My Favorite Footnote
September 23, 2008 § 1 Comment
Now reading:Infinite Jest.
DFW could write a hell of a straightforwardly poignant and true observational sentence when he wanted to. Case in point, two of my favorites from a great section, on November 3 Y.D.A.U., of the tennis kids hanging out and being tired and bitchy:
And time in the P.M. locker room seems of limitless depth; they’ve all been just here before, just like this, and will be again tomorrow. The light saddening outside, a grief felt in the bones, a sharpness to the edge of the lengthening shadows.
“The light saddening outside.” It’s like the Proustian madeleine, that sentence. It takes me back to grade school, and high school, at just that time of year, after basketball practice. I went to a boarding high school; that is what the light does at that time of day in November. It saddens, and aggrieves, in inexplicable ways, after heavy exertion, on your way to a cafeteria meal. And I’ll further agree that time does somehow stretch and deepen after conditioning and practice and weights, as you sit around being tired together and complaining about the coaches. You could sit there forever, and somehow feel that you have.
But anyway. DFW could also write crazily pyrotechnic postmodern interludes, such as the notorious footnote 24, “James O. Incandenza: A Filmography.” The footnote’s very important, actually, smuggling a good deal of info on Incandenza and his family and DFW’s speculative development of the film/video industry into a highly entertaining list format. And it functions in any number of other ways: as a parody of academic writing, as a parody/homage to experimental film, as an opportunity to name-check influences, as a partial explanation for the crazy science involved in The Entertainment. For super-dorks, it’s also a lot of fun, hopefully not mindless. Herewith, the JOI joints I’d most like to see:
–Dark Logics…. 35mm.; 21 minutes; color; silent w/ deafening Wagner/Sousa soundtrack. Griffith tribute, Iimura parody. Child-sized but severely palsied hand turns pages of incunabular manuscripts [kind of a contradiction in terms, but whatever] in mathematics, alchemy, religion, and bogus political autobiography, each page comprising some articulation or defense of intolerance or hatred.
Note here: Taka Iimura made a movie called Onan about “desire… which has no object but itself.”
–Immanent Domain…. 35mm.; 88 minutes; black and white w/ microphotography; sound. Three memory-neurons… in the Inferior frontal gyrus of a man’s… brain fight heroically to prevent their displacement by new memory-neurons as the man undergoes intensive psychoanalysis.
Now that’s experimental filmmaking! Think of the costumes!
–‘The Medusa v. the Odalisque.’ … 78 mm.; 29 minutes; black and white; silent w/ audience-noises appropriated from broadcast television. Mobile holograms of two visually lethal mythologic females duel with reflective surfaces onstage while a live crowd of spectators turns to stone.
–Blood Sister: One Tough Nun.… 35 mm.; 90 minutes; color; sound. Parody of revenge/recidivism action genre, a formerly delinquent nun’s… failure to reform a juvenile delinquent… leads to a rampage of recidivist revenge.
Wait, wasn’t this one of the Grindhouse trailers?
–Good-Looking Men in Small Clever Rooms That Utilize Every Centimeter of Available Space With Mind-Boggling Efficiency. Unfinished due to hospitalization.
–Safe Boating Is No Accident.… Kierkegaard/Lynch (?) parody, a claustrophobic water-ski instructor…, struggling with his romantic conscience after his fiancee’s… face is grotesquely mangled by an outboard propeller, becomes trapped in an overcrowded hospital elevator with a defrocked Trappist monk, two overcombed missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an enigmatic fitness guru, the Massachusetts State Commissioner for Beach and Water Safety, and seven severely intoxicated opticians with silly hats and exploding cigars.