Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Infinite Jesting

I keep being tempted to join in the fun, but I'll be traveling soon and it's a brick too big to be carrying. But I remembered I did most of my Infinite Jest reading while commuting between Brussels-Luxembourg station near Place Jourdan, where I lived, to Université Catholique de Louvain, located in Louvain-la-Neuve, an interesting but rather misguided attempt at creating a modern pedestrian town/city. I did lug that brick around, and did manage to finish the book.

I'm a bad critic so I won't try very hard to explain why it's worth the long hard slog. But, short version is... an overly clever and confusing book slowly gives way to surprisingly powerful emotional resolutions. An elaborate word game becomes surprisingly sentimental, nonsensical PoMo gone wild becomes a meditation on contemporary need and desire. And in a way which makes sense. It isn't a cheat. I think someone described Beethoven's 9th as Beethoven chipping away at a bunch of stone until all that was left was the Ode to Joy. While not quite the same, the experience of reading Infinite Jest kind of reminded me of that.