View Full Version : The Infinite Jest - Media and Apocalypse

01-11-2007, 04:59 PM
In the book Infinite Jest*, there are details about a potent form of media.

Here is a brief re-cap:

In the world where the story takes place, promotional DVD-like discs were often sent to people in the mail as a form of advertisement.

Upon returning home from work early one day, one of the characters receives a DVD in the mail, but the package had no details or description on it. Dude popped it into his player anyway and began watching it.

The reader never finds out (I dont think) what the exact contents of the disc are. All we find out is that the disc is so engaging that the dude watches it, and it is so engaging that he watches it again. And then again. And then again. And then he just puts it on loop, and gets stuck watching this program.

When his wife comes home and finds him stuck in front of the screen, she sees that he has also pissed his pants and has slipped into some sort of zombie-like state watching this program. But when she starts watching it, she also gets stuck watching the program.

Eventually, dude doesnt show up for work the next day. His employer sends some lackeys to go check whats goin on. When they show up at his house, they peep the scene and then they too end up getting stuck watching the program on the screen.

Some door-to-door religious types find the door open and decide to enter the house. They too get stuck watching the program.

By now you should see where this is going.

As it turns out - if I recall correctly - the media had been put together by some sort of French-Canadian terrorist organization of people in wheelchairs. I cant remember the full details correctly.

The notion of creating a piece of media that is so engaging that people cannot turn away from it seems to be the aim of some people and organizations.

Controlling the mind.

In these days, creating a immobile, comatose audience is not the preferred outcome. Rather, media is getting better and better at making people move in a certain direction. Its not so much a quest to control peoples entire lives, but instead it is a quest to control the decision-making capacity insofar as revenue and profits are involved.

How does one counter this?

It seems that the approach of avoiding and/or boycotting media has been attempted, but has failed miserably. The media force simply becomes stronger and more effective.

The results are predictable: people making choices based on information that is broadcast not to 'inform', but to convince.

The destructive effects of this are evident and have been detailed repeatedly.

The only thing that seems clear now is that this is a trend that is not going to stop until 'the end' (whatever you may determine that to be).

If this is something inevitable, it seems that the only way to put an end to this is to leap into it and advance the progress.

This point of view can be seen in some literature:
"Immanentizing the eschaton" is a term I recall from The Illuminatus Trilogy*, and I also recall themes similar to this in the graphic novel Watchmen*.

Saying that something is imminent suggests that it is inescapable.
When there is something inescapable, it places constraints and pressure - like being trapped.
When something notices that it is trapped, it is not uncommon for that thing to seek any way out.
In a situation like this - it appears that the 'only way out' is to plunge head-first into the situation.

more on this later...

add on...

Infinite Jest - by David Foster Wallace - debut novel - a ridiculous 1100 pages - flashes of brilliance
The Illuminatus Trilogy - by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson - incredibly entertaining - many suggest it is poorly written with a sloppy ending
Watchmen - by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons - great piece of literature - held by some as the best graphic novel ever

hidden ninja
01-11-2007, 09:26 PM
the first part reminds me of "The Euphio Question" - a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, in his book Welcome to the Monkey House - dude builds a machine that gives you a feeling of euphoria (the Euphio), and he tests it on his family and a few friends. What happens is that it feels so good that they just stay in this room and sit there until someone eventually turns off (i think in the story the power eventually goes out, but I can't tell). The machine attracts neighbors, and some firemen, and they all get stuck in there. after it goes off, they're all sick, cause it's been days and all they did was lie around.

but I think that, and reasonably so, people have faith in news outlets. and why should they not believe it? it's the news!

it's rough though, cause it seems to me like the news, today, creates a mindset for the public. like depending on whether you watch CNN, or Fox, your political ideologies will be at the least similar to those who anchor the news.

it's like the news machine thinks for us.
draws us into it's house,
and keeps us there until the power goes out,
then we're all sick cause we forgot how to live without it.