“Infinite” Has a Finite Meaning

Shut up. Sit down. Uncle Rob has finished Infinite Jest, and is tired of hearing your whimpering about the ending and the whimpering about “What does it all mean?” So settle in. Pour yourself a drink. And listen to the guy who went to a shitty college and didn’t get an English degree explain the structure to you so you can dazzle hipsters and have a depressing and unfulfilling sexual experience. Like every other night.

Are you sitting comfortably, you no-reading-comprehension douchebags? Excellent. I’ll keep this short, since I have, as every night I spent reading this excellent book, been drinking, and yet still understand the structure and ending of this book better than you do.

Okay: so you didn’t like the ending of Infinite Jest? That’s because you are a fucking moron, because the book has no end. That scene with Gately on the beach? That’s just a scene. Where if you have any brains in your everfucking head, you say, “What the fuck?” and go back to the table of contents, and realize that the first chapter, set in the Year of Glad, takes place after anything that happens in later chapters in the book.

So it you’re smart, you loop back to the beginning, and immediately start seeing details that, over the course of a thousand or so pages, you forgot didn’t make any sense at all the first time you read it. And on the second read, you start seeing things from your first complete read that you ignored the first time around because (duh) they didn’t make any sense. You get more from the book the second loop through.

So you continue reading through the book again, and the next thing you know, you’re recursively looping through the book, picking up details you didn’t get the last time through.

You know how people who saw the actual Infinite Jest cartridge in the book put it on an infinite loop, constantly going back to the beginning to experience it anew again and again? Yeah. Wallace wrote phrases like “howling fantods;” you think he put in the recursive viewing of the cartridge because he was shitfaced and trying to make a word count? No, that’s what your Uncle Rob does. But that’s not important right now.

The original title of the book was A Failed Entertainment. Because unlike with the cartridge, a smart person would realize that this “failed” entertainment only needed looping through twice, or maybe a few times, to get the full enjoyment from it.

But you didn’t stop to figure that out. Instead you quit after reading it once and bailed to bitch online about the “ending” without ever stopping to remember that the beginning happened after the ending.

I am a hard-drinking TV and movie freak, everything that Infinite Jest holds in contempt, and I still was able to make sense of and appreciate the ending. Wallace didn’t use the word “infinite” in the title and the text for the sheer, lunatic thrill of it, you pansy, please-hold-my-hand-mister-author wusses.

Jesus; I stopped writing at this Web site to focus on writing about comic books, and I was able to puzzle this out. Apparently academia needs its prodigal drunkard back.

Okay, Uncle Rob needs another brewski. So fuck off and read Infinite Jest again. At the very least, it’ll keep you from reading The Pale King. If I was Wallace, and so utterly misunderstood vis-a-vis my magnum opus and had 400 pages and nine years of that new pile of shit under my belt, I’d hang myself too.

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