Filed under IJ
from T. Theodore: Well, this section picks up in the middle of the longest of all sections of the book thus far: page 343 – 374 (10/10 ed)all on the AA meeting. A few things are accomplished in this particular take on AA, which the author seems to never get enough of. I’m seeing AA as the church of the world of IJ. It is the place of prayer , even though not everyone knows who they are praying to and everyone gets to make up that higher power along personal preferences. Nonetheless, they pray and are told to keep praying until something happens. AA is also the place where a person gives up his or her will. Not my will but thine be done. The personal will is seen as the bane of existence for addicts, and they are constantly told to give it up, to give in, etc. This is emphasized with the exhortation to “Keep coming.” The theme of giving up one’s will and coming, whether of coming home, coming forward, coming to Christ, or others of a long list of comings that the church perpetrates infinitely matches this AA habit quite closely. One thinks of the endless invitations of the evangelistic services and campaigns of, for instance, Billy Graham. The 3rd churchlike quality of AA is in the endless stream of meaningless cliches that are spit out and repeated by followers as if they had meaning or made sense of any kind. In this section Joelle cuts through some of this with her frosty analysis of the grammer-bending cliche “Here but for the grace of God.” Noting that AA are so diligent in taking the God out of god that they fail to notice that what they are saying is “literally senseless.” Here also Joelle is shown to be far more tha some baton twirling bimbo or some deeply disturbed freaky radio show hostess. She knows how words are put together and how they are supposed to mean what they mean. She’s bright, highly educated, and not afraid to point out the fallacy of one of AA’s favorite senseless sayings.
I must say that I like this girl more and more as we go along. From her spooky reading to her connection with Himself, to the brilliance, to her dispair…she is wonderful.
….to be continued
from T. Theodore: Then begins the seemingly endless stretch of Mario’s first movie played over every year at the Intercontinental Holiday (or whatever) celebration at ETA. I found this extended expanation and blow by blow description of Mario’s work a little tedious, but rewarding in that much can be learned about how this world has come to be. DFW is ingenious in the way he folds information into rather bizarre forms and thus makes the transmission of huge chunks of information somewhat palatable. The footnotes are part of that design, but here also the movie works to tell us what happened. So the progress of Johnny Gentle and his way of solving the American waste problem comes to us through imaginary dialogues and the use of fake (I think) headlines that are shown throughout this movie. Just enough back to the real people in the room, who are throwing desert around, glueing someones butt to a chair, or waving their witch-hat in circles, to keep it all interesting. This was a very helpful section which explains just how this bizarre world was formed and, interestingly enough, is told through the eyes of one of the few who seem to know what’s going on – Mario.
Then, finally we’re looking at Lyle, whose mysterious personhood we don’t yet fully understand, sitting on his towel dispenser, hearing the thoughts and fears of the ETA students. The collection of odd personal attributes continues as a list of people come to him: the always wet guy, the guy who lives only to get to the show, the girl who hears mosquitoes when her fiance talks, Booger Doucette whose body is slowly being overrun it seems with moles, but only one is conspicuous at this time. Lyle says the world is very old and to never underestimate objects. He also reads, we are told in another context in this section, that he likes to read Blake using cartoon voices. There is much more we need to know about this Lyle character, and I’m guessing that we will find out more as the book progresses.
Overall, this 50 pages seems to me to be lacking a little of the drive of the others so far. It covers a lot of ground and perhaps because a great deal of this is a history lesson, though told creatively, it doesn’t seem to be moving. The characters, from the students going to Lyle to the crazies at the AA meeting, seem to be piling up rather than going somewhere. I think this is a valuable part of the book because of the information gained and because of the further development of Joelle’s character, but not as stimulating and captivating as the rest up until now.