Heavy Things Are Anchors

Infinite Jest Project (p 1-300) photography by PD Rearick
Infinite Jest Project: Phase 3 (p 1-300)
photography by PD Rearick

It is possible to place a robin’s egg between a blue river and dull black, gray surf. I know this because I found one, somewhere around, well at least I can say—definitely after page (229) in Infinite Jest.

I would not have known this was possible had I not found my way through those first (229) pages.

The amazing thing, really, about a gray surf, is just how bright it makes the robin-egg’s blue appear. If you have access to a plane, or storm-grayed skies, go ahead, test the brightness of that blue egg—you’ll find the same.

This is probably a good time to point out that I didn’t actually find a description of a robin egg in Infinite Jest. Just in case you were about to ask me if you could hold it. Or if we were about to get into a slightly absurd but intriguing conversation about how it feels to hold a robin’s egg in your mouth.

I don’t know how that feels.

Actually, what I found was a description of robin egg’s blue. Robin egg’s blue was simply describing the color of something, something that I don’t remember. So what shape is the memory of a color of a thing I can’t remember?

Wallace is also asking a lot of abstract questions. How are you doing with that?

The plan, I think, is to make something more concrete. Something that wasn’t making a lot of sense for him, and then now, hopefully the abstract or confusing aspects of Infinite Jest may make something more concrete for you.

Sorry if you were hoping I was going to say “more clear.” “More concrete” is definitely in the forecast for a while. I will say, if you are up for veering into an abstract way of thinking, that while concrete isn’t very clear (like a clean window)—it is very clearly heavy. And heavy things are anchors, of sorts, if used properly.

So, is it true? Have these first two hundred something pages brought some clarity as to what you are anchored to?

Tie down or loosen your grip. Or don’t (and it is so important to keep this as an option). If you are tying down, there may be space to attach robin egg’s blue balloons—at some point. Or robin egg’s blue sails, why not?! If you are considering loosening your grip, then well, there is some airtime ahead for you.

Lightness. And round, light, bright blue.

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5 thoughts on “Heavy Things Are Anchors”

  1. “Not only do I think I know what’s going *on* in the novel, I think I now know how to think about it.”
    Jeff,

    Feeling great about this. Thinking about how to think about Infinite Jest seems to be the difference between wanting to read it and not wanting to. Thanks for pointing this out.

    Ok, I’m going to pull a bunch of your quotes and respond to each of them, as they conjured up some great images for me.

    The idea of “a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child” makes me think of a painting by Gauguin. There is a quote written in the top left corner of this massive painting. It reads: “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” The images read backwards from right to left of a gray-blue surrounded baby, figures, a golden male in the center, more figures, and all the way over on the left a gray-blue surrounded, elderly woman or man.

    “Bolano tries to write one particular thing and ended up writing everything else.”

    Holy Wow! I definitely know this experience in reverse. At first it is incredibly frustrating, then it becomes relieving. Instead of getting lost in trying to describe everything, it is both plain grounding and float-inducing to just focus on one thing.

    “at its core, and in an effort to express its ineffability we’re going everywhere possible to see if there’s a way into its center.”

    This description makes me think of this massively small toothpick sculpture by Tom Friedman. He made this amazing starburst ball of toothpicks that seem to endlessly radiate outward from one point. All the points are outward in their direction, but I always find myself hoping that if I look closely enough, I may be able to follow them backwards–and see a center.

    Thanks for this thought storm.

    To your projects this weekend,
    Corrie

  2. Pure poetry, Corrie, and I love the way in which you’re making color tangible for me here and in my own reading of IJ. The other day, I underlined this bit with you in mind, gobsmacked by the color palette of a single sentence:

    Joelle’s feet dangle well off the floor, her squished hamstrings beginning to burn under a damp thick cotton Brazilian skirt which is vivid, curled pale purples and fresh red against a Latin black that seems to glow above pale knees and white rayon kneesocks…

    1. “gobs-
      macked.”

      Mark, Thanks! You. Are. So. On. with this Joelle’s colors sentence. That was one of the sentences that fit into the “oh that is why I am still recording colors even though I don’t need help paying attention” stage of the project.

      How is that inside of the book cover looking? Awesome?!

      to your evening,
      Corrie

  3. Not only do I think I know what’s going *on* in the novel, I think I now know how to think about it. Strange how that sounds like a particular namesake of mine who shows up later at Ennet House (I’m in the middle of his chapter now, around p. 275).

    A tangent, that will connect: There’s a remarkable line in Roberto Bolano’s AMULET that is his only direct, written reference (in his novels, at least) to the year 2666: “…a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child, bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else.” I’ve always thought of the exhaustive 2666/Savage Detectives to be sort of like this in reverse: Bolano tries to write one particular thing and ended up writing everything else.

    I think Infinite Jest, too, is working this way. It has some intangible, inconceivable-yet-endurable sadness (and hope!) at its core, and in an effort to express its ineffability we’re going everywhere possible to see if there’s a way into its center.

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