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The Infinite Jest Challenge: Week 5

Published in Blog Archive, Infinite Jest.

Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace

Five. Weeks. Down. For newcomers to the blog, this is the sixth 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 a chubby two-year-old. 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 100 pages of main text, for an average of 14.29 pages per day. (Last week’s average was 11.) 
  • This week I biked an average of 18.3 miles per day while reading (down from 19.53 last week), for a total of 128.09 miles, and 629.46 miles overall thus far. 
  • Last Sunday morning I weighed in at 204.6, and yesterday morning I weighed in at 201, for a loss of 4.6 pounds this week. Total weight loss thus far is 15.4 pounds. 
  • Last week I started on page 388, and this week I’m kicking things off on 488. (Also, I’m on page 274 of Elegant Complexity.) 

Stray observations from the week’s reading:

  • The story about Eric Clipperton, holding the other tennis players hostage by making his intentions clear that he would “blow his own brains out publicly” if he were to ever lose a match was interesting, but it seemed sort of silly. Despite his mysterious entries into various tournaments, no one at any point in time jumped on the kid’s back and wrestled his Glock 17 away from him? No one put in a call to a local mental health institution, seeking assistance in assembling a corrective course of action? C’mon, man. 
  • The various vile commercials installed as the Big Four Networks were collapsing sound rather interesting. I used to have a tongue-scraper, and used it regularly, so I can attest to how gross the slimy grey-white goo is that comes off the tongue, like that used in the NoCoat tongue-scraper campaign. (414) 
  • The depiction of “poor old” Henry Winkler as a fat and sad has-been, crawling into his twilight as “hairless and sugar-addicted,” is kind of funny considering the reality that he’s made a sort of niche-humor comeback with roles on shows like Arrested Development and Children’s Hospital. (415) 
  • Wallace’s foresight to predict how video would best be served through high-bandwidth streaming services is remarkable. “What if a viewer could more or less 100% choose what’s on at any given time? Choose and rent, over PC and modem and fiber-optic line, from tens of thousands of second-run films, documentaries, the occasional sport, old beloved non-’Happy Days’ programs, wholly new programs, cultural stuff…” (416) 
  • “No more Network reluctance to make a program too entertaining for fear its commercials would pale in comparison.” (417) As time rolls on commercials have seemingly pushed creativity with more enthusiasm than the bulk of network programming has. Entire programs — however cheesy and forgettable they might be — are dedicated to the best commercials. Seems odd. 
  • The telling of the “How’s the water?” A.A. fish story is recycled, albeit with slightly different language, in Wallace’s infamous 2005 Kenyon College commencement address. (445) 
  • Greg Carlisle points out a continuity issue that exists with President Gentle’s witnessing of Orin’s bowl game, and where it fits into the reconfiguration of Subsidized Time. Reading along and not even bothering to recognize it myself — which, considering the non-linear format of the book, isn’t too hard to do — has me thinking about how much of this stuff is going way over my head, even with a 500-page study guide in hand. 
  • Another personal connection to the story: Gately accepts a cake for his one-year sober anniversary on my birthday. 
  • (Speaking of the Quebecois Wheelchair Assassins) “The ones who come always in twilight, implacably squeaking, and cannot be reasoned with or bargained with, feel no pity or remorse, or fear (except a rumored fear of steep hills).” Love that (485) 
Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Pages Read: Monday 16, Tuesday 16, Wednesday 14, Thursday 16, Friday 12, Saturday 16, Sunday 10.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Miles on Bike: Monday 17.91, Tuesday 21.18, Wednesday 16.78, Thursday 18.26, Friday 17.26, Saturday 21.17, Sunday 15.53.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Calories Burned (Reading on Bike/Other Cardio): Monday 542/1183, Tuesday 655/1356, Wednesday 519/200, Thursday 570/1178, Friday 524/604, Saturday 666/775, Sunday 509/658.

Infinite Jest Challenge Data

Weight: Monday 204, Tuesday 202.4, Wednesday 201.8, Thursday 203.6, Friday 204, Saturday 201.6, Sunday 201.