Appropriately, I am sitting here watching the Wimbledon men’s final match and writing my blog post. Since about 70% of Infinite Jest is about tennis.
So at 800 pages in we have finally seen the actual plot of the novel. Nice of you to show up.
First, the picture you see here can be found in a larger version here. It shows all of the plot lines and how and where they converge. I think it’s pretty cool.
As you can see from the image, there have been the seeds of multiple stories being sown during the previous 700 pages. The big one is the video of what is being referred to as ‘The Entertainment’ – the video that when anyone watches it, basically is mesmerized with pleasure and dies from it. The original version of the video is being sought. More importantly, we know that the title of said cartridge is Infinite Jest. (No surprise there.)
Basically all the characters that we have been following are now in the general vicinity of the Ennet House (recovery for addicts) and the Enfield Tennis Academy. We have the backstory of Madame Psychosis/Joelle Van Dyne – we know why she is deformed and what her relationship is with the Incandenza clan. We have a much clearer picture of the matriarch of the Incandenza clan and her possible incest with her oldest son. And we have another gruesome suicide by kitchen appliance.
I will say that for the first time during this process I am actually enjoying the book. It’s interesting and readable. I am not convinced that it is the proper payoff for dealing with the jumble of the previous 700 pages, but time will tell.
I found this particular passage very interesting. It is describing James Incandenza’s films:
Technically gorgeous, the Work, with lighting and angles planned out to the frame. But oddly hollow, empty, no sense of dramatic towardness – no narrative movement toward a real story; no emotional movement toward and audience. Like conversing with a prisoner through that plastic screen using phones, the upperclassman Molly Notkin had said of Incandenza’s early oeuvre. Joelle thought them more like a very smart person conversing with himself.
This exactly describes Infinite Jest.
We have less than 200 pages to go in this journey. We are taking our final break – since we are on vacation and will be back in August to wind this thing up.