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The Infinite Jest Challenge: Week 9

Published in Blog Archive, Infinite Jest.

Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace

Nine weeks are history. For newcomers to the blog, this is the tenth post in a series documenting the process of completing a challenge of reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest while losing the approximate weight of 84 regulation-sized billiard balls. My intentions are to read the entire book while on a stationary bike, and then continue with a full workout after each ride, with my eyes set on reading 1085 pages and losing 31.4 pounds in 100 days. (Well, that AND the 500 or so pages of Greg Carlisle’s Elegant Complexity, “A Study of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest“.)

This week’s numbers:

  • This week I read 110 pages of main text, for an average of 15.7 pages per day. (Last week’s average was 14.) 
  • This week I biked an average of 24.91 miles per day while reading (up from 21.89 last week), for a total of 174.4 miles, and 1215.44 miles overall thus far. 
  • Last Sunday morning I weighed in at 197, and yesterday morning I weighed in at 197.4, for a gain of 0.4 pounds this week. Total weight loss thus far is 19 pounds. 
  • Last week I started on page 740, and this week I’m kicking things off on 850. (Also, I’m on page 417 of Elegant Complexity.) 

Stray observations from the week’s reading:

  • “Albertan champagne.” Also known as beer. Though I don’t think that’s meant here. (744) 
  • “Pemulis called it Matio’s Data-Search Face, which Mario liked.” Great term for a thoughtful expression. (764) 
  • “This is like novocaine of the soul.” Made me think of the Eels song of a similar name. As to be expected, I’m not the only one to make that connection, but I’m surprised there isn’t more info drawing a connection online. (775) 
  • “You’re spying and betraying Switzerland to try and keep alive somebody with a hook and spinal fluid and no skull in an irreversible coma?” Great sentence. (780) 
  • “Since he abruptly Abandoned All Hope. (Endnote on page 1076: Hal’s Pemulus-inspired trope for putting down the secret daily Bob H. [my note: Bob H. is short for Bob Hope which is secretive slang for weed], which started as a wry dark mental joke and now within a week has become the way Hal characterizes abstinence to himself, which any Boston AA would tell him isn’t a very promising way to think about it at all, in terms of self-pity.)” Which is to say Abandon All Hope is pretty funny here. (796) 
  • “Hal’s whole digestive tract spasms at the prospect of watching to bearded adult males in sweaters and socks engage in surrogate Infant-hugging.” I don’t think Hal’s gut is leading him astray here. (805) 
  • “Hal has never actually seen projectile-weeping before.” (806) 
  • “Some ended up in the mental Marriott.” This is a unique way of looking at depression. Some are stuck in the slums, while others are living like royalty, entirely free of worry and pain. Either way, we’re all just trying to make today work. (1065) 
  • “Todd, trust math. As in Matics, Math E.” Silly, but it made me smile. (1071) 
  • “Other terms and words Gately knows he doesn’t know from a divot in the sod now come crashing through his head with the same ghastly intrusive force; e.g. ACCIACCATURA and ALEMBIC, LATRODECTUS MACTANS and NEUTRAL DENSITY POINT, CHIAROSCURO and PROPRIOCEPTION and TESTUDO…” I could add to this list a few hundred words that are familiar yet meaningless to me from this book. (832) 
  • “The wraith says these fractional actors, human scenery, could be seen (but not heard) in most pieces of filmed entertainment.” How many people feel like this in life, every day, voiceless extras tinkering in the background. (834) 
  • “Administering horribly careful U.S.-Navy-brig-type beating that hurt like hell but would never bruise or show.” Like when the Sunnyvale police beat people up using phone books on Trailer Park Boys. (836) 
  • “She gives her interviewers false names for both Joelle and Joelle’s father and reports that the van Dyne’s are from southeast Kentucky rather than near Paducah (cf. p. 296) in southwest Kentucky (cf. that Joelle also speaks of fishing with her father on “the Cumberland” (p. 532), which is presumably Lake Cumberland in south-central Kentucky).” Or, more likely, the Cumberland River which winds through Kentucky and Tennessee. I only know this because I live about a mile from the river, myself. (EC, 395) 
Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Pages Read: Monday 18, Tuesday 20, Wednesday 10, Thursday 10, Friday 17, Saturday 16, Sunday 19.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Miles on Bike: Monday 23.78, Tuesday 21.36, Wednesday 27.35, Thursday 20.01, Friday 25.72, Saturday 24.4, Sunday 31.78.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Calories Burned (Reading on Bike/Other Cardio): Monday 721.620, Tuesday 642/302, Wednesday 781/550, Thursday 572/0, Friday 784/585, Saturday 727/452, Sunday 982/0.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Weight: Monday 198.4, Tuesday 196.6, Wednesday 192.6, Thursday 192.4, Friday 195.8, Saturday 193, Sunday 197.4.