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comment by lil
lil  ·  842 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Hubski, I have a language question

I agree with tacocat -- if I had to write the word in a screenplay:

Bartender "What would you like?"

Sp00ns "The yooj."

Other than a screenplay, there is no need to ever write that word. Or is there?

tacocat  ·  842 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm still not happy with it.

An umlaut may be in order.

It's an interesting question but I try to make myself understood before I think about anything else. Otherwise you can end up like David Foster Wallace and you're just ejaculating vocabulary words onto the reader for no reason other than to show off how clever you are and no one knows what the fuck you're talking about in the middle of a sentence

rezzeJ  ·  840 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Otherwise you can end up like David Foster Wallace and you're just ejaculating vocabulary words onto the reader for no reason other than to show off how clever you are and no one knows what the fuck you're talking about in the middle of a sentence

The whole point of Wallace's style is that it's supposed to represent his perception of reality.

Sometimes in life you carry on even when you don't quite understand what's going on. Sometimes you have conversations where people presume prior knowledge. Sometimes it is simple and mundane. Sometimes it is complex and confusing. Sometimes you're in a new situation and it's like you're in a completely different world. Sometimes you are lost. Sometimes ad nauseam.

All these sort of things are reflected and directly inform the way he writes. And as much as telling a story, his style is an attempt distil into narrative form a lot of the things about the human condition that we tend to ignore. So you're not only being told a story, you're also reading a comment on all these factors in life and being made to feel them (or that's the intent, at least).

Now you could argue that he fails or that there are more effective ways of achieving his goal. And those points could probably be argued quite convincingly. I mean, I'm reading the The Pale King at the moment and I almost stopped at around ~50 pages in due to a particularly tedious chapter.

But to say that he simply ejaculated vocabulary words onto the reader for no reason other than to show off how clever he is seems like an unnecessary and dismissive slight.

tacocat  ·  840 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Don't get me wrong. I think he's extremely talented. I wouldn't have that opinion if I hadn't read his stuff.

I'm mostly talking about his essays because that's what I'm more familiar with and your argument falls flat when applied to non fiction work that's meant to communicate a central point. I'm chugging along digging a story about lobsters or cruise ships or MTV and for no good reason he inserts these awkward esoteric words that do more to confuse than communicate and it stops me and makes me ask if that was really the most effective way to have said that

rezzeJ  ·  840 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ah, fair play. I've only read his fiction so I can't make any argument for his essays; I agree that my points fall flat in that context.

tacocat  ·  840 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I can be critical and seem dismissive but it's not really my point. I have a fraught relationship with the man. I will say that

lil  ·  841 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I made a serious attempt to read Infinite Jest. I even had a guidebook to reading Infinite Jest. It didn't help. Maybe one day, but maybe life is too short to pick it up again.

tacocat  ·  840 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I wasn't having an awful time with it but I was reading it on my lunch break and concluded it would take me a year to finish it at the rate I was going

Back to my little rant against a patron Saint of post modern literature, the way he mixes high and low language (I.e. profanity) is just awkward as fuck to me. It's like "Here's some curse words to prove I'm a human who doesn't read the thesaurus for fun. I will now deploy several words that are impenetrable despite context for absolutely no reason."

_refugee_  ·  840 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I tried reading it twice and then the third time I actually read it.

It helped that my brother was in rehab at the time and we (the fam) visited him for an "intensive weekend" (or whatever) which included an Al-Anon meeting or two. That experience going on in my life really dovetailed with large parts of the book, and I know I found the book more personally interesting as a result -- plus, relatable -- eh, you get what I'm saying.

In all honesty I don't think having a guidebook to a book is going to do anything but make it harder to plug into the actual book/experience of reading. It adds another layer of complexity and insists that The Book In Question is Deep and Must Be Explained - that it is Significant and Important and if you don't "get it," you should get it. Whatever it is, which is something vast and literary that spawns from glowing book reviews written by navel-gazers deep within the academy.

I would say if you are going to (try to) read Infinite Jest, don't approach it as a thing to be understood. Approach it like any other casual messy (just rather long) story. When you are done reading you will probably have a lot of unanswered questions that maybe could be resolved with a second read-through, but with well over 1000 pages, who's got that sort of time? So just look it up on wikipedia and find out what answers you want to know about the text, because lots of intellectual and academically "literate" people have analyzed and re-read the book to death and done all of that work making sense of it -- let their work work for you.

you're not an english professor you're a reader. infinite jest is just like any other book. if you can't get into it, put it down, shrug and walk away. infinite jest is on par with 50 shades of gray in that way imho. if it doesn't work for you it doesn't work for you and that's more on the book than it is on your intellect or ability to appreciate it or whatever. and if it doesn't work for you why slog through 1000 pages just because a lot of other people including a bunch of english-literature-mastubatory-canonical-library-dwllers who aren't paid very well but do enjoy agonizing over details say it is Brilliant.