The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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An Essay About Infinite Jest

Last year I received an email from Michael Badger wondering if I'd like to have a look at his essay about Infinite Jest. I said sure, but didn't get around to reading it for a while. When I finally got around to it I was stunned by the piece's enthusiasm and had great fun reading it. I hope you do too.
It's also interesting because the end result is not what Michael originally intended, and to clarify this, I asked him to put together a small introduction for readers. Just a warning, if you've not yet read Infinite Jest there are plenty of spoilers.
Over to Michael:
A Preliminary Explanation/Summarization of A Preliminary Explanation/Summarization

The piece of work you are about to embark upon was written in the summer of 2010 for an individual study contract at The Evergreen State College. My aim with the following piece is to introduce people to Infinite Jest in a way that removes them from the Oh-my-God-that-novel-is-huge mentality but also invokes the possible reader of IJ to take action and to enjoy that action.

I began it (the piece) with the idea of writing a simple 10-page essay describing the themes and ideas at play within the Eschaton debacle on pages 380-442 of Infinite Jest. This initial idea was a failure. More importantly, however, the resultant piece was, I believe, a great success. And this is why: the piece below (d)evolves from the original idea into a (at times) chaotic, yet deliberate, exploration into many of the ideas present within IJ and I think that this (d)evolution happened because of the inherent traits of IJ as its own entity. What I mean is that because of the things at work within Wallace’s novel (read as world) there is an organic need to explain and to understand all that Wallace is trying to do and say. And still even more simply: every aspect of IJ is intrinsically connected to every other aspect; and so for any singular part to make any proper sense there is a necessity for explanation of the whole.

Other than that, I think that the piece came out like it did, style-wise, because of two things: a) It is very hard not to mimic Wallace’s writing style whilst reading anything by him, and b) because I was having a great deal of fun while writing it. And mainly I want to impart that—the literal, exhilerating fun—onto any reader of this piece and Infinite Jest.

Michael Badger III  
Download the pdf, An Exhaustive Essay of pages 380-442 of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest