I am attempting to read David Foster Wallace’s very large novel and write about the experience as I go. That is all.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ten: 30 April – Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment (E)

We discover how the tennis prodigies cope with the effects of their high-pressure environment and, as we might have guessed, it’s with those wonderful cartridges. The viewing rooms are windowless, but the screen looks like a window, a trompe l’oeil, a false vision of a world outside. But – just wondering here – can someone else see in through this window?

And the cartridge they’re watching is of a tennis player. Now, I vaguely remember Stan Smith; or maybe it’s the trainers named after him that I remember. (If you Google the name, you get far more images of the shoes than you do of the balding tennis player.) As with Bouchard and Charest, I wonder whether I’m supposed to know whether he was real; and whether some of the other characters that I’ve assumed to be fictional, actually have some kind of historical basis. Is there really, for example, a Kent Blott? (His dad is an ENT oncologist; did he perhaps treat the snot-filled DuPlessis, or maybe meet the Saudi attaché at a conference? All that gunk; see also Schacht’s demonstration of how to floss.)

Although the Smith footage is meant to be educational, it’s also hypnotic; “Don’t Think Just See Don’t Know Just Flow”. They’re watching the seam, calculating the spin, but what’s really important is the near-catatonic mindset that the cartridge provokes. Did Hal’s dad direct the film? Do all his works have this strange effect? As Troeltsch says:
It’s hearing the same motivational stuff over and over till sheer repetitive weight makes it sink down into the gut... Just do it. Forget about is there a point, of course there’s no point. The point of repetition is there is no point. Wait until it soaks into the hardware and then see the way this frees up your head. A whole shitload of head-space you don’t need for the mechanics anymore, after they’ve sunk in. Now the mechanics are wired in. Hardwired in. This frees the head in the remarkablest ways.
Over and over, looping and looping, like the cartridge in front of the attaché’s recliner. And then, bathos: what to do if you feel a fart coming on.

OK, Mario next.

PS: By a long margin, this is the page that has attracted the most views. And the majority of search terms that end up here are about Stan Smith.

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