In response to Daily Post’s daily prompt: locked.
Being locked in a 1,079-page long book is a painful but magical feeling.
Let’s just skip all the fancy introduction and, perhaps, accolades for literature and the “agony and sweat of the human spirit” (as Faulkner puts it in his Nobel speech). I’ll just be blunt-
Reading Infinite Jest isn’t easy. I’m locked.
Sometimes I just have to put the book aside and go on Youtube for some moral support. I look up “Infinite Jest”, and have Vloggers tell me, “Give Wallace some credit.” “Don’t stop reading just because you don’t get it yet.” “When you get to around page 200 to 300 you’ll be so absorbed you can’t put it down.” . Then I pick up the book again and try to trudge towards the magical page 200.
I guess it’s human nature that when you read a book, you want to finish it as quickly as possible. You want to conquer it, and walk around telling people you just read this “great book” perhaps thick enough to knock somebody unconscious.
But Infinite Jest isn’t a book to conquer. I really shouldn’t be talking here when I’m only on page 105, but my understanding so far, is that its crazy length is a jest of the human desire to alway conquer things, to make them an entertainment, to make everything a reality show, and make life a cheap supermarket where you can reach everything.
Infinite Jest is meant to be hard for you (or, for me?). The names I remember now: Marathe. Steeply. Hal. The medical attaché. Ummmm. And the other names I can register when I see them. I just feel like I’m on that ride in theme parks where you just get spun around and around. The story is told from so many perspectives that I’ve lost count. But I am getting a sense of the story, maybe the gist of it, even.
The mysterious cartridge.
I am in fact, enjoying this feeling of being locked in this book. See, maybe reading and living a life isn’t meant to be easy. Of course, I would defend any good books to my death,- YA sagas, a writing guide, or a gargantuan novel. But being somewhat locked in this book, swimming through pages sometimes without really getting a thing, or spending 10 minutes on 2 pages, all this is for some reason really working for me.
You might think, oh, just another teenager blindly falling for the maximalism.
But maximalism is not what I am falling for. Infinite Jest reminds me of the ancient Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber. Dream of the Red Chamber is a gigantic book as well, sometimes squandering pages on the mere description of clothes. It is a semi0autobiography about the vicissitudes of a family and of Qing dynasty.
The point I’m trying to make is that I am fascinated by how these two books themselves are like metaphors for life. For Infinite Jest, life isn’t meant to be easy, to be taken for granted, to be like your default setting. For Dream of the Red Chamber, life isn’t all that straight-forward. There is beauty in the decadence, the rebellion against traditions, in simple love and in desire.
I don’t know if I’m right yet, for it’s not meant to be easy.