The Option to Remove Part of Your Face

Are you able to remove any part(s) of your face, and if so, are you able to put those parts back?

Ok, now—this part of your face, that you are able to remove, do you refer to it as yours? If so, think back–when and how did you determine this?

Before getting further into this, or in an attempt to go deeper before we go further (because yes, this is what Infinite Jest is all about)—I’m going to need to bring driving and gunlessness into this:

I figured out how to talk to people, in a serious but fairly relaxed way, about my lack of interest in owning a gun.

Like having the option to remove part of your face, I had the option to remove the NRA sticker off the back window of my pre-owned truck when I bought it. I didn’t, haven’t, and may never remove this sticker. To note, if you happen to call any police station in the city of Detroit, for any reason, you’ll learn that the option to obtain a police report is:

a) the first option
b) the last option
c) not an option
d) none of the above

The audio recording cues the option to learn how to obtain a firearm several options before the option to obtain a police report. It is, strangely appropriately, an order of events type of order.

So, it makes some sense that people see the NRA sticker on my truck and start a meaningful conversation about what it means to have the right to bear arms, or the choice not to. This is majorly possible because I don’t think of the sticker as my own. Think about it. There is a powerful level of objectivity in thinking and talking about something I have, without the entitlement that comes with thinking I own it. This doesn’t happen very often for me. How about you? Ever had something, in your possession, without thinking you owned it? What kind of thing was it, and how did you relate to it?

I’m not suggesting that you get out of bed and go obtain an NRA sticker as a method for pointing out your lack of interest in obtaining a gun. But I will say that the process of not removing the sticker from my window has, pretty profoundly, prompted me to try this with other things I own that I feel entitled about. AND, this process works both ways.

Try deciding to intentionally let go of, remove, omit something from your life—something you just know you are entitled to possessing.

Gunther refers to both of her eyes as her own. I think she is repeatedly letting go of her original eye each time she rotates her glass eye.

“Gunther, who has a glass eye which she usually amuses herself by usually wearing so the pupil and iris face in and tiny manufacturer’s specifications on the back of the eye face out.”

What came first, for Gunther, is it learning what her identity is—separate from her glass eye, or guiding other people around her to learn what their identity is separate from their obsessions, compulsions, and addictions?

Considering that she is most frequently revealing the back of her glass eye to people staying at Ennett House, I’m thinking this action supports people in the process of letting go of who they are and what they have identified as. She is literally showing people how to turn themselves inside out, unveil and shake out the detritus. So, ultimately, it is vital for her to be able to teach before she is able to learn.

Talking about Infinite Jest is similar to Gunther’s glass eye and the NRA sticker on my truck. All three provide a serious but relaxed, even humorous way to go deep before going further. Before taking it further and actually changing something about myself, I’m given the space to observe the experiences of other people changing.

Holy wow. This really explains why I’m on my third read of Infinite Jest!

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9 thoughts on “The Option to Remove Part of Your Face”

  1. “Try deciding to intentionally let go of, remove, omit something from your life—something you just know you are entitled to possessing.”
    Like the still-born baby?
    Still trying to make connections.
    Allison Moody

    1. Allison,

      Thanks! You are absolutely making an awesome connection that I wasn’t remembering!

      There are all these reminders and suggestions for what to do in any of an extreme range of situations in the reading?

      Your association helps me feel a little less overwhelmed about the still-born baby. It becomes my more of a reminder and less nightmarish.

      To your reading this week!

  2. Brian,

    Hey, thanks for these connects! This is my favorite part of Infinite Winter.

    “The fake eye doesn’t have to be a stand-in for the real eye, it can be obviously fake…”

    (I am a quote collector)

    Then, I like connecting the obviously fake eye with Incandenza’s interest in keeping the acting framed as acting– awesome.

    “reflections of ideas”

    I’m going to bring this quote into how I am thinking about this next section of reading. It is a pretty real review of Infinite Jest. Reflections of ideas, and reminders that the ideas are ideas. Like the frames in frames at the apartment (Molly’s– I think) where Joelle takes on the bathroom as her own “too much fun” chamber.

    Ode to your reading, and your weekend,

  3. And here you go blowing my mind again. I’m too fascinated by the idea of Nell playing with her glass eye, turning it inwards to freak out those around her, to even stop to consider the metaphorical (which I guess it’s pretty freakin’ rich with metaphor!).

    My local radio station (KGNU 88.5 in Boulder) used to play Alan Watts talks on Tuesday mornings at 9 am, and my schedule was such that I used to listen to them, and your discussion above reminds me of some of Watts’ oft-tread territory (sorry), which was about “Where is this ‘I’ that you identify as yourself? Where does it reside?” whereby Watts would lead you (me) to think about how we carry this illusory identification with an ‘I’ that resides like just behind the eyes somewhere, and how we can untangle ourselves from attachment to this ego.

    Now I have to go back and get all mindful about what my NRA stickers are.

    1. For me, the whole illusory “I” stuff is best explained — as is the solution to this near-universal state of mistaken identity — by the book “I Am That” (Nisargadatta & Frydman, 1973) which I so shamelessly promote even though I did not write it! What a sad pity that DFW was unable to deal with this universal existential issue, other than through the perhaps seemingly symptomatic relief which he thought might be afforded by elemonading his own map…sigh…

      1. Hi David,

        I hear you on the illusory “I” stuff re: Infinite Jest. Though all of it probably got me here to this message! Thank you for suggesting “I Am That.”

        I’d include a screenshot of my ordered-and-on-the-way-via-Amazon copy of “I Am That,” as proof that the best suggestions are followed by actions– but I’m hoping that my typed description makes it your way.

        to your weekend,

        1. Wow! I am impressed — someone actually did something that I suggested! As the father of teenagers, I am used to that more in the breach than the observance! I am inspired, and as I am off to teach a five day workshop on what is basically a route to understanding and beginning to gain a glimpse of a hint of a glimmer of non-duality at The Kripalu Center, this will lend wings to my lips (what an ugly thought!). Thank you, Corrie!!!

    2. Mark!

      Same here in terms of the rich fascination in just imagining Gunther doing this glass eye twisting. I crane my nearsighted eyes forward, out of habit, just to try to read the letters on the back of the glass eye. Isn’t there a thing that we can’t really read in dreams? If so, it is a little like that– because all I am able to see are these 5ish point type letters. If it matters, I often imagine a bar code thing above it, remember that isn’t described, erase it from the imagined eyeball, and then obviously move the type back to the center of the back of the eyeball. Much more like a collage than a drawing, this repeated thing that happens in my head.

      Thanks for the intro to Allen Watts territory! Did he say that I is behind the eyes somewhere?! Radio DJ thought processing is my absolute favorite way to check in on a reflection of what the world is like right now.

      Want to know when you locate your version of the NRA sticker!

      to your weekend,

  4. I hadn’t thought much about the eye but now that you mention it I think it’s very much in line not only with the sense of self that you mention for the Ennet Housers, but also with the revelation that entertainments like movies/TV are fictional, something that Himself and DFW spent a lot of time thinking about and commenting on. The fake eye doesn’t have to be a stand-in for the real eye, it can be obviously fake, with the manufacturer’s name right out there in front.

    Himself chose non-professional actors for that reason – their stiffness in reading did not distract people from the artifice of the film. DFW’s article “E Unibus Pluram” is all about the various ways that TV is a lie, that it actually takes incredible talent and will to seem “natural” as an actor, and pretend that you aren’t being seen.

    I’m just reading Infinite Jest for the first time, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me how many reflections of ideas show up all over the book in strange guises. Thanks for your thoughts!

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