Wednesday, May 09, 2007

" math. As in Matics, Math. E"

"First-order predicate logic Never fail you. Quantities and their relation. Rates of change. The vital statistics of God or equivalent. When all else fails. When the boulder's slid all the way back to the bottom. When the headless are blaming. When you do not know your way about. You can fall back and regroup around math. Whose truth is deductive truth. Independent of sense or emotionality. The syllogism. The identitiy. Modus Tollens. Transitivty. Heaven's theme song. The nightlight on life's dark wall, late at night. Heaven's recipe book. The hydrogen spiral. The methane, ammonia, H2O. Nucleic acids. A and G, T and C. The creeping inevitablity. Caius is mortal. Math is not mortal. What it is is: listen: it's true."

"Not 'If thus-and-such.' Not 'unless a gladhanding commercial realtor from Boardman MN in $400 Banfi loafers changes his mind.' Always and ever. As in puts the a in a priori. An honest lamp in the inkiest black"

In addition to being a beautiful passage of pathos and although contained in footnote 324, this speech by Pemulis is an important addition to the philosophies presented in the book so far.
We have, most notably, the AA philosophy of following the already established system, irrelevent of whether or not you believe it, just because it works, the AmericanQuebecois dichotomy of perspectives on freedom, Schtitt's theory of a game's beauty/complexity due to its rules. All of them, including Pemulis', presuppose that you put your trust in the system and that the system will take care of you. Choose a temple. Follow the 12 Steps the cliches. Play by the rules. Essentially, every single one of these theories is a theory of submission, a neccessary submission in order to feel good about yourself and your life. To resolve all of your spiritual conflicts by submitting your free will, your own perceptions, to what boils down to folk wisdom.

Coupling that idea with the discussion of subjective/objective we get the following. As the main problem of distinguishing between objective and subjective is individual perception, the only way to achieve spiritual tranquility, a sense of being a meaningful part of the world, knowledge of the whole that surrounds us, is by submitting this perception to the perception that is emergent on a level much above the indiviudal. Noone, who in the book has achieved freedom, or is succeeding on their way to achieving freedom, does so on their own. Everyone has assembled themselves into groups. AA, Ennet House, A.F.R.

Pemulis' math works the same way, in that it's pure. As long as it is not applied to real life, as long as it is self-contained, its observation gives the mathematician a sense of security, a sense that things make sense, that they are "true". But to do that, the mathematician leaves hisher personal ideas, personal perspectives completely behind in favor of a complex system.

In my opinion, the primary characters, who are complimentary in their purposes, of the book are Don Gately, James Incandenza and Hal Incandenza. While Don Gately's associatated descriptions directly deal with the above philosophies concrete effect on a human being, the Incandenzas stand in counterpoint. The problem of the Incandenzas is not being burdened by their personal perspectives, but not being able to express them(JOI) or feel them(HAL) on any level.

To explain, JOI, as well as the rest of the family, is unable to communicate with any human beings in a direct manner. His only mode of communication is film, which is always wildly misinterpreted by other people. Whatever his personal perspective on the world is, he is unable to relay it. According to the latest passage, this hurt him when he saw his most gifted child, Hal, begin to lose any personal perspective, and JOI was not able to do anything about it. His final attempt was a film (Infinte Jest (V or VI)), upon whose completion JOI killed Himself. Now, back from the grave, as a wraith, it appears JOI is still desperately trying to communicate. Given the Entertainment's lethal quality, JOI has obviously placed the personal above all else. In essence, the entertainment is the opposite of AA's 12 Step: it is full indulgence of the personal perspective (or so gathered from MaratheSteeply's retelling of 1960-1970s "pleasure" experiments). Notice that JOI has made the Entertainment altruistically, to stop his son's regression of personality. This is also contrary to the selfish reasons of all other philosophies in the book.

Hal, JOI sees as personally regressed, which is something Hal calls loneliness. In addition, he feels empty on the inside, having nothing to say. Yet, Hal is precise, having memorized the OED. Notably, Hal is claimed (by Pemulis) that he is not wired for math, nothing beyond precalculus or maybe calculus. This, given also Hal's nightmare regarding the infintely convoluted Tennis field suggests that Hal is not able to follow folk wisdom, and is instead, as his father claims, wired for exhibiting personal perspective. It is also important to note that Hal's suppressor, Avril(who according to Orin suffocates everyone), an explanation for her role is directly given by the Entertainment's alleged content.

So, JOI and Hal, quest for not submission but expression of their personalities. Thus, they seem as the only truly free characters.

P.S. Notice Hal's diction in Year of Glad is very mathematical. Notice also that in Year of Glad his great essays are mentioned, whereas his standardized test scores are abysmal, which also shows the dichotomy between the submission to the existing system and personal expression.

P.P.S. This is all just a certain angled interpretation, I'm not sure I believe it 100%, having written it out, maybe I'm tired, but it's an interesting one.


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