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The Infinite Jest Challenge: Week 3

Published in Blog Archive, Infinite Jest.

Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace

Three weeks down! For newcomers to the blog, this post is the fourth in a series documenting the process of completing a challenge of reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest while losing the approximate weight of a cinder block. 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 95 pages of main text, for an average of 13.57 pages per day. (Last week’s average was 13.7.) 
  • This week I biked an average of 17.97 miles per day while reading (up from 17.29 last week), for a total of 125.82 miles, and 364.66 miles overall thus far. 
  • Last Sunday morning I weighed in at 208.2, and yesterday morning I weighed in at 206, for a loss of 2.2 pounds this week. Total weight loss thus far is 10.4 pounds. 
  • Last week I started on page 216, and this week I’m kicking things off on 311. (Also, I’m on page 184 of Elegant Complexity.) 

Stray observations from the week’s reading:

  • “The compulsion and regression inherent in O.N.A.N.ite society can be traced through the sponsors of Subsidized Time.” (EC, 146) While the formal timeline on page 223 has come and gone, I stopped paying attention to it early, not unlike the compulsion to constantly hit the dictionary over definition confusion. When I first started reading it seemed important to keep tabs on where everything was plotted on the timeline of events, but doing so quickly got in the way of actually reading the book. Now, scenes just flow. It’s more enjoyable that way. 
  • “The theaters always ended in -plex, she reflected. The Thisoplex and Thatoplex.” (237) This reminds me of Cineplex Odeon, a Canadian movie theatre chain, and also Cineplex Odeon Films (visual film trailer), a production company which was eventually absorbed by Alliance Atlantis. I have a lot of fond memories of time spent at various Cineplex Odeons, primarily revolving around stories that are only funny and interesting to me. 
  • “Life is essentially one long search for an ashtray.” (238) When I read this the first time, I just liked the quote. When I read it a second time, I was reminded of the Tragically Hip’s “Looking for a Place to Happen.” Both ideas sound about the same to me. 
  • “‘I think I’m being followed.’ ‘Some men are born to lead, O.’” (244) Little bits like this crack me up at the least expected times. 
  • “I actually said ‘The nearest library with a cutting-edge professional grief-and-trauma-therapy section, and step on it.’” (255) If a cabbie ever took that order and peeled away with an absurd sense urgency that matched the tone of the request, the passenger only half secured in the back-seat, and the door still hanging open while the driver yelled “8th St. Library closes in 25 minutes—we don’t have much time!”… Well, I think I’d pay good money to see that. 
  • “Courts 13 to 24 are Girls’ 18′s A and B, all bobbing ponytails and two-handed backhands and high-pitched grunts that if girls could only hear what their own grunts sounded like they’d cut it out.” (265/266) Two days this past week I found myself peddling in the muck of a crowded gym, surrounded on one side by pre-pre-retirement aged women casually spinning their peddles at somewhere between 6-10RPM if only for an excuse to sit down next to each other and talk, and grunting meat-heads on the other. I’ve lifted heavy shit before. I know what it’s like and I recognize how hard it can be. But there is no way that the wildly inappropriate volume of the ape-like grunts I heard this week serves any other purpose but to help mask the daintiness of the shriveled sacks that hang somewhere in a pit of sadness above the disproportionately miniature chop-sticks that these guys call legs. The gym is not a library and there is no expectation of peace and quiet, but there is an expectation of civility, you mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging evolutionary anomalies. 
  • Another note following last week’s summation of personal connection to the book: a character with the last name DeLint. DeLint, DeLine… It’s unusual, is all I’m trying to say. 
  • When reading through Orin’s awkward introduction to his inexplicable punting prowess, I was reminded of the scene from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where the Gang is trying out for the Philadelphia Eagles and Sweet Dee, dressed in drag as a man, exhibits a similar unexpected display. “Maybe it was a lucky kick?” “No. No, those stork-like legs, they act like pendulums, and on the bottoms of those pendulums, feet like wrecking balls.” That has to be one of my favorite episodes. 
  • “He’d naively assumed that going mad meant you were not aware of going mad; he’d naively pictured madmen as forever laughing.” (303) That seems like the definition of going mad: seeing your sanity slip away before you, fully realizing what’s happening while it’s happening, and not being able to do anything about it. 
Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Pages Read: Monday 9, Tuesday 15, Wednesday 16, Thursday 17, Friday 10, Saturday 16, Sunday 15.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Miles on Bike: Monday 13.96, Tuesday 20.28, Wednesday 16.51, Thursday 18.15, Friday 16.03, Saturday 21.64, Sunday 19.25.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Calories Burned (Reading on Bike/Other Cardio): Monday 423/0, Tuesday 570/573, Wednesday 483/759, Thursday 518/638, Friday 443/306, Saturday 616/1101, Sunday 560/1043.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Weight: Monday 206.8, Tuesday 208.8, Wednesday 208, Thursday 207.6, Friday 208.4, Saturday 207, Sunday 206.