So, somewhere in the end of the last section, about page 670, this book decided to turn into a story. If you are considering reading Infinite Jest and you decide to quit sometime in the first 500 pages I can certainly see that but if you have gutted it out to where the page numbers start with a “6” I’d recommend NOT QUITTING because something’s going to happen and you’ve invested this much in it so it doesn’t make any sense to quit now.
All the plot lines begin to converge. The story does turn into something. Whether all that preamble–essentially 600 pages of exposition–was necessary is another question and one I guess we should finish the book before answering.
Lots happens in this section. The focus, as you would expect, is “The Entertainment,” that piece of video that would make a person literally stop doing anything else, give up food and even chop digits off to watch. In DFW’s world, where people cannot control their desire for pleasure.
So, you know, you’d have to think the author might have put some meaning into what the entertainment is…which we learn from Molly Natkin who (obviously), has not seen it up who was told by her friend, Madame Psychosis, the star of the film.
it features Madame Psychosis as some kind of maternal instantiation of the archetypal figure Death, sitting naked, corporeally gorgeous, ravishing, hugely pregnant, her hideously deformed face either veiled or blanked out by undulating computer-generated squares of color or anamorphosized into unrecognizability as any kind of face by the camera’s apparently very strange and novel lens, sitting there nude, explaining in very simple childlike language to whomever the film’s camera represents that Death is always female, and that the female is always maternal. I.e. that the woman who kills you is always your next life’s mother. This, which Molly Notkin said didn’t make too much sense to her either, when she heard it, was the alleged substance of the Death-cosmology Madame Psychosis was supposed to deliver in a lalating monologue to the viewer, mediated by the very special lens. She may or may not have been holding a knife during this monologue, and the film’s big technical hook (the Auteur’s films always involved some sort of technical hook) involved some very unusual kind of single lens on the Bolex H32’s turret, 327 and it was unquestionably an f/x that Madame Psychosis looked pregnant, because the real Madame Psychosis had never been visibly pregnant,
OK, so let’s look at what we have here. We have Madame Psychosis, nude, disfigured (by her mother) and veiled…that “death is always female and that the female is always maternal.”
Quick aside…not hard to see why a lot of women hate this book, eh?
And she’s not really pregnant…it’s an effect.
Here is what I would view as the key phrase:
…”the woman who kills you is always your next life’s mother.”
And the film is called Infinite Jest (V or VI).
Add in, further, that the auteur kills himself (see the microwave) but perhaps he was driven to it by a woman.
And this does tie into the last, and perhaps more telling point. Madame Psychosis had been in an odd platonic relationship with the auteur, and she had insisted he quit drinking. When this is being revealed, Hal is having a similar challenge as he tries to quit smoking pot in order to pass a piss test before a big tournament.
In both cases, the lesson appeared to be the same. What you lean on to survive in the world will eventually kill you. What preserves your life…gives you life…will eventually kill you, either in reality or in terms of bringing about a more rhetorical “destruction.” Infinite Jest. See?
What if you don’t need drugs to cope with the world. I think the point here is our “default setting” (see the Kenyon Commencement) is that we all rely on something to cope with a world in which suffering and death are necessary parts of the equation, and if you don’t pick the right thing, what you lean on will eventually take you down…there’s no quitting it, no getting out.