6/3/09

p 181-219

this section in 5 parts

p 181-193
YDAU [2009] late Oct [22nd actually]
place Boston [ETA and WYYY at MIT]
narrated in third person

synopsis:

The section starts out with a literally sophomoric radio program about a record-setting punt, read in the voice of Elmer Fudd. We eventually find out this is part of nerdy MIT radio program that precedes the 'rabidly popular Madam Psychosis Hour' which airs weeknights from midnight to 1am. Although the narration is in third person, the surroundings and action at WYYY 109 [the largest Whole prime on the FM band] are described in painfully academic language suggesting the POV of the unnamed late-shift student engineer, a grad student with 'bad lungs and occluded pores' who handles the technical aspects of the Madame Psychosis show. He has never seen Madam P, because she sits behind a 'jointed triptych screen of cream chiffon' and she sound-checks her plosives uncommunicatively with phrases like 'attractive paraplegic female seeks same; object' and 'like most marriages, theirs was the evolved product of concordance and compromise.' After the 5 minutes of dead air that contractually precedes her show, she starts with her usual opening [which, it's noted, the thoroughly uncynical Mario, who is listening, always finds terribly compelling]: 'And lo the earth was empty of form, and void. / And darkness was all over the face of the deep. / And We said: / Look at that fucker Dance.' Even with it's small range of broadcast power, WYYY's ratings, especially for Madam P are rock solid, and if you're on the hill in Enfield, your reception is clear. After the music fades, she starts right in reading a list of what appear to be affliction, 'the acromegalic and hyperkeratosistic. the enuretic...' The engineer leaves Madam P alone, as is SOP, and it's noted she rarely has guests. She just delivers her 'free-associative and intricately-structured' monologues, while smoking behind the screen. Sometimes she goes into film at length [never New Wave rather--early neorealist and expressionist, also apres garde and anticonfluential cinema] and then sometimes US sports, football in particular. The engineer monitors the program from the rooftop. In the one conversation he's had with her, she had him write out the home lab process for making Uranium 235, and to the consternation of MIT admin, she read the recipe on air. There's an impossibly complex passage describing the place on the roof where the engineer sits in his parka and fake-fur hat, as Madame P continues her list, revealing that she's reading it '...the serodermatotic. Come one come all, this circular says.' The circular is apparently from a 12 -step program for the 'Hideously and Improbably Deformed.'
The narration shifts-- and Avril James Incadenza's marriage is described as 'an evolved product of concordance and compromise' [see soundcheck above]. Likewise the curriculum at ETA, which thanks to Avril is the 'only athletic-focus-type school in North America that still adheres to the trivium and quadrivium' [which a footnote explains is a hardcore 18th century style of education where grammar/logic/rhetoric precede math/geometry/astonomy/music]. Avril, however had to make some allowances for the fact that it was a tennis academy, and to the optic specialization that James was interested in and later willed into being maintained in the curriculum. And of course the Entertainment classes that James insisted on. Mario who was finally allowed to disenroll from the special school after refusing to even try to learn to read, insisting that he'd rather listen and watch, listens to Madam P with his ear right up the radio in the Headmaster's House [HmH] where the Moms lives with CT.Mario has to turn the radio down low on account of the Moms's 'thing about sound' and then listen very intently on account of her 'issues about enclosure' which result in there being very few internal walls. Also it's noted that the Moms has a green thumb. Madam P continues her list in a notably non-Boston accent. Her voice seems familiar to Mario like a childhood smell, as she continues reading the circular 'come don the veil of the type and token. Come learn to love what's hidden inside.' The music she ahs chosen to accompany her program evokes 'something heavy swinging slowly at the end of a long rope.' Mario and Hal had come to HmH for a late night meal after Hal ad disappeared for half an hour. Mario is in part obsessed with Madam P's show, because he is sure that she can't herself 'sense the compelling beauty and light she projects over the air.' Madam P is 'one of only two people Mario would love to talk to, but would be scared to try. The word "periodic" pops into his head.' The music is periodic in that it 'leads up to the exact kind of inevitability it denies.' The music she brings in is always obscure, and often very compelling. The Moms has maintained the L'Islet region practice of eating a late dinner, and Mario and Hal join her twice a week which is the maximum deLint will allow. Avril and CT have separate but adjacent bedrooms, and the only other room upstairs is Avril's office which has a poster of the wicked witch of the west on the door, and custom wiring for a [presumably never installed] TP console. Her office is connected by an underground tunnel to ETA, but luckily for Hal, in a way that doesn't require her to pass by the Pump room. The Moms approves of Hal occasionally bringing John [NR] Wayne [who rarely talks and eats like a horse] or Axford [who has trouble eating] but clearly disapproves of Pemulis and Struck, whom he no longer brings. Near the end of her program Madam P takes her usual lone caller, who informs her and the listeners that the moon revolves around the earth but does not itself revolve. The engineer heads back inside, but predicts that she'll make no reply. Madam P's sign-off is more dead air. For dessert Avril serves 'Mrs. Clarke's infamous high-protein-gelatin squares.' Hal makes to leave at 1am, and the Moms says jokingly 'do not, under any circumstances, have fun' which cracks Mario up every time.


p 193-198
YDAU [2009]
place Ennet House
narrated in third person

synopsis:

The environs of Ennet House are described looking like 7 moons orbiting a dead planet. The VA hospital itself is abandoned, but the smaller buildings on the grounds are leased to various health agencies. The unit #s increase as they get further from hospital. Unit #1 houses an agency that counsels Vietnam vets, and Unit #2 is a methadone clinic. Visitors to both begin lining up around dawn. Don Gately was nearly discharged for [along with a meth addict] a hanging a fake 'Closed Until Further Notice' sign on the door of the Methadone clinic, which caused a panic among the former junkies, and Gately and the meth addict watching from the balcony accidently dropped the binoculars on the roof of EH counselor Calvin Thrust's corvette. The meth addict relapsed shortly thereafter, was arrested and then was killed in jail. Unit #3 is empty and #4 houses Alzheimer's patients, who 'wear jammies 24/7' and one of whom screams 'help!' constantly. Unit #6 is referred to as 'the Shed' and houses catatonic patients, a lengthy footnote explains [by way of mentioning that Hal, Axford, Struck and Troeltsch visit a bar called The Unexamined Life, and sometimes converse with security guards who were extras in Himself's films] that this is because the patients don't seem to live there so much as they're stored there. Unit #6 is a 3-story brick building at the end of the road, up against the ravine that houses Ennet House. Across the road is Unit #7 which was abandoned after an incident involving rubble from the construction of ETA [specifically the shaving off of the top of the mountain] which is directly up the hill. Unit #7 is now boarded up and serves as a secret locale for illicit drug intake by relapsers.


p 198-200
YDAU [2009] Nov 6, 1610h
place ETA
narrated in third person

synopsis:

Hal and co are in the ETA weight room, with Lyle doing his sweat-licking thing with Graham Rader. The boys are groaning and grimacing as they lift weights and teasing one another. Pemulis is doing facial imitations [deLint jerking off, Schacht in a stall, etc.]


p 200-211
YDAU [2009]
place Ennet House
narrated in third person

synopsis:

Although in third person, this part is told through the voice of an insider at Ennet House--in a compulsive and free associative way, suggestive of a recovering addict. It starts by chronicling things that you'd know if you were to spend time around EH. That the once the state has taken a mother's children once, it can do so again and again, for next to no reason. That people in detox often get acne, that you can get an amphetamine-ish buzz from large quantities of oreos and soda on an empty stomach. That the 'God' of AA/NA doesn't require that you believe in him to help you. That half of addicts suffer from some other psychiatric disorder. That it's harder for people with high IQs to kick an addiction. That most substance-abusers are addicted to thinking. That 'bit' means jail sentence, and that Don Gately did 6 month bit in Billerica. That the cliche 'I don't know who I am' is more than a cliche. The slogan 'you can't Unring a bell' refers to the fact that people under the influence of Substance will often do things they'd never do when sober, and some of the consequences of these things can never be erased. At this point the narrative changes to describe Tiny Ewell's obsessive survey of the tattoos at Ennet House. To tiny the tattoo is a symbol of the 'chilling irrevocability of intoxicated impulses.' He repeats his thoughts on this to all of the tattooed residents without much interest. Bruce Green listens politely, and Kate Gompert [who is untattooed, and clinically depressed] doesn't 'have the juice' to walk away. But the residents with tattoos readily show them off, and Tiny discerns two types in this regard--those without remorse, usually younger and filled with fake pride, and those older and more numerous types who show their tattoos with a stoic regret. Wade McDade has nest of serpents running down his arms. Former skinhead Doony Glynn has a black dotted line around his neck, and instructions on maintenance of his head, once severed, on his skull. In the regret department, Bruce Green has "Mildred Bonk" on his triceps, Emil Minty has "Doris" below his left breast, as well as "Fuck Nigers" on his biceps, which he is encouraged to keep covered at EH. Chandler Foss tried to de-regret his "Mary" tattoo by carving "Blessed Virgin" above it with a razor and Bic pen. Randy Lenz has "Pamela"tattooed by remembers neither getting the tattoo nor anyone by that name. Counselor and former porn actor Calvin Thrust supposedly has a tatoo on his penis which changes from his initials to his full name with erection. Tiny finds the faded tattoos of the decades-sober elder-statesmen guys who attend his Sunday night group. Near the end of his study, Tiny approaches Don Gately about his jailhouse tattoos, which Tiny considers a whole class of its own. Gately [who finds Tiny Ewell incomprehensible] tells him how the tattoos are done with sewing needles and a pen, which explains why they are always less than perfect. Gately has a square on his right wrist and a sloppy cross on his [massive] left forearm. Gately is polite but curt in his answers, forcing Tiny to ask very specific questions. Gately considers the tattoos as minor 'Rung bells' compared to some of the really irrevocable impulsive mistakes he's made.


p 211-219

YDAU [2009] Nov 4-5
place ETA
narrated in third person

synopsis:

Pemulis is in his room with Hal and Axford and shows them the DMZ that he has procured. He uses a series of hyperbolic phrases to describe its potency. He says the pills are from the BS 1970s and that the CIA used them in shady mind-control experiments. They try to decide what an appropriate dose would be, and joke about slipping the drug into the Gatorade at a tournament. Pemulis had tried to research DMZ at Med.Com but found only vague references to the drug. Hal chides him about not going to the actual library. Pemulis relates an article he found in Moment magazine about an army convict in Leavenworth who lost his mind after being injected with DMZ,and spent the rest of his life singing show tunes in an Ethel-Merman voice.' Axford suggests that they designate the code-name Ethel for phone use. Pemulis scored the DMZ from a 'small-arms-draped duo of reputed former Canadian insurgents' who run Antitoi Entertainment as a front for their 'small and probably pathetic outdated insurgency-projects.' They had to conduct the transaction without speaking because of the language barrier, and Pemulis feels like he got the better end of the deal. Hal insists that they go to the BU or MIT library and confirm that DMZ is organic and nonaddictive, which he and Pemulis do with Mario [and his head-mounted camera] in tow. Pemulis decides that a 36 hour window will be necessary to try the DMZ, and the next such window will occur Nov 20-21[the weekend before the WhataBurger], because they have tournament on Friday and a series of exhibition games on Saturday, one of them involving the Vaught [Siamese] twins. Pemulis has left out of his calculations the fact that he won't get that Saturday afternoon off if he doesn't make the traveling list for the WhataBurger, and he may not.


notes
The introduction to Madame Psychosis and the Ennet House section beginning on p 200 really allow DFW to show off what this reader finds to be one of his most amazing gifts-- tailoring a third person narrative to show the metal workings of a central character by way of language. The Madame P episode would have taken me weeks to read, had I looked up every obscure word DFW employs here. But it's more than showing off; it serves the story; likewise the amphetamine-fueled jitters that characterize the Ennet Hoiuse section.
This chapter also brings a lot of things together both explicitly and implicitly. We find a lot of the lesser characters finally showing up together under one roof at Ennet House, just down the hill from ETA. We find Pemulis dealing with some pretty shady Canadian separatist characters to buy the DMZ, which sounds like a drug that tthe ETA players have no business messing with. The fact that one of the only articles Pemulis could find on DMZ was in Moment magazine also raises the specter of a connection to Steeply.
We meet Madame Psychosis, another mysterious character with clear ties to the Incadenza's [she is mentioned repeatedly in the filmography [p 985-993], most notably in the final film 'Infinite Jest (V?)']. Mario clearly has some kind of connection with her. And then there's her love of football-- could that connect her to Orin?The Moms is beginning to sound seriously damaged, or at least rife with 'issues.'

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