This is the latest entry in Words, Words, Words the ongoing liveblog of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.”
November 22, 2011, pgs 469-508/1033-1034. Marathe and Steeply. Both the American/O.N.A.N. government and the Canadians have experimented with debilitating entertainments — which Steeply points out to demonstrate that choosing to overindulge is not a uniquely American weakness. He is being defensive in every sense of the word, trying to soften some of AFR’s murderous intent through a process of a geopolitical Identifying With. “I’m saying that if he could get past the blind desire for harm against the U.S., your M. Fortier might be induced to see just what it is he’s proposing.” But it doesn’t work; Marathe is Quebecois.
Gately’s missle-strapped joyride takes us not only past the Bread and Circus/Whole Foods where I used to work (moved a few blocks in IJ), but also to the interior of “Antitoi Entertainent” [sic], which true to its translation, “Anti-you”, appears to be a nexus in the IJ universe where lots of harmful things come together. That does not, however, include the Antitoi’s themselves: “Once or twice doing work of affiliation with the Separatist/Anti-O.N.A.N. F.L.Q., they are for the most part a not very terrifying insurgent cell…spurned by the F.L.Q. after DuPlessis’s assassination* and also ridiculed by the more malignant anti-O.N.A.N. cells.” They now have a “previously DuPlessis-restrained flair for stupid wastes of time,” for example, tying the Fleur-de-Lis flag to the statue downtown (which Joelle noticed a few chapters earlier), or taping bricks to the (banned in Canada) postage-paid return cards, a trick Wallace has one of his characters repeat in “The Pale King.” They also sell drugs, including some “trop-formidable harmful pharmaceutical no longer available and guaranteed to make one’s most hair-raising psychedelic experience look like a day on the massage-tables of a Basel hot-springs resort.” This seems to be the DMZ sold to Mike Pemulis.
The Antitoi’s shop is also home to some cartridges, apparently picked up from the weird, wheel-chaired display mannequin on Boylston street that Joelle walks by. They bear the words “IL NE FAUT PLUS QU’ON PURSIVE LE BONHEUR” or roughly, “You no longer have to pursue happiness.” Each was also stamped with “a circle and arc that resembled a disembodied smile” — which sounds a lot like a Copyright symbol to me. These details, followed by information that the cartridges appear blank, followed by an endnote with information that Master cartridges appear blank when played at normal cartridge speed indicates that this is a Master copy of something, if not The Entertainment. It’s credible but unconfirmed.
Then the Antitoi brothers “hear the squeak” in truly gruesome fashion.
Back to Marathe and Steeply. Both OUS and AFR have copies of The Entertainment and are running various tests, checking to see if it can be “defused” and trying to determine how it can be best weaponized, respectively. There was allegedly a Master copy swiped during Gately’s DuPlessis burglary. The OUS theorizes that there is holography involved, because JOI had “used holography a couple times before, and in the context of a kind of filmed assault on the viewer. He was of the Hostile School or some such shit.” This appears to be a reference to The Medusa v. The Odalisque.
Speaking of the filmography of James O. Incandenza, his 1963 memory about annular systems was remade into Valuable Coupon Has Been Removed from the Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad. Then the return of Roy Tony, who reinforces Gately’s consistent meditations on need to follow the program no matter where it takes you.
And closing with Marathe and Steeply again. Both groups have lost people to The Entertainment. There is an offhand though potentially relevant mention that “Hercules’ head” in a constellation “was square,” like Gately’s. As the dawn begins to arrive, Marathe notes that “the passive Reward of terminal p, this all seems complex to me. Terror seems part of the temptation for you.”
*DuPlessis being the congested French-Canadian that Gately subdues during a B&E and inadvertently “assassinates.” Bertrand Antitoi, true to his separatist-conspiracy-theorizing character, sees this as “an assassination only O.N.A.N. would be stupid enough to believe Command would be stupid enough to believe was merely an unfortunate burglary-and-mucus- mishap.”