An exercise left to the IJ reader

I’ve been meaning to post about a couple other things from last week’s furious catch-up reading session.  Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to write something coherent in time (my class!), so I’m throwing this out at y’all as reading/thought exercises while moving through the lower 400s in IJ.

  • Pages 400-405 feature Mario’s movie interpretation of the “famous” meeting where Mr. Rodney Tine, Chief, U.S. Office of Unspecified Services, explains to the intercontinental staff President Gentle’s plan to force Canada to take the Great Concavity.  Reread this section after reading George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.”  Focus specifically on the whole biz where the Press Secretary explains how they’ll use semantics to prevent the use of the term “refugees” in the media.  Look for parallels to how the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld triumvirate jumped through semantical hoops to invent and justify the “enemy combatants” classification.  (Extra credit if you can include Rumsfeld’s “known knowns” speech.)
  • Another thing that’s interesting that I want to point out in depth but don’t have time to is DFW’s use of apocalyptic postindustrial geography.  IJ‘s “Great Concavity” is a direct analog to Broom of the System‘s “Great Ohio Desert” (“G.O.D”….I’m not making this up).  There’s a section of dialog in Broom of the System where the creation of G.O.D. is explained, and goddamn if Tine’s cabinet meeting doesn’t follow the same format, right down to the play-like stage directions.  I wouldn’t be too shocked to learn that Pale King has its own unique geographic feature and that there’s a section of straight dialogue explaining how it got there.  Probably some place where all the paperwork from everyone’s tax filings go after the IRS is done with them.


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