Infinite Jest–

13 10 2010

Time began to take on new aspects

Do you play chess?

When I first picked up Infinite Jest, years ago, I put it back down because, frankly, I was so over reading or thinking about drugs.

I mean I’d already done the “smoke pot every day to the extent that you can barely see the SAT test before you because there is a smokey haze in the air of the classroom or at least in between the test and your eyes.”

And I’d done the daily Jack Daniel’s thing–in my coffee and straight.  Smoked cigarettes, generally in bars because in those spaces they tasted especially good.

I’d been around meth addicts, coke heads, alcoholics and lots of folks who found recovery in AA.

But, when Infinite Jest came out, I was in graduate school studying biology and poetry and married, and no longer interested in the pseudo-art bad-girl shit that I associated with drugs

The only way your addict ever learns anything is the hard way

I’d forgotten about my reaction to the drug thing in the book, when recently, in response to another person referencing IJ in conversation, I had that sinking feeling of oh shit I’m so fucking tired of not having read that book. At home, I picked it the book up and, upon starting it, remembered my “anti-reading-about-drug-addiction” stance with s sort of punch in the gut.

When do I get to sit down

I don’t think you do

I’m reading it now, along with a nonfiction book about yoga and a book of poetry and perhaps also Pussy King of the Pirates by Kathy Acker because that is the one book by her I haven’t read and I’ve been in that sort of mood.

destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of Psst that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer

IJ is pertinent to me at this point, but whether that is a good or bad reason to read it, I’m not sure.   I do have to say, I feel like DFW’s ghost is sitting next to me as I read.

You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

This is the problem with reading the book afterwards.  I mean, after he killed himself.  Because, now every word is freighted with that knowledge, that he, even after years of treatment, couldn’t escape the flames.  Having been someone who has experienced the flames and only by the grace of [fill in the blank], meds and whatever else is no longer locked into a hell inside my own head, the idea that this incredibly gifted, intelligent man could not makes me deeply sad and also scares the shit out of me.

you own the stars

Anyway.  It is possible I will put the book back down.  Perhaps by doing this I won’t feel so much grief.

you own the thunder

But I doubt it.  I’ve plenty of stuff to feel shitty about and sad.  We will be putting the old cat to sleep soon–

that is just one thing

but you have to share

But you know the strange thing, is even in the grief, I’m not threatened by the flames.  I’m not where he was, or where Spalding Gray or Virginia Woolf were or even where I, myself, once was.  Inside.

you are already


quotes are from David Foster Wallace and The Bowerbirds




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