Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Catatonic Hero (Special Bonus Feature: The Hamlet Parallel, Part Two)

So, long before JOI's wraith enters the scene and starts proving himself not a hallucination, we have Don Gately, lying in a hospital bed unable to move, talk, or really interact with any other character even though many characters come and interact with him. The first connection my aimlessly drifting mind made was to Hal's essay far earlier in the book, where he calls for film and literature to take on a new kind of hero, a catatonic hero, who lets experience pass over him without the possibility of action. I, of course, had thought this to refer to Hal or JOI-- and it still does-- but in this section, hasn't Don Gately become the most literal embodiment of that idea?

We have a new suicide on our list, Gately's old neighbour. The list gets ever more staggering.

The most obvious thing to notice about the wraith scenes is that DFW and the wraith both put a lot of effort into proving that it isn't a hallucination. JOI's ghost refers to people, things, and most noticeably words, of which Don Gately has not the remotest knowledge.
No more needs saying on that score. What interests me more is that this is a continuation of the Hamlet Parallel that I detected before. The dead father/leader appears as a ghost to beseech a living character. JOI, unlike Hamlet's father, does not contact the son. My theories for why he doesn't contact Hal himself are A) JOI's whole problem is inability to communicate with Hal in a way that has any impact and B) JOI is quite familiar with Hamlet and doesn't intend to repeat Hamlet's father's mistake.
I also wonder if the wraith is the one moving things around at ETA, out of either boredom or desire to cause a stir.

I've been thinking a lot about the character of JOI, and generally, it seems that every other character is either a foil or a parallel for him, and he is either a foil or a parallel for every other character. Tiny Ewell and Don Gately seem like a good parallel for his alcoholism, although examples abound, Hal matches well with his inability to communicate, etc. Actually, the Pemulis' Da seems like a parallel for JOI's father-- something about them really strikes me the same way, even though one is a relationship of physical incest and the other isn't. The one that interests me right now is Kate Gompert as a parallel for his psychotic depression. I want to know how JOI was able to work day in and day out on the Entertainment without dying, and I wonder consequently whether it was because he was depressed. Therefore, the question stands: if Marathe shows Kate Gompert the Entertainment, will she or will she not die?
I want to know.

I confess, I'm having a little trouble remembering some of what happens in this reading, since I finished it at least two weeks ago (I didn't go any further, so now I should be at the right place in the reading.) Everything above is just a list of the things I hazily remember thinking when I read it. I'll try to refresh my memory before seminar tomorrow.


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