INFINITE JEST: The Canadian Conspiracy & Other small detail-oriented observations (spoilers)
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Message 1: by pyrocow, on Mar 5, 2010, 4:47pm
Unfortunately, this discussion will kind of exclude anyone reading IJ for the first time, but there are a few of us who've already read it. Try to figure out what exactly is going on with those separatists... for starters:
p. 16 - Year of Glad - Hal's Madness: Hal mentions that "about a year back," in his only other visit to an emergency room (apparently for psychiatric reasons), a woman with an "almost parodic" Quebecois accent talked to him. Also, Quebecer & peer John Wayne stands by while Gately & Hal dig up JOI's head.
pp. 29-30 - April 1st, YTMP - Professional Conversationalist:
JOI to Hal: "Do you for one moment think that a professional plier of the trade of conversation would fail to probe beak-deep into your family's sordid liaison with the pan-Canadian Resistance's notorious M. DuPlessis and his malevolent but allegedly irresistible amanuensis-cum-operative, Luria P--?"
"...that your blithe inattention to your own dear grammatical mother's cavortings with not one not two but over thirty Near Eastern medical attaches...?"
p. 33 - April 1st, YDAU - Near Eastern medical attache: This guy is not just the perfect doc for Hal ("The medical attache's particular expertise is the maxillofacial consequences of imbalances in intestinal flora."), he is a native Quebecer who just so happens to be targeted for assassination w/ The Entertainment.
Also, the label "HAPPY ANNIVERSARY" suggests something happens on a 1st of April, but it isn't clear if this refers to the only previously mentioned 1st of April on which the "professional conversationalist" incident occurred.
Message 2: by katieinseattle, on Mar 5, 2010, 6:01pm
Pretty much all of the conspirizing around the entertainment makes my brain try to crawl out of my skull, but one additional observation:
p. 286: "Incandenza Himself having eliminated his own map on 1 April of the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar just as spring Letters of Intent were due from seniors who'd decided to slouch off to college tennis..."
I've read one explication that ties everything together so tightly I suspected perhaps DFW in wraith form narrated it, and I've linked to it somewhere here before, but reading it kind of makes it hard to think of other possibilities, so I want to see what people come up with.
Message edited by its author, Mar 5, 2010, 6:10pm.
Message 3: by EnriqueFreeque, on Mar 6, 2010, 12:31pm
Avril Incandenza (the 'Moms') has a connection:
(1st complete paragraph on p. 64).
..."whose involvement, however demonstrably nonviolent, with certain members of the Quebecois-Separatist Left..."
Orin definitely may have a deep connection in the conspiracy. Recall that the fatal entertainment viewed by the attache was postmarked, I'm pretty sure, from Phoenix. Where is Orin? In Phoenix. I think the time lines are consistent but don't quote me on it yet. I've been searching for explicit references to this, to no avail. But I swear I recall that detail....or am I having a "horror show" nightmare of Orins?-hallucinating? I definitely recall "horror show" from A Clockwork Orange, though maybe that should be in a different thread?
And what the hell is that tripod doing set up near the bushes when the U.S.S. Millicent Kent "roots" for Mario's package?! Is it possibly, guys, that by the Y.D.A.U. the Separatists had infiltrated Enfield? Forgive me if that's obvious already to you - a little slow on the uptake this morning.
Message edited by its author, Mar 6, 2010, 12:34pm.
Message 4: by Sutpen, on Mar 6, 2010, 1:37pm
No, you're right. The first copy of the entertainment is definitely postmarked from Phoenix.
Message 5: by pyrocow, on Mar 8, 2010, 10:17pm
Next up we have Gately getting involved when he and his associate accidentally kill Guillaume DuPlessis, presumably the right-hand man of M. DuPlessis. The endnote indicates that there were some brutal consequences for the associate...
Message 6: by katieinseattle, on Mar 9, 2010, 5:33pm
eh? Right-hand man? I believe he is M. DuPlessis. M.=Monsieur, not an initial.
Apologies if I've misunderstood. My head is fuzzy.
Message 7: by pyrocow, on Mar 9, 2010, 6:31pm
In that case I have misunderstood who "the most infamous anti-O.N.A.N. organizer north of the Great Concavityâ€ is, possibly Luria P-- then? I am making shamefully slow progress in the book w/ all of the studying I have to do :(
Message 8: by pyrocow, on Mar 11, 2010, 6:43pm
In part of the conversation between Steeply and Marathe we learn that Avril had a verifiable connection to that particular medical attache, and that she is also from the same home town as Luria P--.
In endnote 304 there is mention of one "Bernard Wayne," the only boy who has ever failed to jump in Le Jeu du Prochain Train, who ends up drowned in a river. I think the description of John's father matches Bernard's later on somewhere, they're probably related. If we go back there is also the scene where John Wayne is standing guard while Hal and Gately dig up the head. Some people find the description of John standing guard as ambiguous with respect to whether John is helping or spying on Hal & Gately. I thought he might have been helping. Is it possible Wayne's family (or just John alone) turned against the Cult of the Next Train and therefore the AFR because of the death of Bernard? I can't recall any other details about Bernard's death (meaning any revelation about who killed Bernard - his father? the other cultists? was it suicide?).
Message edited by its author, Mar 11, 2010, 7:49pm.
Message 9: by anna_in_pdx, on Mar 11, 2010, 7:10pm
I was wondering if Avril was actually Luria. I guess I am slow on the uptake. I didn't catch the Bernard Wayne thing, wow. You really have to be detail oriented to get all the stuff in this book.
Message 10: by tomcatMurr, on Mar 11, 2010, 9:00pm
can someone put a page reference to the head digging scene? I totally missed that.
Message 11: by pyrocow, on Mar 11, 2010, 9:44pm
pp.16-17: "I think of John N.R. Wayne, who would have won this year's WhataBurger, standing watch in a mask as Donald Gately and I dig up my father's head."
I missed (or forgot because I didn't know the significance of) it too, the first time around.
Message 12: by Sutpen, on Mar 12, 2010, 12:22am
Yeah, pretty much everybody forgets about it. That's why it's basically required that when you finish the book, you turn back and read the first 30 pages again.
Message 13: by tomcatMurr, on Mar 12, 2010, 12:34am
Message 14: by LizzieD, on Mar 13, 2010, 2:49pm
Actually, this is pretty helpful for a first-timer, and I don't mind the spoilers. I'm in the endless endnote in which Hal and Orin talk and talk and talk and talk on the phone, so I was already trying to puzzle out who and how the conspiracy is being worked. Everybody seems to be involved, and I'm wondering how many are red herrings and how many are the real thing. (And I had also thought I needed to reread the beginning now. I guess I'll leave it and continue the with the flow.)
Message 15: by pyrocow, on Mar 26, 2010, 5:25pm
Some more stuff to keep track of (not all exclusively Separatist/anti-ONAN related):
p. 211 - Hal, Axford, & Pemulis discuss DMZ testing
-"So, they conclude, the window of opportunity looks to be 11/20-21 -- the weekend right after the big End-of-Fiscal-Year fundraising exhibition with the E.T.A. A & B squads in singles against (this year) QuÃ©bec's notoriously hapless Jr. Davis and Jr. Wightman Cup squads,(74) .... the weekend right before Thanksgiving week and the WhataBurger Invitational in sunny AZ, ....then the E.T.A.s will get Saturday to rest and recharge before starting both the pre-WhataBurger training week and the bell-lap of prep for 12/12's Boards..."
This gives an estimate of when Hal takes the DMZ and connects to some of the events mentioned in the opening "Year of Glad" section.
p. 219 - Joelle's suicide attempt scene - Men in wheelchairs & French accents being overheard discussing Canadian politics (e.g. the argument over whether to call it a 'convexity' or 'concavity') are all over the place.
p. 222 - "The rain's wet veil blurs things like Jim had designed his neonatal lens to blur things in imitation of a neo-natal retina, everything recognizable and yet without outline."
Possibly a description of the special lens used in the final Infinite Jest.
p. 224 - Joelle sees the weird cartridge display depicting a man in a wheelchair. There is an unlabeled cartridge attached to it, which she does not keep.
p. 228 - Joelle's friend neglects to identify the source of the drink she's giving her.
p. 232 - "Ã€ du nous avons foi au poison"
French (roughly): We have faith in poison
p. 233 - There are also some mentions of what would probably be the film:
"- way it can be film qua film. Comstock says if it even exists it has to be something more like an aesthetic pharmaceutical. some beastly post-annular scopophiliacal vector. Suprasubliminals and that. Some kind of abstractable hypnosis, an optical dopamine-cue. A recorded delusion. Duquette says he's lost contact with three colleagues. He said a good bit of Berkeley isn't answering their phone.
"The ultimate cartridge-as-ecstatic-death rumor's been going around like a lazy toilet since Dishmaster, for Christ's sake. Simply make inquiries, mention some obscure foundation grant, obtain the thing through whatever shade of market the thing's alleged to be out in. Have a look. see that it's doubtless just high-concept erotica or an hour of rotating whorls. Or something like late Makavajev, something that's only entertaining after it's over, on reflection."
p. 233 - And this:
"And then it turned out he'd put ipecac in the brandy. It was the most horrible thing you've ever seen. Everyone, all over, spouting like whales".
Connect with neglect to identify source of juice & the comment about the poision in French. My suspicion is that someone laced Joelle's apple juice to save her life (probably the AFR or some other group who is interested in getting 'intel' from her about The Entertainment). I don't actually know how inhaled/smoked substances are ingested, but if they go to the stomach then this would make sense (I think). Note what ipecac is: "Ipecac is used in the emergency treatment of certain kinds of poisoning. It is used to cause vomiting of the poison."
p. 238 - "'The Face of the Deep' had been the title she'd suggested for Jim's unseen last cartridge, which he'd said would be too pretentious and then used that skull-fragment out of the Hamlet graveyard scene instead which talk about pretentious she'd laughed. His frightened look when she'd laughed is for the life of her the last facial-expression memory she can remember of this man."
Message 16: by Sutpen, on Mar 26, 2010, 5:42pm
"I don't actually know how inhaled/smoked substances are ingested, but if they go to the stomach then this would make sense"
Ehh...stuff you smoke goes into your lungs and then right into the bloodstream through alveolar capillaries. No stops in the stomach. I think you might be on to something, but I'm not sure what...
Message 17: by tomcatMurr, on Mar 26, 2010, 8:25pm
pass it round slick, don't hog it, man.
Message 18: by EnriqueFreeque, on Mar 26, 2010, 9:34pm
Excellent exegesis pyro. Have you read any of the commentaries on IJ? Amazing how much material they miss.
Message 19: by pyrocow, on Mar 26, 2010, 10:00pm
17: You're right about the lungs thing. So I'm not sure either, now. Something is fishy, though.
18: I haven't read any yet except for that small file about how Hal's body might be synthesizing DMZ. I plan to read the papers posted online when I finish reading the book.
Here's another thing that I passed over on my first read...
There's also a link to another blog post, http://infinitezombies.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/coatlicue/, but some of this goes a little too far IMO.
I'd say the most pertinent information is "She represents the devouring mother, in whom both the womb and the grave exist." W/r/t both the samizdat & Avril (Rusk is probably only referring to Avril, though).
There's one tiny endnote that's really interesting to me, and I've only found one other mention of it so far (on a cached blog page): http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:TpDKdss_bo4J:ijustreadabout...
Endnote 114 says that the Year of Glad was "the very last year of O.N.A.N.ite Subsidized Time."
Which could just mean the end of the O.N.A.N. administration or subsidized time itself (how likely is that/is there any explanation for it?), but it could also mean that the entertainment wiped the population of O.N.A.N. out (a possibility - remember Hal gesturing that they were too late to get to the copy of the entertainment in JOI's head?)
From the Antitoi brothers scene:
p. 481 - About the DMZ that Pemulis bought: "...now Bertraund has shown a previously DuPlessis-restrained flair for stupid wastes of time, including branching out into harmful pharmaceuticals as an attack on the fiber of New New England's youth - as if the U.S.A. youth were not already more than fiberless enough, in Lucien's mute opinion."
"...Bertraund had been starry-eyed enough to agree to barter the person an antique blue lava-lamp and a lavender-tinged apothecary's mirror for eighteen unexceptional-looking and old lozenges the long-haired old person had claimed in a jumble of West-Swiss-accented French were 650 mg. of a trop-formidable harmful pharmaceutical no longer available and guaranteed to make one's most hair-raising psychedelic experience look like a day on the massage-tables of a Basel hot-springs resort, throwin in as well a kitchen-can bag filled with crusty old mossy boot-and-leg Read-Only cartridges, sans any labels, that appeared to have been stored in a person's rear yard then run through a gaseous dryer of clothes..."
p. 483 - "The displays' cartridges he had immediately viewed, for though they were unlabelled save for a commercialed slogan in tiny raised letters of IL NE FAUT PLUS QU'ON PURSUIVE LE BONHEUR - which to Lucien Antitoi signified zilch - each was stamped also with a circle and arc that resembled a disembodied smile, which made Lucien himself smile and pop them in right away, to find to his disappointment and impatience with Bertraund that they were blank, without even HD static, just as the old rude person's bartered tapes he had removed from the waste bag of their storage for viewing had proved, blank beyond static, to the satisfaction of Lucien's disgust. Endnote: Unknown to the hapless Antitois, this doesn't mean they're necessarily blank. Copy-Cabable cartridges, a.k.a. Masters, require a 585-r.p.m.-drive viewer or TP to run, and on a conventional 450-drive decline to give off so much as static, appearing rather empty and blank. Q.v. here Note 301 sub."
My guess is that the trash bag contains JOI's master copies of films, but the wheelchair cartridge-displays are really odd. Apparently they weren't set up by the A.F.R., even though they depict men in wheelchairs, because the A.F.R. is still trying to find the master. Or, the cartridges in the displays aren't master copies of the samizdat - but then what are they copies of?
Finally, these so called "Swiss" French characters seem to be the real masterminds. So far only Luria P- and a couple of unidentified males have been mentioned as "Swiss." I really have no idea about what Swiss-French or Québecois-French accents sound like, but I imagine they sound similar or are perceived as such by certain characters - the Americans mostly, but also Lucien. Granted, he doesn't speak French, but wouldn't he at least know what the Québecois accent is?
Does anyone here know what those accents actually sound like?
I think we're supposed to assume that the AFR initiated a serious conflict, toppling the Gentle govt. Recall the fighter jet that comes speeding across the sky as Hal is being loaded onto the ambulance at the beginning of the book? That would be a really odd detail to add unless Wallace were implying that something big involving the military were going on.
I'm not sure what to make of this yet. I still think Orin's the guy making all the copies. I'm going to have to think about it some more.
As for Québecois accents, I don't speak French, but I can definitely distinguish between Parisian French accents and Québecois. To my ear, at least, Québecois French sounds like sort of an irritating caricature of the way French sounds to non-French speakers, if that makes any sense.
Looks like you're at least partially right about Orin.
First, about the display stands:
p. 722 - "Quickly, on the first day, in a liquor box which was damp and smelled, they had found an example of the rival F.L.Q.'s tactical street-display cartridges, with its crudely stamped smiling face and the 'IL NE FAUT PLUS QU'PN PURSUIVE LE BONHEUR' embossed upon it."
These tapes are "blank" when the A.F.R. try to play them in a standard consumer cartridge viewer, so they might be 'master' type cartridges.
"As well, chiefly, now to determine: could this copy of DuPlessis itself be copied?"
About the A.F.R.'s plans:
"The A.F.R. were interested only in dealing the sort of testicular frappe to the underbelly of U.S.A. self-interests that would render Canada itself unwilling to face the U.S.A. retaliation for this - if A.F.R. could secure, copy, and disseminate the Entertainment, Québec would be not so much allowed as required by Ottawa to secede, to face on its own the wrath of a neighbor struck down by its own inability to say 'Non' to fatal pleasures."
Now, about Orin:
p. 723 - "M. Fortier was required to absent himself for a period, in the search's middle, to help facilitate Southwest ops, the infiltration of that relative of the auteur felt most strongly (according to Marathe) to have knowledge or possession of a duplicable copy. There was reason to think M. DuPlessis had received his original copies from this relative, an athlete. Marathe felt U.S.B.S.S. felt this person may have borne responsibility for the razzles and dazzles of Berkeley and Boston, U.S.A."
(Another one of those "How the hell did I miss that?" moments)
edit: And about the trash bag full of tapes:
On p. 670, the kids cleaning up the tunnels find this collection of cartridges next to a doorless microwave oven. They put them in a trash bag and carry them to the ETA dumpster. There's also a mention that the part-time employees from Ennet house steal trash that can be sold off.
One more thing: I'm not sure if these 'cartridges' are tapes or optical discs, but it seems that they're actually optical discs.
p. 726 - The house where the Canadians were having the Hawaiian-type party is the F.L.Q. base.
-One instructor (Poutrincourt?), one student (Wayne?), and one employee (no idea) at E.T.A. have been recruited by the A.F.R.
p. 733 - Confirmation that the Quebécers pretend to be Swiss
p. 750 - Marathe sees some cartridges in Pat Montesian's office cabinet, two of which may have smiley faces embossed on them.
p. 752 - F.L.Q. ALLEGES THAT THERE IS AN ANTI-ENTERTAINMENT REMEDY CARTRIDGE
- "The A.F.R.'s triumph of dissemination of the lethal entertainment would ensure Marathe's valuable welcome by Gentle and his wife's beloved treatments for the ventricle and lack of skull."
Why Gentle? At first I thought he meant Tine - that would make sense, as Tine seems to be controlled by Luria P--. Gentle only seems to be manipulated by Tine, so why would he be happy about dissemination of the Entertainment?
Either way, Marathe's goal is to both help with the dissemination of the Entertainment and betray/abandon the A.F.R. in order to get his wife's medical expenses covered by the U.S.O.U.S.
About the cartridges that the kids found in the tunnel:
p. 754 - Pat says that Clenette brought back some "donated" cartridges from ETA, referring to those cartridges in the cabinet, and Johnette is tasked with screening them.
-Marathe also finds out that he can easily get a job at E.T.A. with his residency at Ennet House. (As the gatekeeper, no less.)
p. 1046 - Endnote 268 - Luria P-- is a "triple operative" - similar to Marathe but is still on the anti-ONAN side.
700 - Lyle levitates, becomes a wraith (p. 933) - possibly through the form of vipassana that he mentioned (the one where you focus on death)
724 - DuPlessis's cartridge was "burglared" - Gately & partner stole it unwittingly (they thought it was just a fancy art cartridge collection) - then sold it off?
765/767 - "like throwing someone through a living room window out into the flowerbeds she'd so very carefully repaired after the last incident." - Avril's "fourth horseman"? (referring to what Orin said when telling Steeply about the mold incident)
787 - "Much later, in subsequent events' light, Johnette F. would clearly recall the sight of the boy's ((Hal's)) frozen hair slowly settling, and how the boy had said whom, and the sight of clear upscale odor-free saliva almost running out over his lower lip as he fought to pronounce the word without swallowing."
"subsequent events" - this hints that something does go down later at Ennet House.
789 - Notkin says JOI had the problem with believing in a finite # of erections! Earlier ref. to this as her one & only love -
"Molly Notkin often confides on the phone to Joelle van Dyne about the one tormented love of Notkin’s life thus far, an erotically circumscribed G. W. Pabst scholar at New York University tortured by the neurotic conviction that there are only a finite number of erections possible in the world at any one time and that his tumescence means e.g. the detumescence of some perhaps more deserving or tortured Third World sorghum farmer or something, so that whenever he tumefies he’ll suffer the same order of guilt that your less eccentrically tortured Ph.D.‐type person will suffer at the idea of, say, wearing baby‐seal fur."
This might just be Notkin making stuff up - she did provide a fake name for Madame Psychosis (Lucille Duquette).
789 - U.S.O.U.S. says they don't just ask Avril about the cartridge because they believe she is involved with "anti-American" groups
791 - Notkin believes Avril was sexually involved with Orin as a child, but this might just be 100% speculation
796 - Gentle had scheduled & cancelled a special broadcast on "subjects unknown"
809 - Square-headed boy visits Gately along with JOI's wraith - is this Mario?
817 - Was Mario hospitalized, not just visiting?
"The guy with either the square head or the box on his head had been taken off someplace, his bed unmade and one crib-railing down."
Or, it might be Otis P. Lord, with the computer monitor still on his head, before his operation?
825 - Confirmation that Clenette took the cartridges. There are apparently way too many to get through screening them anytime soon.
831 - 'garden-variety wraiths' couldn't normally affect anything - so is JOI a special wraith?
-wraiths generally don't have anything so important enough to stick around for - so this is very important to JOI
-Word "chronaxy" comes up - was this concept part of how JOI designed the film to affect p-center?
833 - The coke can "smells like low tide" - reference to the ending?
840 - Good explanation of why JOI goes to Gately: That going to Hal might just make him totally bats.
Gately, however, is kind of an independent, reliable third-party. And as for him not going bats about seeing JOI - he's sort of in a fever-haze where he can wean from thinking JOI is a hallucination to believing JOI is real.
(Find the part where a man appears to be walking on prosthetic legs - this is probably Fortier.)
845 - Did Marathe lie about not finding Joelle (to the AFR), or has he just not confirmed her presence yet?
865 - Display says "11-18-EST0456", but it's Nov. 20th? Did JOI dicky with the clock?
870 - Somebody came by Stice, but just stood there. JOI's wraith?
880/882 - interesting shift of blame - they now refer to the Entertainment as "Canadian", despite the fact that it's American-made
901 - Info on CT's mother. It seems almost 100% certain that CT is Mario's father, but Hal is still uncertain?
908 - Avril and CT have been missing all week.
940 - Joelle refutes/has no knowledge of an anti-Entertainment cartridge.
951 - Here there is a memory of a knife stuck into a bathroom mirror - "A surreal memory of a steamed lavatory mirror with a knife sticking out of the pane."
In the beginning of the book "KNIFE" is finger-written on a steamed bathroom mirror. "I once saw the word KNIFE finger-written on the steamed mirror of a nonpublic bathroom." (16)
953 - Consummation of the Levirates - see interesting post from Infinite Summer - http://www.infinitesummer.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=302
957 - Hal had known about Avril and John Wayne for a very long time, apparently knew about her and CT as well.
965 - Poutrincourt is missing on the day of the raid, this may be confirmation that she's working for the AFR - but John Wayne stays there. So maybe he isn't working for them?
Kid with box on his head at hospital I also took to be the kid from the end of the world game.
The knife/mirror stuff suggests to me this is not a pipe/Magritte. Not sure that goes anywhere...
Looking at this last post again I'm thinking that this signifies a conflation of "map" and "territory"
More stuff about map/territory:
'Bateson points out that the usefulness of a map (a representation of reality) is not necessarily a matter of its literal truthfulness, but its having a structure analogous, for the purpose at hand, to the territory. Bateson argues this case at some length in the essay "The Theology of Alcoholics Anonymous".'
Fascinating stuff, pyro.
My head is spinning, if I may riff off of katieinseattle's post from nearly two years ago, considering J.O.I.s "eliminating his own map" in the context of these essays you've linked.
There's so much more to mine in this book ...
In the very first para of the book he has his "Uncle Charles, Mr de Lint and...." Charles de Lint writes urban fantasy, lives in ......TORONTO. I am assuming there are 'no accidents' in the whole of IJ. So I was immediately 'alert' as Dave Barry would say. I apologize if someone else mentioned it already. Also has anyone a theory for 'why' the Canadian thing?
Is anyone at present reading IJ - I need someone to read it with me, or maybe I'll join up make my own thread here and all you experts can come and set me straight...... Yes that's what I will do. I don't have to worry about spoiling here, I don't think!
Canada plays a multitude of central roles in the novel you'll soon discover, sibyx. Look forward to hearing about your progress in the novel.
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