Mar 23, 2023Liked by Keith Pille

I read Infinite Jest once, in September-October of 2012. As I read it, I alternated between feeling confident that there was a story beneath the encrustation of detail and feeling that the encrustation was all there was. There were parts of it that I enjoyed, and parts that I thought should have been left on the cutting room floor. I think the fact that at no time in the ensuing 10+ years have I ever felt the slightest desire to reread it speaks volumes about my final feelings about it.

I am glad that I finished it, though, because it means my opinions about it (and its author) won't automatically get discounted because "you didn't even finish Infinite Jest." In a nutshell: In think that, as a writer, DFW was pretentious and not nearly as clever as he (and his fanboys) like(d) to think he was, while as a person, everything I've read about him leads me to believe he was kind of an asshole. As for Infinite Jest itself, after reading the whole thing, thinking about it carefully, and letting the experience marinate in my mind for a decade: I don't think DFW did anything here that Robert Anton Wilson didn't do (and do better) 20 years earlier in the Illuminatus trilogy.

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Ha, yeah, an earlier version of my piece spent a little time going into what a shitty person he seems to have been, but I wound up cutting it for length. But yeah (and I know some people now who have friends who interacted with him directly in grad school, and the stories aren't good).

I'm kind of fascinated by your Illuminatus comparison! I haven't read it since like '95, but I always think about going back to it and seeing how it lands now; you might have pushed me over the edge towards doing that.

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It's been about that long since I've read Illuminatus too. I'm pretty sure he won't do any better where women and POC are concerned. I just remember the whole time I was reading Infinite Jest, it kept reminding me of Illuminatus in sort of a "well, I can tell what your favorite novel is" kind of way.

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