Netflixing my way through IJ

Not really.  Just some quick notes I want to drop real quick.

  • During Snowzilla, Amanda and I started watching season one of Man Seeking Woman.  In three of the six episodes we watched, Infinite Jest makes a cameo as a punchline: either as a thing to impress a potential sexual partner, a stalling device (to keep from going to a club: “let’s just crush a postmodern epic”), or as a signal of the main character’s personal inadequacy.  It’s become quite the running gag.
  • Every section that describes the mountainous convo between Marathe and Steeply is the worst section of IJ. I really hate their exchange, especially the biz about the single-serving soup. It’s all a philosophy grad student’s too-cute-for-school digression that goes beyond driving the original point home. Again, where the hell were the editors on this?
  • Henry Winkler is in Infinite Jest?  I completely forgot about that!  I tweeted at him last week about it.  Stay tuned to see if he ever replies.

  • People often point to DFW’s commentary on video telephony as being prescient or something, but what about his prediction of Netflix?  The whole section starting on page 410 to 418 is about the downfall of major network stations and the rise of InterLace, a clunky-sounding service easily approximated by Netflix today.

And so but what if, their campaign’s appeal basically ran, what if, instead of sitting still for choosing the least of 504 infantile evils, the vox- and digitus-populi could choose to make its home entertainment literally and essentially adult? I.e. what if—-according to InterLace–what if a viewer could more or less 100% choose what’s on at any given time? Choose and rent, over PC and modem and fiber-optic line, from tens of thousands of second-run films, documentaries, the occasional sport, old beloved non-‘Happy Days’ programs, wholly new programs, cultural stuff, and c., all prepared by the time-tested, newly lean Big Four’s mammoth vaults and production facilities and packaged and disseminated by InterLace TelEnt. in convenient fiber-optic pulses that fit directly on the new palm-sized 4.8-mb PC-diskettes InterLace was marketing as ‘cartridges’? Viewable right there on your trusty PC’s high-resolution monitor? Or, if you preferred and so chose, jackable into a good old pre-millennial wide-screen TV with at most a coaxial or two? Self-selected programming, chargeable on any major card or on a special low-finance-charge InterLace account available to any of the 76% of U.S. households possessed of PC, phone line, and verifiable credit? What if, Veals’s spokeswoman ruminated aloud, what if the viewer could become her/his own programming director; what if s/he could define the very entertainment-happiness it was her/his right to pursue?

This was written in 1996, and, aside from the advertising being the impetus for killing the networks, he basically hit on everything that happened during the rise of Netflix (especially his repeatedly mentioning the devices that allowed consumers to skip commercials).  I haven’t been this blown away from 20th Century fictional technological prognostication since reading Snow Crash a decade ago and thinking, “Jesus, this guy predicted the internet and avatars all the way back in 1992!”

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