To avoid spoilers, the guides will comment on each week’s reading in the week that follows. We’ll use this first week to introduce ourselves and hope you’ll do the same in the comments.
Have you ever shit your pants? There are worse things. Really. Like affirming just how well you know someone because you are driving the car directly behind their hearse, on the way to their freshly open plot in the graveyard.
There are worse things. Really. Sure, the thought of shitting your pants is pretty high-volume terrible, but figuring out how to get out of those pants is really when resilience comes into play.
Curious as to why and how these descriptions may help you get hooked on Infinite Jest? The goal here is to confirm that you are on your way to a visceral, multi-sensory experience. Keep this in mind if you are at all disheartened by your first attempts at reading Infinite Jest. Pay attention to those details that finally get to you and pull you in. I have a prediction that those details will reveal a lot about who you are and what makes you get up in the morning, and I am really, really hoping that you will let us in on what you find.
I know we have a lot of artists participating in Infinite Winter, so I also know the finding is likely to be as visually descriptive as Wallace’s depictions in Infinite Jest. As you read, soak these descriptions up, in particular, Wallace’s descriptions of rooms and windows. Then bring these descriptions with you when you are dealing with your routine tasks. If you try this out, I predict that the walls you work in and the floors you walk on are going to gain intrigue.
And don’t stop there. Even the pages and screens that you read text on—in Infinite Jest, your cable viewing guide, and convenience store receipts have clues that can help you make sense of the story you are reading and the one you are living. Wallace not only has a way with words, he even has a way with the way the words are arranged on a page. Which words would Wallace break between typed lines to make you really think, while reading Infinite Jest? Words like “Un-
Ah, yes. Now, think back to my first question:
Have you ever shit your pants?
Wallace is going to bring you through some intense human experiences, but as he does—he will also break words and paragraphs, and cause you to reread specific sentences. To make you think. In fact, word arrangements contribute to the calming ritualistic quality of reading Infinite Jest. Wallace takes a word like Un-
swallowability and all the feeling surrounding it and divides it: Un-
swallowability. Literally, between lines just like that. The actual composition of the words on the page helps me get into and grab onto the experience of hearing, seeing, and tasting Infinite Jest.
So, wherever you are, in your story, and in Infinite Jest—Keep going until you find something you can sink your teeth and hands and heart and feet into.