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September 17, 2009 / Infinite Tasks

A Few More Pieces of the Puzzle

As I approach the slippery downhill slide to the end, it’s becoming clear to me that I won’t have all my puzzle pieces in place.  However, even at this late stage, a few previously lingering questions are nonetheless finding answers, and I’ll go ahead and take a bit of time to clear these up.

  1. In Learning from the Technical Interviews, I pieced together the fact that one of the early, fatal A.F.R. interviews was of Trent “Quo Vadis” Kite, Gately’s burglary associate at the DuPlessis murder. Well, we’ve now learned a whole lot about Kite, including the origin of Quo Vadis: it is the nickname for the synthetic Quaalude-isotope that he made, Kite being a bit of a basement chemist, and which when combined with Hefenreffers brought about the Era of the Killer Sidewalks (p. 904).  Now, this makes more sense out of the Latin phrase, “Where are you going?”  Jesus’ answer was apparently something like “I’m heading to the crucifixion” or alternatively “I’m going where you can’t come.”  Given the absolute mind-destruction that Quo Vadis produced (though not yet at the level of Percocet), the moniker now makes a lot more sense.
  2. Recall, too,  that Kite leads the A.F.R. to the cranio-facial specialist who is responsible for bringing the DMZ (and possibly the Entertainment Master, though I now doubt that) to the Antitois Establishment, as I discussed in The Mystery of the Entertainment Master.  We now have a name for that cranio-facial specialist: Dr. Robert ‘Sixties Bob’ Monroe “the septuagenarian pink-sunglasses-and Nehru-jacket-wearing … Grateful Dead fanatic,” intimate acquaintance of Kite, and “inveterate collector and haggling trader” (p. 927).
  3. As Gately tries to meliorate his pain by wandering in memory-land, we get a great story of his early work as bookie enforcer while loosely crewing with both Kite and Fackelmann (the latter of whom makes an egregious error of skeet & vig misjudgment and was last seen, by me, shooting up with his own M&M-contaminated urine on the binge to end all binges – definitely his; see p. 937).  We learn that some of the rougher work is left for Bobby C and his “Nuck/fag crew” (p. 918); we haven’t seen C for a long time, but of course you recall that C was the victim of Wo’s bad bundle in full view of yrstruly (aka Emil Minty, see P. 300) and full knowledge of Poor Tony.  Bobby C would get down with any necessary violence, Gately being a bit too triggered to perform only minimal damage on clients, and unable to stand doing serious and full damage without resorting to a full-blown depressive nod afterwards.
  4. Joelle is waylaid while leaving the St. E. hospital by Helen Steeply (p. 934), and for whatever reason decides to answer “her” questions (pp. 938-941).  Perhaps Steeply’s knowledge of Orin makes Joelle take seriously the danger she is in. Anyway, Joelle confirms my view in the last post that Infinite Jest (V?) is not Entertaining – but also that it couldn’t really be lethal.  J.O.I. joked that it was, but only as a kind of ironic poke at Joelle, who admits here for the first time that her claim to be U.H.I.D. due to her absolute physical perfection were just a ploy of self-denial.  Joelle got nailed by the acid, after all, it seems.  Shame.
  5. And finally, my speculation that someone would be ingesting DMZ pretty soon has definitely missed the mark.  Pemulis’s stash, in Subdormitory B’s hallway ceiling, has been raided (p. 916; cf. p. 216).  Poor Pemulis, nothing goes right for the young man.  However, since it’s now pretty clearly established that Hal’s aphonia is not a matter of DMZ ingestion, it doesn’t really seem to matter; consequently, the whole Antitois trail is looking pretty much like a dead end.

That’s it for now.  I’m saving what might turn out to be my next-to-last post as part of Infinite Summer until I’ve read a bit more.  But since the wraith has returned, if briefly, I’ll have to address that as Part III of the J.O.I. walk-on series.  And, perhaps most interesting, he has Lyle the floating sweat-guru in tow!



Leave a Comment
  1. Aaron / Sep 18 2009 5:10 am

    These are wild guesses here on my part, but I sort of feel like Hal’s already taken the DMZ–i.e., that his inability to control his face is a hint that he’s actually on it. This might be why Pemulis is so eager to talk to him–to point out that he’s been raided and that someone (perhaps John Wayne) might have struck back.

    Also, re: Joelle, why are you so convinced that she’s correct in saying that she’s actually disfigured? The comparison she makes is between her reason for wearing the veil and between James’s jokey description of his Entertainment (which we know, from the filmography–Duqette?–his two accomplices hyped up as being good, when in fact they couldn’t have seen it, and certainly didn’t like it). Except that James’s video *did* turn out to be lethally entertaining. So perhaps Joelle’s face really *is* lethally beautiful. The joke, ultimately, is on J.O.I. and MP (not the MP, but Joelle), who were constantly convinced (standing behind the lens so often) that they saw things (like Hal not speaking) that weren’t actually true.

  2. Dan Summers / Sep 18 2009 11:37 am

    Re. point 4 above, I’m with Aaron. The Entertainment really is lethally entertaining, all joking to the contrary. I always took that to mean, if anything, that Joelle is similarly “lethally” beautiful, though I think her believing her beauty to be “lethal” pertains more to how it affected her own Personal Daddy and not people in general.

    Though, come to think of it, she may also be aware of how her beauty featured in the genuinely lethal Entertainment, and thus believe it to be legitimately lethal in its own right. Who knows?

  3. infinitetasks / Sep 18 2009 1:30 pm

    I’ll have a bit more on this in my upcoming post (in an aside, explaining my own tendency to go wrong on such things), but I think you guys are probably right on. I’m pretty sure Ray Gunn, Your Copyeditor said something somewhere to the same effect, that is, that there is complete textual evidence for the no-acid-destroyed face conclusion.

  4. Jeff / Sep 19 2009 5:14 pm

    I don’t know, guys—as much as I’ve never wanted to believe that Joelle was actually disfigured, I think I’ve become convinced this time around. There’s the bit on 223, apparently sort of indirectly narrated through Joelle’s POV, where Orin is described as a “dodger of flung acid extraordinaire,” and on 958 we read that “she’d been close to removing the veil to get away from” Steeply (which I take to refer to how hideous she must be under the veil; that makes more sense to me than trying to get away from Steeply by displaying overwhelming beauty). As for the parallel between Joelle’s face and the Entertainment, it seems to me the irony that y’all are interpreting as Joelle’s somehow being wrong about what her own face looks like more likely means that she’s wrong about how entertaining the Entertainment is. (Does that make sense?) She says it was “entirely clear” to her that it was a joke, but I say that’s just a self-centered misinterpretation.

    Aaron, I think you’re probably right about Hal, though. I think he’s been dosed, and I really want to believe it was Pemulis, but it doesn’t seem like it could have been. Not even in light of the fact that the graf on 916 where Pemulis discovers that his stash is missing gives us no way to place it in the timeline. At least physically, it comes after Pemulis tries so urgently to talk with Hal about the DMZ, so perhaps the disappearance of the DMZ isn’t what Pemulis wanted to talk about. I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure this one out.

  5. Jeff / Sep 19 2009 5:16 pm

    Also, Jeffrey, glad to have you back, and to read (in comments on the other post) that your brother’s doing well. My best wishes to him for a further speedy recovery.

  6. Paul M. / Dec 16 2010 3:06 pm

    Just a thought. Early on in IJ, as Joelle is walking to Notkin’s party, it explicitly says that Orin left her “after the acid”. So it would indeed seem Joelle’s actually disfigured.

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