Wed Nov 5, 2008
I carried my food-stained old copy of Infinite Jest to the voting fire station this afternoon. In the hour or so I waited to cast my ballot (mostly) against various stupendous Louisiana initiatives and (nearly) for the Prohibition Ticket, I read the first fifty or so pages. The insect crawling around the stereo equipment and the beach ball in Orin’s condo pool were far more artless ficelles than I had remembered, and of course it’s poignant to read the Kate Gompert section. My reading of the book, which I don’t pretend to be novel, is that it is entirely Hal’s imaginative re-telling of his own story, which doesn’t actually take place in a world of O.N.A.N and subsidized time. There are involutions here with the similarities between Hal and Wallace himself as well. I think one of the early keys to this is the way in which “Quo Vadis,” Gatley’s accomplice, is revealed in the early footnotes–there’s a coyness about the empirical basis of the narrative there.
A bespectacled woman read, I imagine, a fair share of the Gompert section over my shoulder as we waited in line. I thought about telling her more about the book and why it could be read profitably by Prohibition party supporters. After having to park in a bank parking lot to get to the fire station, I was worried that I was going to be towed and kept imagining a conversation I would have with a teller or superbient bank manager and how I would introduce the concepts of voter suppression and google page rank. It didn’t come to it, sadly.