Saturday, September 24, 2016

Stephen King: Just After Sunset (2008)

Just After Sunset is Stephen King's fifth collection of short stories, following Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and Everything's Eventual.

Twelve of the 13 stories in this volume appeared in publications ranging from The New Yorker and The Paris Review to Cavalier and Playboy; one story ("N.") was previously unpublished. And except for "The Cat From Hell" (1977), the stories all date from 2003-2008.

In his introduction, King states that his desire and ability to write short stories had stagnated and it was his work as an editor on the 2006 edition of the Best American Short Stories that kick-started his creativity. The first story he wrote after that - "Willa", about a group of travelers abandoned in Wyoming after a train derailment - begins this collection.

Most of the stories in Just After Sunset did nothing for me, but a there were a few that grabbed my interest. The best, by far, was "The Gingerbread Girl". After the death of her young daughter, a young woman begins running. Eventually, she leaves her husband and moves to her father's beach house in Florida. One day while jogging past one of the nearby McMansions, she sees what she thinks is the body of a young girl hanging out of the trunk of a car. When she gets closer, she is knocked unconscious - and awakens in the house's kitchen, duct-taped to a chair, and sees a man washing off a knife in the sink. Emily attempts to escape from the house.

This is a stunning piece of work, right up there with King's finest work. The San Francisco Chronicle called it "A story of abuse, psychosis and loneliness, it is physically exhausting to read — an astounding thing to say for a short work of fiction." The Toronto Star described it as "a flat-out suspense novella that could have been penned by Richard Bachman, King's literary alter ego".

The spirit of Bachman also lingers over "Rest Stop", in which a traveller overhears a man beating his wife/girlfriend. In "Mute", a man picks up a hitchhiker who is apparently both deaf and mute. As they drive along, the driver starts complaining about his wife and the affair she has been having. In light of subsequent events, perhaps the hitchhiker was not so deaf after all. And if you have ever wondered what it would be like to be trapped in a tipped-over port-o-potty with no way to escape, then "A Very Tight Space" will answer all your questions.

Next: Under The Dome.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Poor Yoricks' Summer - Infinite Jest, Pages 941-981

941-958: Hal returns to his room where Mario and Kyle Coyle are watching a cartridge. Hal is told that Ortho Stice was pulled off the window but some of his face is still stuck to the cold glass. Mario reports that Stice's bed was bolted to the ceiling during the night.
'The Darkness thinks ghosts.' Coyle stood and came toward us. His two eyes were not set quite level in his face. 'Stice's explanation that he swore me to discretion but that was before the bed on the ceiling was he thinks he's been somehow selected or chosen to get haunted or possessed by some kind of beneficiary or guardian ghost that resides in and/or manifests in ordinary physical objects, that wants to teach The Darkness how to not underestimate ordinary objects and raise his game to like a supernatural level, to help his game.'
Hal thinks of Cosgrove Watt and the JOI film he starred in, Accomplice! A detailed plot of the film is given. Hal watches a weather report on the blizzard and recalls a blizzard roughly a decade earlier (1998). Hal has some recollections from childhood, but "I had no childhood memory of eating fungus." He considers jumping out of a window and ruining his ankle and thus never having to play tennis again.

958: Hugh Steeply lets Joelle leave after her interrogation and she goes back to Ennet House. "She figured if she could speak with Pat M. Pat M. might be prevailed upon to put her in quarantine with Clenette and Yolanda, not let in no law. She could tell Pat about the wheelchairs, try to convince her to dismantle the ramp."

958-960: "I'm Mikey, alcoholic and addict and a sick fuck, you know what I'm saying?" An unnamed AA speaker is described as "rocking the podium slightly, blurred a bit through the linen, smearing one side of his face with a laborer's hand as he tries to think what to say". No date is given. Is it November YDAU or some time in the future? Are we supposed to think Joelle is in attendance?

960-964: Pat M. talks with the Suffolk County A.D.A., who is in recovery (Phob-Comp-Anon) and wants to make amends to Gately.
The A.D.A. leaned forward, hat rotating between his calves, elbows on knees in the odd defecatory posture men used to try to communicate earnestness in their sharing. 'I'm told — I owe the — Mr. Gately — an amend. I need to make an amend to Mr. Gately.' He looked up. 'You too — this remains within these walls, as if it were my anonymity. All right? ... I've harbored a resentment, against this Gately, concerning an incident I'd considered responsible for making Tooty's phobia reflare. ... I've hated, hated this man. You know that Enfield's Suffolk County. This incident with the Canadian assault, the alleged firearm, the witnesses who can't depose because of their own exposure. . . . My sponsor, my entire Group — they say if I act on the resentment I'm doomed. I'll get no relief. It won't help Tooty. ... I need to let it go. I've come to believe that. Not just the prosecution — that's the easy part. I've already tossed the file, though whatever civil liability the — Mr. Gately might face is another matter, not my concern. It's so damnably ironic. The man's going to two-step out of at the very least a probation-violation and prosecution on all his old highly convictable charges because I have to pitch the case, for the sake of my own recovery ...

'But listen. I can't do it. Cannot. I've sat outside that hospital room saying the Serenity Prayer over and over and praying for willingness and thinking of my own spiritual interests and believing this amend is my Higher Power's will for my own growth and I haven't been able to go in. I go and sit paralyzed outside the room for several hours and drive home and pry Tooty away from the sink. It can't go on. I have to look that rotten — no, evil, I'm convinced in my heart, that son of a bitch is evil and deserves to be removed from the community. I have to walk in there and extend my hand and tell him I've wished him ill and blamed him and ask for forgiveness — him — if you knew what sick, twisted, sadistically evil and sick thing he did to us, to her — and ask him for forgiveness. Whether he forgives or not is not the issue. It's my own side of the street I need to clean.'
964-971: November 20, Immediately Pre-Fundraiser-Exhibition-Fete. Who is the narrator? Prep for tennis exhibitions. hal is gettting his ankle taped for the exhibition, which has been moved indoors to M.I.T. We hear ETA Head Trainer Barry Loach's story, of how he tried to stop his brother's spiritual decline, to try and demonstrate to his brother "the redeemability of man".
In outline, it eventually boiled down to this: a desperate Barry Loach ... Loach challenges his brother to let him prove somehow — risking his own time, Barry's, and maybe safety somehow — that the basic human character wasn't as unempathetic and necrotic as the brother's present depressed condition was leading him to think. After a few suggestions and rejections of bets too way-out even for Barry Loach's desperation, the brothers finally settle on a, like, experimental challenge. The spiritually despondent brother basically challenges Barry Loach to not shower or change clothes for a while and make himself look homeless and disreputable and louse-ridden and clearly in need of basic human charity, and to stand out in front of the Park Street T-station on the edge of the Boston Common, right alongside the rest of the downtown community's lumpen dregs, who all usually stood there outside the T-station stemming change, and for Barry Loach to hold out his unclean hand and instead of stemming change simply ask passersby to touch him. Just to touch him. Viz. extend some basic human warmth and contact. And this Barry does. And does. Days go by. His own spiritually upbeat constitution starts taking blows to the solar plexus. It's not clear whether the verminousness of his appearance had that much to do with it; it just turned out that standing there outside the station doors and holding out his hand and asking people to touch him ensured that just about the last thing any passerby in his right mind would want to do was touch him. It's possible that the respectable citizenry with their bookbags and cellulars and dogs with little red sweater-vests thought that sticking one's hand way out and crying 'Touch me, just touch me, please' was some kind of new stem-type argot for 'Lay some change on me,' because Barry Loach found himself hauling in a rather impressive daily total of $ — significantly more than he was earning at his work-study job wrapping ankles and sterilizing dental prostheses for Boston College lacrosse players. Citizens found his pitch apparently just touching enough to give him $; but B. Loach's brother — who often stood there in collar less mufti up against the plastic jamb of the T-station's exit, slouched and smirking and idly shuffling a deck of cards in his hands — was always quick to point out the spastic delicacy with which the patrons dropped change or $ into Barry Loach's hand, these kind of bullwhip-motions or jagged in-and-outs like they were trying to get something hot off a burner, never touching him, and they rarely broke stride or even made eye-contact as they tossed alms B.L.'s way, much less ever getting their hand anywhere close to contact with B.L.'s disreputable hand. ...

[Months go by and] Barry Loach was dangerously close to disappearing forever into the fringes and dregs of metro Boston street life and spending his whole adult life homeless and louse-ridden and stemming in the Boston Common and drinking out of brown paper bags, when along toward the end of the ninth month of the Challenge, his appeal — and actually also the appeals of the other dozen or so cynical stem-artists right alongside Loach, all begging for one touch of a human hand and holding their hands out — when all these appeals were taken literally and responded to with a warm handshake — which only the more severely intoxicated stemmers didn't recoil from the profferer of, plus Loach — by E.T.A.'s own Mario Incandenza, who'd been sent dashing out from the Back Bay co-op where his father was filming something that involved actors dressed up as God and the Devil playing poker with Tarot cards for the soul of Cosgrove Watt, using subway tokens as the ante, and Mario'd been sent dashing out to get another roll of tokens from the nearest station, which because of a dumpster-fire near the entrance to the Arlington St. station turned out to be Park Street, and Mario, being alone and only fourteen and largely clueless about anti-stem defensive strategies outside T-stations, had had no one worldly or adult along with him there to explain to him why the request of men with outstretched hands for a simple handshake or High Five shouldn't automatically be honored and granted, and Mario had extended his clawlike hand and touched and heartily shaken Loach's own fuliginous hand, which led through a convoluted but kind of heartwarming and faith-reaffirming series of circumstances to B. Loach, even w/o an official B.A., being given an Asst. Trainer's job at E.T.A. ...
971-972: Undated. Orin has been taken prisoner by the AFR and is trapped under a huge inverted glass tumbler.
[T]he remains of whatever had made him fall asleep so hard really were making him sick to his stomach, and in sum this experience was pretty clearly not one of his bad dreams, but Orin, #71, was in deep denial about its not being a dream. It was like the minute he'd come to and found himself inside a huge inverted tumbler he'd opted to figure: dream. The stilted amplified voice that came periodically through the small screen or vent above him, demanding to know Where Is The Master Buried ...
As roaches "began pouring blackly and shinily through" the open screen and into the tumbler, Orin shouts "Do it to her! Do it to her!" Who is "her"? Avril? Joelle?

972-981: Gately in hospital. There is a flurry of activity at his bedside.
Human beings came and went. An R.N. felt his forehead and yanked her hand back with a yelp. ... Gately felt physically hotter than he'd ever felt. It felt like a sun in his head. The crib-type railings got tapered on top and writhed a little, like flames. He imagined himself on the House's aluminum platter with an apple in his mouth, his skin glazed and crispy. The M.D. that looked age twelve appeared with others wreathed in mist and said Up it to 30 q 2 and Let's Try Doris [Doryx], that the poor son of a bitch was burning down. He wasn't talking to Gately. The M.D. was not addressing Don Gately. Gately's only conscious concern was Asking For Help to refuse Demerol. He kept trying to say addict. ... Gately felt something rough and cool on his face. A voice that sounded like his own brain-voice with an echo said to never try and pull a weight that exceeds you. Gately figured he might die. It wasn't calm and peaceful like alleged. It was more like trying to pull something heavier than you. ... He was the object of much bedside industry. A brisk clink of I.V. bottles overhead. Slosh of bags. None of the overhead voices talking to him. His input unrequired. Part of him hoped they were putting Demerol in his I.V without him knowing. ... The harsh sound he heard up close was the tape around his unshaved mouth getting ripped off him so quick he hardly felt it. He tried to avoid projecting how his shoulder would feel if they started pounding on his chest like they pound on dying people's chests. ... It occurred to him if he died everybody would still exist and go home and eat and X their wife and go to sleep. ... It was impossible to imagine a world without himself in it. ... Somebody overhead asked somebody else if they were ready, and somebody commented on the size of Gately's head and gripped Gately's head, and then he felt an upward movement deep inside that was so personal and horrible he woke up.
That is the last mention of Don Gately in November YDAU. The narrative switches in mid-paragraph, back to Gately's memory of the epic Dilaudid debauch with Facklemann (who knows he will be killed by Sorkin) in the stripped luxury apartment. Bobby C and his crew arrive. There are allusions to both A Clockwork Orange and 1984. Gately is given a huge dose of drugs, not to kill him (Sorkin understands DG was not involved in the Faxster's embezzlement) but to keep him out of the way and unable to prevent C and his crew from torturing and killing Facklemann.
Gately couldn't feel his legs. He could feel C's arm around him taking more and more of his weight. C's arms's muscles rising and hardening: he could feel this. His legs were, like: opting out. Attack of floors and sidewalks. Kite used to sing a ditty called '32 Uses For Sterno Me Lad.' C was starting to let him down easy. Strong squat hard kid. Most heroin-men you can knock down with a Boo. C: there was a gentleness about C, for a kid with the eyes of a lizard. He was letting him down real easy. C was going to protect Bimmy Don from the bad floor's assault. The supported swoon spun Gately around, C moving around him like a dancer to slow the fall. Gately got a rotary view of the whole room in almost untakable focus. Pointgravè was vomiting chunkily. Two of the fags were sliding down the wall they had their backs to. Their red coats were aflame. The passing window exploded with light. Or else it was DesMontes that was vomiting and Pointgravè was taking the TP's viewer off the wall and stretching its fibroid wire over toward Fackelmann against the wall. One of Fax's eyes was as open as his mouth, disclosing way more eye than you ever want to see on somebody. He was no longer struggling. He stared piratically straight ahead. The librarian was starting on his other eye. The bland man had a rose in his Japel and he'd put on glasses with metal lenses and was blind-high and missing Fax's eye with the dropper half the time, saying something to Pointgravè. A transvestal had P.H.-J.'s torn hem hiked up and a spiderish hand on her flesh-colored thigh. P.H.-J.'s face was gray and blue. The floor came up slowly. Bobby C's squat face looked almost pretty, tragic, half lit by the window, tucked up under Gately's spinning shoulder. Gately felt less high than disembodied. It was obscenely pleasant. His head left his shoulders. Gene and Linda were both screaming. The cartridge with the held-open eyes and dropper had been the one about ultra-violence and sadism. A favorite of Kite. Gately thinks sadism is pronounced 'saddism.' The last rotating sight was the chinks coming back through the door, holding big shiny squares of the room. As the floor wafted up and C's grip finally gave, the last thing Gately saw was an Oriental bearing down with the held square and he looked into the square and saw clearly a reflection of his own big square pale head with its eyes closing as the floor finally pounced. And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand, and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Poor Yoricks' Summer - Infinite Jest, Pages 906-941

906-911: Michael Pemulis (with the threat of being kicked out of ETA fresh in his mind) comes into the room where Hal Incandenza is lying on the floor and says, "We've got some really important interfacing to do, brother." Hal tells Pemulis that the "synthetic bacchanal" with the DMZ is "definitely off". Pemulis: "That's part of what we need to interface about". Hal asks Pemulis to cue up a cartridge: Himself's Good-Looking Men in Small Clever Rooms That Utilize Every Centimeter of Available Space with Mind-Boggling Efficiency so he can listen to Paul Anthony Heaven's climatic lecture, given "in a monotone as narcotizing as a voice from the grave".

911-916: Gately in hospital. From age 18-23, Gately worked full-time for a North Shore bookmaker named Whitey Sorkin. He and Gene Fackelmann "served as like Whitey Sorkin's operatives in the field, taking bets and phoning them in to Saugus, delivering winnings, and collecting debts". They were known as the Twin Towers. They were paid well and spent their money on drugs. Gately later brought Trent Kite into the crew. Gately recalls watching a college bowl game on New Year's Eve 2001:
The winter daylight through the penthouse windows was dazzling and fell across the viewer's big flat screen and made the players look bleached and ghostly. Through the windows off in the distance was the Atlantic O., gray and dull with salt. The B.U. punter was a hometown Boston kid the announcers kept inserting was a walk-on and an inspirational story that had never played a major sport until college and now was already one of the finest punt-specialists in N.C.A.A. history, and had the potential to be a lock for a pretty much limitless pro ball career if he bore down and kept his eye on the carrot. The B.U. punter was two years younger than Don Gately. ... [H]e stared at the punter's ghostly digital image until he found himself starting to cry like a babe. It came out of emotional nowheres all of a sudden, and he found himself blubbering at the loss of organized ball, his one gift and other love, his own stupidity and lack of discipline, that blasted cocksucking Ethan From, his Mom's Sir Osis and vegetabilization and his failure after four years ever yet to visit, feeling suddenly lower than bottom-feeder-shit ... It was two days later he got pinched for assaulting one bouncer with the unconscious body of another bouncer, in Danvers MA, and three months after that that he went to Billerica Minimum.
916: Pemulis.
Entrepot-bound, twitchy-eyed and checking both sides behind him as he comes, rounding the curve of Subdormitory B's hall with his stick and little solid frustum-shaped stool, Michael Pemulis sees at least eight panels of the drop-ceiling have somehow fallen out of their aluminum struts and are on the floor ... No old sneaker is in evidence on the floor as he clears the panels to plant the stool, his incredibly potent Bentley-Phelps penlight in his teeth, looking up into the darkness of the struts' lattice.
Is the incredibly-potent DMZ gone? Who could have taken it?

916-934: Gately in hospital. He recalls that Gene Fackelmann had for years been scamming small amounts of money from Whitey Sorkin's bookmaking operation, unbeknowst to both Gately and Trent Kite (and obviously Sorkin). A huge scam that Fackelman eventually pulled is described in extreme detail, as his subsequent realization that Sorkin cannot help but find out about the scam (and so Facklemann is a dead man) and his decision in light of that realization to simply do a shitton of drugs. In addition to this memory, Gately had other dreams.
His fever is way worse, and his little snatches of dreams have a dismantled cubist aspect he associates in memory with childhood flu. He dreams he looks in a mirror and sees nothing and keeps trying to clean the mirror with his sleeve. One dream consists only of the color blue, too vivid, like the blue of a pool. An unpleasant smell keeps coming up his throat. He's both in a bag and holding a bag. Visitors flit in and out, but never Ferocious Francis or Joelle van D. He dreams there's people in his room but he's not one of them. He dreams he's with a very sad kid and they're in a graveyard digging some dead guy's head up and it's really important, like Continental-Emergency important, and Gately's the best digger but he's wicked hungry, like irresistibly hungry, and he's eating with both hands out of huge economy-size bags of corporate snacks so he can't really dig, while it gets later and later and the sad kid is trying to scream at Gately that the important thing was buried in the guy's head and to divert the Continental Emergency to start digging the guy's head up before it's too late, but the kid moves his mouth but nothing comes out, and Joelle van D. appears with wings and no underwear and asks if they knew him, the dead guy with the head, and Gately starts talking about knowing him even though deep down he feels panic because he's got no idea who they're talking about, while the sad kid holds something terrible up by the hair and makes the face of somebody shouting in panic: Too Late.
This sounds a lot like the memory Hal will have one year from now (page 17). BUT in Gately's dream, there is a naked Joelle wearing wings asking if they knew "him" (Himself) - something that Hal did not mention. Can we assume that Gately's dream/vision is not real and is placed in his mind by the wraith, but that Hal's memory is real? (Perhaps Gately thinks he knows Himself because of his experience with the wraith in the hospital.)

934: Coming out of St. Elizabeth's Hospital (presumably after visiting Gately), Joelle is grabbed by "a grotesquely huge woman whose hose bulged with stubble" who tells her that she is in "almost mind-boggling danger". Joelle calmly replies: "This is supposed to be news?"

934-938: Gately in hospital. His memory of his Dilaudid binge with Fackelmann continues.
It became the ICBM of binges. The Substance seemed inexhaustible; Mt. Dilaudid changed shapes but never really much shrank that they could see. It was the first and only time ever that Gately I.V.'d narcotics so many times in one arm that he ran out of arm-vein and had to switch to the other arm. Fackelmann was no longer coordinated enough to help him tie off and boot. Fackelmann kept making a string of chocolaty drool appear and distend almost down to the floor. The acidity of their urine was corroding the apt.'s hardwood floor's finish in an observable way. The puddle had grown many arms like a Hindu god. Gately couldn't quite tell if the urine had explored its way almost back to their feet or if they were already sitting in urine.
938-941: Joelle is questioned by USOUS's Hugh Steeply and discusses what she knows about JOI's Infinite Jest V (aka the Entertainment).
I was in two scenes. What else is in there I do not know. In the first scene I'm going through a revolving door. You know, around in this glass revolving door, and going around out as I go in is somebody I know but apparently haven't seen for a long time, because the recognition calls for a shocked look, and the person sees me and gives an equally shocked look — we're supposedly formerly very close and now haven't seen each other in the longest time, and the meeting is random chance. And instead of going in I keep going around in the door to follow the person out, which person is also still revolving in the door to follow me in, and we whirl in the door like that for several whirls.

The actor was male. He wasn't one of Jim's regulars. But the character I recognize in the door is epicene. ...

The other had the camera bolted down inside a stroller or bassinet. I wore an incredible white floor-length gown of some sort of flowing material and leaned in over the camera in the crib and simply apologized. ...

As in my lines were various apologies. "I'm so sorry. I'm so terribly sorry. I am so, so sorry. Please know how very, very, very sorry I am." For a real long time. I doubt he used it all, I strongly doubt he used it all, but there were at least twenty minutes of permutations of "I'm sorry." ...

Not exactly veiled.

The point of view was from the crib, yes. A crib's-eye view. But that's not what I mean by driving the scene. The camera was fitted with a lens with something Jim called I think an auto-wobble. Ocular wobble, something like that. A ball-and-socket joint behind the mount that made the lens wobble a little bit. It made a weird little tiny whirring noise, I recollect. ...

I never saw it. I've got no idea.

They were buried with him. The Masters of everything unreleased. At least that was in his will. ...

I don't know that he ever even got a finished Master. That's your story. There wasn't anything unendurable or enslaving in either of my scenes. Nothing like these actual-perfection rumors. These are academic rumors. He talked about making something quote too perfect. But as a joke. He had a thing about entertainment, being criticized about entertainment v. nonentertainment and stasis. He used to refer to the Work itself as "entertainments." He always meant it ironically. Even in jokes he never talked about an anti-version or antidote for God's sake. ... When he talked about this thing as a quote perfect entertainment, terminally compelling — it was always ironic — he was having a sly little jab at me. I used to go around saying the veil was to disguise lethal perfection, that I was too lethally beautiful for people to stand. It was a kind of joke I'd gotten from one of his entertainments, the Medusa-Odalisk thing. That even in U.H.I.D. I hid by hiddenness, in denial about the deformity itself. So Jim took a failed piece and told me it was too perfect to release — it'd paralyze people. It was entirely clear that it was an ironic joke. To me. ...

If it got made and nobody's seen it, the Master, it's in there with him. Buried. That's just a guess. But I bet you.
Joelle's responses to Steeply might answer the question of what is behind Joelle's veil. Her comments give credence to the theory that she was disfigured by acid and is not otherworldly beautiful.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Poor Yoricks' Summer - Infinite Jest, Pages 876-906

876-883: November 20. Transcript of meeting (headed by Rodney Tine, Sr.) discussing a commercial designed to help kids resist the lure of "the Canadian cartridge". The warning is scheduled to be broadcast in the coming year, the Year Of Glad.

883-896: Gately in the hospital. His sponsor, Ferocious Francis G., visits. Gately also has a notepad and pencil, but has trouble writing left-handed.
Gately wants to tell Ferocious Francis how he's discovered how no one second of even unnarcotized post-trauma-infection-pain is unendurable. That he can Abide if he must. He wants to share his experience with his Crocodile sponsor. And plus, now that somebody he trusts himself to need is here, Gately wants to weep about the pain and tell how bad the pain of it is, how he doesn't think he can stand it one more second.
A Pakistani M.D. is talking to Gately about possible pain meds he should be taking.
'And so you are now ready to let us provide the level of analgesia the trauma warrants instead of Toradol, simple headache ibuprofen, which these medications are boys doing a large man's duty here, yes? There has been reconsidering in light of the level? Yes? ... For I am Moslem, and abstain also, by religious law, from all abusive compounds as well,' the M.D. says. 'Yet if I have suffered trauma, or the dentist of my teeth proposes to perform a painful process, I submit as a Moslem to the imperative of my pain and will accept relief, knowing no established religion's God wills needless suffering for His children. ...

'Surrender your courageous fear of dependence and let us do our profession, young sir,' the Pakistani sums up, standing right up next to the bed, the left side, his professional lab-coat hiding F.F., hands behind his back, the dull glint of the metal corner of Gately's chart just visible between his legs, immaculate of posture, smiling cheerily down, the whites of his eyes as ungodly white as his teeth. The memory of Talwin makes parts of his body Gately didn't know could drool drool. He knows what's coming next, Gately does. And if the Pakistani goes ahead and offers Demerol again Gately won't resist. And who the fuck'll be able to blame him, after all. Why should he have to resist? He'd received a bona fide Grade-Whatever dextral synovial trauma. Shot with a professionally modified .44 Item. He's post-trauma, in terrible pain, and everyone heard the guy say it: it was going to get worse, the pain. This was a trauma-pro in a white coat here making reassurances of legitimate fucking use. Gehaney heard him; what the fuck did the Flaggers want from him? This wasn't hardly like slipping over to Unit #7 with a syringe and a bottle of Visine. This was a stop-term measure, a short-gap-type measure, the probable intervention of a compassionate unjudging God. A quick Rx-squirt of Demerol — probably at the outside two, three days of a Demerol drip, maybe even one where they'd hook the drip to a rubber bulb he could hold and self-administer the Demerol only As Needed. Maybe it was the Disease itself telling him to be scared a medically necessary squirt would pull all his old triggers again, put him back in the cage.
The M.D. thinks that Francis G. is Gately's father and suggests he tell his son to let the hospital staff give him the necessary pain meds. But Francis G. says: "Not my business to say one way or the other. Kid's gonna do what he decides he needs to do for himself. He's the one that's feeling it. He's the only one can decide." Though as he leaves the room, he does add: "Might want to Ask For Some Help, deciding."

When the M.D. continues to pressure Gately, Don G. finally reacts:
Gately's good left hand skins a knuckle shooting out between the bars of the bedside crib-railing and plunging under the M.D.'s lab-coat and fastening onto the guy's balls and bearing down. The Pakistani pharmacologist screams like a woman. It isn't rage or the will to harm so much as just no other ideas for keeping the bastard from offering something Gately knows that he's powerless at this moment to refuse. The sudden exertion sends a blue-green sheet of pain over Gately that makes his eyes roll up as he bears down on the balls, but not enough to crush. The Pakistani curtsies deeply and bends forward, crumpling around Gately's hand, showing all 112 teeth as he screams higher and higher until he hits a jagged high note like a big opera lady in a Viking helmet so shattering it makes the crib-railings and windowglass shiver and woke Don Gately up with a start, his left arm through the railing and twisted with the force of his attempt to sit up so that the pain now made him hit almost the same high note as the dream's foreign M.D. ...

The dream's vividness had been either fever or Disease, but either way it had fucking seriously rattled his cage. He heard the singsong voice promising about increasing discomfort. His shoulder beat like a big heart, and the pain was sickeninger than ever. No single second was past standing. Memories of good old Demerol rose up, clamoring to be Entertained. The thing in Boston AA is they try to teach you to accept occasional cravings, the sudden thoughts of the Substance; they tell you that sudden Substance-cravings will rise unbidden in a true addict's mind like bubbles in a toddler's bath. It's a lifelong Disease: you can't keep the thoughts from popping in there. The thing they try to teach you is just to Let Them Go, the thoughts. Let them come as they will, but do not Entertain them. No need to invite a Substance-thought or -memory in, offer it a tonic and your favorite chair, and chat with it about old times.
Awakening from his dream (it was a dream, right? It's hard to tell.), Gately recalls crewing with Trent Kite and Gene Fackelmann and his relationship with Pamela Hoffman-Jeep (cf. possibly Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow's Nora Dodson-Truck?)

When McDade and Diehl from Ennet House stop by and present him with a card they stole from a store, Gately starts feeling sorry for himself:
It's probably the pathetic unsigned folded hot card, but Gately's suddenly stricken by the heat of the waves of self-pity and resentment he feels about not only the card but about the prospect of these booger-chewing clowns not standing up to eyewitness for his se offendendo after he just tried to do his sober job on one of their behalf and is now lying here in a level of increasing dextral discomfort these limp punks couldn't imagine if they tried, getting ready to have to say no to grinning Pakistanis about his Disease's drug of choice with an invasive tube down his mouth and no notebook after he asked for one, and needing to shit and to know the day and no big black nurse in view, and unable to move — it suddenly seems awful starry-eyed to be willing to look on the course of events as evidence of the protection and care of a Higher Power — it's a bit hard to see why a quote Loving God would have him go through the sausage-grinder of getting straight just to lie here in total discomfort and have to say no to medically advised Substances and get ready to go to jail just because Pat M. doesn't have the brass to make these selfish bottom-feeding dipshits stand up and do the right thing for once. The resentment and fear make cords stand out on Gately's purple neck, and he looks ferocious but not at all jolly. — Because what if God is really the cruel and vengeful figurant Boston AA swears up and down He isn't, and He gets you straight just so you can feel all the more keenly every bevel and edge of the special punishments He's got lined up for you? — Because why the fuck say no to a whole rubber bulbful of Demerol's somnolent hum, if these are the quote rewards of sobriety and rabidly-active work in AA? The resentment, fear and self-pity are almost narcotizing.
896-902: Undated (probably November 20). Hal Incandenza walking the halls at ETA.
I was moving down the damp hall when it hit. I don't know where it came from. It was some variant of the telescopically self-conscious panic that can be so devastating during a match. I'd never felt quite this way off-court before. It wasn't wholly unpleasant. Unexplained panic sharpens the senses almost past enduring. Lyle had taught us this. You perceive things very intensely. Lyle's counsel had been to turn the perception and attention on the fear itself, but he'd shown us how to do this only on-court, in play. Everything came at too many frames per second. Everything had too many aspects. But it wasn't disorienting. The intensity wasn't unmanageable. It was just intense and vivid. It wasn't like being high, but it was still very: lucid. The world seemed suddenly almost edible, there for the ingesting. ... But the panic was there too, endocrinal, paralyzing, and with an overcognitive, bad-trip-like element that I didn't recognize from the very visceral on-court attacks of fear. Something like a shadow flanked the vividness and lucidity of the world. The concentration of attention did something to it. What didn't seem fresh and unfamiliar seemed suddenly old as stone. It all happened in the space of a few seconds. The familiarity of Academy routine took on a crushing cumulative aspect.
Hall starts to think of the total times he's schlepped up a particular stairwell or how much food he will eat over the rest of his life. Day after day after day. And he imagines a room full of the waste he will produce. It's the opposite of Gately thinking about building a wall around each second and concentrating on abiding for that one second.

Hal recalls many things, family history included (on page 898, we get the book's only mention of Avril Incandenza's full name!), and the reader gets the clear impression that these are important facts and should be remembered, but there are so many of them. (It's the same feeling reading the Gately sections.)
It now lately sometimes seemed like a kind of black miracle to me that people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit, and could go on caring this way for years on end. Could dedicate their entire lives to it. It seemed admirable and at the same time pathetic. We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately — the object seemed incidental to this will to give oneself away, utterly. To games or needles, to some other person. Something pathetic about it. A flight-from in the form of a plunging-into. Flight from exactly what? ... To what purpose? This was why they started us here so young: to give ourselves away before the age when the questions why and to what grow real beaks and claws. It was kind, in a way. ... The original sense of addiction involved being bound over, dedicated, either legally or spiritually. To devote one's life, plunge in. I had researched this. Stice had asked whether I believed in ghosts. It's always seemed a little preposterous that Hamlet, for all his paralyzing doubt about everything, never once doubts the reality of the ghost. Never questions whether his own madness might not in fact be unfeigned. Stice had promised something boggling to look at. That is, whether Hamlet might be only feigning feigning.
902-906: Gately in hospital. He recalls parts of his childhood and teenaged years, playing middle school football and his introduction to alcohol and various drugs. It is amazing that Wallace holds back - until page 900 - a lot of meaningful childhood incidents pertaining to one of the novel's two main characters and its probable hero.
His head had been huge, even as a kid. By the time he hit puberty at twelve the head seemed a yard wide. A regulation football helmet was like a beanie on him. His coaches had to order special helmets. Gately was worth the cost. Every coach past 6th grade told him he was a lock for a Division 1 college team if he bore down and kept his eye on the prize. Memories of half a dozen different neckless, buzz-cut, and pre-infarcted coaches all condense around a raspy emphasis on bearing down and predictions of a limitless future for Don G., Bimmy G., right up until he dropped out in high school's junior year. ...

He smoked his first duBois at age nine, a hard little needle-thin joint bought off jr.-high niggers and smoked with three other grade-school football players in a vacant summer cottage one had the key to, watching broadcast-televised niggers run amok in a flaming L.A. CA after some Finest got home-movied crewing on a nigger in the worst way. Then his first real drunk a few months later, after he and the players'd hooked up with an Orkin man that liked to get kids all blunt on screwdrivers and that wore brownshirts and jackboots in his off-hours and lectured them about Zog and The Turner Diaries ...

He was classified Attention-Deficit and Special-Ed, from grade school on, with particular Deficits in 'Language Arts,' but that was at least partly because Mrs. G. could barely read and Gately wasn't interested in making her feel worse. And but there was no Deficit in his attention to ball, or to cold foamers or screwdrivers or high-resin desBois, or especially to applied pharmacology, not once he'd done his first Quaalude at age thirteen.

Just as Gately's whole recall of his screwdriver-and-sinsemilla beginnings tends to telescope into one memory of pissing orange juice into the Atlantic ... in just the same way, the whole couple years before he discovered oral narcotics, the whole period 13-15 when he was a devotee of Quaaludes and Hefenreffer-brand beer collapses and gathers itself under what he still recalls as 'The Attack of the Killer Sidewalks.' ...

It was amazing that none of this stuff seemed much to hurt Gately's performance playing ball, but then he was as devoted to football as he was to oral CNS-depressants. At least for a while. He had disciplined personal rules back then. He absorbed Substances only at night, after practice. Not so much as a fractional foamer between 0900h. and 1800h. during the seasons of practice and play, and he settled for just a single duBois on Thursday evenings before actual games. During football season he ruled himself with an iron hand until the sun set, then threw himself on the mercy of sidewalks and the somnolent hum. ...

Gately's sixteenth year is still mostly a gray blank, except for his mother's new red chintz TV-watching couch, and also the acquaintance of an accommodating Rite-Aid pharmacist's assistant with disfiguring eczema and serious gambling debts. ... When he finally returned for his sophomore year of class and junior year of ball at seventeen and 284 lbs., Gately was enervated, flabby, apparently narcoleptic, and on a need-schedule so inflexible that he needed 15 mg. of good old oxycodone hydro-chloride out of his pocket's Tylenol bottle every three hours to keep the shakes off. He was like a huge confused kitten out on the field ... On offense, Gately lost his starting spot in the third game to a big clear-eyed freshman the coach said showed nearly limitless potential. Then Mrs. Gately suffered her cirrhotic hemorrhage and cerebral-blood thing in late October, just before the midterms Gately was getting ready to fail. Bored-eyed guys in white cotton blew blue bubbles and loaded her in the back of a leisurely sirenless ambulance and took her first to the hospital and then to a Medicaid L.T.I. out across the Yirrell Beach span in Pt. Shirley. ... The first gasper he ever smoked was that day, a 100 out of a half-finished pack of his mother's generics, that she left. He didn't even ever go back to B.-S.H.S. to clean out his lockers. He never played organized ball again.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

"9/11 Anniversary: Government Hid and Destroyed 9/11 Evidence"

9/11 Anniversary: Government Hid and Destroyed 9/11 Evidence
Washington's Blog, September 9, 2016
Judges and lawyers know that – if someone intentionally destroys evidence – he’s probably trying to hide his crime. American law has long recognized that destruction of evidence raises a presumption of guilt for the person who destroyed the evidence.

So what does it mean when the US government intentionally destroyed massive amounts of evidence related to 9/11? ...
The article's subheads:
Judge and Prosecutor Destroy Evidence

Destruction of Videotapes

Destruction of Air Traffic Control Tapes

Pentagon Fibs

Soviet-Style "Minders"

Undermining Investigation

Censorship

Black Boxes

Saudi Role

Letting Terrorists Go Free

Destruction of Physical Evidence

9/11 Commissioners Disgusted ... and Call For a New Investigation

Friday, September 09, 2016

Poor Yoricks' Summer - Infinite Jest, Pages 827-876

827-845: Undated. Gately in hospital. After Geoffrey Day visits, the wraith returns.
Then somewhere later in the couple of hours before midnight's parking-switch symphony on Washington St. outside is an unpleasantly detailed dream where the ghostish figure that's been flickering in and out of sight around the room finally stays in one spot long enough for Gately to really check him out. In the dream it's the figure of a very tall sunken-chested man in black-frame glasses and a sweatshirt with old stained chinos, leaning back sort of casually or else morosely slumped, resting its tailbone against the window sill's ventilator's whispering grille, with its long arms hanging at its sides and its ankles casually crossed so that Gately can even see the detail that the ghostly chinos aren't long enough for its height, they're the kind kids used to call 'Highwaters' in Gately's childhood — a couple of Bimmy Gately's savager pals would corner some pencil-necked kid in those-type too-short trousers on the playground and go like 'Yo little brother where's the fucking flood?' and then lay the kid out with a head-slap or chest-shove so the inevitable violin went skittering ass-over-teakettle across the blacktop, in its case. ... Gately in the dream experienced a painful adrenal flash of remorse and entertained the possibility that the figure represented one of the North Shore violin-playing kids he'd never kept his savage pals from abusing, now come in an adult state when Gately was vulnerable and mute, to exact some kind of payback. The ghostly figure shrugged its thin shoulders and said But no, it was nothing of the sort, it was just a plain old wraith, one without any sort of grudge or agenda, just a generic garden-variety wraith. Gately sarcastically in the dream thought that Oh well then if it was just a garden-variety wraith, is all, geez what a fucking relief. The wraith-figure smiled apologetically and shrugged, shifting its tailbone on the whispering grille a bit. There was an odd quality to its movements in the dream: they were of regulation speed, the movements, but they seemed oddly segmented and deliberate, as if more effort than necessary were going into them somehow. Then Gately considered that who knew what was necessary or normal for a self-proclaimed generic wraith in a pain-and-fever dream. Then he considered that this was the only dream he could recall where even in the dream he knew that it was a dream, much less lay there considering the fact that he was considering the up-front dream quality of the dream he was dreaming. It quickly got so multilevelled and confusing that his eyes rolled back in his head. The wraith made a weary morose gesture as if not wanting to bother to get into any sort of confusing dream-v.-real controversies. The wraith said Gately might as well stop trying to figure it out and just capitalize on its presence, the wraith's presence in the room or dream, whatever, because Gately, if he'd bothered to notice and appreciate it, at least didn't have to speak out loud to be able to interface with the wraith-figure; and also the wraith-figure said it was by the way requiring incredible patience and fortitude for him (the wraith) to stay in one position long enough for Gately to really see him and interface with him, and the wraith was making no promises about how many more months he (the wraith) could keep it up, since fortitude had never seemed to have been his long suit. ... The wraith said Even a garden-variety wraith could move at the speed of quanta and be anywhere anytime and hear in symphonic toto the thoughts of animate men, but it couldn't ordinarily affect anybody or anything solid, and it could never speak right to anybody, a wraith had no out-loud voice of its own, and had to use somebody's like internal brain-voice if it wanted to try to communicate something, which was why thoughts and insights that were coming from some wraith always just sound like your own thoughts, from inside your own head, if a wraith's trying to interface with you. The wraith says By way of illustration consider phenomena like intuition or inspiration or hunches, or when someone for instance says 'a little voice inside' was telling them such-and-such on an intuitive basis.
When the wraith puts unfamiliar words in Gately's mind (and into our minds as well), it becomes pretty clear that the wraith is JOI's ghost.
The wraith walks jerkily and overdeliberately across the floor and then up a wall, occasionally disappearing and then reappearing, sort of fluttering mistily, and ends up standing upside-down on the hospital room's drop ceiling, directly over Gately, and holds one knee to its sunken chest and starts doing what Gately would know were pirouettes if he'd ever once been exposed to ballet, pirouetting faster and faster and then so fast the wraith's nothing but a long stalk of sweatshirt-and-Coke-can-colored light that seems to extrude from the ceiling; and then, in a moment that rivals the Coke-can moment for unpleasantness, into Gately's personal mind, in Gately's own brain-voice but with roaring and unwilled force, comes the term PIROUETTE, in caps, which term Gately knows for a fact he doesn't have any idea what it means and no reason to be thinking it with roaring force, so the sensation is not only creepy but somehow violating, a sort of lexical rape. Gately begins to consider this hopefully nonrecurring dream even more unpleasant than the tiny-pocked-Oriental-woman dream, overall. 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 and ANNULATE and BRICOLAGE and CATALEPT and GERRYMANDER and SCOPOPHILIA and LAERTES — and all of a sudden it occurs to Gately the aforethought EXTRUDING, STRIGIL and LEXICAL themselves — and LORDOSIS and IMPOST and SINISTRAL and MENISCUS and CHRONAXY and POOR YORICK and LUCULUS and CERISE MONTCLAIR and then DE SICA NEO-REAL CRANE DOLLY and CIRCUMAMBIENTFOUNDDRAMALEVIRATEMARRIAGE and then more lexical terms and words speeding up to chipmunkish and then HELIATED and then all the way up to a sound like a mosquito on speed, and Gately tries to clutch both his temples with one hand and scream, but nothing comes out. ... Gately begins to conclude it's not impossible that the garden-variety wraith on the heart monitor, though not conventionally real, could be a sort of epiphanyish visitation from Gately's personally confused understanding of God, a Higher Power or something, maybe sort of like the legendary Pulsing Blue Light that AA founder Bill W. historically saw during his last detox, that turned out to be God telling him how to stay sober via starting AA and Carrying The Message. The wraith smiles sadly and says something like Don't we both wish, young sir.
The wraith talks about the films he made when he was among animate men and discusses "figurants", the background actors in a scene (i.e., the "nameless actors" at tables in a bar scene in Cheers!) that look like they are talking ("concessions to realism") but you cannot hear them. The wraith fears his youngest son (Hal) is becoming a figurant in real life.
Gately remembers them, the extras in all public scenes, especially like bar and restaurant scenes, or rather remembers how he doesn't quite remember them, how it never struck his addled mind as in fact surreal that their mouths moved but nothing emerged, and what a miserable fucking bottom-rung job that must be for an actor, to be sort of human furniture, figurants the wraith says they're called, these surreally mute background presences whose presence really revealed that the camera, like any eye, has a perceptual corner, a triage of who's important enough to be seen and heard v. just seen. A term from ballet, originally, figurant, the wraith explains. ... And either the wraith is saying or Gately is realizing that you can't appreciate the dramatic pathos of a figurant until you realize how completely trapped and encaged he is in his mute peripheral status ... [The wraith said he] had seen his own personal youngest offspring, a son, the one most like him, the one most marvelous and frightening to him, becoming a figurant, toward the end. His end, not the son's end, the wraith clarifies. Gately wonders if it offends the wraith when he sometimes refers to it mentally as it. The wraith opens and examines the used hankie just like an alive person can never help but do and says No horror on earth or elsewhere could equal watching your own offspring open his mouth and have nothing come out. The wraith says it mars the memory of the end of his animate life, this son's retreat to the periphery of life's frame.
And so the wraith said he spent his last days of life working on a film to rescue the boy from becoming a figurant:
The wraith feels along his long jaw and says he spent the whole sober last ninety days of his animate life working tirelessly to contrive a medium via which he and the muted son could simply converse. To concoct something the gifted boy couldn't simply master and move on from to a new plateau. Something the boy would love enough to induce him to open his mouth and come out — even if it was only to ask for more. Games hadn't done it, professionals hadn't done it, impersonation of professionals hadn't done it. His last resort: entertainment. Make something so bloody compelling it would reverse thrust on a young self's fall into the womb of solipsism, anhedonia, death in life. A magically entertaining toy to dangle at the infant still somewhere alive in the boy, to make its eyes light and toothless mouth open unconsciously, to laugh. To bring him 'out of himself,' as they say. The womb could be used both ways. A way to say I AM SO VERY, VERY SORRY and have it heard. A life-long dream. The scholars and Foundations and disseminators never saw that his most serious wish was: to entertain.
845-846: November 19. The AFR's attempts to locate the Entertainment's veiled performer have been a bust, so Fortier and Marathe decide to "acquire" members of the filmmaker's immediate family.

846-851: Gately in hospital. Mrs. Waite, an "older-type lady" all the neighbourhood kids were afraid of, but who was kind to young Don and once made him a birthday cake. Mrs. Waite later hung herself - and I am noticing a lot of suicides during this second full read. The book is full of them. Gately then has a "pain-and-fever dream" that ends with something similar to the fatally-entertaining Infinite Jest. Gately is back in Mrs. Waite's kitchen, but Mrs. Waite is played by Joelle
... except without her veil, and what's more without any clothes, as in starkers, gorgeous, with that same incredible body as in the other one ... a total female angel, not sexy so much as angelic, like all the world's light had gotten together and arranged itself into the shape of a face. Or something. It looks like somebody, Joelle's face, but Gately can't for the life of him place who, and it's not just the distraction of the inhumanly gorgeous naked bod below, because the dream is not like a sex-dream. Because in this dream, Mrs. Waite, who is Joelle, is Death. As in the figure of Death, Death incarnate. Nobody comes right out and says so; it's just understood: Gately's sitting here in this depressing kitchen interfacing with Death. 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. Gately can't quite make out if it's like a monologue or if he's asking questions and she's responding in a Q/A deal. 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? In the dream everybody in the world seems to know this except Gately, like he'd missed that day in school when they covered it, and so Death's having to sit here naked and angelic and explain it to him, very patiently, more or less like Remedial Reading at Beverly H.S. Death says the woman who either knowingly or involuntarily kills you is always someone you love, and she's always your next life's mother. This is why Moms are so obsessively loving, why they try so hard no matter what private troubles or issues or addictions they have of their own, why they seem to value your welfare above their own, and why there's always a slight, like, twinge of selfishness about their obssessive mother-love: they're trying to make amends for a murder neither of you quite remember, except maybe in dreams. As Death's explanation of Death goes on Gately understands really important vague stuff more and more, but the more he understands the sadder he gets, and the sadder he gets the more unfocused and wobbly becomes his vision of the Death's Joelle sitting nude on the pink plastic ring, 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.
851-854: November 20. Narrated by Hal. Snow is falling at ETA and Hal wonders if the exhibitions against the Quebec kids will be cancelled. "A kind of cold hope flared in me because I realized this could be cancellation-weather. The backlash of this hope was an even worse feeling than before: I couldn't remember ever actively hoping not to have to play before. I couldn't remember feeling strongly one way or the other about playing for quite a long time, in fact. ... I'd neither carried nor squeezed my ball for several days. No one seemed to have noticed."

854-864: Gately in hospital. Joelle visits, wearing what Gately thinks are Ken Eredy's sweatpants, which prompts a twinge of jealousy ("a flash of something unpleasant") in Gately. Joelle is showing Gately photos of her childhood from an album. She also talks about a recent meeting she went to where she had a breakthrough re staying straight. She had previously likened her days of staying straight as like a line of cars Evel Knievel had to jump with his motorcycle. And every day the line of cars gets longer and harder to jump.
'And I'd bunker up all white-knuckled and stay straight. And count the days. I was proud of each day I stayed off. Each day seemed evidence of something, and I counted them. I'd add them up. Line them up end to end. You know?' Gately knows very well but doesn't nod, lets her do this on just her own steam. She says 'And soon it would get. .. improbable. As if each day was a car Knievel had to clear. One car, two cars. By the time I'd get up to say like maybe about 14 cars, it would begin to seem like this staggering number. Jumping over 14 cars. And the rest of the year, looking ahead, hundreds and hundreds of cars, me in the air trying to clear them.' She left her head alone and cocked it. 'Who could do it? How did I ever think anyone could do it that way? ... And yet it wasn't til that poor new pipe-fellow from home pointed at me and hauled me up there and I said it that I realized,' Joelle said. 'I don't have to do it that way. I get to choose how to do it, and they'll help me stick to the choice. I don't think I'd realized before that I could — I can really do this. I can do this for one endless day. I can. Don.'

The look he was giving her was meant to like validate her breakthrough and say yes yes she could, she could as long as she continued to choose to. She was looking right at him, Gately could tell. But he'd also gotten a personal prickly chill all over from his own thinking. He could do the dextral pain the same way: Abiding. No one single instant of it was unendurable. Here was a second right here: he endured it. What was undealable-with was the thought of all the instants all lined up and stretching ahead, glittering. ... He could just hunker down in the space between each heartbeat and make each heartbeat a wall and live in there. Not let his head look over. What's unendurable is what his own head could make of it all. What his head could report to him, looking over and ahead and reporting. But he could choose not to listen ... He hadn't quite gotten this before now, how it wasn't just the matter of riding out the cravings for a Substance: everything unendurable was in the head, was the head not Abiding in the Present but hopping the wall and doing a recon and then returning with unendurable news you then somehow believed.
864-876: Hal narrating. There is something happening to Hal that he does not realize, possibly related to pot withdrawal. Hal walks down a hallway at ETA and find Ortho Stice with his forehead frozen or stuck to a window. Stice hears Hal talking and asks if he is crying? Hal tries to get Stice's forehead unstuck but cannot. he also sees someone sitting in the Show Courts bleachers, out in the snowstorm, but Hal cannot make out the person's age or gender. Stice asks Hal if he believes in "parabnormal shit".
'And I'm not sure what you mean, paranormal. I believed in vampires when I was small. Himself allegedly used to see his father's ghost on stairways sometimes, but then again toward the end he used to see black-widow spiders in his hair, too, and claimed I wasn't speaking sometimes when I was sitting right there speaking to him. So we kind of wrote it all off. Orth, I guess I don't know what to think about paranormal shit. ... And good old Mario says he's seen paranormal figures, and he's not kidding, and Mario doesn't lie,' I said. 'So belief-wise I don't know what to think. Subhadronic particles behave ghostishly. I think I withhold all pre-judgment on the whole thing.'
Hal goes off to find Kenkle and Brandt, ETA's janitors, to get some warm water and try to help Stice. When Hal talks to Kenkle, Kenkle asks, "Why the hilarity?" Again, Hal's impression to others is not what he believes he is showing.
I went forward into the really wet mopped area and tried to make out my face's expression in the east window. It was now too light, though, outside, off all the snow. I looked sketchy and faint to myself, tentative and ghostly against all that blazing white.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Poor Yoricks' Summer - Infinite Jest, Pages 795-827

795-808: Undated. Hal drives out to Natick to attend a substance abuse meeting. But it turns out to be something slightly different: a bunch of bearded men in chinos hugging teddy bears trying to get in touch with their Inner Infant. One of the participants is Kevin Bain, older brother of Marlon Bain. (Wallace's portrayal of this meeting may be the one section of the book I'm not that crazy about. DFW seems to be poking fun of the idea of such a meeting, of grown men sitting on the floor, hugging teddy bears, and crying that they need love. That stance seems in strange contrast to the rest of the novel, where all other recovery groups are portrayed respectfully. Indeed, Wallace portrays AA as a life-saving miracle.)

One interesting note is that Hal is listening to the radio as he drives to the meeting and hears that President Gentile had scheduled and then cancelled a special address to the nation that night. (Could that address have been Entertainment-related?)

809-827: Undated. Don Gately is flat on his back, in St. Elizabeth's Hospital's Trauma Wing drifting in and out of consciousness. The ceiling is bulging and receding. There are a few visitors, who talk to him at length, and then leave. He thinks he sees a hatted man, possible the dreaded A.D.A. outside in the hallway. Nurses come and go noiselessly. He also sees ghostly figures ("A tall and slumped ghostish figure appeared to Gately's left ... slumped and fluttering, appearing to rest its tailbone on the sill of the dark window."). Tiny Ewell relates a tale from his youth, of his gang scamming money from their neighbors under the guise of raising money for a youth hockey program. But Ewell eventually dips into the can of money for his own personal benefit and soon the cash is gone. He has to steal from his father to pay the other kids' their share of the original funds. He wonders how to, as AA suggests, make amends.
Gately starts to short-term recall that he was offered I.V.-Demerol for the pain of his gunshot wound immediately on admission to the E.R. and has been offered Demerol twice by shift-Drs. who haven't bothered to read the HISTORY OF NARCOTICS DEPENDENCY NO SCHEDULE C-IV+ MEDIC. that Gately'd made Pat Montesian swear she'd make them put in italics on his file or chart or whatever, first thing. Last night's emergency surgery was remedial, not extractive, because the big pistol's ordnance had apparently fragmented on impacting and passed through the meters of muscle that surrounded Gately's Humorous ball and Scalpula socket, passing through and missing bone but doing great and various damage to soft tissues. The E.R.'s Trauma Specialist had prescribed Toradol-IM(338) but had warned that the pain after the surgery's general anesthetic wore off was going to be unlike anything Gately had ever imagined.
Note 338 describes Toradol-IM as "a non-narcotic analgesic, little more than Motrin with ambition"!
Gately was on enough Toradol-IM to make his ears ring, plus a saline drip with Doryx. ... And everything on his right side was on fire. The pain was getting to be emergency-type pain, like scream-and-yank-your-charred-hand-off-the-stove-type pain. Parts of him kept sending up emergency flares to other parts of him, and he could neither move nor call out. ...

His every pulse was an assault on his right side. He didn't think he could stand it for even another second. He didn't know what would happen, but he didn't think he could stand it. ...

At some point a probably real Pat Montesian came in and got her hair in his eye when she kissed his cheek and told him if he could just hang in and concentrate on getting well everything would be fine, that everything at the House was back to normal, more or less, and essentially fine ... Pat said that Gately was showing tremendous humility and willingness sticking to his resolution about nothing stronger than non-narcotic painkillers, but that she hoped he'd remember that he wasn't in charge of anything except putting himself in his Higher Power's hands and following the dictates of his heart. That codeine or maybe Percoset or maybe even Demerol wouldn't be a relapse unless his heart of hearts that knew his motives thought it would be. ...

The whole right side of himself hurt so bad each breath was like a hard decision. He wanted to cry like a small child. ... He kept trying to ask his heart if just codeine would be a relapse, according to the heart, but his heart was declining to comment.
Gately thinks on two separate occasions that Joelle van Dyne might have come by. (We know she visited Gately on November 14, which would have been Gately's third full day in the hospital, because we read about it on page 707.)

It's during Calvin Thrust's visit and non-stop yapping that we get the details on what happened after we abandoned Gately, 200 pages ago, bleeding in the street.
He told Gately that man he looked like shit something heavy had fell on. But he told Gately he should get a gander of the other guys, the Nucks in Polynesian-wear. Thrust and the House Manager had got there before E.M.P.H.H. Security could drag the Finest away from issuing midnight street-side citations down on Comm. Ave., he told Gately. Lenz and Green and Alfonso Parias-Carbo had dragged/carried the passed-out Gately inside and laid him on the black vinyl couch in Pat's office, where Gately had come to and told them ixnay on the ambulanceay and to please wake him up in five more minutes, and then passed out for serious real. ... Gately had been lying there passed out, wedged with two full filing cabinets to keep him from rolling off the couch he was wider than, and was bleeding in a very big way, and nobody knew how to, like, affix a turnipcut to a shoulder, and the good-bodied new girl with the cloth mask was bending over the arm of the couch applying pressure to towels on Gately's bleeding, and her partly-open robe was yielding a view that even brought Alfonso P.-C. around from his herniated fetal posture on the floor, and Thrust and the House Manager were taking turns Asking for Help to intuitively know what they ought to do with Gately, because it was well known that he was on Probie against a real serious bit, and with all due trust and respect to Don it wasn't clear at that point from the scattered damaged Canadian forms still in different prone positions out in the street who'd done what to who in defense of whatever or not, and the Finest tend to take a keen interest in huge guys who come into E.R.'s with spectacular gunshot wounds, and but then when Pat M. pulled up in the Aventura laying rubber a couple minutes later she'd screamed rather unserenely at Thrust for not having already rikky-ticked Don Gately over to St. E.'s on his own already. ... They'd heaved Gately's dead weight in the 'Vette and Pat M. drove interference like a madwoman in her turbocharged Aventura. Pat let the masked girl ride shotgun with her because the masked girl wouldn't quit asking her to let her come too. ... Thrust asks rhetorically how much does Don fucking weigh, anyway, because moving the front buckets way up to where like dwarfs put them and putting Gately's carcass across the back seat of the 'Vette had required all available hands and even Burt F.S.'s stumps, had been like trying to get something humongous through a door that's way smaller than the humongous thing was and everything like that. ... Thrust said at the St. E.'s E.R. how the E.R. crew had been quick and ingenious about getting Gately out of the 'Vette and onto a double-width gurney, though they did have some trouble lifting the gurney so they could get the legs with wheels set up under it so the guys in white could roll him in with more guys in white walking briskly alongside of him and leaning over him and applying pressure and barking little orders in terse code like they always do in E.R.s and everything like that, in emergencies. ... He says in his view it was lucky for Gately that he (Gately) was such a massive son of a bitch and had so much blood, because even so Gately'd lost huge volumes of blood all over people's upholstery and was in shock and everything like that by the time they got him on the double-width gurney, his face cheese-colored and his lips blue and muttering all this shock-type stuff, but even so here he (Gately) was, not exactly ready for a GQ cover but still sucking air. ... Thrust said whatever that Nuck that the residents allege shot him shot him with was serious ordnance, because there'd been bits of Gately's shoulder and bowling shirt all over the complex's little street. Thrust pointed at the huge bandage and asked whether they'd talked to Gately yet about was he going to get to keep what was left of the mutilated shoulder and arm. Gately found that the only audible sound he could make sounded like a run-over kitten. Thrust mentioned that Danielle S.'d been over to Mass Rehab with Burt F.S. and had reported how they were doing miraculous things with prosfeces these days. ... If Gately took anything deeper than a half-breath, a mind-bending sheet of pain goes down his right side. ... The biggest issue at the House Bitch and Complaint meeting was that earlier this week it turns out Clenette H. had brung in this whole humongous shitload of cartridges she said they were getting ready to throw in the dumpster up at the swank tennis school up the hill she works at, and she promoted them and hauled them down to the House, and the residents all have a wild hair because Pat says Staff has to preview the cartridges for suitability and sex before they can be put out for the residents, and the residents are all bitching that this'll take forever and it's just the fucking Staff hoarding the new entertainment when the House's TP's just about on its hands and knees in the entertainment desert starving for new entertainment. ... The single biggest problem right now, Thrust says Pat says, is the missing alleged Item. As in the .44 Item Gately was plugged with's whereabouts are missing, Thrust says. The last resident to depose to seeing it was Green, who says he took it away from the Nuck the nigger girls stomped, whereupon he, Green, says he dropped it on the lawn. Whereupon it liked vanished from legal view. Thrust says that in his legal view the Item's the thing that makes the difference between a señorio of ironshod self-defense and one of just maybe a huge fucking beef in which Gately got mysteriously plugged at some indefinite point while rearranging a couple Canadian maps with his huge bare hands. Gately's heart is now somewhere around his bare hairy shins, at the mention of Federal crewcuts. His attempted plea for Thrust to come out and say did he actually kill anybody did he sounds like that crushed kitten again. ... . The sun was starting to go down over the West Newton hills through the double-sealed windows, now, trembling slightly, and the windowlight against the far wall was ruddled and bloody. The heater vents kept making a sound like a distant parent gently shushing. When it starts to get dark out is when the ceiling breathes.