books. This is how page 450 of Infinite Jest begins. books, All casual and lowercase and calm. As in yeah, we’re on page 450 in this book we’re reading—and, overall, it feels pretty great.
But Mario can’t be found in his bed. He’s with his headphones, trying to remove himself from the physicality of the room and perhaps his own physical self. But he isn’t finding what he’s looking for—that voice that helps him get away from the waking hours of evening.
“Hal’d told Mario that the silence was a positive sign, that if she’d left the air for good the station would have had to say something.”
Listening to Madame Psychosis’s radio broadcast is one of Mario’s favorite things. Mario physically cozies himself up to the floor speaker, ear straining to be as close to the sound as possible. One of our guides, Dave, brought up Mario’s ability to, at the same time his ear is up to the speaker, push his gaze beyond the visuals of the room—to that space that is only available through attentive listening.
I definitely felt the I’m-fully-in-this feeling while reading page 450 in Infinite Jest. I’m right there at the floor speaker with Mario, but if that is the case then there are two Marios, and I am mentally behind, craning my neck next to a memory version of Mario (no worries, turns out “behind in the reading, but STILL reading” gleans awesome results and is 100% allowed during Infinite Winter). On this particular day Mario is wearing headphones, check, I’m back with right-now page 450 Mario.
Not hearing a broadcasted voice, when one is anticipated, isn’t usually translated as a reason to relax or feel calm. I’m thinking that Mario sees Madame Psychosis as a friend, and it makes sense that Hal is helping Mario make sense of her absence. Think about Hal’s and Mario’s voices exchanging across a dark bedroom in really comforting conversation.
We are on page 450 and Mario’s seriously disappointed that Madame Psychosis’s voice isn’t coming through his headphones. Just like Mario, I’m really relieved that Hal knows and is taking the time to describe to me that the silence is a good sign that Madame Psychosis is just taking a break. Hm, didn’t think of that, and phew– Thanks Hal, it totally makes sense now. No voice meant the show wasn’t ending because someone else’s voice would have to explain the show was ending.
The gifts of making it past page 200, right here:
This means, page-wise and Madame-Psychosis-is-returning wise, we get to enjoy a lot more Infinite Jest, with less straining.
See, if I’m not getting as much voice time in with my friends, it is usually because I am working on checking in with myself. In terms of certain voices sounding soothing, I’ve learned that the more nervous I am, the lower octave my voice goes. So, in a way, my nervousness makes some people feel less anxious and more calm. Knowing this makes me feel a little bit better.
In the space where we wait for our favorite things to resurface, like Mario, we create the space and actual capacity to continue enjoying our favorite things. The process of not compulsively taking in these things at every impulse is definitely the only way we are ever able to find other things to enjoy.
Tell me what you find!