Sunday, August 15, 2010

Infinite Jest’s Enfield Tennis Academy & End Zone’s Logos College

The similarities between Don DeLillo’s End Zone and the tennis sections of Infinite Jest are pretty astonishing. End Zone features a small-time college’s football team as they go through a (mostly) successful season. The team is composed of an eclectic group of student athletes, all with their own little quirks, and they are coached by equally strange taskmasters. This set-up closely resembles the set-up at ETA in Infinite Jest. Here’s a rundown of some of the more overt similarities:

(N.b.: A lot of this stuff has been pointed out by Matt Bucher and Chad Harbach. (And if I can take a quick trip to tangent city here, I feel compelled to mention that Chad Harbach, one of the founders of n+1, sold his debut novel to Little, Brown earlier this year. There was an auction for his book and he reportedly took less money for the opportunity to work with Wallace’s editor, Michael Pietsch. Which is exactly what I would’ve done. I’m convinced that Mr. Pietsch belongs in some sort of editor Hall of Fame, along with Maxwell Perkins and Robert Gottlieb. To get the chance to work with him, six years after writing an ostensible review of Oblivion that is really just a DFW fan piece, must be the thrill of a lifetime for Mr. Harbach, who is now in the position all Wallace-influenced writers secretly dream about.))

In both books, there are coaches with faux-German names: Rolf Hauptfuhrer in End Zone, Gerhardt Schtitt in Infinite Jest.

The head coach in End Zone, Emmett Creed, observes the players during practice from a tower (“Creed himself was up in the tower studying overall patterns.” [EZ, 9]); Schtitt does the same (“Schtitt is up in his little observational crow’s nest, a sort of apse at the end of the iron transom players call the Tower...” [IJ, 452]).

The coaches have a pithy and enigmatic way of addressing their players:

“Write home on a regular basis. Dress neatly. Be courteous. Articulate your problems. Do not drag-ass. Anything I have no use for, it’s a football player who consistently drag-asses. Move swiftly from place to place, both on the field and in the corridors of buildings. Don’t ever get too proud to pray.” [EZ, 11]

‘Hit,’ he suggests. ‘Move. Travel lightly. Occur. Be here. Not in bed or shower or over baconschteam, in the mind. Be here in total. Is nothing else. Learn. Try. Drink your green juice.’ [IJ, 461]

The players in both books have a playfully antagonistic rapport:

“Is he here?”
“He is everywhere,” I said.
“Supreme being of heaven and earth. Three letters.”
“You know who I mean.”
“He’s here all right. He’s all here. Two hundred and fifty-five pounds of solid mahogany.”
“How much?” Fallon said.
“They’re thinking of playing him at guard. He came in a little heavier than they expected. About two fifty-five. Left guard, I think Coach said.”
“You kidding me, Gary?”
“Left guard’s your spot, isn’t it? I just realized.”
“How much is he weigh again?”
“He came in at two fifty-five, two sixty. Solid bronze right from the foundry. Coach calls him the fastest two-five-five in the country.”
“He’s supposed to be a running back,” Fallon said.
“That was before he added the weight.”
“I think you’re kidding me, Gary.”
“That’s right,” I said.
“You son of a bitch,” Fallon said. [EZ, 8-9]

‘My bones are ringing the way sometimes people say their ears are ringing, I’m so tired.’
‘I’m waiting til the last possible second to even breathe. I’m not expanding the cage till driven by necessity of air.’
‘So tired it’s out of tired’s word-range,’ Pemulis says. ‘Tired just doesn’t do it.’
‘Exhausted, shot, depleted,’ says Jim Struck, grinding at his closed eye with the heel of his hand. ‘Cashed. Totalled.’
‘Look.’ Pemulis pointing at Struck. ‘It’s trying to think.’ [IJ, 100]

In both books there is a player more interested in sportscasting than playing the sport:

Jessup didn’t like the arrangement because Raymond practiced his sportscasting in the room all weekend. When he wasn’t studying theories of economic valuation, he was camped in front of his portable TV set. He’d switch it on, turn the sound down to nothing, and describe the action. [EZ, 23]

A cartridge of a round-of-16 match from September’s U.S. Open had been on the small room viewer with the sound all the way down as usual and Troeltsch’d been straightening the straps on his jock, idly calling the match’s action into his fist, when it came on. [IJ, 60]

I sat on the bench, noticing Raymond Toon down at the far end; he seemed to be talking into his fist. [EZ, 114]

And irritating throughout was the heavy-browed red-nostriled kid James Troeltsch at the very end of the top bleacher, speaking into his fist, coming at the fist from first one angle and then another, pretending to be two people. [IJ, 677]

Even their commentary is similar:

“There they go. Andy Chudko, in now for Butler, goes in high, number sixty-one, Andy Chudko, fumble, fumble, six feet even, about two twenty-five, doubles at center on offense, Chudko, Chudko, majoring in airport commissary management, plays a guitar to relax, no other hobbies, fumble after the whistle. College football--a pleasant and colorful way to spend an autumn afternoon. There goes five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven yards, big thirty-five, twelve yards from our vantage point here at the Orange Bowl in sun-drenched Miami, Florida. John Billy Small combined to bring him down. John Billy, as they break the huddle, what a story behind this boy, a message of hope and inspiration for all those similarly afflicted, and now look at him literally slicing through those big ballcarriers. Capacity crowd. Emmett Big Bend Creed. Mike Mallon, they call him Mad Dog. Telcon. Multi-talented. A magician with that ball. All the color and excitement. He’s got it with a yard to spare off a good block by fifty-three or seventy-three. Woof. Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. Perfect weather for football. Time out on the field. And now back to our studios for this message.” [EZ, 138-139]

‘Incandenza the controller. Incandenza the tactician.
‘Rare tactical lapse for Incandenza, following the serve in when he’s just finally started establishing control from the baseline.
‘Have a look at Incandenza standing there waiting for Ortho Stice to finish futzing with his socks so he can serve. The resemblance to statues of Augustus of Rome. The regal bearing, the set of the head, the face impassive and emanating command. The chilly blue eyes.
‘The chilly reptilian film of concentration in the cold blue eyes, Jim.
‘The Halster’s been having some trouble controlling his volleys.
‘Personally, Jim, I think he’d be better off with his old midsized graphite stick than that large head the creepy Dunlop guy got him to switch to.
‘Stice being the younger player out there, he’s grown up with the extra-large head. A large head is all The Darkness knows.
‘You could say Stice was born with a large head, and that Incandenza’s a man who’s adapted his game to a large head.
‘Hal’s career dating back to before your polycarbonate resins changed the whole power-matrix of the junior game, too, Jim.
‘And what a day for tennis.
‘What a day for family fun of all kinds.
‘This Bud’s for the Whole Family. It’s the Bud Match of the Week. Brought to you. [IJ, 677-678]

The players in both books are inordinately concerned with the milk they are being served in the refectories:

“This milk is putrid,” Jessup told him.
“What do you want from me?”
“You’re one of the captains. Go tell Coach. They shouldn’t give us milk like this. They should be more careful with the athletes’ milk.”
. . .
“This is shitpiss,” Jessup said. “This is the worst-ass milk I ever tasted.”
Kimbrough drank from his little carton.
“I’ll tell you something,” he said. “This milk is putrid.”
“Damnright,” Jessup said.
“This milk is contaminated. It’s putrid. It’s the worst I ever tasted. Back home it’s the water. Here I guess it’s the milk. I’ll be sure and tell Coach.” [EZ, 24]

Pemulis shakes his head very seriously at Troeltsch. ‘Not a chance, brother.’
‘I’m telling you man this milk is powdered.’ Troeltsch peering down into the tumbler, probing the milk’s surface with a thick finger. ‘Me I can tell from powdered. . . .And do I ever know what to look for, to verify. . . .Namely your telltale residues along the sides of the glass, when swished.’ [IJ, 630]

The players in both books take very weird, abstruse-sounding classes. In End Zone, subjects include monolithic integrated circuitry, Mexican geography, an introduction to exobiology, and aspects of modern war. In Infinite Jest, students take courses with titles such as “Deviant Geometries,” “Introduction to Athletic Spreadsheets,” and “From Scarcity to Plenty: From Putrid Stuff Out of the Ground to the Atom in the Mirror: A Lay Look at Energy Resources from Anthracite to Annular Fusion.”

One of my favorite lines in Infinite Jest apparently comes from End Zone:

“What I know about football you can inscribe with a blunt crayon around the rim of a shot glass.” [EZ, 152]

‘Inc, what I know about your Da could be inscribed with a blunt crayon along the rim of a shot glass.’ [IJ, 1065]

Wallace himself said that my favorite section of Infinite Jest, the eschaton sequence, owed a “rather uncomfortable debt” to a sequence in End Zone where a teacher and student play a sort of war game on paper. The similarity of the two lies mainly in the terminology:

“The commander of an AMAC truck convoy, following orders fails to stop at an East German roadblock along the Autobahn; shots are exchanged and the convoy breaks through. A Dutch-built factory ship, being delivered to NORKOR, is struck by torpedoes and sunk outside Chong-jin. COMRUS objects strongly. Several explosions damage Nike-Hercules installations on Okinawa. COMCHIN negotiators suspend talks with the Japanese over ownership of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Within a time-frama of ten hours there are over a dozen small clashes, involving demonstrators and troops, on both sides of the Berlin wall. Messages are exchanged. There are reports that Egyptian troops have retaken El Arish. COMRUS demands gradual allied withdrawal from West Berlin. COMRUS demands withdrawal of all AMAC auditors in Indochina.” [EZ, 221-222]

A Russo-Chinese border dispute goes tactical over Sinkiang. An AMNAT computracker in the Aleutians misreads a flight of geese as three SOVWAR SS10s on reentry. Israel moves armored divisions north and east through Jordan after an El Al airbus is bombed in midflight by a cell linked to both H’sseins. Black Albertan wackos infiltrate an isolated silo at Ft. Chimo and get two MIRVs through SOUTHAF’s defense net. North Korea invades South Korea. Vice versa. AMNAT is within 72 hours of putting an impregnable string of antimissile satellites on line, and the remorseless logic of game theory compels SOVWAR to go SACPOP while it still has the chance. [IJ, 325]

There are major snowstorms and very tall widowers of founders of schools who become president of their respective schools and occurrences of the word “picayune” in both books. Probably a few other connections. I hope this has been halfway interesting.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

DeLillo’s Americana: A Pre-DFW David Foster Wallace Novel

Don DeLillo's debut novel Americana seems like one of those novels whose influence cannot be overestimated. When it was released in 1971, high-caliber writers must have been driven to awe and despair. Here John Updike encountered a writer who wrote as pretty as he did but who had something more than sex on his mind (which, admittedly, sometimes just meant that the sex scenes weren’t as well done). One can imagine Joseph Heller, four years away from publishing another masterpiece, wringing his hands at the first third of the novel--the satire of DeLillo’s depiction of a white-collar community--which is just as incisive as Something Happened and accomplished in about a fifth of the pages.

A lot of top-flight contemporary novelists seem to have been taken with the novel and its influence on their work is evident. Consider:
--The blending of family life with larger societal themes is territory Jonathan Franzen’s mined for his whole career.
--The passage in which bystanders are performing for a camera wielded by the narrator (“They all smiled and waved . . . Maybe they sensed that they were waving at themselves . . . there they stand, verified, in chemical reincarnation, waving at their own old age . . .” [Americana, 254 (All citations will refer to the 1989 Penguin Books edition)]) reads like a summary of the idea propelling Richard Powers’s first novel, and Americana’s prevailing theme of how images and technology shape our perception of ourselves is a major preoccupation of Powers (see Galatea 2.2, Plowing the Dark, right up to Generosity).
--Joshua Ferris’s cribbing of the first sentence (“Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year”) for the title of his first novel.

And then there’s David Foster Wallace. DFW was clearly a DeLillo disciple, calling him the “best fiction writer alive” and describing his prose as something that just clicked. Wallace even singled out Americana as one of his favorite DeLillo novels. Which makes sense. There are some interesting parallels with Americana in his own work, particularly Infinite Jest, which just as easily could have been called Americana. (Conversely, Americana could've maybe in a weird way been called Infinite Jest. There are at least 9 instances of some form of the word “infinity” in Americana, which seems notable in a not terribly long book of 377 pages.)

Take the language of the office executive types in Americana. Their diction and cadence are similar to the way a lot of Wallace characters speak. It’s a type of speech that’s a bit too formal, a bit verbose, pretty funny and weirdly eloquent. Compare:

“Of course you have. No inference meant or intended. But the problem is there and we have to face it. Pressure is being exerted.” [Americana, 62]

“But has he definitely committed?”
“I would say he has just about definitely committed.”
“In other words we have rounded the buoy.”
“Weede, I would go even further than that. I would say he has just about definitely committed.” [Americana, 65]


‘--like conservatively two hours for the matches. Conservatively . . . That’s let’s call it five hours of vigorous nonstop straight-out motion.’
‘Sustained and strenuous exertion.’ [Infinite Jest, 103 (refers to any version of IJ; all extant editions have the same pagination, be it hardcover or paperback, domestic or foreign. God bless you Little, Brown.)]

‘I gather now the Dad’s trying to restructure the original deal all of a sudden.’
Pemulis undid his belt. ‘The dangled carrot’s snatched away, the brass ring plays hard to get, to coin a maxim.’ [IJ, 1068]

And if that ain’t convincing, I’m just gonna admit that this isn’t the most rigorous monograph on the subject. If the DeLillo lines don’t seem like something Wallace would write, you’re just gonna have to trust me on the whole dialogue thing.

Another point of similarity is both authors’ obvious love and knowledge of movies. DeLillo refers to Godard, Buñuel, and Kurosawa, Wallace to Scorsese, Tarantino, and countless others. Movie-making is a major component of the plot in both books.

Also there are interesting character symmetries. Each book has a mother character who is a grammarian shrouded in familial mystery with incestuous overtones. There is a Zen professor in Americana--

Hiroshi Oh was an alarmingly fragile man. In the lecture hall he would ease into his chair in careful stages, always on the verge of blowing away, and then he’d smile desolately at his children . . . I always enjoyed that opening smile. It was the smile of the bored Orient, tired of truth, bound in inland stillness, indifferent to westernization. [Americana, 174]

--who bears a resemblance to the oiled guru Lyle in the weight room at ETA:

And I like how the guru on the towel dispenser doesn’t laugh at them, or even shake his head sagely on its big brown neck. He just smiles, hiding his tongue. [IJ, 128]

There are late night/early morning radio show hosts who drift along free-associatively in both books:

Time to pluck the lint from your omphalos. Time to gnaw at the legs of chairs. I know you’re out there in mamaland, tens of thousands of you, humped up on the floor whimpering, licking the cold steel of the barrel of your shotgun. The agon begins. Time to scream into the pillow. Time to brainpaper the walls. But if we make the next ten minutes we make the night. Three in the morning and werewolves slink in the parlor. American Mean Time. You came home from work to find your wife in bed with your sister. Curiously refreshing. [Americana, 231]

Those with saddle-noses. Those with atrophic limbs. And yes chemists and pure-math majors also those with atrophic necks. Scleredema adultorum. Them that seep, the serodermatotic. Come one come all, this circular says. The hydrocephalic. The tabescent and chachetic and anorexic. The Brag’s-Diseased, in their heave red rinds of flesh. The dermally wine-stained or carbuncular or steatocryptotic or God forbid all three. Marin-Amat Syndrome, you say? Come on down. [IJ, 187]

There's a reference to St. Dymphna in both books: a blind tennis player in IJ, a school in Americana. Moving on, there is a description in Americana of a type of film that sounds like a cross between James Incandenza’s concept of Found Drama and his film The Joke:

In my little home movie . . . what I’ve reduced is movement, the kind of movement that tells a story or creates a harmony. I want language to evolve from static forms. . . . What I’m shooting now is just a small segment of what will eventually include more general matter--funerals, traffic jams, furniture, real events, women, doors, windows. . . . Actors, people playing themselves . . . When I’m done I’d like to put the whole thing in a freezer and then run it uncut thirty years from now. [Americana, 288-289]

There is the same reference to the holes in telephone receivers:

There were thirty-six small holes in the mouthpiece of my telephone. They were arranged in three circles of six, twelve, and eighteen holes each. There were only six holes in the earpiece. This disparity seemed significant but I didn’t know exactly why. [Americana, 96]

A traditional aural-only conversation--utilizing a hand-held phone whose earpiece contained only 6 little pinholes but whose mouthpiece (rather significantly, it later seemed) contained (62) or 36 little pinholes. . . [IJ, 146]

There are also parallels and little similarities to other DFW texts. The second half of Americana consists of a number of dialogues in a question-and-answer format and a few of these segments sound like a brief interview with a hideous man:

But I think the worst thing of all was when I was walking on a crowded street. . . . One day I was trying to get around an old man who kept drifting toward the curb and blocking my path and suddenly I found myself shouting at him in my own head, shouting inwardly and silently: LOOK OUT! LOOK OUT! I never actually spoke the words. I just shouted them out mentally. I began to do that all the time. . . . Then one day a woman slowed down suddenly and I almost crashed into her. I found myself shouting a new word in my head: DIE! . . . After several months of this I tried to make a conscious effort to stop shouting the word. But it was too late. It just popped into my head automatically. DIE! DIE! [Americana, 218]

There’s a television exec talking about something disgusting he wants to put on the air--

“Just once I’d like to see somebody on TV take a tremendous steaming piss. . . . I wouldn’t care where the camera was. We could stay on his face. The important thing is the sound. If we could just get that sound on the airwaves, just once, I honestly think we could take credit for expanding the consciousness of our nation to some small degree.” [Americana, 66]

--who sounds a lot like the television exec in The Suffering Channel who wants to broadcast a person who can excrete little crap figurines:

‘My point is that the whole embarrassment and distaste of the issue is the point, if it’s done right. The transfiguration of disgust. . . . The triumph of creative achievement in even the unlikeliest places.’ [Oblivion, 245]

Even a tiny reference like “I was feeling good and loose, on the verge of inspired dialogue, drink number four, a pale flame rising” (Americana, 226) connects with Wallace’s Kenyon commencement speech (“. . .and the two are arguing about the existence of god with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer” [This Is Water, 18]).

There are probably countless other fun little connections. But that’s all I got.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Words David Foster Wallace Circled in His Dictionary That Appear in Ulysses


Something directly opposite or diametrically opposed

Possibly he had tried to find out the secret for himself, floundering up and down the antipodes and all that sort of thing and over and under, well, not exactly under, tempting the fates.


made to order

Smart Boylan bespoke potions.


very absorbent

The hoi polloi of jarvies or stevedores or whatever they were after a cursory examination turned their eyes apparently dissatisfied, away though one redbearded bibulous individual portion of whose hair was greyish, a sailor probably, still stared for some appreciable time before transferring his rapt attention to the floor.


In classical drama, the third and penultimate section, in which action is heightened for the catastrophe.

It doubles itself in the middle of his life, reflects itself in another, repeats itself, protasis, epitasis, catastasis, catastrophe.


A group of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.

Must be a corporation meeting today.


the cap of a court jester, adorned with a red stripe

Beneficent Disseminator of blessings to all Thy creatures, how great and universal must be that sweetest of Thy tyrannies which can hold in thrall the free and the bond, the simple swain and the polished coxcomb, the lover in the heyday of reckless passion and the husband of maturer years.


Great pleasure; delight

Morose delectation Aquinas tunbelly calls this, frate porcospino.


To miss, to feel the absence of, to long for

Enormously I desiderate your domination.


disuse, obsolescence

Loyal to the highest constituted power in the land, actuated by an innate love of rectitude his aims would be the strict maintenance of public order, the repression of many abuses though not of all simultaneously (every measure of reform or retrenchment being a preliminary solution to be contained by fluxion in the final solution), the upholding of the letter of the law (common, statute and law merchant) against all traversers in covin and trespassers acting in contravention of bylaws and regulations, all resuscitators (by trespass and petty larceny of kindlings) of venville rights, obsolete by desuetude, all orotund instigators of international persecution, all perpetuators of international animosities, all menial molestors of domestic conviviality, all recalcitrant violators of domestic connubiality.


A crown

MRS BREEN: (In a onepiece evening frock executed in moonlight blue, a tinsel sylph's diadem on her brow with her dancecard fallen beside her moonblue satin slipper, curves her palm softly, breathing quickly) Voglio e non. You're hot! You're scalding! The left hand nearest the heart.


The act of belching, of expelling gas from the stomach through the mouth

The myopic digital calculation of coins, eructation consequent upon repletion.


Of, pertaining to, inhabiting, or produced by the action of a river or stream

A scheme for the development of Irish tourist traffic in and around Dublin by means of petrolpropelled riverboats, plying in the fluvial fairway between Island bridge and Ringsend, charabancs, narrow gauge local railways, and pleasure steamers for coastwise navigation (10/- per person per day, guide (trilingual) included).


Relating to the use of science and technology in the investigation and establishment of facts or evidence in a court of law.

Why bring in a master of forensic eloquence like Whiteside?

The gravest problems of obstetrics and forensic medicine were examined with as much animation as the most popular beliefs on the state of pregnancy such as the forbidding to a gravid woman to step over a countrystile lest, by her movement, the navelcord should strangle her creature and the injunction upon her in the event of a yearning, ardently and ineffectually entertained, to place her hand against that part of her person which long usage has consecrated as the seat of castigation.


sexual intercourse

Remember, Erin, thy generations and thy days of old, how thou settedst little by me and by my word and broughtedst in a stranger to my gates to commit fornication in my sight and to wax fat and kick like Jeshurum.


four times as great

Bloom wound a skein round four forkfingers, stretched it, relaxed, and wound it round his troubled double, fourfold, in octave, gyved them fast.



The gravest problems of obstetrics and forensic medicine were examined with as much animation as the most popular beliefs on the state of pregnancy such as the forbidding to a gravid woman to step over a countrystile lest, by her movement, the navelcord should strangle her creature and the injunction upon her in the event of a yearning, ardently and ineffectually entertained, to place her hand against that part of her person which long usage has consecrated as the seat of castigation.


Of or pertaining to creeds, beliefs, or teachings, especially religious ones, that are different from the norm ('orthodox'), but not sufficiently different to be called heretical.

Both indurated by early domestic training and an inherited tenacity of heterodox resistance professed their disbelief in many orthodox religious, national, social and ethical doctrines.


Diverse in kind or nature; composed of diverse parts

All the delegates without exception expressed themselves in the strongest possible heterogeneous terms concerning the nameless barbarity which they had been called upon to witness.

A course that lay between undue clemency and excessive rigour: the dispensation in a heterogeneous society of arbitrary classes, incessantly rearranged in terms of greater and lesser social inequality, of unbiassed homogeneous indisputable justice, tempered with mitigants of the widest possible latitude but exactable to the uttermost farthing with confiscation of estate, real and personal, to the crown.


Not perforated

The unexpected discovery of an object of great monetary value (precious stone, valuable adhesive or impressed postage stamps (7 schilling, mauve, imperforate, Hamburg, 1866: 4 pence, rose, blue paper, perforate, Great Britain, 1855: 1 franc, stone, official, rouletted, diagonal surcharge, Luxemburg, 1878), antique dynastical ring, unique relic) in unusual repositories or by unusual means: from the air (dropped by an eagle in flight), by fire (amid the carbonised remains of an incendiated edifice), in the sea (amid flotsam, jetsam, lagan and derelict), on earth (in the gizzard of a comestible fowl).



The collapse which Bloom ascribed to gastric inanition and certain chemical compounds of varying degrees of adulteration and alcoholic strength, accelerated by mental exertion and the velocity of rapid circular motion in a relaxing atmosphere, Stephen attributed to the reapparition of a matutinal cloud (perceived by both from two different points of observation Sandycove and Dublin) at first no bigger than a woman's hand.


a type of lightweight, four-wheeled carriage in which the front and back passenger seats face each other

He had sometimes propelled her on warm summer evenings, an infirm widow of independent, if limited, means, in her convalescent bathchair with slow revolutions of its wheels as far as the corner of the North Circular road opposite Mr Gavin Low’s place of business where she had remained for a certain time scanning through his onelensed binocular fieldglasses unrecognisable citizens on tramcars, roadster bicycles equipped with inflated pneumatic tyres, hackney carriages, tandems, private and hired landaus, dogcarts, ponytraps and brakes passing from the city to the Phoenix Park and vice versa.


darling, sweetheart

--Barney's mavourneen's be it, says I.


A Polish folk dance in triple time, usually moderately fast, containing a heavy accent on the third beat and occasionally the second beat.

He began to mazurka in swift caricature across the floor on sliding feet past the fireplace to J. J. O’Molloy who placed the tissues in his receiving hands.


A merchant dealing in fabrics and textiles, especially silks and other fine cloths.

He passed, dallying, the windows of Brown Thomas, silk mercers.


apparently attractive but having in reality no value or integrity

Meretricious finery to deceive the eye.


relaxation of monastic rules

And the traveller Leopold was couth to him sithen it had happed that they had had ado each with other in the house of misericord where this learningknight lay by cause the traveller Leopold came there to be healed for he was sore wounded in his breast by a spear wherewith a horrible and dreadful dragon was smitten him for which he did do make a salve of volatile salt and chrism as much as he might suffice.


Any of the 613 commandments of Jewish law

BLOOM: (UNCLOAKS IMPRESSIVELY, REVEALING OBESITY, UNROLLS A PAPER AND READS SOLEMNLY) Aleph Beth Ghimel Daleth Hagadah Tephilim Kosher Yom Kippur Hanukah Roschaschana Beni Brith Bar Mitzvah Mazzoth Askenazim Meshuggah Talith.

Molly Maguire

members of a secret Irish organization, infamously known as murderers and assassins; the press and police in America applied the name to the Irish miners

As much as his bloody life is worth to go down and address his tall talk to the assembled multitude in Shanagolden where he daren’t show his nose with the Molly Maguires looking for him to let daylight through him for grabbing the holding of an evicted tenant.


Designating a marriage (or the wife involved) between a man of higher rank and a woman of lower rank, often having various legal repercussions (typically that such a wife has no claim on the husband's possessions or title)

The former morganatic spouse of Bloom is hastily removed in the Black Maria.


The last office for the dead

The obsequies, at which many friends of the deceased were present, were carried out (certainly Hynes wrote it with a nudge from Corny) by Messrs H. J. O'Neill and Son, 164 North Strand Road.


a clockwork model of the solar system

They comprised astronomical kaleidoscopes exhibiting the twelve constellations of the zodiac from Aries to Pisces, miniature mechanical orreries, arithmetical gelatine lozenges, geometrical to correspond with zoological biscuits, globemap playing balls, historically costumed dolls.


(usually in plural orts) a scrap of leftover food; any remainder

I will serve you your orts and offals.


the Egyptian god of the dead and of the underworld

--You pray to a local and obscure idol: our temples, majestic and mysterious, are the abodes of Isis and Osiris, of Horus and Ammon Ra.


giving birth; in labour

To her nothing already then and thenceforward was anyway able to be molestful for this chiefly felt all citizens except with proliferent mothers prosperity at all not to can be and as they had received eternity gods mortals generation to befit them her beholding, when the case was so hoving itself, parturient in vehicle thereward carrying desire immense among all one another was impelling on of her to be received into that domicile.


money; riches; gain; especially when dishonestly acquired

The poor man starves while they are grassing their royal mountain stags or shooting peasants and phartridges in their purblind pomp of pelf and power.

But a day of reckoning, he stated crescendo with no uncertain voice, thoroughly monopolising all the conversation, was in store for mighty England, despite her power of pelf on account of her crimes.


A partially shaded area around the edges of a shadow, especially an eclipse.

What spectacle confronted them when they, first the host, then the guest, emerged silently, doubly dark, from obscurity by a passage from the rere of the house into the penumbra of the garden?

At Stephen's suggestion, at Bloom's instigation both, first Stephen, then Bloom, in penumbra urinated, their sides contiguous, their organs of micturition reciprocally rendered invisible by manual circumposition, their gazes, first Bloom's, then Stephen's, elevated to the projected luminous and semiluminous shadow.


Expressed in more words than are necessary

By a periphrastic version of the general text.


An alloy of copper and zinc once used as imitation gold

Late lieabed under a quilt of old overcoats, fingering a pinchbeck bracelet, Dan Kelly's token.


A pleasure ground laid out with shady walks, trees and shrubs, statuary, and ornamental water

At the corner of Wilde's house he halted, frowned at Elijah's name announced on the Metropolitan hall, frowned at the distant pleasance of duke's lawn.


Any of various deciduous trees of the genus Populus

Dark poplars, rare white forms.

A bird sat tamely perched on a poplar branch. goodness the heat there before the lavanter came on black as night and the glare of the rock standing up in it like a big giant compared with their 3 Rock mountain they think is so great with the red sentries here and there the poplars and they all whitehot and the smell of the rainwater in those tanks watching the sun all the time weltering down on you...


A gate in the form of a grating which is lowered into place at the entrance to a castle, fort, etc.

A dark back went before them, step of a pard, down, out by the gateway, under portcullis barbs.


A clairvoyant or clairaudient experience, such as a dream, which resonates with some event in the future

What advantages attended shaving by night? A softer beard: a softer brush if intentionally allowed to remain from shave to shave in its agglutinated lather: a softer skin if unexpectedly encountering female acquaintances in remote place at incustomary hours: quiet reflections upon the course of the day: a cleaner sensation when awaking after a fresher sleep since matutinal noises, premonitions and perturbations, a clattered milkcan, a postman's double knock, a paper read, reread while lathering, relathering the same spot, a shock, a shoot, with thought of aught he sought though fraught with nought might cause a faster rate of shaving and a nick on which incision plaster with precision cut and humected and applied adhered: which was to be done.


former; once; at one time

The lewd suggestions of some faded beauty may console him for a consort neglected and debauched but this new exponent of morals and healer of ills is at his best an exotic tree which, when rooted in its native orient, throve and flourished and was abundant in balm but, transplanted to a clime more temperate, its roots have lost their quondam vigour while the stuff that comes away from it is stagnant, acid and inoperative.

He began to remember that this had happened or had been mentioned as having happened before but it cost him no small effort before he remembered that he recognised in the sentry a quondam friend of his father's, Gumley.


A kind of word puzzle which uses pictures to represent words or parts of words

The pink edition extra sporting of the Telegraph tell a graphic lie lay, as luck would have it, beside his elbow and as he was just puzzling again, far from satisfied, over a country belonging to him and the preceding rebus the vessel came from Bridgwater and the postcard was addressed A. Boudin find the captain's age, his eyes went aimlessly over the respective captions which came under his special province the allembracing give us this day our daily press.


The surviving member of a married couple after one or the other has died; a widow or widower

Mrs Florence MacCabe, relict of the late Patk MacCabe, deeply lamented, of Bride Street.


prominent, worthy of note; pertinent or relevant OR a piece of land that juts out to form an angle

Here the listener who was none other than the Scotch student, a little fume of a fellow, blond as tow, congratulated in the liveliest fashion with the young gentleman and, interrupting the narrative at a salient point, having desired his visavis with a polite beck to have the obligingness to pass him a flagon of cordial waters at the same time by a questioning poise of the head (a whole century of polite breeding had not achieved so nice a gesture) to which was united an equivalent but contrary balance of the bottle asked the narrator as plainly as was ever done in words if he might treat him with a cup of it.

Sensible of a benignant persistent ache in his footsoles he extended his foot to one side and observed the creases, protuberances and salient points caused by foot pressure in the course of walking repeatedly in several different directions...


A type of cotton cloth with a shiny surface and dull back, woven using the technique that, when applied to silk or nylon, results in cloth called satin

Even to sit where a woman has sat, especially with divaricated thighs, as though to grant the last favours, most especially with previously well uplifted white sateen coatpans.


slow and gloomy

THE CAP: (With saturnine spleen) Bah! It is because it is.


A serious medical condition in which the whole body is inflamed, and a known or suspected infection is present

...the premature relentment of the amniotic fluid (as exemplified in the actual case) with consequent peril of sepsis to the matrix...


A pagan female oracle or prophetess

THE VEILED SIBYL: (Enthusiastically) I'm a Bloomite and I glory in it.

THE VEILED SIBYL: (Stabs herself) My hero god! (She dies)


A female servant or attendant, especially as mischievous or cheeky, often featuring in theatrical comedies

Then she stared at the large poster of Marie Kendall, charming soubrette, and, listlessly lolling, scribbled on the jotter sixteens and capital esses.

A charming soubrette, great Marie Kendall, with dauby cheeks and lifted skirt smiled daubily from her poster...

BLOOM: (A charming soubrette with dauby cheeks, mustard hair and large male hands and nose, leering mouth) I tried her things on only twice, a small prank, in Holles street.

Stabat Mater

A hymn, sung in Latin, telling of the sorrow of the Virgin Mary at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; the music for this hymn

Molly was in fine voice that day, the Stabat Mater of Rossini.

He also yielded to none in his admiration of Rossini's Stabat Mater, a work simply abounding in immortal numbers, in which his wife, Madam Marion Tweedy, made a hit, a veritable sensation, he might say, greatly adding to her other laureis and putting the others totally in the shade, in the jesuit fathers' church in upper Gardiner street, the sacred edifice being thronged to the doors to hear her with virtuosos, or virtuosi rather.

...managed it this time I wouldn't put it past him like he got me on to sing in the Stabat Mater by going around saying he was putting Lead Kindly Light to music I put him up to that till the jesuits found out he was a freemason thumping the piano...


A wood nymph

MRS BREEN: (In a onepiece evening frock executed in moonlight blue, a tinsel sylph's diadem on her brow with her dancecard fallen beside her moonblue satin slipper, curves her palm softly, breathing quickly) Voglio e non. You're hot! You're scalding! The left hand nearest the heart.


A set of rules that govern how words are combined to form phrases and sentences

Theoretical, being confined to certain grammatical rules of accidence and syntax and practically excluding vocabulary.


The heir presumptive to a Celtic clan

Lover, for her love he prowled with colonel Richard Burke, tanist of his sept, under the walls of Clerkenwell and, crouching, saw a flame of vengeance hurl them upward in the fog.


A Phrygian king who was condemned to remain in Tartarus, chin deep in water, with fruit-laden branches hanging above his head: whenever he tried to drink or eat, the water and fruit receded out of reach

Cold fowl, cigars, the Tantalus glasses.


A sport played by either two or four players with strung racquets, a 2½" (6.4 cm) ball, and a net approximately 3 feet high on a clay, grass, or cement court

And says Bloom: --What I meant about tennis, for example, is the agility and training the eye.


trousers, especially if close fitting and tartan

Christfox in leather trews, hiding, a runaway in blighted treeforks, from hue and cry.

Beneath this he wore trews of deerskin, roughly stitched with gut.


a learner or beginner

A phenomenally beautiful tenor voice like that, the rarest of boons, which Bloom appreciated at the very first note he got out, could easily, if properly handled by some recognised authority on voice production such as Barraclough and being able to read music into the bargain, command its own price where baritones were ten a penny and procure for its fortunate possessor in the near future an entree into fashionable houses in the best residential quarters of financial magnates in a large way of business and titled people where with his university degree of B. A. (a huge ad in its way) and gentlemanly bearing to all the more influence the good impression he would infallibly score a distinct success, being blessed with brains which also could be utilised for the purpose and other requisites, if his clothes were properly attended to so as to the better worm his way into their good graces as he, a youthful tyro in-- society's sartorial niceties, hardly understood how a little thing like that could militate against you.


Having extended wings as if flying

An eagle gules volant in a field argent displayed.

DON EMILE PATRIZ1O FRANZ RUPERT POPE HENNESSY (in medieval hauberk, two wild geese volant on his helm, with noble indignation points a mailed hand against the privates) Werf those eykes to footboden, big grand porcos of johnyellows todos covered of gravy!


A person, such as a monk or nun, who lives a religious life according to vows they have made

Gerty was dressed simply but with the instinctive taste of a votary of Dame Fashion for she felt that there was just a might that he might be out.

Singular, communed the guest with himself, the wonderfully unequal faculty of metempsychosis possessed by them, that the puerperal dormitory and the dissecting theatre should be the seminaries of such frivolity, that the mere acquisition of academic titles should suffice to transform in a pinch of time these votaries of levity into exemplary practitioners of an art which most men anywise eminent have esteemed the noblest.

Words David Foster Wallace Circled in His Dictionary That Appear in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again



Lost Highway's cast and crew pretty much ignore Lynch's urinating in public, and they ignore it in a relaxed rather than a tense or uncomfortable way, sort of the way you'd ignore a child's alfresco peeing. (147)


The fiber obtained from the husk of a coconut, used chiefly in making rope, matting and as a peat substitute.

The male camera operators, for some reason, tend to wear pith helmets, and the Steadicam operator's pith helmet in particular looks authentic and armed-combat-souvenirish, with a fine mesh of coir all over it for camouflage and a jaunty feather in the band. (178-179)


A group of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.

Evil-ridden though his filmic world is, please notice that reponsibility for evil never in his films devolves easily onto greedy corporations or corrupt politicians or faceless serial kooks. (203)


a small space or inscription below the principal emblem on a coin or medal

...see Lynch's sensibility stamped like an exergue on art cinema's hot young Turks... (165, fn. 12)


of or relating to knowledge, esp. esoteric mystical knowledge

You could call this idea of evil Gnostic, or Taoist, or neo-Hegelian, but it's also Lynchian... (205)


gloomy, mournful or dismal, especially to an exaggerated degree.

There are very few paying customers on the grounds on Saturday, but there are close to a hundred world-class players: big spidery French guys with gelled hair, American kids with peeling noses and Pac-10 sweats, lugubrious Germans, bored-looking Italians. (216)

...1983 Vienna Boys Choir's seminal recording of the medievally lugubrious Tenebrae Factae Sunt. (338)


darling, sweetheart

Mavourneen of the high seas or no, when Petra makes my bed not all the hospital corners are at exactly the same angle. (317)


(music) A Polish folk dance in triple time, usually moderately fast, containing a heavy accent on the third beat and occasionally the second beat. in Wojtek leading a squad of Slavic busboys in a ceremonial happy-birthday mazurka around Table 64... (347)


A sport played by either two or four players with strung racquets, a 2½" (6.4 cm) ball, and a net approximately 3 feet high on a clay, grass, or cement court.

Except for the serve, power in tennis is a matter not of strength but of timing. (234)

N.b.: There are 117 instances of the word "tennis" in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.

Words David Foster Wallace Circled in His Dictionary That Appear in Oblivion


past tense of bespeak

It was the Gap's floor manager in Accessories who first called the police, and this merely because the press of customers at the window's display clearly bespoke some kind of disturbance on the street outside; and because the nature of that disturbance was unknown, none of the roving television cans who monitored the city's police frequencies were alerted, and the scene remained media-free for a good 1500 feet in every direction. (34-35)

Moltke's company van was parked in the duplex's other driveway, which bespoke some kind of possible arrangement with the other side's occupant that Atwater, who felt more than a little battered and conflicted and ill at ease in Mrs. Moltke's presence, had not yet thought to inquire about. (303)


In classical drama, the third and penultimate section, in which action is heightened for the catastrophe.

It is the progressively extreme changes in the advanced boy's relation to as it were both Truth and Culture which constitute the exemplum's catastasis or crisis or falling action or Third Act. (130)


A group of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.

...since corporations whose products had national or even regional distribution depended on appealing not just to individual consumers but also of course it almost went without saying to very large groups of them, groups that were yes comprised of individuals but were nevertheless groups, larger entities or collectives. (22)


Of or for the common people.

The abbreviation stands for big soft glossy, with soft in turn meaning the very most demotic kind of human interest. (296)


a light shoe having an upper made of fabric and a sole of rope

Mrs. Amber Moltke, the artist's young spouse, wore a great billowing pastel housedress and flattened espadrilles and was, for better or worse, the sexiest morbidly obese woman Atwater had ever seen. (250)


Capable of being molded into the shape of an artifact or art work

...the 18-39 Male demographic, the single most prized and fictile demo-target in high-end marketing. (6)


having regular overlapping edges; intertwined

The Raritan Club's distinctive escutcheon and motto, for instance, appeared both to recede and come into an almost excruciant focus on 'the Hole''s opposite wall, beneath a perceptually tiny stuffed tarpon whose every imbricate scale seemed outlined or limned in an almost 'Photo realist' detail. (192)


Any of the 613 commandments of Jewish law

...because the child at this point is just on the verge of reaching the sidereal equivalent of eleven years ago, which birthday evidently represents the paleolithic Third World's bar mitzvah or as it were age of majority... (128)


A partially shaded area around the edges of a shadow, especially an eclipse

...and extremely careful double-gloved and -masked removal of the lid will reveal a small tan-to-brown colony of Clostridium awash in a green-to-tan penumbra of botulinus exotoxin... (58)


A clairvoyant or clairaudient experience, such as a dream, which resonates with some event in the future

Laurel Manderley, whose father controlled a large number of Blockbuster Video franchises throughout western Connecticut, and whose mother was in the final push toward certification as a Master Gardener, was herself destined to survive, through either coincidence or premonition, the tragedy by which Style would enter history two months hence. (245)

There was a premonition of not just danger but evil. (301)


The act of passing by, disregarding or omitting.

He had no innate sense of tragedy or preterition or complex binds or any of the things that made human beings' misfortunes significant to one another. (270)


former; once; at one time

My quondam or former first wife, Naomi, never accepted the fact that I did not want children with her; I was afraid of 'repeating the cycle.' (229)


irritating, repellent

...her convalescence from which was plainly so rebarbative and, frankly, sad or pathetic in its impotent vanity... (233)


a section of fortification that juts out to form an angle

...and had crossed his leg ankle-on-knee and slid so far down on his tailbone that his cocked leg was the same height as his chin, thereupon holding the salient knee with his fingers laced in such a way as to apply pressure and make his forearms bulge even more. (28)


marked by or given to using irony in order to mock or convey contempt

...'Yes,' the boy intending this answer not to be sarcastic or unhelpful but simply True... (131)

She said it was thanks to me that she'd discovered the difference between being penetrated and really known versus penetrated and just violated--needless to say, these thanks were sarcastic. (165-166)


A set of rules that govern how words are combined to form phrases and sentences.

All they needed was some hard study data showing unequivocally that human facilitators made a difference, that variable elements of their appearance and manner and syntax and/or even small personal tics of individual personality or attitude affected the Focus Groups' findings. (64)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Unusual Copy of The Broom of the System

I bought this at a used-book store a couple of years ago, figuring it was just an old pre-Infinite Jest version of Wallace's first novel. After scouring the internet, I can't find any other copies with this cover or even any evidence that it exists. Has anyone seen this version before?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Words David Foster Wallace Circled in His Dictionary That Were Used in Infinite Jest (And Where They Appear)


A horizontal or nearly horizontal passage from the surface into a mine as contrasted to a shaft which is a vertical entry passage. An adit may be used for ventilation, haulage, drainage, or other purposes.

The destiny-grade event that happened to Orin Incandenza at this point was that just as he was passing glumly under the Home goalposts and entering the shadow of the south exit-tunnel's adit a loud and ominously orthopedic cracking sound, plus a shrieking, issued from somewhere on the field behind him. (pg. 291)


(botany) A taxonomic genus within family Simaroubaceae. A small group of trees native to Asia.

Joelle v.D. in her terry robe and gauze veil and still clutching a toothbrush has climbed out onto the little balcony outside the 5-Woman's window and into a skinny ailanthus beside it and is coming down, showing about two meters of spectacularly undeformed thigh, shouting Gately's name by the first name, which he likes. (pg. 614)

Depending on the throw of a die; random, arising by chance

Seemed intuitively to sense that it was a matter not of reduction at all, butperverselyof expansion, the aleatory flutter of uncontrolled, metastatic growtheach well-shot ball admitting of n possible responses, n2 possible responses to those responses, and on into what Incandenza would articulate to anyone who shared both his backgrounds as a Cantorian continuum of infinities of possible move and response, Cantorian and beautiful because infoliating, contained, this diagnate infinity of infinities of choice and execution, mathematically uncontrolled but humanly contained, bounded by the talent and imagination of self and opponent, bent in on itself by the containing boundries of skill and imagination that brought one player finally down, that kept both from winning, that made it, finally, a game, these boundaries of self. (pg. 82)


Summer and winter, indoors or alfresco. (pg. 389)

Dawn drills are of course alfresco until they erect and inflate the Lung, which Hal Incandenza hopes is soon. (pg. 452)

Except during periods of disciplinary conditioning, alfresco A.M. drills work like this. (pg. 453)

Void of feeling; not susceptible of deep emotion; passionless; indifferent.

This tendency to involuted abstraction is sometimes called "Marijuana Thinking"; and by the way, the so-called "Amotivational Syndrome" consequent to massive Bob Hope-consumption is a misnomer, for it is not that Bob Hope-smokers lose interest in practical functioning, but rather Marijuana-Think themselves into labyrinths of reflexive abstraction that seem to cast doubt on the very possibility of practical functioning, and the mental labor of finding one's way out consumes all available attention and makes the Bob Hope-smoker look physically torpid and apathetic and amotivated sitting there, when really he is trying to claw his way out of a labyrinth. (pg. 1048, fn a.)

A comment that makes an illuminating or entertaining point

He's thinking in an abstract absent way about limits and rituals, listening to Blott give Beak his apercu. (pg. 121)


having no light, especially no sunlight

Some E.T.A. twists Avril'd allowed into the classic L.A.S. path are e.g. that the seven subjects of the T and Q are mixed and not divided into Quadrivial Upperclass v. Trivial Ephebic; that E.T.A. geometry classes pretty much ignore the study of closed figures (excepting rectangles) to concentrate (also except for Thorp's Trigonometry of Cubes, which is elective and mostly aesthetic) for two increasingly brutal semesters on the involution and expansion of bare angles; that the quadrivial requirement of astronomy has at E.T.A. become a two-term elementary optics survey, since all the hardware required for everything from aphotic to apochromatic lenswork were and are right there in the lab off the Comm.-Ad. tunnel. (pg. 188)

all of the equipment available for carrying out a task, especially all the equipment used by a physician in the practice of medicine

Disassemblable scale and armamentarium and mood-altering substances used to be concealed in several factory-concealed niches in the special system of niche-riddled portable shelving Pemulis had installed at age 15. (pg. 1067)

An astronomical and navigational instrument for gauging the altitude of the Sun and stars.

Ken Erdedy noticed that nobody came right out and used the terms melancholy or anhedonia or depression, much less clinical depression; but this worst of symptoms, this logarithm of all suffering, seemed, though unmentioned, to hang fog-like just over the room's heads, to drift between the peristyle columns and over the decorative astrolabes and candles on long prickets and medieval knockoff and framed Knights of Columbus charters, a gassy plasm so dreaded no beginner could bear to look up and name it. (pg. 504)

(pathology, cytology) The destruction of an organism's cells by enzymes produced by the organism itself.

The best thing about satiation and slowing down on the eating is leaning back and feeling autolysis start in on what you ate and tending to your teeth while you gaze around the airy room at crowds and clumps of kids, observing behaviors and pathologies with a clear and sated head. (pg. 631)


The often ornamental coverings for an animal, especially a horse or an elephant.

Gately looks at a rectangular blue-selvaged expanse of clean linen whose gentle rises barely allude to any features below, he looks at her and has no idea whether she's serious or not, or whacked, or trying like Dr. Geoff Day to erect Denial-type fortifications with some kind of intellectualish showing-off, and he doesn't know what to say in reply, he has absolutely nothing in his huge square head to Identify with her with or latch onto or say in encouraging reply, and for an instant the Provident cafeteria seems pin-drop silent, and his own heart grips him like an infant rattling the bars of its playpen, and he feels a greasy wave of an old and almost unfamiliar panic, and for a second it seems inevitable that at some point in his life he's going to get high again and be back in the cage all over again, because for a second the blank white veil levelled at him seems a screen on which might well be projected a casual and impressive black and yellow smily-face, grinning, and he feels all the muscles in his own face loosen and descend kneeward; and the moment hangs there, distended, until the White Flag raffle coordinator for November, Glenn K., glides up to the podium mike in his scarlet velour caparison and makeup and candelabrum with candles the same color as the floor tile and uses the plastic gavel to formally end the break and bring things back to whatever passes here for order, for raffle drawing. (pgs. 366-367)

The veil is a sort of fellowship caparison. (pg. 533)


A misuse of a word; an application of a term to something which it does not properly denote.

This has got to be a mispronunciation or catachresis on R.v.C.'s part, since Clonidine--2-(2,6-Dichloroanilino)-2-imidazoline--is a decidedly adult-strength anti-hypertensive; the infant'd have to be N.F.L.-sized to tolerate it. (pg. 1053, note 285)


The condoning of an offence

He wasn't sure why, since it didn't seem to be any kind of slobbering inability to abstain that was the problem--he hadn't had so much as a mg. of a Substance of any kind since the 30-day urological condonation of last week. (pg. 796)


an act or process of merging

It rose in me, out of me, summoned somehow by the odd confluence of the fan and those notes. (pg. 649)

An après-garde digital movement, a.k.a. 'Digital Parallelism' and 'Cinema of Chaotic Stasis,' characterized by a stubborn and possibly intentionally irritating refusal of different narrative lines to merge into any kind of meaningful confluence, the school derived somewhat from both the narrative bradykineticism of Antonioni and the disassociative formalism of Stan Brakhage and Hollis Frampton, comprising periods in the careers of the late Beth B., the Snow brothers, Vigdis Simpson, and the late J. O. Incandenza (middle period). (pg. 996, note 61)


A group of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.

I've been asked to say for transcription how pleased the Glad Flaccid Receptacle Corporation is, during this potentially grave interval, to be a proud-- (pg. 883)


Delay, hesitation, procrastination.

...his face shiny with sweat and his talk full of blank cunctations and disassociated leaps... (pg. 368)


A style of blue and white earthenware.

An etagere filled with old-fashioned magnetic videos in bright adverting boxes, a cluster of blue-and-white delfts on the etagere's top shelf that had dwindled as one figurine after another got knocked off by Mario, stumbling or shoved. (pg. 951)


an independent treble melody usually sung or played above a basic melody

The catridge's theme-music is female-choral and very heavy and ironic on the descants. (pg. 702)


Having digits, fingers or things shaped like fingers; fingerlike

Only one or two remaining tips of the digitate spikes of the radial blades of the sun found crevices between the Tortolitas' peaks and probed at the roof of the sky. (pg. 97)


An angle between two plane surfaces

The mattress, a Simmons Beauty Rest whose tag said that it could not by law be removed, now formed the hypotenuse of a right dihedral triangle whose legs were myself and the bed's box spring. (pg. 495)

It was then that it occured to me that when I'd been supporting the bed's raised mattress with my chest and face preparatory to its removal from the room, the dihedral triangle I'd imagined the mattress forming with the box spring and my body had not in fact even been a closed figure: the box spring and the floor I had stood on did not constitute a continuous plane. (pg. 501)

(US, pathology) An excessive accumulation of serum in tissue spaces or a body cavity

Dural edema or something. (pg. 567)

He paces squeakily at the foot of the bed watching the R.N. turn the screws the right way and pushes his owlish glasses up and says that Clifford Pendleton, scratch golfer or no, is a post-traumatic maroon, that nebulized Mucomyst is for (and here his voice makes it clear he's reciting from memory, like to show off) abnormal, viscid, or inspissated post-traumatic mucus, not potential hemorrhaging or edema, and that 16 mm. siphuncular intubation itself had been specifically discreditated as an intratracheal-edema prophylaxis in the second-to-latest issue of Morbid Trauma Quarterly as so diametrically invasive that it was more apt to exacerbate than to alleviate hemoptysis, according to somebody he calls 'Laird' or 'Layered.' (pg. 921)

Ardor inspired by passion or enthusiasm.

As an active drug addict, Gately was distinguished by his ferocious and jolly élan. (pg. 55)

A warehouse, depot.

...the incredibly potent stash now wrapped tight in Suran and stashed deep in the toe of an old sneaker that sits atop the aluminum strut between two panels in subdorm B's drop ceiling, Pemulis's time-tested entrepôt... (pg. 216)

This was before the discovery of the ultimate entrepôt above the false ceiling in Subdorm B's male hallway. (pg. 1067)

a light shoe having an upper made of fabric and a sole of rope

An expensive pair of Brazilian espadrilles goes by on the left and enters a stall, and the espadrilles come around and face me. (pg. 15)

She's wearing two pairs of work-gloves and plastic surgery-type bags over her espadrilles, which were the only footwear she could garden in. (pgs. 1041-1042)

Capable of being molded into the shape of an artifact or art work

We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears. (pg. 694)

Relating to the use of science and technology in the investigation and establishment of facts or evidence in a court of law.

...and 24 Shriners had been grotesquely decapitated across Southeastern Ohio before the federal A.T.F. traced the grisly forensic fragments back to B. Green Sr.'s Blammo lab, in Waltham... (pg. 581)


resembling a lightning flash

Lightning claws the eastern sky, and it's neat in the weight room's dark because Lyle is in a slightly different position and forward angle each time he's illuminated through the window up over the grip/wrist/forearm machines to his left, so it looks like there are different Lyles at different fulgurant moments. (pg. 387)


(biochemistry) A nonessential amino acid, amino-acetic acid, C2H5NO2 found in most proteins but especially in sugar cane; the simplest amino acid.

The plastic Pepsi bottle and glass cigar tube and lighter and packet of glycine bags are a shape in the corner of the rain-darkened cloth purse that rests on the floor just below her dangling clogs. (pg. 229)

From the purse she removes...two little thick glycine bags each holding four grams of pharmaceutical-grade cocaine... (pg. 236)


having regular overlapping edges; intertwined

The Advanced Basics chairperson looks like a perfect cross between pictures of Dick Cavett and Truman Capote except this guy's also like totally, almost flamboyantly bald, and to top it off he's wearing a bright-black country-western shirt with baroque curlicues of white Nodie-piping across the chest and shoulders, and a string tie, plus sharp-toed boots of some sort of weirdly imbricate reptile skin, and overall he's riveting to look at, grotesque in that riveting way that flaunts its grotesquerie. (pg. 344)

Mutually destructive; most often applied to warfare.

Reference to January-February Y.D.A.U., when person or persons unknown went around coating selected toothbrushes of the Boys and Girls 16's with what was finally pinpointed as betel-nut extract, causing panic and internecine finger-pointing... (pg. 1077, note 352)


A dark powder (stibnite) used as eye makeup, especially in Eastern countries.

Then at the four-way meeting Tavis arranged, the old B.U. coach showed up in L.L. Bean chinos and a Lacoste polo shirt and got a look at the size of Orin's left arm, and then at Orin's Moms in a tight black skirt and levantine jacket with kohl around her eyes and a moussed tower of hair and about fell back over sideways the other way. (pgs. 285-286)


One who receives a legacy. entertainment cartridges have been obtained from the Boylston St. InterLace outlet where the medical attaché's wife, like all the veiled wives and companions of the Prince's legatees, has a complimentary goodwill account. (pg. 35)

(pathology) An excessive curvature of the spine, causing a hollow in the back.

Bradypedestrianism-wise, Mario had not so much club feet as more like block feet...together with the lordosis in his lower spine, they force Mario to move in the sort of lurchy half-stumble of a vaudeville inebriate... (pg. 313)


(anatomy) A tubular opening or passage in the body.

Then that overfull heat in various cranial meatus. (pg. 60)

He has an arrival routine where he skips the front entrances and comes in through the south side's acoustic meatus... (pg. 182)


(biology) Having an abruptly tapering point

...on one biceps either an icepick or a mucronate dagger... (pg. 208)

The fingers being not only mucronate and talonesque but nonprehensile, which is what made Mario's knifework untenable at table. (pg. 314)

a separate streamlined enclosure mounted on an aircraft to house an engine, cargo, or crew.

...and an ATHSCME Exhaust-Flow Effectuator that an ATHSCME crew in one of the ATHSCME helicoptors will bring in in a sling and cable and mount and secure on the Lung's nipply nacelle at the top of the inflating dome. (pg. 269)


(mineralogy) A banded variety of chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of quartz.

The onyx coffee table Mario had fallen against... (pg. 953)


(usually in plural orts) a scrap of leftover food; any remainder

By this time the E.T.A.s are eating more slowly, playing in that idle post-prandial way with the orts on their plates... (pg. 438)


Being uniformly sensitive across the entire visible range, and thus reproducing colours faithfully

So the tenure-jockeys and critics who were hailing this millennial new Orthochromatic Neorealism thing as the real new avant-garde thing were getting tenure by blasting Dick and Godbout and the flying Snow Brothers and The Stork for trying to be avant-garde, when really they were self-consciously trying to be more like après-garde. I never did get straight on what Orthochromatic means, but it was very trendy. (pg. 1027)


giving birth; in labour

...with Madame Psychosis as the Death-Mother figure inclined over it, parturient and nude, talking down to it... (pgs. 788-789)


A partially shaded area around the edges of a shadow, especially an eclipse.

The rock faces on either side of the truck when 27 goes through blasted hills of rock, the very fringes of the Berkshires' penumbra, are either granite or gneiss. (pg. 797)


A state of act of violating faith or allegiance; violation of a promise or vow, or of trust reposed; faithlessness; treachery.

Don, I dreamed the whole mad repressed third-grade interval of grandiose perfidy all over again. (pg. 814)

A dressage movement in which a horse trots in a stationary position while using high lifting of the legs.

The Csikszentmihalyi kid was doing a kind of piaffer in place, his knees hitting his chest, stretching his hip-flexors out. (pg. 965)


Any of various deciduous trees of the genus Populus.

Then the actual building's driveway's an even more winding little road that's barely more than a tunnel through meditative pines and poor-postured Lombardy poplars. (pg. 797)


A gate in the form of a grating which is lowered into place at the entrance to a castle, fort, etc.

...Clipperton stares wordlessly up at the little wrought-iron racquet-heads that serve as spikes at the top of the portcullis and fencing around E.T.A. ... (pg. 432)


The act of passing by, disregarding or omitting.

...Survivalism, Preterition, Anti-Abortionism... (pg. 1058, fn. 5)


to enlist [someone] (v.) or a new member of an organization (n.)

'And you, White. You sought to recruit him!' (pg. 14)

Q.v. the drill sergeant telling the recruit to drop and give him fifty, etc. (pg. 515)


(anatomy) Any of several straight muscles in various parts of the body, as of the abdomen, thigh, eye etc. get them past the Security lady at the Rectus Bulbi... (pg. 1032, note 180)


A network or grid

...after he'd done a reckless amount of a hallucinogen he'd refer to only as 'The Madame' he'd gone around for several subsequent weeks under a Boston sky that instead of a kindly curved blue dome with your clouds and your stars and sun was a flat square coldly Euclidian grid with black axes and a thread-fine reseau of lines creating grid-type coordinates... (pg. 542)


A piece of land that juts out to form an angle

An elite private high school up near the Methuen salient. (pg. 1078, note 371)

Marked by or given to using irony in order to mock or convey contempt

We could hear a couple of sarcastic whistles at Freer's unitard. (pg. 909)


A tree of species Sassafras albidum of the eastern United States and Asia having mitten-shaped leaves and red, aromatic heartwood.

...synthesizing methylenedioxy psychedelics from nutmeg and sassafras oil... (pg. 904)


Rough and covered with, or as if with, scabs

A rude whip-lashing shove square in the back and my promising body with all its webs of nerves pulsing and firing was in full airborne flight and came down on my knees this flask is empty right down on my knees with all my weight and inertia on that scabrous hot sandpaper surface forced into what was an exact parody of an imitation of contemplative prayer, sliding forward. (pg. 168)

...a scabrous fire escape at each window... (pg. 197)


A stiff, cylindrical military dress hat with a metal plate in front, a short visor, and a plume.

Idris Arslanian's spectacular bearskin shako is held in place with a chinstrap. (pg. 1029, note 148)


To make a shrill sound, as of bagpipes.

...skirl of wind on the sharp edges of dumpsters... (pg. 556)


A box, in the form of a book, used for keeping botanical specimens etc.

Different-colored beanies spill from the rolling solander box, whose lock's hasp is broken and protrudes like a tongue as it rolls. (pg. 342)


To induce someone to commit an unlawful or malicious act, or to commit perjury

...Pemulis takes such elaborate precautions in all extracurricularsmaking a Substance-customer explicitly suborn him, etc. ... (pg. 1035, note 211)


A set of rules that govern how words are combined to form phrases and sentences.

Marathe rarely yielded to the temptation to correct Steeply, whose horrid pronunciation and the syntax as well Marathe could never determine for sure either was or was not an intentional irritant, intended to discomfit Marathe. (pg. 529)


A sport played by either two or four players with strung racquets, a 2½" (6.4 cm) ball, and a net approximately 3 feet high on a clay, grass, or cement court.

That real tennis was no more reducible to delimited factors or probability curves than chess or boxing, the two games of which it's a hybrid. (81)

There are 295 instances of the word "tennis" in Infinite Jest.


A ductless gland, consisting mainly of lymphatic tissue, located behind the top of the breastbone. It is most active during puberty, after which it shrinks in size. It plays an important role in the development of the immune system and produces lymphocytes.

And at the same time felt sure in her guts' pit that the woman could have sat there and cut out Joelle's pancreas and thymus and minced them and prepared sweetbreads and eaten them chilled and patted her mouth without batting an eye. (pg. 747)


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