Friday, August 26, 2016

Poor Yoricks' Summer - Infinite Jest, Pages 682-724

682-686: November 14. Matty Pemulis is eating lunch at the Man o' War Grille. Matty is 23 and a prostitute. Beginning at the age of 10, he was raped repeatedly at night by his father. (Matty's brother Mikey, five years younger and sleeping in the same room, was not, apparently.) Matty notices Poor Tony Krause walking by the restaurant, looking haggard and pale.

686-689: November 11, PM. After his match with Stice and supper, Hal spends a coulp of hours watching several "clearly labelled" cartridges of his father's films. He wants to be alone, but other kids wander in and watch.

689-691: November 14. Shortly after his seizure on the T, Poor Tony Krause awoke in an ambulance feeling as right as rain. Now discharged from the hospital, he's on his way to the Antitois' shop (which was where he was headed when he had his seizure) in the hopes of securing some drugs. (The Antitoi brothers were killed 6 days ago.)

692: Geoffrey Day is surprised to find that he misses Randy Lenz, who has been discharged from Ennet House, most likely on November 12, the day after Gately was shot.

692-698: There are different kinds of depression.
One kind is low-grade and sometimes gets called anhedonia or simple melancholy. It's a kind of spiritual torpor in which one loses the ability to feel pleasure or attachment to things formerly important. ... It's a kind of emotional novocaine, this form of depression, and while it's not overtly painful its deadness is disconcerting and ... well, depressing. Kate Gompert's always thought of this anhedonic state as a kind of radical abstracting of everything, a hollowing out of stuff that used to have affective content. Terms the undepressed toss around and take for granted as full and fleshy — happiness, joie de vivre, preference, love — are stripped to their skeletons and reduced to abstract ideas. They have, as it were, denotation but not connotation.
It's of some interest that the lively arts of the millennial U.S.A. treat anhedonia and internal emptiness as hip and cool. It's maybe the vestiges of the Romantic glorification of Weltschmerz, which means world-weariness or hip ennui. Maybe it's the fact that most of the arts here are produced by world-weary and sophisticated older people and then consumed by younger people who not only consume art but study it for clues on how to be cool, hip — and keep in mind that, for kids and younger people, to be hip and cool is the same as to be admired and accepted and included and so Unalone. Forget so-called peer-pressure. It's more like peer-hunger. No? We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encagement in the self. Once we've hit this age, we will now give or take anything, wear any mask, to fit, be part-of, not be Alone, we young. The U.S. arts are our guide to inclusion. A how-to. We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears. And then it's stuck there, the weary cynicism that saves us from gooey sentiment and unsophisticated naïveté. ... Hal, who's empty but not dumb, theorizes privately that what passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human ...
There is the second kind of depression:
[D]ead-eyed anhedonia is but a remora on the ventral flank of the true predator, the Great White Shark of pain. Authorities term this condition clinical depression or involutional depression or unipolar dysphoria. Instead of just an incapacity for feeling, a deadening of soul, the predator-grade depression Kate Gompert always feels as she Withdraws from secret marijuana is itself a feeling. It goes by many names — anguish, despair, torment, or q.v. Burton's melancholia or Yevtuschenko's more authoritative psychotic depression — but Kate Gompert, down in the trenches with the thing itself, knows it simply as It.

It is a level of psychic pain wholly incompatible with human life as we know it. It is a sense of radical and thoroughgoing evil not just as a feature but as the essence of conscious existence. It is a sense of poisoning that pervades the self at the self's most elementary levels. It is a nausea of the cells and soul. It is an unnumb intuition in which the world is fully rich and animate and un-map-like and also thoroughly painful and malignant and antagonistic to the self, which depressed self It billows on and coagulates around and wraps in Its black folds and absorbs into Itself, so that an almost mystical unity is achieved with a world every constituent of which means painful harm to the self. Its emotional character, the feeling Gompert describes It as, is probably mostly indescribable except as a sort of double bind in which any/all of the alternatives we associate with human agency — sitting or standing, doing or resting, speaking or keeping silent, living or dying — are not just unpleasant but literally horrible.

It is also lonely on a level that cannot be conveyed. ... Everything is part of the problem, and there is no solution. It is a hell for one. ...

The so-called 'psychotically depressed' person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of quote 'hopelessness' or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire's flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It's not desiring the fall; it's terror of the flames.
698-700: November 14. Ennet House newcomer Ruth van Cleve talks incessantly to Kate Gompert as the women walk back to the House from a NA meeting. Poor Tony Krause is walking behind them, eyeing their purses.

700-01: Five short paragraphs on Jim Troeltsch, Michael Pemulis, Lyle, Schtitt/Mario, and Avril Incandenza. Pemulis checks his hiding spot in the ceiling to make sure the incredibly potent DMZ is still there. Avril is making a phone call to Moment magazine (it's unclear whether Steeply is still on the grounds).

701-714: November 11, PM. Blood Sister: One Tough Nun is watched by Hal and a half-dozen other Enfield students in Viewing Room 6. It is noted that BS:OTN came out of JOI's experience with Boston AA and that segues into a bit on Joelle van Dyne, who is at a CA meeting in St. Elizabeth's Hospital. She had been visiting Don Gately in the Trauma Wing. So Gately is alive, though he "is lying in the Trauma Wing in a truly bad way".
She thinks with fearful sentiment of Don Gately, a tube down his throat, torn by fever and guilt and shoulder-pain, offered Demerol by well-meaning but clueless M.D.s, in and out of delirium, torn, convinced that certain men with hats wished him ill, looking at his room's semi-private ceiling like it would eat him if he dropped his guard.
We learn later than Gately cannot communicate while in the hospital, so how does Joelle know that he is torn by guilt and "convinced that certain men with hats wished him ill"?

714-716: November 14. Poor Tony Krause steals Ruth's and Kate's purses. Ruth gives chase while Kate, who slammed her head against a post during the mugging, is accosted by a bum who says he witnessed the whole incident.

716-719: November 14. Randy Lenz, having been discharged from Ennet House, is high on cocaine and walking behind two short Chinese women. He is considering stealing their shopping bags. ("It was universally well known that your basic Orientoid types carried their earthly sum-total of personal wealth with them at all times. As in on their person while they scuttled around. The Orientoid religion prohibited banks ...")

719: The AFR continues its search of the Antitois' shop, hoping "to locate and secure a Master copy of the Entertainment on their own". If that failed, the AFR would attempt "surveillance and infiltrating the surviving associates of the Entertainment's auteur, its actress and rumored performer, relatives — if necessary, taking them and subjecting them to technical interview, leading with hope to the original auteur's cartridge of the Entertainment".

719-721: November 14: Poor Tony Krause, running with the stolen purses towards the Antitois' store, is still being chased by Ruth van Cleve.

721-723: It had taken the AFR "several days" of an orderly search to find the Entertainment in the Antitois' store. Various AFR members volunteered to watch the many unlabelled cartridges in the shop until the Entertainment was found. Two agents were "lost" during this process. Also re Orin: "There was reason to think M. DuPlessis had received his original copies from this [Southwest] relative, an athlete. Marathe felt U.S.B.S.S. felt this person may have borne responsibility for the razzles and dazzles of Berkeley and Boston, U.S.A. The Americans' field-operative, jutting with prostheses, had been clinging to this person like a bad odor."

723-724: November 14. Joelle is back at Ennet House after the CA meeting. She has a dream about her decaying teeth that features Gately as a kind dentist.

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