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IJ Character Profiles


If you have been a regular in the Forums you may have come across some fantastic profiles of characters from IJ. If not, to save you hunting through them yourselves, I have reproduced them with Matt's permission below.

Thanks Matt!

Profile: Trevor Axford

First, picture him. Several centimeters shorter than Hal Incandenza (both are seventeen in YDAU; Hal is 183.6 cm tall, making Axford about 180 cm [p. 898]) and a true redhead, copper-colored hair, his skin terribly pale and, smack in the middle of his map are his forever-chapped lips (p. 512). Usually he’s wearing the free gear he gets from Prince and Reebok (p. 266). On November 8 (Interdependence Day), YW-QMD, Axford lost a finger and half a thumb in a fireworks incident (p. 512) {also cf. Margot Tennenbaum w/r/t missing digits in “The Royal Tennenbaums}, thus making him left-handed, sinistral (SINISTRAL being one of the words Gately sees in a delusional haze at the hospital [p. 884]). In his junior year at ETA, Axford hails from Short Beach, CT; he’s pressured to go to Yale after graduation, but is so academically marginal that he hopes to go on a tennis scholarship (p. 512) [Pemulis thinks he talks about Yale a bit too much, in fact, (p. 1064)]. Back in Shore Beach, the Axhandle once fell off his bike, hit his head, and received a tiny, lesion-type of brain injury, after which all food tastes horrible to him, like vomit (p. 628).

He plays #4-A in 18-and-unders (p. 629) and is on the fringes of the ONANTA top 50 juniors (p. 218). As a player, he’s basically a less effective Wayne: blasts from the baseline without discernible spin (p. 512). For some reason, he doesn’t play doubles (p. 258) but it could have something to do with his persistent knee problems (p. 282). At the Port Washington tourney he beat Tapio Martti of Sonora, Mexico, 7-5, 6-2 (p. 329). Interestingly, he and Hal both refuse to ask for help on errant balls, always tracking down their own shots (p. 513, fn. 213). He loses to Tall Paul Shaw in straight sets and will sink to #5-A if he loses to him again (p. 629). Interestingly, this loss comes the same day as Hal’s near loss to Stice and at dinner that night they both get a lot of “sideways looks” from the observant few who fear that now Axford and Hal might be shaken “along some psychic competitive fault-line” (ibid.). Also, Shaw and Axford are sent down the hill together that morning during Star drills (p. 453), presumably to set up this match, but perhaps Schtitt somehow rigged Hal’s match and Axford’s on the same day.

The Axhandle is also fraught with vices: he is a smoker of cigarettes (p. 329), knows that Hal gets high, and himself if known to get high (p. 50). Sometimes he and Hal drink at the taverns along Comm. Ave. (ibid.). Only Pemulis and Axford know that it was a “whole new and chemical free Hal who should by all rights have lost to a 16-year-old” (p. 635) [So, Hal hides the fact he smokes weed {the same way Margo Tennenbaum hides the way she smokes cigarettes} and additionally hides the fact that he doesn’t, when he is forced to quit by the eschaton investigation.] During the eschaton debacle, Axford is drinking spiked Gatorade and smoking laced cigarettes (p. 329), trying to get a lighter to work (p. 341-2). The Axhandle is one of those ETAs that not only stashes and recycles the Visine bottles for Pemulis (p. 153), but also turns into a vendor for Pemulis, mainly handling cash flow (p. 152). Axford is also in on the deal to sample the DMZ (p. 213) and at one point suggests dropping it on Lyle (p. 214). One of his vices, however, is definitely not sex—he has trouble even publicly showering, much less submitting to a nude female’s inspection (p. 634). He does seem to have a fondness for Avril’s legs, which he appraises while waiting to meet with Tavis (p. 510). And he does gamble, winning $5 on a bet with Hal during eschaton (p. 332).

As a student, Axford favors classes taught by Disney R. Leith: in YDPAH he took History of Entertainment I (p. 96) and in the waiting room outside of Tavis’s office, just before the eschaton meeting, he has his eyes closed and repeats a mnemonic limerick about Brewster’s Angle, learned from Leith’s Quadrivial colloquium, “Reflections on Refraction” (p. 511) [although, crazily, DFW later asserts that Ogilvie and not Leith teaches the “Reflections” class {p. 756}, but knowing their respective backgrounds provided in the text, it seems more logical that Leith would teach this class—unless of course there are two sections or something]. As we also know, he is not a great Big Buddy. Axford traded one of his little buddies (Ingersoll) to Hal for Possalthwaite (p. 98), whom he absolutely hated. In fact, during eschaton, he asks Hal if “he’s ever just simply @#%$ hated someone without having any idea why” (p. 340). Even when Ingersoll returns after his eschaton-injured tendon, Axford is unable to make any sort of conciliatory gesture (p. 635) and Axford really enjoyed watching Ingersoll get pummeled in eschaton (p. 340). Axford also claims that Keith Freer’s eyes have a “protrusive wideness” to them that make him look like he’s getting “shocked or throttled” (p. 104). Because they know Axford harbors this sort of animosity (and few verbal skills at all), he’s been told to shut up completely in the post-eschaton meeting with Tavis (p. 515), letting Pemulis and Hal play good cop/bad cop.

Then, something is going on with Axford’s feet. On 11/6, in the locker room, he is sitting in the corner with one shoe off, “doing something” to his bare foot (p. 198). Waiting for the meeting with Tavis, the narrator points out thing in the room that are blue and at first claims that “today there was not even a hint of the color blue” about Axford (p. 510), until closer inspection reveals that Axford’s left sock, though not his right sock, is blue (p. 512). ‘s Probably nothing, though.

Axford drew one of only two single rooms in the previous spring’s lottery (p. 214), and therefore doesn’t have an assigned roommate. But, later on, when Stice’s head is stuck to the window, who emerges from Axford’s room but Jim Troeltsch (p. 872). Hal think’s about this: “Stice had been right. Being in somebody else’s room even after Lights Out was an infraction; staying there overnight was too far out even to mention in the regulations. . . . It was as if some tacit agreement had been reached where not even to bring up Troeltsch’s being in Axford’s room or where Axford was. It was hard to know which would be more disturbing, Axford’s not being in his room all night or Axford being in there behind the ajar door, meaning Troeltsch and Axford had both spent the night in one small single with exactly one bed” (ibid.). But later, KD Coyle informs Hal that Axford and Troeltsch have switched rooms—thus making Axford the roommate of Pemulis (p. 942), but why would Axford give up his single room to live with Pemulis? Hal’s first hunch—that something vaguely homosexual might be going on with Axford and Troetlsch—is also hinted at during this weird comment from Schacht Schacht makes in the ETA dining hall. While debating the powdered milk issue, which Troeltsch believes to definitely be powdered, Freer observes that Troeltsch has a cold, “indicating the little bottle of Seldane next to Troeltsch’s squeezing ball, by his plate. ‘You can’t even taste, Troeltsch, if you got a real cold.’” Which, we know Troeltsch just uses as a cover to abuse Seldane—he doesn’t have a cold, but Freer must be the only one not in the know (Pemulis confirms that Seldane is indeed the battlefield-nuke of antihistamines {p. 1069} and which John Wayne tries to ingest to battle his own cold [getting instead Pemulis’s Tenuate] {p. 1069-73}). So Schacht immediately follows up Freer’s bluff-calling by asking “’Trevor should have the cold, Axhandle, no?’” (p. 630). Is Schacht implying that Axford should have the cold because he’s on intimate terms with Troeltsch? One could read it that way, at that point, because there had extant been no mention of any room-switching.

Certainly the room-switching has got something to do with the fact that Hal, Pemulis, and Axford are the three in trouble with the ONANTA urine-samples and are the three planning on using the DMZ (fn. 321), but how did they pull this off—getting Troeltsch so easily out of the way and getting Axhandle to give up the single room? Did they really switch? Is Axford an AFR foot soldier or an operative working for Avril? Maybe, though, he does have some sort of special relationship with Avril that gives him access unavailable to other ETAs. In one case, he does seem to know all the intimate details of Otis P. Lord’s medical status that no one else confined to ETA could possibly know (p. 456), though later (p. 948), it’s Lamont Chu who seems to know about Lord’s condition. And Ortho Stice suspects it might be Axford (or Struck) moving his bed “out of obscure motives” (p. 394), although Stice later discounts that theory because he secures his room door from the inside.

Profile: Ortho ("The Darkness") Stice

Name: Ortho ("The Darkness") Stice

Hometown: Partridge, Kansas (p50) [located in SW KS (p100)]
Age: 16 years old
Hair: crewcut (p100)
Siblings: six brothers and sisters, aka "The Brood" (p629) [Mother = "The Bride"]
ETA rank: A-1 in male 16s (p627)
ETA roommate: K.D. Coyle (p941)
College?: aunts will send him to college anywhere, even if he doesn't want to play tennis (p111)
Meeting Location of Little Buddies Group: foyer off the front door to subdorm C (p119)
Drugs?: known to get high, knows hal gets high (p50)
Clothes sponsors: free gear from Wilson & all black clothes from Fila (p226)
On-court quirks: fills his pouch w/fuller's earth (p964), used to drill in cut-off black jeans until Schtitt told Tony Nwangi to scream at him about it (p264)
Off-court quirks: chews purple bubble gum (p966), known for asking "how high sir" when Schtitt says "jump" (p105)
Misc.: his bed hovers on the ceiling of his room. He thinks this is by way of a guardian ghost (wraith) reminding him not to underestimate ordinary objects (p943); "The Darkness is at some vague center of this energy, somehow, you can feel." (p633)

Profile: Disney R. Leith

Occupation: ETA prorector (p96)
Teaches: History of Entertainment I & II; and a high-level optics course requiring permission to get into (p96)
Offices/Lab: used to have optical & film development labs in the basements of ETA, near where Hal gets high and the little buddies go rat-hunting (p51) Interests/Hobbies: Production Assistant for James O. Incandenza's films (p18 [this often included holding cue cards (p944), but would sometimes require him to take a role {e.g. as Marat to Ken N. Johnson's Marquis de Sade in JOI's film "The Film Adaptation of Peter Weiss's 'The Persecution and Assasination of ...'" (p993, fn24)}
Friends at ETA: Mario Incandenza, whom he helps prepare for the post-prandial gala and filmfest (p1005)
DFW's 2002-2003 Academic Post: Disney Professor of Creative Writing at Pomona College

Profile: Petropolis Kahn

Name: Petropolis (W.M. "Woolly Mammoth") Kahn
Age: 16 in YDAU (p. 456)
ETA Roommate: Graham Rader (p. 942)

- Is not fat, but very thick and solid, and has lots of hair (p. 456-7)
- The hair warrants the nickname "Woolly Mammoth"
- Is not good at running (or the star drills, where he ends up vomiting in a bucket) (p. 457)
- Has a pre-tennis ritual of trying to spin a tennis ball on his finger like a basketball (p. 965)
- Along with Schacht & Freer he was part of a fiercely wagered-on bench press challenge against USS Millicent Kent (organized by M. Pemulis) in which she beat Kahn, Freer didn't show, and Schact finally beat her, but doffed his cap (p. 122)
- Kahn and Eliot Kornspan both eat w/such horrible POWish gusto that nobody will sit with them in the ETA cafeteria (p. 628)
- Kahn considers catapulting a chickpea at someone in the cafeteria (p. 633) before being allowed, by custom, to go and sit post-prandially at the best table w/Wayne, Hal, & Stice. (p. 634)
- Kahn is running w/Wayne, Hal, Stice, and Eliot Kornspan when Thode shows up w/orders for Hal & Stice to play each other (p. 651)
- Year of Glad: Dymphna (the 9-yr.-old blind kid anticipated to arrive at ETA in YG {p. 567-8}) barely dispatches Kahn in the Round of 16 at the Whataburger Invitational (p. 17)
- YDAU: Hal has known him for exactly three years and three months (p.898)

and finally...this one is a little different...


There have been several mentions in recent months on the board about the topic of masks in Infinite Jest (I'm thinking of the "Why is John Wayne at the grave" thread and also the thread about smiley faces) and I was just thinking that if anyone feels like contributing, here you go: a fresh thread devoted to the study of masks.
Here's an idea about John NR Wayne wearing the mask at JOI's grave: Wayne is an AFR agent forcing Hal and Gately to dig up the skull. In his everyday world at ETA, Wayne wears the mask of blank-faced athletic superiority (see the discussion on pages 680-682, wherein Poutrincourt is telling Steeply the differences between Hal's style of tennis and John Wayne's, how Wayne imposes his will on the other player, but Hal, ever Hamlet-like, considers his own weaknesses and overcompensates for them, etc.). The AFR hints on page 726 that it would be easier to infiltrate the Incandenza family if they had a tennis player on their side. We also know that Wayne tends to eat and study alone (p. 263) and that his Canadian and Quebecois citizenship was revoked in YDPAH (p. 262), meaning he has a personal interest in separatism (but why is Hal so interested? Orin?). He is the perfect double agent, full of secrets (he has Joni Mitchell playing in his locker, softly -- p. 99). But also reference the discussion Hal and Mario have around pages 772-774 where Hal asks Mario how he knows when someone is lying, if Mario can tell at all, and Hal describes several types of liars (w/ ref. to Pemulis & Orin), but ends with something like There are some people that you just can't tell if they're lying or not and those are the scariest types of monsters in the world and Mario interjects (seemingly out of the blue) that once Madame Psychosis read out of the Arden catalog something about a beauty mask. To mask something is to lie about it. Avril masks the fact that John Wayne is putting it to her while dressed up like a football player (fulfilling Orin's Oedipal fantasy no doubt & if you have any doubt Orin is the one sending out the samizdat, I'll start a new thread with page refs) and Wayne masks the fact that his duty to the AFR is to infiltrate every orifice of the Incandenza family, to become Orin (who owns the IJ master -- remember the Antitoi's copy, like all the copies is Read-Only) to impose his will on his enemies, to consider only victory. Far-fetched, I know, but it made me think.
Also, we've mentioned the appearance of smiley face masks and Winston Churchill masks and UHID veils, but also remember the odd AA story around page 372 wherein the invertebrate girl (submammalian, barely in the chordate phylum) is raped by her father while he puts a Raquel Welch mask over her head. Perhaps a catalog of mask types is now in order.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 July 2009 17:42  

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