Ghost in the machine

Ghost_of_HamletIt’s possible that the pages between 800 and 900 are the most interesting 100 pages in the entire novel. In DFW time the plot is careening along at breakneck speed. We are coming close (I would suspect) to closure on all of the intersecting plots. And having reached page 900, there are only 50 (or so) pages left to wrap this thing up.

The part I found most interesting is that the father of the ‘protaginist’, the maker of the film that is being sought, the dude who killed himself by putting his head in the microwave, shows up as a ghost (or more specifically as a wraith) to discourse with the bed-ridden-shot-full-of-holes-recovery-house-supervisor Don Gately. The ghost Incandenza can only communicate with the living through invading their mind, which in this case works, since Mr. Gately is basically incapacitated, and about half of the pages are devoted to his internal monologue. The ghost Incandenza sheds light on a few some interesting plot points, most interestingly, that he made the Infinite Jest film (the samizdat that is being sought) to try and communicate with his son, and bring comfort to him (since he wasn’t able to communicate with him, since the son was mute). I will give DFW props that this was a very crafty way to get that revealed.

Overall, this paints a different picture of what I had of the elder Incandenza throughout the book. And it gives clarification as to why exactly he produced this film that brings so much pleasure to people that they can’t stop watching it. The inception of it was innocent enough, but the result is basically utter chaos. People dying to either find the cartridge, or watching it. There is a (marginally) funny scene where politicians are getting together to make a PSA for children to warn them about the cartridge with the animated donkey Fully Functional Phil. (Seriously!)

Also, there is Hamlet. The book is pretty heavy handed in its ‘owning up’ to being either a nod, or VERY loosely based on the bard’s play. The title comes from the quote “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest.” There was a play within a play, and so on. The one big thing I was waiting for to confirm this for me was the appearance of a ghost, and voila! In this point, DFW did not disappoint me.

So, there are approximately 58 pages remaining – not that I am counting. I actually have no idea how this thing is going to end.


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