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 seƱorio 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.

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