Infinite Jest: Rodent shifts Time-Space Continuum and Other Thoughts on a Minor Holiday

David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest Today1698.LOST.jpg
Well, we all know that Phil the rodent has awakened in his Punxsutawney burrow, ambled topside, cast his shadow, and gone back to sleep.

It’s fitting on a day in which a largish varmint shivs the meteorological time-space continuum that the popular time-space continuum-shivving show Lost returns to explode what’s left of our collective brains. When we last left the hapless survivors of Oceanic 815 they too had cut loose from the time-space continuum (ok, I’ll stop using that phrase cause I don’t really know what it means. I know it involves math and I have all the mathematical prowess of a weather-predicting whistle-pig).

Back on point: the whole O815 survivor group was stuck in the island’s past but their own biological present. They were in the midst of dropping an atomic bomb down the old hatch in hopes creating an explosion that would prevent their plane from crashing and thus reboot each of their individual history/time clocks and destroy/disrupt the Valenzetti Equation (the fictional Fibonnaci-esque number-sequence: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 which recurs as part of the show’s motif).

Because dropping a thermonuclear warhead is always the answer.

Of course if you’re lost (rimshot please), Hulu to rescue: they’re streaming all five seasons on demand. Now, you can get caught up to the show’s “present,” which is confusingly collapsed with its past and future.

In the show’s present-present, ousted leader of the Others Ben has murdered his heir apparent John Locke while Locke’s doppelganger (we’ll call him Nietzsche for kicks) is out to kill God/Jacob. Meanwhile Rousseau has gone crazy and Desmond looks more and more like Jesus Christ.

It’s like a liberal arts meta-textual wet dream. kinda, sorta if liberal arts majors watched TV (officially we don’t).

There’s a lot of ink being spilled today about Lost. The knights of the media have started asking the tough questions such as: are the creators of Lost just making it up as they go along? It’s an odd question to me. They made it up: does it matter when? Would it make us feel better knowing that they made it up six years ago rather than yesterday?

Infinite Jest Yesterdayfailedentertainment.jpg
This Lost obsession, and more specifically this question of entertainments and their constructions, reminded me a little bit of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. You may recall that IJ‘s plot revolves (loosely) around a missing master copy of one of James O. Incandenza’s films titled Infinite Jest, a cartridge (film) so entertaining that viewers become catatonic, lose all other desires save endless viewings of the film.

In a novel of famous footnotes, the most famous perhaps is the 8-pager titled Complete Filmography of James O. Incandenza. Of course many IJ readers discuss what those films might look like. The Leroy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia went a step further. Opening this week in their Gallery is “A Failed Entertainment: Selection from the Filmography of James O. Incandenza.

Yup, the Center commissioned artists and filmmakers to make the films listed in DFW’s famous footnote.

They’ll be shown on an infinite loop, like Lost on Hulu.

Infinite Jest Tomorrow
Roberto Bolano
In keeping with today’s shifts in the time-space continuum The New Yorker has published newly translated work from Roberto Bolano set to be published next week.

From the photo, you can tell that the story involves a guy and a dog and woman (who may or may not have here hair partially covering her face in a beguiling way). It also has a dead body, but that’s all you’re getting out of me.

The New Yorker seems fond of publishing things online with future dates as though it’s out but not really or something.

I don’t know, I think they’re just making this thing up as they go along.