for the entire incident, whereupon Green, obviously knowing that it WAS Lenz’s fault, threw him up against Pat’s cabinets and shook him. However, he never “ate cheese.” Thrust recognized Lenz’s state as one involving either ‘drines or coke, and said he could either leave or be subjected to an immediate urine test and room-search. Lenz flees. The group is unsure what to do with Don, because they fear the repercussions with the police if they take him to the hospital. Pat shows up and yells at them for their inaction. They take him to St. Elizabeth’s shortly thereafter. The two questions that Gately really wants answered are: 1) What happened with the Canadians who attacked him? and 2) Who is the man with the hat sitting outside his room (who he fears is someone to arrest him after he’s well enough to leave)? Thrust is very blunt about Gately’s condition and appearance throughout the night of the shooting, saying there was blood everywhere and talking to him about advancements in prosthetics. As Thrust continues to update Gately on the status of Ennett House staffers and inhabitants, Gately begins to feel anxious about who is tending to his responsibilities while he’s gone. Thrust tells Gately that everyone who can has issues written depositions claiming that Gately is not at fault for the shooting, but the weapon is still missing, which makes it impossible for Gately to have an air-tight self-defense case. Clenette and Yolanda are on Full House Restriction for their part in beating/stomping one of the Canadians. Geoffrey Day later visits, and begins telling Gately about his mentally disabled brother who had a fear of leaves. Day used to abuse him by threatening to touch him with a leaf. Gately doesn’t understand why Day is telling him any of this. Gately begins to think about a recurring dream he has about an acne-scarred Oriental woman staring at him from above. (This image coincides with Joelle’s recounting of the film she did with JOI.) There is also a dog standing off to the side of the woman in Gately’s dream. [MGM]
827 · Gately visited by wraith
- When he wakes again, Day is gone, and Gately imagines (dreams? hallucinates?) that he is visited by a wraith. The wraith stands by his bedside and tells him that ordinarily wraiths can’t interface with people unless they get into their heads, and very few actually have anything important enough to say to actually make the effort. The wraith also explains that wraiths exist in a different dimension, so they experience time differently. Gately is annoyed that his immobile body has become a site for confessions for all his visitors. The wraith disappears and reappears in different areas of the room, holding an Oriental Coke can, in what Gately thinks is a Bewitched-like experience. The wraith does ballet and words that Gately has never heard of begin entering his mind. Gately begins to think that this unusual dream could be his unconscious trying to come to terms with his inability to connect with a higher power. It could be “the legendary Pulsing Blue (!!!) Light that AA founder Bill W. historically saw during his last detox.” On the other hand, he continues, it could be a manifestation of his disease, taunting him to take the Demerol for the pain.It could be “the legendary Pulsing Blue (!!!) Light that AA founder Bill W. historically saw during his last detox.” The wraith tells Gately that as a 28-year-old drug addict, he should be extremely familiar with the syndicated TV programs of the B.S. 80’s and 90’s. Growing up in a home where alcohol was a centerpiece, Gately remembers how normal the entire “Cheers” atmosphere always struck him. The wraith points out the extras who surrounded the bar and had noiseless conversations in the background, and how these types also exist in real-life. The wraith says he’s called one of the Crocodiles (how?) and that he’ll be here shortly. The wraith begins to reveal similarities to JOI as he says his youngest song, while the wraith was alive, became “a figurant,” much like Hal does (and if Mario is really CT’s, then that would make Hal the youngest of JOI’s children). His own genealogy also parallels JOI’s, saying he and his father had both “gone bats” from Wild Turkey. The wraith of JOI then reveals that he created the Entertainment to get Hal to interact and converse again after all professionals and impersonations of professionals had failed. He says the less the wraith “saw” his son, the more “hidden” he became. Gately recalls the problems he had with his own father, specifically how often he would beat his mother after a night of drinking. His father was very precise in how he did things, and Gately remembers how meticulously he would record his weight-lifting workouts. When his father would leave for work every day (for depressing jobs as a cheese-and-egg delivery man, then later the person who pulls the lever that released clam chowder into cans), he and his mother would never speak of him. It was as if he didn’t even exist. At night the two would sit in front of the TV and “gradually [lose] consciousness in front of the broadcast TV’s final seasons” (one of the saddest lines in the entire book, IMO). Gately then remembers how his father would cruelly pull the wings off flies to teach the other flies a lesson. The White Flaggers visit him next. One wonders who the man outside in the hat is, but no one has an answer. [MGM]
845 · AFR prepares to take Quebec tennis bus
- The A.F.R. plots an attack on ETA. They know they can’t go for the school directly, so they decide to go for the team bus en route for a game. They want to place a large mirror along the road to divert it, and then take it over. If it crashes, they know they can take aboard their van no more than six players; the rest would be left to die. [MGM]
846 · Gately's dreams: Joelle, Mrs. Waite
- Gately dreams he’s with Joelle at a motel in the South. She eventually lifts her veil to reveal the face of Winston Churchill. This moves him on to memories of the older woman, Mrs. Waite, who lived next door to his family’s home. She was very reclusive, and many of the neighborhood kids would taunt her and play tricks on her. However, she was so fond of Gately that she made him a cake for his birthday that his mother threw out. Mrs. Waite probably saw his mother take the uneaten cake inside the house, and was soon after found dead. She had hung herself. Gately dreams that Mrs. Waite has Joelle’s body and is naked telling him that she is Death. Just like in JOI’s film, Death is manifested in a female form. Death tells Gately that it happens over and over again, and at the end a woman kills you and in the beginning that same woman gives you life. This, Death explains, “is why Moms are so obsessively loving, why they try so hard no matter what private troubles or issues or addictions they have of their own…why there’s always a slight, like, twinge of selfishness about their obsessive mother-love” (850). “Moms” are explained to Gately the same way that The Moms exists for the Incandenza family. [MGM]
851 · Hal first person, in his room; it's snowing
- Hal is speaking in first person. He relates that he had a nightmare about a zoo, and woke up to extreme nausea in his head. He says that Pemulis has been helping him study for math before the college board tests. ETA holds an event for patrons/alumni/friends every November, but CT had also organized a February fundraiser where foreign teams would play the ETA students. None of the countries featured are very strong on tennis. Hal wonders if Bob Hope was the meaning of his day, not just the high-point. [MGM]
854 · Joelle visits Gately, shares photo album
- Joelle is wiping Don’s face with a cool, wet rag. Gately recalls that he was never interested in her radio program, but he thinks it’s rather cool to be garnering the attention of a celebrity. She says she can’t stay long, because she has to get to the A.M. group meditation meeting. She tells him there’s a Kentuckian staying at the house named “Wayne something,” who has a scar along his face where he was hit with a hatchet. At a meeting, he told the group that his father died right in front of him, and he wrapped him up in Purina Chicken-Chow sacks and shoved him under the porch. He then proceeded to tell his mother that his father had “gone off to lay up drunk.” Wayne-something then goes off himself and lives in a pipe for 10 years. Joelle begins to tell Gately about her own progress with sobriety. She uses a comparison to Evil Knieval, saying that jumping fourteen cars seems impossible, but one or two is probable. She believes if she goes one day at a time (as the cliché goes), she can stay sober. Then it strikes Gately that “everything unendurable was in the head,” that if one wanted to make it through something, it was their own choice to do so. Joelle shows Gately pictures of her life on the Kentucky farm, and tells him about her childhood. Gately feels slightly ashamed of his romantic interest in Joelle. Seducing newcomers (aka “13-Stepping”) is seen as bottom feeding in AA; it just isn’t done by respectable people. But he likes the idea of being saved by her. [MGM]
864 · Stice stuck to window; Hal's facial tic; Kenkle & Brandt
876 · Mtg.: Tine Sr. & Jr., Hooley, Yee (Splarg. Kaa.), Veals
883 · Gately: FF; Hindu M.D.; McDade & Diehl visit
896 · Hal stream of consciousness; Hal horizontal
902 · Gately's football & pharmacological youth
906 · Pemulis wants to interface w/ Hal (Hal not impressed)
911 · Gately history: Fackleman & Kite
916 · Pemulis checks his entrepot
916 · Gately: Fackleman's HUGE windfall; digging dream.
934 · Joelle is warned by Steeply
934 · Gately & Fackleman's MASSIVE Dilaudid binge
938 · Joelle questioned by Steeply re entertainment
941 · Hal thinks; Stice on ceiling, mapless, Accomplice!, Weston, Orin's porno, Avril's...uh..."loose." Shall we say
958 · Joelle, post interview, returns to Ennet
958 · Mickey's "cunt sister" denies consent
960 · Asst. DA "names his disease" to Pat M.
964 · ETA; Quebec team gala; Barry Loach as panhandler
971 · Orin under glass
972 · Gately fever; Dilaudid debauch w/ Fackleman