A Book of Madness

ijThe funny thing was when I got to the physical end of the text, I immediately turned pages back to the beginning, with some faint ideas and guesses, and realized the infinity.

What struck me the most was how, paradoxically, the novel is repelling and absorbing at the same time. With all those footnotes, heavy jargon, non-linearity and general fucking-with-the-reader thing, Infinite Jest is a challenge indeed. However, to the very end I thought that it’s more or less balanced with what’s really endearing and entertaining about it; the humor (even the E.T.A’s students cringey jokes which I simply loved), reflections on life and society (like most of the conversations between Marathe and Steeply) or moments of absolutely sincere, emotional havoc (like Mario’s conversation with Moms about sadness). Maybe that’s what makes DFW’s work transcend postmodernism. It’s not just a gargantuan, complex piece of prose; to put it simply, it has a heart. One way or another, that’s probably what DFW himself intended it to be like, I think I’ve mentioned that in the earlier post.

Its structural dimension is a completely different thing. How does this sincerity, hope and wholesomeness go together with the obvious, obsessional effect connected with continuous rereading and drawing different theories and interpretations? Answers are not given directly? Answers are not given at all, and all we have is the world in all its fucked-up-ness and its interpretations? Man what’s your story?

Or maybe it’s not about any answers at all. As I’ve read, DFW once said to Franzen that “the story can’t fully be made sense of.” That kinda makes sense. The world can’t fully be made sense of and that’s okay, because subsequent stories and retellings are what makes it all go round. As DeLillo beautifully (as always) put it,

[o]ne of his recent stories ends in the finality of this half sentence: Not another word. But there is always another word. There is always another reader to regenerate these words. The words won’t stop coming. Youth and loss. This is Dave’s voice, American.


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