Thoughts Capitalized

Having a person speak on your behalf is a powerful thing. A real potential game changer. A big scoot in a new direction.

Gately is in the hospital and he is getting vivid visits from Joelle. Some of the visits are so vivid they are revealed as imagined or hallucinated. Note that I am not labeling these visits as unreal.

After one particular visit from Joelle, Gately gets a chance to get his voice back. Well, not exactly. He gets a chance to create a new voice.

A written voice.

The feeding tube is still full on lodged in his throat, something he is at first extremely aware of and then basically almost always in disbelief about.

The visitor said you’d requested this, because of the tube.
p 884

Confirmation! Both Joelle and the tube have physically visited Gately’s body in the hospital (post a real big night of pavement and guns).

And Lo. Gately is handed a stenographer’s notepad and a blue pen.

Track back some hundred pages to another voice desperately trying to re-establish itself, with a blue pen, over at the Enfield cafeteria.

The sign used to say MILK IS FILLING, DRINK WHAT YOU TAKE until the comma was semicolonized by the insertion of a blue dot by a fairly obvious person.

Track back again to last week’s read and Hal is clutching the walls of the Enfield hallway imagining all the food he is going to live through eating, or a room full, chalked, stacked with fried, frozen chicken patties. I’m trying to figure out if it would be possible to squeeze in several thousand blue pens, you know in momentary pen-sized openings across and along the meat earth layers only appearing to 100% filling the room.

A cross section would look like a sequence of textured orange-tan line segments interspersed with the blue dots of the bic cap heads.

Maybe with the pens included, Hal has a chance.

AND things are manifesting into tangible space for Gately. At first, in trying to form his thoughts in the hospital, he has to imagine his thoughts as printed words.

He probably didn’t have permanent voice damage. Thank God. He made his thoughts capitalized.
p 859

Now, he is fumbling forward as well as a bed-ridden Gately armed with a pain (auto-correct selects “pain” and I’m trying to say, “pen”) – Armed with a pen.

Gately struggles with one hand to flip the notebook open and write ‘YO!’
in block caps.

p 884

Bonified legible, outside of the imagination, block caps. Hands are the machines that make ideas into words.

Except there’s nothing to really hold the notebook up against and write; he has to sort of balance it flat on his thigh…
p 884

And he really tries to manifest a new form of communicating.

more like drawing than writing
p 885

And wow, do I follow. I’m like leaning in to imagine see what he will write.

you feel…gratitude at your abstract distance from anything that doesn’t sit inside concentric circles.
p 891


This sounds like some sort of sense of calm?! In Infinite Jest?

Yes. Think back:

The easy squeak of your head’s blood is like bedsprings in the friendly distance.
p 890

Think back a little more and we get Ferocious Francis ringing with existential truth, or like some sort of really relevant quote to live by, there in the hospital:

He’s the one that’s feeling it. He’s the only one can decide.
p 889


Now. The idea of proceeding…

…right to the very finish.
p 892

Soak it up.

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4 thoughts on “Thoughts Capitalized”

  1. My copy has some dog-ears and a few comments, but some of “you guides” seem to have it down to a science — very impressive! I’d be curious as to whether participants in this “group” have read DFW books other than IJ. I have not. Went to the library today to look for Broom and Curious Hair. They had neither but will do an interlibrary loan for me… This has been the closest I’ve ever come to being in a book group (I’ve always envied my wife hers), and I thank everyone, especially the guides, for that!

    1. David,

      Surely! Thanks for your note.

      Awesome to hear that you know what you are reading next! I’m still figuring that out.

      I second on “the closest I’ve ever come to being in a book group.” It is also the closest I’ve come to keeping up with a reading schedule.

      Thank you for joining in. I’ve learned a whole lot more reading with this group than I learned reading solo!


  2. I’m working on figuring it out as well. I think part of the hospital scenes happen outside of dream space. I’ll have to read back to continue working on color tabbing…that may bring more clarity, ha!

  3. Am I confused or was the tablet and pen thing part of a dream?
    Or was the entire hospital episode part of a dream?
    Of course, in a way, the entire book/story was part of DFW’s dream…

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