The Expectation of Memory (and vice versa)

This is it – the final week of Infinite Winter. You’ve closed the covers and, likely as not, you’ve left these digs for greener pastures. I’m sure you’re probably not even reading this. But if you are, I want to use this space to talk a little bit about paratext.

Just kidding, Nathan.

Infinite Spring

I’m not going to talk about paratext, but what I’m also not going to do is answer the questions that are writhing around in your skulls now that Wallace has left us (and Don Gately) on a freezing beach with the tide way out. We all realize of course that this is still part of Gately’s flashback, that this scene occurred prior to a bunch of stuff we’ve recently read, that this is – in fact – Don Gately’s bottom. But where’s Hal? What happened when the AFR descended upon Enfield Tennis Academy? And how do we get from there to Hal, Gately, and John Wayne digging up James O. Incandenza’s skull? These are the big questions that I’m not going to address – mostly because I don’t have the answers. Not good ones anyway. So I think I’ll leave some of that work to my fellow guides and take just a moment to thank you, my fellow Infinite Winter participants.

Five months ago, when the idea for Infinite Winter slapped me irresistibly upside my own skull, I could envision how it might work, and I was energized by the ridiculously cool possibility of it all. Beginnings are like that – they’re positively brimming with possibility, with potential and energy (and potential energy). Endings are not like that. There is (oftentimes) satisfaction to an ending – the satisfaction of having seen a project through to its conclusion, of a job well done – but there is also distraction and other-direction as other projects and priorities fill the space left in the ending’s wake. That’s happening to me right now, as I’m sure it is to many of you.

So before we go, I want to tell you that I’m grateful to have made connections with many of you and to have had the benefit of your input along the way. Clearly my engagement with Infinite Jest this second time around has been off the charts, engagement-wise. With new insights and perspectives from similarly-engaged participants from around the world, with frequently mind-blowing daily posts from my fellow guides, and with my own self-inflicted weekly assignment – to keep up with the reading and contribute meaningfully to the discussion on this site, Infinite Winter has crashed straight through my initial expectations, leaving them tumbling chaotically in the rear-view mirror.

A handful of first-time IJ readers have expressed gratitude for Infinite Winter, without which they’ve told me they wouldn’t have read Infinite Jest. Again, I have to tip my hat to Matthew Baldwin and 2009’s Infinite Summer which, as you know, was the catalyst for my first reading. In his post yesterday, Matt Bucher pointed to the likelihood of future readings. Perhaps one of you will continue the cycle with another Infinite Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall in 2018 or 2020. It kind of seems likely. And I look forward to seeing you there.

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7 thoughts on “The Expectation of Memory (and vice versa)”

  1. First time reader here…Not only was Infinite Winter the inspiration to read, but the comments and posts also made the reading richer than it ever could have been without. Thanks for putting on this shindig. I’ve become a lifelong fan of this book and I have a strange feeling that I will be reading it again (and again).

  2. Hey, Mark. Thank you for pulling this together and for lining up such a great group of guides and guest bloggers. Some of their posts got my brain running in such loops so I couldn’t even formulate a comment using plain old words. To all of you guides, guest bloggers, and commenters, lack or comments does not mean your words didn’t hit the mark. They did.

    I had some trepidation about committing to a full re-read and wondered whether the book would hold up the book I remembered from 2009. As it turned out, there were many details that I didn’t remember at all, plus re-reading the actual dialog of well-remembered scenes was maybe even better than the first time because I paid more attention and was less driven to find out what happens next. In other words, the second group read was at least as good as the first, and a few dozen more of my friends are waiting for me to shut up already about DFW. So, Thanks!!

  3. Mark,

    It turns out that everything I’ve thought about what happens to a book that is photo-shot in the snow isn’t true! Thanks for following through on your ideas. My ship might have fallen off the edge of a square earth, every worktastic morning, if it were not for this Infinite Winter.

    Instead, everything was annular.

    Thank You!

    1. Thank you, Corrie. Infinite Winter would have been incomplete without your colorific mind rocking my world each week, ie garbage cans and lenses > green > solipsism > Green > Lenz > mindblown.

  4. Thank you, Mark, for instigating this grand undertaking! Your genuine human communication would Trump Fully Functional Phil, the prancing ass, by a country mile Time after Time.

      1. LOL, yes, it was no Frankie the No-Thankee Hankie either, but you managed to pull it off without any bureaucratic oversight, or corporate marketing, sponsorship, and advertising. Good Job! 😀 (Important person in an undisclosed location: [Tap, tap, tap, tap…])

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