Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Infinite Jest, television

There is no broadcast television in the near-future of Infinite Jest, only cartridges and disks and “Spontaneous Disseminations” from InterLace TelEntertainment. Orin Incandenza misses the old days:

“I miss commercials that were louder than the programs. I miss the phrases ‘Order before midnight tonight’ and ‘Save up to fifty percent and more.’ I miss being told things were filmed before a live studio audience. I miss late‐night anthems and shots of flags and fighter jets and leathery‐faced Indian chiefs crying at litter. I miss ‘Sermonette’ and ‘Evensong’ and test patterns and being told how many megahertz something’s transmitter was broadcasting at.” He felt his face. “I miss sneering at something I love. How we used to love to gather in the checker‐tiled kitchen in front of the old boxy cathode‐ray Sony whose reception was sensitive to airplanes and sneer at the commercial vapidity of broadcast stuff. . . . I miss summer reruns. I miss reruns hastily inserted to fill the intervals of writers’ strikes, Actors’ Guild strikes. I miss Jeannie, Samantha, Sam and Diane, Gilligan, Hawkeye, Hazel, Jed, all the syndicated airwave‐haunters. You know? I miss seeing the same things over and over again.”

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (Boston: Little, Brown, 1996).
As Orin goes on to explain, the freedom to watch something on disk again and again is not the same: “‘The choice, see. It ruins it somehow. With television you were subjected to repetition. The familiarity was inflicted.’”

Other Infinite Jest posts
Attention : Description : Loveliness : “Night-noises” : Romance : Telephony

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