“justifying your seed” OR “a simply sphincter-loosening shriek” (Infinite Jest pp.172-193)


  1. I like numbers. They give your ideas the illusion of order.
  2. Taylor Swift makes manna.
  3. (And that makes us the Israelites wandering through the desert?)
  4. TENNIS AND THE FERAL PRODIGY was only narrated by Hal? Well, according to the entry form. Apparently, it’s entirely Mario’s conception, which okay, let’s roll with that for the sake of [something that will keep you reading]. Working from that assumption, I’m inclined to describe the script as “enlightened,” i.e. observational, without attachment. The “here is” repetition showcases this matter-of-factness. There’s a sort of tennis mimesis too, in that the writing doesn’t feel overthought but just embodied. Here is an example: “Here is how to avoid thinking about any of this by practicing and playing until everything runs on autopilot and talent’s unconscious exercise becomes a way to escape yourself, a long waking dream of pure play” (173).
  5. prodigy [prod-i-jee], noun: “you are not in charge”; “a dark gift”; “its own expectation: it is there from the start and either lived up to or lost”; “painful and pointless”; “a kind of feral and flux-ridden state”; “justifying your seed” (“and preserving your rank”); “perpetual sunburn”; “rough dreams” (173-4)
  6. “Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you” (174).
  7. “be no one. It is easier than you think” (175).
  8. “Learn to care and not to care. They mean the rankings to help you determine where you are, not who you are…never tell anyone where you are” (175).
  9. “On this issue, there is no counsel; you must make your best guess. For myself, I do not expect ever really to know” (176).
  10. What a physical and psychical inheritance, talent.
  11. “Like most cliches of sport, this is profound” (176).
  12. Seed = semen. Justify it.
  13. Your parents only want what is best for you. This might mean that there is no You for whom things are best.
  14. If that sounds unfair, remember that “what is unfair can be a stern but invaluable teacher” (174).
  15. Fathers make sons make fathers make sons.
  16. Stop being a person. That’s not how talent is manifest. Talent arrives when you are no longer yourself, when you are pure play, a body a machine an object. Who are you to be a real boy? The point is to win. You can never win. Talent wins. You are its particular form in this moment. Without talent, you are nothing. With talent, you must become the nothing that you are. All fathers know this, and so all sons will know this.
  17. “You still, years after the man’s death, cannot keep your keys anywhere but on the floor” (172).
  18. So it goes.
  19. Listen, we all have “special psychic scars” (182). We all have ways of dealing with them. Well, escaping them. Pretending they’re not there. Making it so we don’t have to feel them. The pain, that is. “Pain is pain” (192).
  20. There is pain at Ennet House. Does it signify?
  21. “You know what I’m saying? The sound of a fucking mind coming apart. You know what I’m saying?” (177)
  22. No one ever knows, your saying.
  23. “Yes, yes, you don’t follow what I mean here, good! And you’re reluctant to proceed without clarification. I rest. I cannot deny what I don’t understand. This is my position” (177).
  24. Good. You cannot – nay, never – deny life. That must be your position. Clarify all you want, it never gets clearer really, life.
  25. To that, you let out “a simply sphincter-loosening shriek” (177). See how you shriek!
  26. “But then so how come I can’t stop, if I want to stop, is the thing” (179).
  27. What are you trying to stop? Why? Which you is trying to stop, is the thing?
  28. “I’m only here for instructions. Possibly also protective equipment” (179).
  29. “I’m prescribed prayer? Does the word retrograde signify? Am I in a sociohistorical era I don’t know about? What exactly is the story here?” (180)
  30. It’s funny when lines are self-referential.
  31. This is painful.
  32. “There are other, rather more exotic patricidal formats…” (182)
  33. Patricide. That’s killing the father, yes? Oh, we’ve covered that tired theme before though, haven’t we? Why don’t we discuss marriage, “the evolved product of concordance and compromise” (183)? Fuck marriage? “Nothing casts a shadow?” What?
  34. “Look at that fucker Dance” (184).
  35. Well, that’s one way to face the Void. Or the Abyss. What was it Nietzsche said? Was that before or after he got that sexual disease that drove him mad? Was the madness really post-disease? I mean, facing the Abyss and transcending it, like a real ubermensch, isn’t that – if we consider how mighty Society might look at the situation – the highest form of Madness? Is Mario of the ubermensch variety?
  36. I get it. Buildings are bodies. All things are bodies. Get on with it.
  37. I get it. All the commentary about how the audience endures Madame Psychosis’ show is about how your audience might endure this book (e.g. “is always terribly obscure but often just as queerly powerful as her voice and show itself…It tends to give you the feeling there’s an in-joke that you and she alone are in on” (191)).* But please, call of us sick and wretched readers into your twisted, strangely comforting arms. There must be something physically/psychically wrong with us to bear with you. Be our Christ.
  38. This marriage between writer and reader, the ultimate “evolved product of concordance and compromise” (187). What a DANCE we create in the process though.
  39. *That’s what a good writer makes you feel. Like you’re sharing some sort of cosmic monogamy. Writers are whores.
  40. (So are readers.)
  41. Avril is a grammar Nazi. What’s with her sound thing? And what’s with the Incandenza rituals?
  42. “It’s reflective but not judgmental, somehow” (189).
  43. “Come learn to love what’s hidden inside. To hold and cherish” (190). Inside, but I’m supposed to be outside myself, right? Like observe my own life and shit. Be a witness to it. Why would I want to get inside? That’s where all the sickness is. I want OUT.
  44. “There’s not any real forwardness to it. You don’t sense it’s straining to get anywhere. The thing it makes you see as she reads is something heavy swinging slowly at the end of a long rope” (190).
  45. “Cultured Canadiens tend to think vertical digestion makes the mind unkeen” (191).

1 Comment

  1. dasfuller

    Dude, what are you talking about? People *do* read this site other than you! Hell, yesterday we got 23-26 distinct sessions!


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