Welcome welcome to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — we are at the point where Infinite Jest and Harry Potter cross paths.
But seriously, things are flying around, it’s getting ghosty.
What is up with our slim and wiry Ortho “The Darkness” Stice of custom black towels, who had almost beat Hal during the afternoon match?
I think that a more important question than “how is Ortho’s bed moving up against the wall in the middle of the night?” is “why is Ortho’s bed moving up against the wall in the middle of the night.” I really love how much this creeped me out when I was newb, and how much it still does!
Also, what in the hell kind of advice does Lyle give to Ortho?! He tells him “Do not underestimate objects, […] Do not leave objects out of account. The world, after all, which is radically old, is made up mostly of objects.” And then he tells him a story about a man doing some Wingardium Leviosa, “a man who is standing 100% on top of a chair he has grabbed the back of and raised several m. off the ground.” (395)
(In this post, I will ignore the fact that Lyle feeds off of sweat, literally. But wanted to mention it because things are getting really really weird in IJ… Get ready to turn into mystics y’all! (Jk, only a little bit.))
Following that story about the levitating chair-man is the passage about Hal, who, “like most young people genetically hard-wired for a secret drug problem […] also has severe compulsion issues around nicotine and sugar.”
This objects thing has excited me for an infinitely long time, and I continue to be extremely confused and excited by it. So here’s your daily confusion fix from your IJ guide!**
Ok, so, remember that fascination you had as a kid (am projecting here, but it’ll make things simpler) about making things move simply by applying all your mental energies and concentration on it!? Yeah! I think this is very similar to the kind of concentration that accompanies compulsion-issues that Hal has, and that most of us as IJ readers most definitely have as well (joke’s on all of us!).
I still think that if I think hard enough about something, I can change it! And this is not entirely as silly sounding because it has a lot to do with awareness, choice, and will. Our Marathe can tell you all about it!
But now, if we follow what I’m saying then it would imply something along the lines of “Don’t underestimate the power of the brain and the will y’all,” but what Lyle tells us is “Do not underestimate objects.”
So the implication is that perhaps our “control” of objects is illusory in some way, and that objects have more control and agency over humans. But, of course, it’s not that simple, even though Eric Clipperton’s tennis match with a Glock at his temple could be a great case-in-point for the latter.
I was saying that the more important question is why does Stice’s bed move, and not how. It’s easy to get swayed by the “how,” and if we do that, then we fall into what just happened with me, where I reasoned: “Don’t underestimate the power of the brain and will” when in fact Lyle tells us it’s objects that aren’t to be underestimated.
I want to think of “objects” both as physical things / of matter, and also non-physical things made of non-matter. I think that the definition of “objects” expands in one of J.O.I.’s “audience-obsessed” films, The Medusa v. The Odalisque. Here we have a battle of the gaze played out by two holograms.
Totally “not-matter.” Though “L’Odalisque de Ste. Thérèse, a character out of old Quebecois mythology who was so inhumanly gorgeous that anyone who looked at her turned instantly into a human-sized precious gem.”
I find it very interesting that the immateriality of these myths in J.O.I’s film have a mythology w/a very material gem of a result.
We could say that this is like “objectification” literalized.
LaMont Chu’s session with Lyle when he confesses his desire for fame, and to see himself in pictures like his tennis heroes, can also be seen as another form of the above.
Why I’m trying to expand the meaning of “object” to try to show all the many ways that it can mean in IJ … is because I think that these matter/non-matter boundaries are very important for understanding something about why Ortho’s bed moves.
Basically, I think that if the object’s boundaries and fields of relation and agency are blurred, or lost, or malleable, then (considering that there’s a whole history of subject-object relations) the subject also changes definition as well.
BUT JUST IGNORE THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH if it was too pretentious and there were too many big words! There is more fun below (hopefully)! (À la J.O.I, I am audience-obsessedly aware that this post is getting too long.)
I constantly think about space-time warps when I read this passage, but I’m not even going to attempt go down that wormhole… And I also think of it in relation to something I remember reading and haven’t been able to place: a technology is anything that bends space around it. (Could’ve sworn it was in the context of Deleuze, but I can’t place it now.)
If we give my pseudo-scientific thoughts some attention, then what exactly is a technology if it allows 1) chair-man to bend space the way he does 2) Lyle to say Do not underestimate objects 3) the relationship between compulsion-attention and chair-man and Hal’s compulsion.
Is technology a relationship? A system of flows? A different way of communicating? A kind of telekinetic thing? Now I’m just going to throw all of us in the wormhole: What kind of properties must a person or a thing have in order to move Ortho’s bed? I certainly think this person/thing has to have crossed a boundary between person/thing, and that is how Ortho’s bed can move, and if we have come close to knowing how Ortho’s bed can move, then who has broken person/thing boundaries in IJ? This will bring us closer to the why.
I have succeeded in creeping myself out yet again.
Off to Hogwarts for some Defence Against the Dark Arts!
BEFORE I GO: “The seductive ghost of a bliss long absconded.” (374)
That’s so beautiful… is all. Harbouring hope that one day Harry Ransom Centre will say DFW wrote some goddamn poems in his adult life!
BEFORE I GO X2:
After I saw it, I’ve been unable to think about J.O.I’s The Joke*** without thinking about Leos Carax’s Holy Motors. There’s a scene/s in the beginning in which audience-actor-director boundaries are crossed to the extent of the extent maaaaang. GOOSEBUMP LEVELS Y’ALL! Pls watch for Infinite Jest purposes?
If you don’t believe how goosebump-level it is, pardon me, but I must share the weird and total beauty that is Holy Motors:
*HP fans, The Cursed Child was out yesterday!
**I do feel guilty in the wee morning hours for throwing some readers of our posts into deep confusion, especially being a guide and all. But who’s to say confusion isn’t a guide! Think of it as Infinite Jest immersion y’all!
***In my marginalia, I have “Andy Warhol did this” beside The Joke. Cannot recall what I was thinking or talking about, or what Andy Warhol did. Closest thing to “found drama” is his screen tests. Does anyone know?!