Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Suck it up

I’ve noticed a lot of recent whining in the IJ-dedicated portions of the blogosphere about how hard and thus skippable the yrstruly section is. What I haven’t noticed enough of is how contrary to the athleticism that IJ is very much about said whining is. (I thought infinite summer participants were supposed to be “endurance bibliophiles.” Sheesh!)

Look, for instance, at what immediately precedes the yrstruly stuff. It’s Lyle! His shirt says “TRANSCEND” and “DEUS PROVIDEBIT.” And on p. 128, in the penultimate pgraph before yrstruly is launched, appears the rhetorical question that may just as well be asked of DFW himself (though sans the Spandex part, I guess): “What kind of guru wears Spandex and lives off others’ perspiration?” Anyone who paid for the privilege to even lug the big book around in DFW’s lifetime made him a guru living off of others' perspiration. But more than that, he wants you to work while you read it. The effort of the thing is a big part of the point and the ultimate payoff.

Moving backward from 128, other bits relevant to the present point include:

p. 118 “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. Just wait. You start thinking a whole different way now, playing.”

p. 115 “…the only way to get off one of the plateaus and climb up to the next one up ahead is with a whole lot of frustrating mindless repetitive practice and patience and hanging in there.”

p. 112 “SyberVision edits its visualization sequences with a melt-filter so Stan Smith’s follow-through loops seamlessly into his backswing for the exact same next stroke; the transitions are gauzy and dreamlike.”

p. 110 “You’re supposed to pretend it’s you on the bell-clear screen with the fluid and egoless strokes. You’re supposed to disappear into the loop and then carry that disappearance out with you, to play.”

I read the quoted material as, among other things, instructions for how to read IJ. So don’t, for instance, think of the yrstrly section as sorely lacking in punctuation. Think of it as edited with a melt-filter.