Roles and Regulations (Mount Up)

I’ll admit that I had to resist a strong compulsion to write about Hawkeye Pierce this week. Damn, M*A*S*H, you get me every time. Tokyo, this is Radar. Colonel Potter requests an incubator stat! The unit is under heavy shelling and one of our POWs is pregnant and due to give birth any day now! TOKYO DO YOU COPY? OVER!

radar.png

Radar O’Reilly Doing His Duty

(and so on)

As tempting as my pals at the 4077 were (Maxwell Klinger, BJ Honeycutt, Father Mulcahy and Margaret Houlihan, I’m looking in your direction!), I decided that I’d like to probe a little into the idea of roles and the importance that they seem to play in IJ, because as we know,

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts”–Bill S.

Enter: Mrs. Avril Incandenza, aka The Moms (plural, for a reason, probably: a woman with many different sides). She typifies the type of person described in the Shakespeare quotation inscribed above: a (wo)man playing many parts. Her wide array of roles seems to be the key to holding her together: mother, ETA headmistress, member of MGM, lover (to who knows?), overseer of the educational system at ETA, and etc. She is so completely absorbed by her various roles that she doesn’t have any time or mental energy to even think about breaking down. She goes through the motions, and thus continues humming along, fulfilling her roles and getting through, one day at a time.

Hm, this sounds familiar!

So, what of the importance of these roles?

This week, the question I asked about Avril and the flagpole way back in the early going  seemed to be answered in footnote 269, as M. Bain replies in his letter to Steeply (or Starkley, or Steeples, or Starksaddle, or WHATEVER) that in Orin’s presence, Avril would act “more cheerful and loquacious and witty and intimate and benign” so that he might not feel “bad or guilty” for woozily running over her poor old Samuel Johnson (canine) and reducing him to nothing more than a leash and nubbin.

So, as was suggested by many of you guys, after Himself’s felo de se, she likely compensated way in the direction of feeling fine and dandy so that she could perfectly perform/embody (in her mind) the role of mother (and now, in JOI’s absence, father, maybe?…double the pressure, double the fun?), which I assume means to protect her children from all unpleasantness/discomfort. Essentially, Avril desires a bubble (i.e.- E.T.A) in which she can raise her kids, but unfortunately, that bubble proves not to be impervious to the fucked-upedness of life. No type of environment ever is, is it? She exerts such energy to ensuring that by all appearances everything is fine, even though it’s pretty clear that everything is not alright, in so many different ways.

Then M. Bain goes on to probe into the nature of Avril’s loquaciousness and motherly love. On page 1051, he writes,

“Is it mind bogglingly considerate and loving and supportive, or is there something…creepy about it? Maybe a more perspicuous question: Was the almost pathological generosity with which Mrs. Inc responded to her son taking her car in an intoxicated condition and dragging her beloved dog to its grotesque death and then trying to lie his way out of it, was this generosity for Orin’s sake, or for Avril’s own? Was it Orin’s “self-esteem” she was safeguarding, or her own vision of herself as a more stellar Moms than any human son could ever hope to feel he merits?”

Is this a parenting fail, or are we supposed to admire Avril for her heroic effort to protect her children from harm? I’ve always thought that Avril deserved more credit than she is shown in the text: there doesn’t seem to be much sympathy shown for her. Hal is annoyed by her, as is Orin (who has gone many steps further by actively disowning her). Does she deserve this type of treatment for wanting to protect her kids from sorrow? Is her willingness to look the other way really a selfish act, or is she merely the victim (victim of abuse, as M. Bain suggests…) of a blind spot in her awareness that she perhaps developed as a defense mechanism in the face of childhood abuse?

So this leads me to my next question(s):

Can a person ever act with pure unabashed altruism, or is there always going to be some level of self-interest at play? Does the self-interest nullify the altruistic act simply because there is something in it for the person attempting to act selflessly?

It does seem like there is a selfish element to Avril’s behaviour toward her sons, but does that really qualify her actions as abusive?

I doubt it. To me, this line of thinking seems juvenile and entitled (perhaps fitting for a son of the founders of a prestigious tennis academy). It reminds me of a thought one of my old friends once uttered (while intoxicated) as an adolescent. Basically, he expressed that he was entitled to mooch off of his parents because he didn’t ask to be born. So, in essence, he absolved himself of any responsibility for his actions because the decision to come into this world was beyond his control.

Hrmpf. Thank God we (well, at least some of us) grow up (at some point).

Returning to my point about roles, it seems like the roles a person plays in IJ are of great importance to many of the characters’ ability to “keep it together.” By keeping “it” together, I guess I mean holding themselves (mentally) together—to keep from melting into a steaming puddle of primordial goop.

Avril does it by assuming her roles. Gately does it by assuming a role of a supervisor in AA. They freely accept responsibilities, and in a way, they become their roles. They pledge themselves to fulfilling a duty. A duty to fulfilling the mandates of the role and by extension they help others by following through. While this devotion to a role is not exactly selfless (as Shazia demonstrated this week), it seems absolutely necessary to staying alive (Bee Gees track here, with movie of person performing CPR on dummy).

But, by focusing totally and completely on the roles, one can run the risk of omitting stuff that’s in the blind spots of our perception (think of Avril and Hal’s inability to connect on painful things, no matter how trivial, like his discomfort/annoyance at quoting bits of the O.E.D for her on command).

Though, on the other hand, by embracing and fulfilling roles, often a person becomes part of a community. The roles become a mechanism that give purpose and keep a person moving forward. A role has the potential to foster a sense of responsibility between people, which (I think, at least) is a good thing.

(I know all of this is nowhere near fully developed, and I’m sorry, but wrapping up because I have to go fulfill my duty to others in T-minus 5 minutes, 7:55am, EST)

But of course, with roles, Marathe would probably caution us to choose wisely, n’est-ce pas?

C’est vrai.

Virginia Shay: Observation without Judgment

This week’s reading gave us one of my favourite passages from Infinite Jest, and Allie discussed it yesterday. Mario’s contemplations on being drawn to “stuff that was real” fascinated me, and I found myself astonished (as I do with a lot of passages in Infinite Jest) at the level of self-awareness Mario seems to have about what makes him different from other people. Even more astonishing, he’s able to reflect on this fundamental difference between himself and his friends and family without much judgment. Note that I’m treating this passage on 592 as free indirect discourse; that is, even though it’s written in the third person, I’m choosing to read it here as fairly representative of Mario’s own thoughts and feelings, as opposed to being reflective of the narrator’s interpretation of Mario’s interior life. Continue reading “Virginia Shay: Observation without Judgment”

The Wind Beneath My Wings

Alright, unpopular opinion time…

I’m starting to get a bit frustrated with Infinite Jest.

*winces*

I’m sorry. I really am. I know how much this book means to a lot of you out there and, believe me, I’m trying every week to remain open to all of the characters and the footnotes and the dialogue and the plot, but… I’m struggling. Not with content (I understand who’s who and what’s what), but with connection. I find it very difficult to enjoy a novel when I’m not connecting with at least one part of it and, even now at page 650, I still don’t feel as if I’ve established that crucial connection with anyone or anything.

Up until now, I’ve focused on the aspects and characters that I genuinely like, but there are few things about the story as a whole that I love. I come back to IJ after every blog post ready to feel differently and change my mind, but I hit a wall time and again and I’m frustrated – there’s no other word for it. I want to love this book so badly, but I don’t and I feel bad that I don’t. In all honesty, I don’t feel much towards it, which is even worse. I just can’t seem to find it in myself to care about 90% of the characters, what is happening to them, or even the history of O.N.A.N. because I don’t feel like I’ve been given a reason to care yet.

If anything, I feel like our buddy DFW keeps reminding me that I should dislike the characters and feel contempt for the choices they make as well as the world they live in. Every section is like a PowerPoint presentation that lays out the reasons why it might just be better to give up on the lot of them and, while we’re at it, humanity as a whole… And maybe I’m missing the humour in Wallace’s prose that prompts several reviewers to call this a “dark comedy,” but I just haven’t found anything funny thus far. Disturbing? Yes. Maddening? Double yes. Sad? Triple yes.

Perhaps my love for Infinite Jest will be one that blossoms later – a love that hits me on the penultimate page – or one that grows in the years after I have finished reading and makes me look back on the book with the kind of sentimental fondness only time can foster. Believe me, I sincerely hope that this is the case. I keep hoping that I’ll turn a corner and finally click with IJ the way I want to because I’m trying.

I’m really trying.

Now, it wasn’t an easy decision to share my frustration with you all this week. Like I said earlier in this post, I know how near and dear IJ is to your respective hearts and the last thing I would ever want to do is hurt anyone’s feelings, but I feel like it’s my responsibility as one of your guides to be honest in my opinions and this is how I’m feeling at this point. I don’t like it, but it’s the truth.

That being said, I drew comfort this week from an unlikely source: Infinite Jest. Granted, it was a short section in the latest reading, but it was enough to make me feel like I’ve finally found a kindred spirit in the novel and his name is Mario Incandenza.

I mean, I knew before now that Mario is a beautiful cinnamon roll of a character,* but there was something about the glimpse we got into his inner life this week that touched me and made me feel like there’s at least one person in the world of IJ who I can really identify with. Those few pages dedicated to Mario’s nighttime stroll and his musings on Hal, Madame Psychosis, and the E.T.A. boys were like a ray of sunshine piercing through the fog of lies and cruelty perpetuated by almost all the other characters (I’m looking at you, Randy Lenz, you murderous piece of trash).

This was literally me reading through Mario’s section:

Because, really, I think that Mario is the hero of the book. He’s stronger than all of the characters who run in fear of their emotions and braver than those who would rather hide behind a mask of affected indifference for fear of opening up to others. In fact, I think that Hal is so in awe of Mario because he is what everyone secretly wants to be: genuinely vulnerable. Mario lives and breathes emotion – he’s actually drawn to it as demonstrated by the passage that talks about how he likes visiting the Drug and Alcohol Recovery House next-door “because it’s very real; people are crying and making noise and getting less unhappy” (591).

Throughout this brief section, Mario talks about looking for the things in life that feel “real” and how those things are often expressions of genuine emotion – take, for example, his explanation of why he fell in love with Madame Psychosis’ radio program: “[B]ecause he felt like he was listening to someone sad read out loud from yellow letters she’d taken out of a shoebox on a rainy P.M., stuff about heartbreak and people you loved dying and U.S. woe, stuff that is was real” (592, emphasis added). Mario connected with Madame Psychosis because she tapped into her listeners’ softer side and spoke honestly about those intensely human fears that bind us together – pain, loss, death.

And it was while reading through Mario’s reflection on how “[i]t is increasingly hard to find valid art that is about stuff that is real in this way” that I realized he was putting into words my exact struggle with Infinite Jest (592). I search for the real stuff when I read – the humanizing glimpses of vulnerability that allow me to feel empathy for the characters I’m reading about – and, so far, Mario is the only part of the narrative that feels genuine, or real. Like, Velveteen Rabbit capital ‘R’ Real. The kind of real that makes you care so much it hurts.

To cap it all off, Mario also reveals that he is living a similar struggle to me in that he feels alienated from the people around him who resist genuine emotion and can only mention real stuff “if everybody rolls their eyes or laughs in a way that isn’t happy” (592). So, even though I feel like I’m currently drowning in a sea of unlikeable characters who don’t seem real to me because I can’t connect with them, Mario feels the same.

And honestly? That’s fine by me. If I’m in the same boat as Mario, I’m in good company.

F O O T N O T E S :

* Actual picture of Mario:

cinnamon roll

The Grandson of Kwai Chang Caine Walks Out of the Past…(and other Miscellany)

It’s kind of fascinating to think about what it takes to really get to know other people.

In many ways, Infinite Jest is a book about human relationships in all their various forms: romances, friendships, mentorships, marriages, brotherhoods, sisterhoods and gangs. The structure of the book sort of mimics the arduous process of really getting to know people. I mean, if I think of my own life, I can name a handful of people who I think I’ve gotten to know fairly well, but for the majority of those I know, there are many gaps in my understanding.

So, you’re probably thinking: “Well, alright then, Mr. Miyagi/Chuck Norris/Kwai Chang Caine, then what are the ingredients to getting to know someone, then?”

Caine-13

The Man: The Legend (of Kung-Fu)

Well, I think if you look at Infinite Jest, a few possibilities emerge.

In IJ, knowing someone seems to require a number of things (to my mind), which include (but again, are certainly not limited to):

  • Time
  • Effort
  • Attention
  • Sincerity

And as it is with people, reading Infinite Jest requires all of these things in spades.

It seems like Wallace deliberately draws his characters enigmatically in order to perhaps mirror the process of what it’s actually like to get to know someone in the so-called ‘real’ world.

To bring this thing home for you, I’ll give y’all a real world example.

It’s kind of like when I met Phil back in ’97 (date may be incorrect).

An excerpt from our early conversations:

Deli manager: (not realizing that Joe was actually shy and moderately anxious about meeting new people [at the time] because he showed no signs of this, but still felt this way, secretly, on the inside) “Joe, I hired this new guy, Phil. He said he likes to read, but he seems pretty shy. I thought that because you like to read, you might be able to talk to him a bit.”

Joe: “Sure, I’ll give it a shot.”

*First Shift*

Joe: “So, I heard you’re into books and stuff?”

Phil: *sheepishly “….yeah! I’m going to Brock for English next year.”

Joe: “Cool…”

*Joe and Phil awkwardly look around and sniff*

Joe: “So, you want to see how to clean the slicer?”

An excerpt from a later conversation, one year later, circa ’98 (again, date may be inaccurate):

Joe presses button labeled PAGE on phone: “Phil, call the Deli for customer service. Phil, call the Deli for customer service.” Before hanging up Joe hits the mouthpiece of the phone off of the wall and receiver to make annoying donking and scratching sounds over the store’s P.A system

*Ring-ring! Ring-ring!

Phil: “What’s up?”

Joe: “Can you read this Angus roast beef announcement that Deb Farr (store manager) told me to write over the PA? It’s a real doozy. She’s constantly on me to write these fucking things, and I’m getting real sick of it. We don’t get paid enough to do this stuff.”[i]

Phil: “Sure, buddy, bring it up to the desk.”

*Phil hits page

Phil: “Attention customers: this week on our Easter special, we have Angus Roast beef for $2.99/100g—just like great old grand pappy used to make! What better way to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ than with a pound of our extra –rare Angus Roast Beef, cut fresh, from our friendly staff in the delicatessen. Happy Easter from all of us at Sobey’s and have a great holiday.”

So, in the end, it took us some time, but our friendship got there. One little bit at a time.

The same is true in IJ:

Wallace cleverly reveals his characters slowly by revealing bits and pieces to the reader, so that an appreciation of their lives and circumstances deepens as you move through the text. For me, this masterful way of characterizing his characters is a big part of what kept me moving along through the text (especially on the first read through). As someone that tends to care about people (so much so that I’ve chosen a career in health care with people that have experienced heavy losses…brain injuries with all kinds of disastrous effects), it’s no wonder that I’m drawn to this thread in Wallace’s intricate tapestry.

So, to get back to the text, I have found that really mind-blowing bits and pieces of characters get revealed at the most random moments (though they’re not really random, they are triggered in the imaginations of Wallace’s characters by unconscious recollections of parts of traumatic memories that even the characters are not aware of…how interesting, as a stylistic device!). All about paying attention, here.

The part that got me thinking about all of this stuff about unconscious compulsion and getting to really know people is the part (that starts on page 578) about Bruce Green’s experience as a five year old child where (maybe, but who can really say for sure if he caused it, right?…slippery slope, slippery slope…) he scares his mother to death with a novelty can of exploding snake “Mauna Loa- brand macadamia nuts” that his father had made him deliver to her as she lay sick in bed.

This whole bit just sort of pops up out of the aether. There’s no real lead up to it. The reader just sort of happens upon it. Immediately preceding this part is a bunch of Lenz’ self-indulgent (possibly made up, bing-induced blather) and some description about the urban surroundings. Nothing particularly emotionally resonant (except for maybe Green’s thought that, “All he feels is a moment of deep wrenching loss, of wishing getting high was still pleasurable for him so he could get high. This feeling comes and goes all day every day, still.”) But here, we switch to Green. So, maybe this signals that the floodgates are about to open.

And, then, like a torrent released from behind a dam you didn’t even know was there, all of the details surrounding the “searing facts of the case of Bruce Green’s natural parents’ deaths when he was a toddler [that are] so deeply repressed inside Green that whole strata and substrata of silence and mute dumb animal suffering will have to be strip-mined up and dealt with One Day at a Time in sobriety for Green even to remember.” Here, I think that Wallace is suggesting that by sticking with the program and doing the painstaking work of “strip-mining” the painful memories, Green might have a chance to remember and deal with his issues. Maybe move forward and gain an understanding of things that give him the howling fantods. Maybe gain a stoic understanding of himself and learn to live with pain. As they say, “The truth will set you free, but not until it’s finished with you.”

So, on our end of things, by sticking with the book, by Hanging in There, we are granted access to a whole new subconscious intimate world of pain and suffering that has played a role in shaping Green’s experience. This is true of other characters as well: Hal, Avril, Gately, Mario, Joelle, and maybe even Orin. By putting in the time and effort, and making a sincere attempt to pay attention to things, the reader can begin to understand certain characters at deeper and deeper levels. Isn’t this sort of how your run-of-the-mill, every-day human relationships work too?

It’s like the book has many consciousnesses, and is inviting you to get to know them more and more intimately as the book goes on. It requires you to keep track of seemingly insignificant details about many different characters and remember what they could mean when characters act or think a certain way. There are few books that I have read that accomplish this as readily as Infinite Jest (the only other one I can think of is Joyce’s Ulysses—which also left a lasting impact on my perception of what an author could do to represent human consciousnesses—not characters, but consciousnesses themselves).

I feel like Wallace is almost saying to us, “ok, guys—they are in here, but it might take a while to find them.”

ANYWAY,

Getting back to Green: from this passage in the book, we are told that he now has an inexplicable aversion to “any product with ‘N in its name […] any has this silent, substratified fascination/horror gestalt about anything remotely Polynesian.” So things that seem unconnected, and perhaps quirky, are actually just the tip of an iceberg full of razor blades just below the surface once you get down to the business of strip-mining what they are actually all about.

And as if the stuff about the Polynesian-induced-I-am-guilty-because-I-think-I-caused-my-parents’-deaths, wasn’t enough, Green is sent back in his mind to an embarrassing scene (that involved incontinence at a college party he attended with M.Bonk) when he hears the “Don Ho” music coming from the grisly scene of the dog’s death at Nucks party. Sadly, Green doesn’t have any awareness as what to what it was exactly about the whole snafu that causes him to sink into “a paralyzing depression of unknown etiology.” The truth is there, but it’s “been compressed to the igneous point[…]” What an interesting way of thinking about pain: like grains of sand (or sedimentary rock) that have been compressed so that they no longer originally resemble what they were originally: pain transformed. The owner (in this case Green) feels a heaviness, but doesn’t quite know why.

Alright, alright, this post seems like it’s turned out to be a bit of a rambley bust, so I’d just like to leave off with a question I had about Mario on page 92 regarding this passage:

        “It was a joke and a good one, and Mario got it; what was unpleasant was that Mario was the only one at the big table whose laugh was a happy laugh; everybody else sort of looked down like they were laughing at somebody with a disability. […] And Hal was for once no help, because Hal seemed even more uncomfortable and embarrassed than the fellows at lunch […].”

So what is going on in this part? Does Mario actually get the joke? Where is the misunderstanding? Did he get Pemulis’ joke about the ineffectual dial-a-prayer service for atheists, for real, or did he misunderstand? To me, the problem seems to be that he laughed genuinely and not ironically, but the narrator still states that he “got it.” So what gives?

Also, my apologies if I seem to be talking in circles. Seems I’m always coming back to similar things. What’s that old adage about the subject of writing being the writing subject? I gotta have one or two more original thoughts in here…for now, I’ll have to content myself with the Green-ian one full developed thought per minute.

Footnotes:

[i] We did get paid enough. Way, way, more than enough.

A Post in Which I Declare My Love for Randy Lenz & Visit Ludwiggy

So, I do not hate Randy Lenz*

(STAY CHILL, EVEN THOUGH I JUST BEGAN SWEATING NOW!)

.

Though, I am thoroughly disturbed by his animal killings.

What bugs me way more than Lenz’s killings, though, is Bruce Green. What makes someone like Bruce Green drawn to someone like Randy Lenz? And why is Lenz relatively pleasant around Greenie? I don’t think I’ll be able to answer this but I do want to talk about why I like Lenz, so here we go…

I have a soft spot for Lenz, not because I harbour any thoughts about how messed up he is and so feel sorry for him, or how good he could be, or how deluded he is about his addiction, or anything of that sort. No. I like Lenz because he’s beyond fucked up but he is capable of liking Green. He worries about “spurning” Green (554). This makes me like Lenz. It also “enrages Lenz to like somebody,” but he doesn’t treat Green like shit (to some extent). “Lenz likes him, and there’s always this slight hangnail of fear, like clinging, whenever he likes somebody.” (554).

I see Lenz as like an arch individualist who thinks being an “island” is totally possible, hence this delusion possibly leads to his fear re: feeling affectionate towards someone.

I also like Lenz because his feels for Greenie are for real. Yes, I do think so. And I think this might actually be – are you ready – an example of “love” in IJ.

Look at this unsound and morally corrupt passage on page 555:

“What if [Lenz] like spurns Green and Green ends up in the 3-Man room while Lenz is still in there and they have to room together and interface constantly? And if Lenz tries to temper the spurning by telling Green he likes him, where the fuck is he supposed to look when he says it? If trying to X a female species Lenz would have nullo problem with where to look. He’d have no problem with looking deep into some bitch’s eyes and looking so sincere it’s like dying inside him.” (555)

Hold on for a sec and see what Lenz is worrying about. The fact that Lenz is worried about saying anything to Green, and is worried about losing their friendship by being forced to articulate it … this is very similar to feelings I associate with “love” and “friendship” when you actually care about the person and the relationship more than what the thing itself is, and more than trying to define what the thing itself is, all the while being fully aware of just how much things could mess up if anything was said to convey how one really feels.

I can’t find that passage about Lenz taking a breath after every four blocks. Now, I know this passage might come across as a sort of total domination over Green and disregard for Green, but I was really really moved by this. I thought of it as: Lenz is so goddamn lonely that he can’t stop talking when he’s around Green.

And now, his animal torture and killings.

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Every single time I read the Lenz / dying dog passage, I think of Trainspotting. There is a passage in Trainspotting in which Rents (I think) and friends talk about fucking a squirrel, jokingly, I think. But we know what Wittgenstein said about jokes… right. Right. Doesn’t reduce the messed-up levels for me. But anyway, one of them says something like, “put cellophane around it so it doesn’t split open when you fuck it.” So, basically, nothing tops that level of animal-related disturbance, for me. (It’s not in the movie, and you might just have to read the book to get the full effect of the messed-upness!)

Pulling out the book (skipping cellophane bit):

“– Leave it man. Squirrel’s botherin nae cunt likesay! Ah hate it the wey Mark’s intae hurtin animals . . . it’s wrong man. Ye cannae love yirsel if ye want tae hurt things like that. . . ah mean. What hope is thir? The squirrel’s likes fuckin lovely. He’s daein his ain thing. He’s free. That’s mibbe what Rents cannae stand. The squirrel’s free, man.”

We know that powerlessness makes people act out violently this way (pg no.?), and maybe this applies to Lenz too: Lenz can’t stand the animals, because they’re free, and he’s powerless w/r/t addiction, and is not free at all.

The question that continues to bug me re: Green being drawn to Lenz… is one that I can’t solve, without talking about it in terms of psychological patterns in Green’s life that draws him to Lenz. But I don’t really want to do that, because it would feel like repeating some things I’ve said before re: habits and lack of awareness etc.

Before I leave you with Lenz love (don’t be a hater!) (TAKE AN INTERMISSION HERE IF YOU NEED), Mario’s been on my mind.

Last week, in a comment in one of the posts, I said something like: “if Mario can’t feel pain, then his capacity for emotional pain is also affected/reduced, right?” I said so without research, but what about the below?!

http://phys.org/news/2015-09-sufferpain-empathy-linked-brain.html

I’m going to say right now: I do not understand this article fully, but look: “the ability to feel pain is necessary in order to experience empathy for pain,” though this depends on whether or not that part of the brain is damaged.**

To cut a long story short and to return to IJ, I totally cried when I read this:

“He can’t tell is Hal is sad. He is having a harder and harder time reading Hal’s states of mind or whether he’s in good spirits. This worries him. He used to be able to sort of preverbally know in his stomach generally where Hal was and what he was doing, even if Hal was far away and playing or if Mario was away, and now he can’t anymore. Feel it. […] Mario loves Hal so much it makes his heart beat hard. He doesn’t have to wonder if the difference now is him or his brother because Mario never changes.” (590)

What exactly does that last sentence mean?! Am I reading too much into it… Mario never changes. Meaning what? Meaning Mario’s love for Hal will be there regardless of whether or not he can continue to feel it!? I don’t know if that’s depressing or joyful.

Just going to leave it to Ludwiggy to articulate the rest:

 Could someone understand the word ‘pain’, who had never felt pain? – Is experience to teach me whether this is so or not? – And if we say “A man could not imagine pain without having sometime felt it” – how do we know? How can it be decided whether it is true? (Philosophical Investigations §315)

And now for those Entertainment suggestions to reset those morally corrupt buttons:

Nakeddir.  Mike Leigh.
Der Freie Wille, dir. Matthias Glasner

Yrs truly,

Alienated B.C. student (page 582)

*N.B., N.B., N.B.: My love for Lenz lasts in the realm of spoiler-free discussion, and may change later. So let’s just say, here and now, up to page 500-something, I like Lenz.
**Science ppl who know and have the brainz on this, please help.

“There”

My copy of IJ that I am reading is currently in tatters. The endnote pages are falling out, the back cover is unhinged, and a corner of the front cover is nearly torn. So I’ve been taping everything together, whispering a soft, coaxing “there.” As in “there you go, everything will be alright.” (Although this will probably be the last time I read through this copy).

My use of “there” is nothing like Randy Lenz’s use of “there” when he kills animals in garbage bags. Lenz is a pretty terrible character, but I got thinking about his “there” and how it relates to everything else in the novel, or at least to some parts in the novel. Lenz’s “there” is obviously a power thing: Continue reading ““There””