“Yes, But He’ll Never Be Great.” (Infinite Jest pp.151-171)

“In these chemically troubled times,” where competition is “meant to be good clean fun,” we’re all trying to beat our fathers in a game of tennis (151).

But first, did Mario – not Himself – create the Entertainment? I’m a little suspicious after this line: “they know nobody will end up seeing the footage except Mario himself” (153).

I’ve mentioned how the novel is about transcending consciousness. What better candidate do we have for what this might look like than Mario, “one of those people who wouldn’t see the point of trying recreational chemicals even if he knew how to go about it. He just wouldn’t get it.” (154)? That’s some shit you might hear said about an enlightened guru. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what Ram Dass discovered about Maharaji. For someone already “beyond” our plane of existence, drugs accomplish nothing. The Entertainment, then, would also do nothing to Mario.

Fuller suggested Avril might be a Nazi. He then shared the possibility of her incestuous rape of Orin (which yielded the guru Mario, true creator of the Entertainment, which is truly the ultimate liberator, as it brings death to all who behold it!). But what of the fact that she “had taken pains to let all three of her children know that her nonjudgmental love and pride depended in no way on achievement or performance or potential talent” (155)? I think I might be giving Avril a pass by overcompensating for any gender bias I’ve internalized; i.e. I’m assuming she’s the victim in all cases and that Himself is the villain, or at least the unwitting perpetuator of patriarchy.

Speaking of fathers, I fondly recall the section from pp.157-169 as one of the most powerful of the novel. The way relate to our “Father” (choose your form: biological, societal, spiritual, whatever) is paramount to our identity. And all the stuff in here about Being-there – free from attachment, as a living body – falls right in line with what I’ve been writing about transcendence as a prevailing theme. The actual challenges in achieving that transcendence are all over this conversation. Even as we try to overcome ourselves, we invariably fall right back into ourselves and pull everyone else in with us.

Honestly, I don’t feel like analyzing this section. I feel it too much, and that’s really all I want it to do. I concede control over its meaning. I become “a machine a body an object” (159). I will never be great. But perhaps I am already and always Great.

Bodies bodies everywhere. A tennis ball is the ultimate body, kid. We’re coming to the crux of what I have to try to impart to you before we get out there and start actuating this fearsome potential of yours. Jim, a tennis ball is the ultimate body. Perfectly round. Even distribution of mass. But empty inside, utterly, a vacuum. Susceptible to whim, spin, to force – used well or poorly. It will reflect your own character. Characterless itself. Pure potential. (160)

I am the tennis ball. For all my potential, I am nothing at my core. Energy radiates all around me. I await release.


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