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Did You Hear? Fritz Lang

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

One of the most difficult aspects of electronic music is translating it to live performance — no matter what you do, it’s hard to look like anything except a person hunched over a laptop. And of course, it’s reasonable to raise an eyebrow at the fuzzy line between “live” performance and just pressing a series of play buttons. This guy is clearly working hard for every bleep and blorp, and I find it to be a really tastefully made composition that achieves a very cool level of performance. Watching this reminds me of watching Bob Ross paint as a kid — he knows exactly where he’s going and how to get there in the allotted time, but the fun is in watching it take shape. Feel free to disagree, but you should know if advance that if you do I’m going to lean heavily on how well he pulls off that hat.

– Brook Reeder

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The Infinite Jest Liveblog: Byzantine Pornography

This is the latest entry in Words, Words, Words the ongoing liveblog of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.” 


April 14, 2012, pgs 934-958/1078-1079. A brief moment in which Joelle van Dyne is picked up by Hugh/Helen Steeply pulls us out of Gately’s fever memories. But we’re quickly back in, as Gately and Fackleman descend further into their binge, watching JOI’s Kinds of Light, pissing themselves and being just all around pretty disgusting. Even still, rolling M&Ms through urine, then actually shooting up with urine instead of water is arguably less disgusting than Pamela Hoffman-Jeep’s “standard anti-hangover breakfast” the Phillips Screwdriver made of vodka and Milk of Magnesia. It’s accurately described by Gately as a “lowball.” Within the space of a few pages we catch a few missile references: “he [Gately] might as well have been strapped to the snout of a missile” and “it became the ICBM of binges,” indicating that there may be some “Gravity’s Rainbow” overtones here. A later reference, during Hal’s section, to a “sad and beautiful Aryan-looking boy” adds to the presence of GR in these pages. As things get worse and worse for Gately and Fackleman (who has now shit his pants), Gately reverts more and more to his childhood of the breathing ceiling and the bars of his playpen.

We now appear to be alternating between Gately and Hal and Joelle, who is now describing The Entertainment — and the location of the master cartridge — under USOUS questioning. Just as it is for USOUS, this interview is evidence for us readers to help piece together exactly what the hell is happening.

Hal returns to his room to find Coyle and Mario and some developments in the events around ETA. Apparently Lateral Alice Moore arranged the switch for Axford and Troeltsch, and I suspect there’s not much more to this seemingly significant and perhaps light-shedding turn of events than to embed and heighten in us as readers Hal’s feeling “that something as major as a midterm room-switch could have taken place without my knowing anything about it filled me with dread.” Which is pretty goddam brilliant of old DFW. Coyle tells Hal about Stice’s theory that a ghost is haunting him to raise his game, and Hal futher theorizes “Or hurt somebody else’s.”

Coyle is watching JOI’s Accomplice! which again sparks Hal’s interest in his father’s intentions.  Accomplice! appears to be another odd JOI joint, focused on a meta-watching experience. Hal mentions “a self-conscious footnote” and explains that the film’s “essential project remains abstract and self-reflexive; we end up feeling and thinking not about the characters but about the cartridge itself.” Its star, Cosgrove Watt, is first spotted by JOI in a commercial wearing a white toupee, just like JOI Sr. wore and just like Lenz wears. Graduate students start your engines on that one. Speaking of which, Hal watching the reports of snow falling on various people and places across the area, and his calling up of the phrase “smiling mirthlessly,” brings to mind James Joyce and his story “The Dead.” I’ll go ahead and make too much of it by pointing out Hal’s observation that “I had never once ridden a snowmobile, skied, or skated: E.T.A. discouraged them. DeLint described winter sports as practically getting down on one knee and begging for an injury” (emphasis mine, since this basically what happens at the end of “The Dead,” except with love and not with winter sports).

Hal begins to reminisce. The poster he remembers of Lang directing Metropolis is, presumably, the one Wallace wanted to use as the cover of the book. He remembers seeing a knife stuck in a mirror, though not the word KNIFE written on a non-public mirror. Hal’s impression of the Byzantine erotica he was once interested in feels like the organizing idea for all of IJ: “Something about the stiff and dismantled quality of maniera greca porn: people broken into pieces and trying to join, etc.” He realizes he doesn’t want to play anymore, and thinks about injuring himself to avoid ever playing again and “becoming the object of compassionate sorrow rather than disappointed sorrow.” It’s another moment in this book that is harder to read knowing the author’s fate. Hal recalls a sad moment involving Himself, Orin and pornography’s impoverished idea of sex, and he thinks about his mom. He knows about John Wayne, as well as a long list of others including Marlon Bain. He pictures Wayne and his mom in what is presumably a posture of the Byzantine porn.

Joelle comes back to “the House” to find a Middlesex County Sheriff’s car sitting outside.

Read the full Infinite Jest Liveblog

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The Infinite Jest Liveblog: Blue

This is the latest entry in Words, Words, Words the ongoing liveblog of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.” 


November 29, 2011, pgs 508-530/1034-1036.  The importance of “The following things in the room were blue” eludes me, except as some indication that Hal is beginning to see things with slightly heightened senses. He is focusing strictly on a single color, and he is also troubled by “a kind of rodential squeaking that gave Hal Incandenza the howling fantods,” an affliction he shares with his grandfather from a few chapters back. The walls outside C.T.’s office are covered in “the overenhanced blue of the wallpaper’s sky, which the wallpaper scheme was fluffy cumuli arrayed patternlessly against an overenhancedly blue sky.”  This is the same wallpaper in the dentist’s office that Hal has just returned from and is, of course, similar if not identical to the (most popular) cover of the book itself. Thus it seems somehow relevant.

Except that Wallace did not choose the cover of the book, and with all the other tightly planned and intricately placed revelations in this book, this one could bear less weight than it seems and be potentially misleading. Wallace’s original choice for the cover was an image from the set of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. He told the story in “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” while on an airplane leafing through the safety guide:

[Closes it, looks at cover. Clouds and sky.]

This was my major complaint about the cover of the book. …Is that it looks — on American Airlines flights? The cloud system, it’s almost identical.

[On safety booklet for 757]

Oh, that’s funny. What did you want instead?

Oh, I had a number of — there’s a great photo of Fritz Lang directing Metropolis. Do you know this one? Where he’s standing there, and there are about a thousand shaven-headed men in kind of rows and phalanxes, and he’s standing there with a megaphone? It wouldn’t have been…Michael [Pietsch, Wallace’s editor at Little Brown] said it was too busy and too like conceptual, it required too much brain work on the part of the audience….

Because you were making a metaphor on the cover?

No, I just thought it was cool —

So an apparently deliberate and significant reference to the cover of the novel may not mean much at all, it turns out.

While I’m not sure about the blue, I know the following things in this section are true:

Avril’s hair has been vividly white “as of the last few months before Himself’s felo de se.” She has a way of establishing herself at the “exact center” of any room she’s in. The whole apple thing with her and Hal seems a little, or a lot, like some weird Garden of Eden thing where Avril is the Eve and the Serpent and the Tree all at the same time.

Mike Pemulis is the Paranoid King (see: “YES I’M PARANOID — BUT AM I PARANOID ENOUGH?) and his greatest fear is “of academic or disciplinary expulsion and ejection, of having to schlepp back down Comm. Ave. into blue-collar Allston diploma- and ticket-outless, and now in his final E.T.A. year the dread’s increased many-fold.”

Lateral Alice Moore was in a helicopter crash.

C.T. is one of the most intensely annoying characters ever created, but can also be formidable.

Clenette, current Ennet House resident and controversial narrator from the opening chapters of the book has been in C.T.’s office while the students have been waiting outside — and it is unclear why. Also in the office is the “scrubbed young button-nosed urologist” who is presumably there to chart the inner chemical states of Hal et al.

Marathe and Steeply are discussing mythological/cultural precedents for The Entertainment while the dawn begins to approach.

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