National Collegiate Honors Council

 

Date of this Version

2019

Document Type

Article

Citation

Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, Vol. I, pp 113-121.

Comments

Copyright 2019 by the author.

Abstract

"Do not underestimate objects! . . . It is impossible to overstress this: do not underestimate objects" (Wallace 394). Even the most cursory reading of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest reveals the importance of objects to this work. Objects affect and vigorously direct all the characters throughout, from the tennis balls being continuously squeezed by students at the elite Enfield Tennis Academy (ETA) to the veil Joelle van Dyne wears to the plethora of drugs being consumed and, most importantly, to the cartridge of James O. Incandenza's final film, which is given the ultimate power of life and death over anyone unfortunate enough to view it. Yet, the twenty-two pages devoted to describing a single game of Eschaton--played by a group of pre-pubescent ETA students referred to as Combatants--most clearly expose how a simple object, or group of objects, can take on greater meaning and create devastating change for the individuals interacting with them. "A standout moment," this game is described as "a mash-up of Model U.N., tennis, and calculus . . . that ends in broken bones, tears, and hilarity" (Holub). A psychological critique of the objects used during the Eschaton game reveals their metamorphosis from mere objects into Things that actively affect the Combatants and ultimately destroy this game of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) while drastically altering the real world lives of all those involved.

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