The Washington Canard
Where C-SPAN is the local TV news

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, to appropriate an extended phrase from one of the few works that spoke to me seriously before I found Infinite Jest the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. Tonight someone at the wallace-l listserv excerpted one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking passages from IJ, and although it's easy to miss, one that is very key, and in fact is something of a key:
Death is explaining that Death happens over and over, you have many lives, and at the end of each one (meaning life) is a woman who kills you and releases you into the next life…. Death says that this certain woman that kills you is always your next life's mother. This is how it works: didn't he know? …This is why Moms are so obsessively loving… they're trying to make amends for a murder neither of you quite remember, except maybe in dreams. As Death's explanation goes on…, the more unfocused and wobbly becomes his vision of the Death's Joelle…, until near the end it's as if he's seeing her through a kind of cloud of light, a milky filter that's the same as the wobbly blur through which a baby sees a parental face bending over its crib, and he begins to cry in a way that hurts his chest, and asks Death to set him free and be his mother, and Joelle either shakes or nods her lovely unfocused head and says: Wait. (850-51)
If you recognize this, then you probably know where The Entertainment is located, and how this relates. If you don't, first try reading the title essay from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and then set aside a few months to read David Foster Wallace's 1,079-page (including the footnotes) masterpiece. I'm just sorry there will never be another.

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