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.
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.