If, by the virtue of your friend marshaling all his energy to urge you to (willingly) revisit the “abandon all hope ye who enter” hell that is Infinite Jest, you ever chance to spend a little time around this particular section of said novel, you will acquire many exotic new facts. (see: p.200)
That Ennet House “resembles seven moons orbiting a dead planet” (193). That outside this dead planet you can see “isolation-in-union as balletic” (194). Because you will indeed see loads of isolation huddled strangely together in the most alienated/connected way imaginable. Kind of like you’re watching various possible casts of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest colliding and combining to form beautiful poetry in static motion, “as they’d been doing like hyper-conditioned rats for years.” Addiction really does a number on you, and it imposes a weird solidarity, where you find yourself in a group “doing basically everything but truly congregating, wild for chemical relief, ready to stand in the cold exhaling steam for hours for that wild relief” (195). But is it relief? Relief from what? What are those chemicals your solution to? They’re not really the problem, see. They’re your solution to a problem you’re unwilling to identify and confront. Gives you “the howling fantods,” no (196)? Or “an odd chilled empathy,” which at least it’s feeling (197).
That Enfield Tennis Academy (E.T.A.) is a training ground for Ennet House, not the Show. That even if you do get to the Show, it’s just a stop on the way to Ennet. Regardless of your path to free yourself from all your torturous escapes, obsessions, and addiction, perhaps you’d better “take the pain” (199). Remember in your youth when you used to take the pain? Remember when you then did everything you could to avoid the pain, which of course only brought you more pain? Remember when you stopped feeling pain? When you stopped feeling altogether? When you yearned for pain again, that experience you welcomed – well, really it was forced onto you by your loving parents and surrogate parents, e.g. tennis instructors and the like – but you welcomed it anyway because you knew it was like good for you if only you endured it just a little bit longer?
That we all have “some kind of interior psychic worm that cannot be sated or killed” (200). That it’s hard to say what’s worse: physical or psychical appetite. That it’s hard to say if there’s even a difference.
That Substances are Slavers, but like so why would we choose to be Slaves? (201)
That God finds us in anonymity and loves us just the same. Because there’s nothing left of us. Because we’re getting closer to returning to Him/Her/It, that mysterious cosmic Energy to which we are all bound.
That everything you think or do is an “abusable escape” (202). (See: footnote 70 on p.998 to realize this: That the Entertainment has the same effect as Enlightenment: Ego death. So escape or no escape, there is no escape; there is only escape NOT-TO-BE-ESCAPED. Heidegger’s abusable escape was musing on such inescapable escape, i.e. death as the possibility-of-my-impossibility-not-to-be-bypassed.)
“That boring activities become, perversely, much less boring if you concentrate intently on them” BUT “that concentrating intently on anything is very hard work,” e.g. Infinite Jest (203).
That DFW was really trying to escape whatever it was that haunted him, and that “Analysis-Paralysis” must have been in the mix (203).
“That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt” (203). That this is one of the more remarkably poignant sentences you’ve ever read. That this entire section, in fact, has emotional resonance for you. That even though other sections don’t touch you as much, it doesn’t mean they weren’t created with sincerity and care. (“Please don’t think I don’t care.”)
That I too do not know who I am. That this statement does not deny me the possibility of self-love. That I do not need to identify or define myself in order to love myself. Loving myself is loving all my selves, and leaving room for all my possible emergent selves.
“That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable” (204). That you already said how moving this section was, but that dammit this sentence is all manner of gorgeous.
That it is indeed “permissible to want,” to live with self-compassion/forgiveness/love/whatever word makes you enter at least THIS moment and just fucking be there in it.
That, perversely, you don’t know what qualifies as perverse.
That Boundary Issues.
That Tiny Ewell’s obsession with tattoos is an abusable, hilarious escape. That tattoos are…what exactly? Apparently not just tattoos. They have to stand for something, like “simple self-mutilation arising out of boredom and general disregard for one’s own body and the aesthetics of decoration” (210), or “the chilling irrevocability of intoxicated impulses” (205).
That, like, what makes writing more acceptable than drinking or doing drugs?
That your own recent obsession with Pete Holmes, when paired with Infinite Jest, is pointing you to experiment with DMZ/T. That you’re way too much of a coward to ever do it because, let’s remember, you drink water at parties (if you go).
That “the Academy is nothing if not well-fenestrated” (213). That you’ve never gotten over learning the word defenestration in history class in college. The excitement of learning the word makes you want to enact the word by hurling yourself out a window.
That on DMZ/T, throwing yourself out a window wouldn’t quite match your soul throwing itself out of you. But then who are you anyway?
That it’s just “spiritual inquiry,” so maybe you aren’t such a coward after all (216)?
That there are plenty of ways to feel “a kind of pale sweet aura, a luminescence” that don’t involve chemicals; well, at least not in terms of drugs entering your already chemically chaotic system (218).
That this book is fucking long, but that no single moment in it is unendurable. That if you just keep reading those moments, not only are they endurable but enjoyable.