this section in 3 parts with a lengthy footnote [p 1004-1022]
YDAU  Nov 7
narrated in third person
The prorectors at ETA are required to teach one academic class per semester, and these classes tend to be popular electives among the older ETA students because the classes like the prorectors tend to be kind of nuts. For example Ted Schacht has taken Mary Esther Throde's classes for the past 3 years. This year's 'The Personal is the Political is the Psychopathological: The Politics of Contemporary Psychopathological Double-Binds' in which the exam asks what does an agoraphobic kleptomaniac do to overcome that s/he cannot leave the house but must steal. Schacht is about to loop the d in 'mail fraud' when Jim Troeltsch's pseudo-radio program comes over the intercom as it does twice weekly in the last period of the day. Troeltsch knows that he'll never make the Show, but has his sights set on broadcasting. Since the sports portion is mostly just reading the scores of matches from the week, Troeltsch invents ever more colorful synonyms for 'beat' and 'got beat by.' Of all the prorectors' classes, the only challenging one for Hal thus far has been Thierry Potrincourt's 'Separatism and Return: Quebecois History from Frotenac through the Age of Interdependence.' Although he initially found the topic dull and even distasteful, he has developed 'something of a layman's savvy for Canadianism and ONANite politics.' He sees no way Orin could have known he was taking the class, when he called to enlist Hal's help with Separatism [see footnote below]. Hal had found most of the early Quebec stuff to be dry and repetitive, but as the class started to cover more contemporary stuff, Hal finds it 'more high concept and less dull' than he expected, even though he considers himself apolitical. He is 'both com-and repelled' by the fact that the topic provokes in him a 'queasy feeling' in a 'furtively nauseous kind of sense.' After the Reconfiguration, annexation, the gerrymandering of the Great Convexity [or from US perspective, the Great Concavity] and the establishment of the ONAN, Quebecois separatists had turned their attention away from the rest of Canada [who for the most part took all this 'like good sports'] toward the US. One notable stunt was hauling giant mirrors in front of northbound cars in the region of the Concavity, thus scaring them off the road trying to avoid what the driver assumed would be a head-on collision. It was all a mystery until a drug-addicted would-be suicide drove her car into one of the mirrors instead of veering off the road, much to the embarrassment of Rodney Tine, chief of Unspecified Services who had publicly pressed for anti-driving-when-drowsy public service spots.
no date-- backstory
narrated in third person
Mario's 'first birth' happens when the 'tall and eye-poppingly curvaceous' Avril is only 7 months pregnant and not showing. Himself thinks she is dying when her water breaks, and luckily Charles Tavis is there on an extended visit, and gets her to a hospital where Mario is 'scraped out...like the meat of an oyster.' His birth was a complete surprise, and his first months are spent in incubators. He is given the name of his father's grandfather who had invented X-Ray Specs, and left his fortune to his son enabling him to retire from his sad acting career and drink himself to death. Mario's premature and 'arachnoidal birth' left him with a host of physical challenges, and his parents soon became familiar with the prefix 'brady-' which means slow developing. His arms are S shaped [without proper hands] and usable for rudimentary forms of eating, slapping at doorknobs, and tossing tennis balls short distances, and they're pain-resistant, which fact is exploited by his brother Orin. His feet are square blocks that are not great for balance [or much else] which means that Mario falls face first occasionally, in part accounting for his flattened nose which caused breathing trouble, especially at night. His eyes protrude a little further than normal and one eyelid is prosthetic [the original had stuck and peeled away at birth] and has long horsehair lashes. His skin is gray-green with a bark-like reptilian texture, and his thin hair is styled in a comb-over. Mario is slow but *not* retarded. Mario and Himself are inseparable; Mario serves as honorary production assistant, carrying his lenses in a backpack, and occasionally bringing a 'Big Red Soda Water...to the apparently mute veiled graduate-intern down the motel's hall.' When required to stand upright on a shoot, Mario is supported by a police lock, a steel pole that attaches his vest to a slotted lead block on the floor. For his 13th birthday, his father built and willed him a Bolex camera bolted to an aviator's helmet that fits over his oversized head like a scuba mask, and is controlled by a foot treadle. After some practice this has allowed Mario to become the documentary filmer at ETA. Mario is well-liked even idealized by Hal as some kind of walking miracle. Hal fears that the Moms sees Mario as the true prodigy of the family, although his 'academic poverty breaks her heart, the smile he puts on each AM without fail since the suicide of their father makes her wish she could cry.' Hal suspects that it was Mario and the not the Moms who obtained for him his first copies of the unabridged OED. It was the Moms who insisted that Mario live in the subdorms with Hal, but it was Hal who chased off the rep from the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed.
YDAU  Apr 30-May 1
place Tucson AZ
narrated in third person
It's now 'deep at night' as Marathe and Steeply continue their conversation. Marathe suggests that Canadians are not the root of the threat, that the problem is with the USA citizens: 'This is a USA production, this Entertainment cartridge. Made by an American man in the USA. The appetite for the appeal of it: this is also USA.' Marathe refers to the Entertainment as 'samizdat' and asks 'who would die for this chance to be fed this death of pleasure with spoons?' He says that it's not necessary for his organization to force anything on Americans, but they simply need to make the Entertainment available and Americans will choose their demise. He asks how USA will protect itself against that-- by killing Quebecois? He says the death itself will be a formality, because the real death is this 'appetite of your people unable to choose appetites.' He says that this is something that DuPlessis taught the cells, but only the AFR understood. He scoffs at President Gentle's claim that someone is to blame saying that that someone had let Americans forget how to choose. Steeply counters this argument saying that 'there are no choices without personal freedom.' But Marathe shrugs this off saying 'your freedom is the freedom-from... but what of the freedom-to?' He then tells a story of a rich father who allowed his children to choose to eat only candy. Steeply asks rhetorically 'no? you say, not children?... you say what your Fortier believes that we *are* children.... and will kill ourselves for you if you put the candy within arms reach.' Marathe admonishes him for putting words in his mouth. Neither has mentioned how on earth they intend to get down from the mountain in the dark.
p 1004-1022 [footnote 110 from p 311]
YDAU  Nov 7
narrated in third person
Hal is sitting in his room icing his ankle after his match was truncated because his opponent Pemberton took a ball in the eye. Mario is gone preparing his film for the big post-prandial gala and film fest. There's a message on the machine from Orin asking if Hal had ever noticed that all of Emily Dickinson's poems can be sung to the tune of 'The Yellow Rose of Texas.' In Mario's closet is a box of postal correspondence that he has rescued from waste baskets [none of it to or from Mario himself] including a quoted letter from the Moms to Orin [addressed as Filbert] from June 20YW-QMD . The letter is haughty and formal but still reveals that the Moms 'cried like a fool... embarrassing everyone but Mario, who also cried.' The invariant response is also quoted-- a form letter from the New Orleans Saints acknowledging her letter, and including an autographed photo. Orin calls back and proceeds to tell Hal about 'Speedy Seduction Strategy Number 7' in which he pretends to be happily married and completely oblivious to the charms of the Subject until she starts to draw it out that he is attracted to her and that this makes him a bad husband and eventually the 'doomed involuntary conflicted good-man's-downfall-type quality' proves irresistible. Hal explains why he's back early, Orin says he might make it to see Hal play at the WhataBurger. Hal asks about the wheelchair-stalkers, but Orin says he hasn't seen them recently. Orin explains that he has called to ask two questions, first what the word 'samizdat' means. Hal rattles off an OED style answer and says that now it pretty much means any kind of politically underground press or the stuff they publish. He says that there's no real samizdat in the US, but perhaps some of the radical Quebecois stuff could be considered ONANite samizdat. Orin asks why The Mad Stork's name would come up in connection to samizdat. Hal can't think of an explanation, and suggests Orin speak to the 'one person who's really the person to chat with about all issues Canadian.' Orin says the question is why the Quebecois dropped the independence thing overnight and took up the anti-ONAN, and anti-Reconfiguration activities. Orin says he needs 'depth' from Hal, not expertise, as Hal reminds him that the Moms is the one to talk to. Hal recounts what little he knows, which is that the Quebecois separatists' 'hatred of anglophone Canada transcends anything they could work up against ONAN. Just mention 1859 and the Moms' lips disappear.' Hal confesses to a curiosity about the reporter/Subject, but says 'please don't let it just be that you've just discovered she's married with little kids,' and recounts Orin's reputation as 'home-wrecker' and ties it in to Orin's [lack of] relationship to the Moms: 'wants to blame her, won't admit it, needs to, won't admit it, sweepingly blames the whole affair of Himself on her, won't interface with her or worse even acknowledge her.' This he connects with Orin's 'rapacious fetish for young married mothers he can strategize into betraying their spouses and maybe damaging their kids for all time.' Orin lets all of this bounce off of him, and returns the discussion to the separatists. Hal suggests that Orin just tell the reporter that, it's 'wacko' and shrug it off. As Pemulis comes in the room to fetch Hal and his 'Bob Hope' for their planned Interdependence Day Eve excursion, Orin is trying to raise another question-- even though Quebec bears almost the entire brunt of the Concavity, it doesn't really have a chance of convincing Gentle and ONAN to take it back, why don't they use it as a bargaining tool with Canada to get the independence they always wanted, as in take the Concavity off of Canada's hands. And why then are the Quebecois separatists making a point of carrying out anti-ONAN activities in the name of *all* of Canada-- what if they know well that if ONAN sees all of Canada as the culprits they will make things very difficult for Canada, and what if the separatists are actually doing this as some kind of meta-extortion against Canada-- as in let us separate and we'll take full credit for the terrorism. Hal's response is that all of their terrorism has been 'too hapless and small potato for her theory to work.' At which point Orin says that now Hal is with him, and this is where he needs Hal's hope because it was at this point that she raised the issue of the samizdat. At this point the increasingly impatient Pemulis hangs up the phone on Orin.
The backstory on Mario clears up a lot of the weirdness we've encountered thus far. Is Mario DFW's nod to southern gothic? The other sections, especially the footnote, draw the story lines inextricably together, around the samizdat. The footnote also explains, at least by Hal's lights, the sad roots of Orin's lechery.