lengthy novel by david foster wallace

Infinite Jest

Updated Oct 08, 2020 at 07:07AM EDT by andcallmeshirley.

Added Oct 07, 2020 at 01:27PM EDT by Adam.

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About

Infinite Jest is a novel by author David Foster Wallace. Published in 1996, the novel has been widely praised but has also grown notorious in literary circles for being lengthy and having an unconventional narrative structure, particularly in its experimental use of footnotes. It has also become associated with being a book beloved by pretentious males, leading to jokes about how owning Infinite Jest is a sign of toxic masculinity. There has also been significant backlash to those jokes, with people defending the book and arguing against people who dismiss it for its association with men.

History

Infinite Jest was published on February 1st, 1996 by Little, Brown and Company.[1] The plot features several interweaving narratives, connected via a film that is so entertaining, everyone who watches it loses all motivation to do anything but rewatch it until they die.

The novel makes extensive use of endnotes and footnotes and lacks a definitive resolution, which helped add to its reputation as a difficult work. However, it was widely hyped and praised upon release. The Atlantic[1] wrote, "The novel is confusing, yes, and maddening in myriad ways. It is also resourceful, hilarious, intelligent, and unique. Those who stay with it will find the whole world lit up as though by black light." Twelve years after its release, The New York Times[2] called the book "a masterpiece that鈥檚 also a monster nearly 1,100 pages of mind-blowing inventiveness and disarming sweetness. Its size and complexity make it forbidding and esoteric." It was picked by TIME magazine[3] as one of the best 100 books published between 1923 and the present.

Online Presence

Online, the book has been mocked as a status symbol, purchased by people who wish to look impressive but have never tried to read it. For example, in October of 2018, New Yorker[5] writer Claire Friedman posted a humorous guide about "How to read Infinite Jest" which never involved actually reading it and instead gave tips such as "Take selfie with book 'accidentally' in background. Post on social media. Respond to dazzled commenters with 'I guess size does matter. ;)'." In memes, it was derisively included in a Starter Pack for people who write Sapiosexual in their dating profiles in a Reddit post[4] on November 4th, 2018 (shown below, left). It was also included in a derisive I Wish I Was At Home edit mocking hipsters (shown below, right).


Internet WTHA FOREWORD BY DAVE EGGERS David Foster Wallace Sapiosexual Starterpack XWIX Extraordinary. an astenishing and vast epic of cOntemeorare I didn't mean to ignore your toxts or to mako you believe I was interested, but unavailable. I'm very confused, but I know I can't be in a relationship "I'm interested in an individual's mind as apposed to the more common superficialites" with someone less cultured than I am. I really thought you were more worldly, but I think it was an honest mistake. >Exclusively chases slim white or asian girls from middle class backgrounds who are no less than 4 years younger than him shuttersts.ck Send okcupid blond fBLIND FOREST DEFINITVE EOITION www.shutterstock.cam 718258720 7 Reasons To Eat "Wealth inequality is one of my greater concerns" Halegn "Ah you went to Choate?" Infinite Jest this party seems like something f------ tao lin would write about OHHHH SO TRENDY TEEN CULTURE where are the boob paintings i wish i was at home working on my postmodern novella JAS oh god is that f------ hunger games on the bookshelf my moccasins are cutting into my feet >tfw not living the literary lifestyle not playing any classical holy f--- schopenhauer would retract everything he said about aesthetics if he heard this s--- music -^ / tfw not at home finishing infinite jest for the 5th time i bet these ignoramuses don't even understand james joyce >tFw not on psychedelics i bet they misuse "kafkaesque" i could be working on my dissertation on finnegans wake right now i wish i was in bed drowning my sorrows with wine contemplating suicide i bet these imbeciles haven't read a single book after they did a great gatsby book report in 12th grade are they f------ talking about harry potter genre fiction where are the william s. burroughs anthologies do they not even care about how his early writings and viewpoints reflected themselves in naked lunch quoting zizek HURRR SO TRENDY i wish i had sleeping pills to OD on right now not using an e-reader wow i bet everyone is impressed with your massive cumbersome physical book collection i bet they didn't even shoplift them from barnes & noble >tFw my life is becoming notes from underground i bet they didn't even read don quixote in its native language seriously why the f--- are they not playing steve reich tfw not living the literary lifestyre

In 2017, a woman went viral for documenting her journey of slowly eating Infinite Jest.[5] On Twitter, it has also been mocked as a signifier of a pretentious and undesirable man. For example, on December 23rd, 2018, Twitter user @savannahbrown[6] defended people dismissive of Young Adult fiction by writing, "have fun masturbating while holding a copy of infinite jest in ur other hand i guess" (shown below, left). On July 8th, 2019, Twitter user @svershbow[7] similarly used Infinite Jest in a strawman argument saying, "Stop criticizing people with color-coded bookshelves. I don't come into your house and throw shade at the unread copy of Infinite Jest that's been sitting on your nightstand since 2007."


@savannahbrown 路 Dec 23, 2018 this opinion isn't 'spicy' but everyone else is sharing opinions SO: ohhoho i am SO SICK of people equating genre with quality - specifically suggesting a YA classification denotes poorer quality. like one-star reviews being like 'this reads like YA'. THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS savannah brown 13 27 235 2.5K savannah brown @savannahbrown Replying to @savannahbrown YA isn't even a genre. it's comprised of all genres. there is literary YA. there is fckn transcendent YA. but have fun masturbating while holding a copy of infinite jest in ur other hand i guess 10:30 AM 路 Dec 23, 2018 路 Twitter Web Client Sophie Vershbow @svershbow Stop criticizing people with color-coded bookshelves. I don't come into your house and throw shade at the unread copy of Infinite Jest that's been sitting on your nightstand since 2007. 11:22 AM 路 Jul 8, 2019 路 Twitter Web Client

Kel.drigo TikTok

On October 6th, 2020, Twitter user @in_a_dry_season reposted a TikTok video of a woman mocking books liked by "men who make fun of you for reading diverse female authors." The first book in her video was Infinite Jest.



The video led to a wave of anti-backlash to Infinite Jest, as people defended the book and criticized jokes which turned it into a punching bag. For example, user @rachel_pick[8] tweeted, "i am begging you to please find a new thing to make fun of men over so we can move on from infinite jest. how about: Owning a rat鈥檚 nest of cords and cables. guys be doing that," gaining over 300 retweets and 7,900 likes (shown below, left). User @OsitaNwanevu[9] tweeted that the book wasn't nearly as difficult as its reputation made it out to be, writing, "Infinite Jest and Kid A have the same problem. Critics convinced people they were Difficult when they aren't, at least not to the extent people claim. Toxicity followed. Neither takes a heroic amount of intelligence to apprehend. IJ is long and jumps around. That's mostly it!"


Oy, Mista! You me dad? @rachel_pick i am begging you to please find a new thing to make fun of men over so we can move on from infinite jest. how about: Owning a rat's nest of cords and cables. guys be doing that 9:25 AM 路 Oct 6, 2020 路 Twitter for iPhone Osita Nwanevu @OsitaNwanevu Infinite Jest and Kid A have the same problem. Critics convinced people they were Difficult when they aren't, at least not to the extent people claim. Toxicity followed. Neither takes a heroic amount of intelligence to apprehend. IJ is long and jumps around. That's mostly it! 10:46 AM 路 Oct 6, 2020 路 Twitter Web App

Search Interest

External References

[1] The Atlantic 鈥 The Alchemist's Retort

[2] The New York Times 鈥 The Best Mind of His Generation

[3] TIME Magazine 鈥 Infinite Jest

[4] Reddit 鈥 /r/starterpacks

[5] AV Club 鈥 This woman has been slowly eating Infinite Jest for a year

[6] Twitter 鈥 @SavannahBrown

[7] Twitter 鈥 svershbow

[8] Twitter 鈥 rachel_pick

[9] Twitter 鈥 OsitaNwanevu

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Top Comments

Adam
Adam Staff

in reply to firngers

the general gist is that there's a stereotype that its one of those things men really like and think women are too dumb to understand and go off on rants explaining it to women (this has been disputed by multiple people). think the literary version of Rick and Morty or Radiohead

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