Explaining the Great Concavity/Great Convexity controversy in Infinite Jest

One of the very small details that has tripped me up on my rereading of Infinite Jest is the name controversy of the Great Concavity (as the U.S. calls it) or Great Convexity (as Canada calls it).  A wide set of motives are given for the events that lead up to the territory being ceded to Canada, but the gist of it is that territory in northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine was discovered in the late nineties to be heavily polluted and subsequently given to Canada. Continue reading


David Foster Wallace – The Pale King (character list)

For those interested: here is my incomplete character list for David Foster Wallace’s unfinished The Pale King.

Please feel free to make any additions or corrections and publish elsewhere.

Claude Sylvanshine (5)
Reynolds (6), 356 Jensen, Jr.
Dr. Lehrl, Systems Director (7) MerriEloise Prout aka Dr. Yes (19)
Vincent Bussy (20)
Frederick Blumquist (27), 315
Leonard (29) Stecyk
Lane A. Dean, Jr. (36)
Sheri (38) Fisher
Toni Ware (54)
Donald Jones (80)
Kenneth “Type of Thing Ken” Hindle (80), 107
Chris Acquistipace (84)
Cusk (91) David 317
D.P. Tate (101) Richard
Glendenning (128) DeWitt, Jr. 157 Continue reading

Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Idiot, part 4

I’ll start off by quoting David Foster Wallace’s quick summary of some of the major characters in The Idiot, listed along with other major Dostoevsky characters in his review of the first four volumes of Joseph Frank’s five-volume literary biography on the writer, Dostoevsky: A Writer in his Time:

[T]he beautiful and damned Nastasya of The Idiot (…who was, like Faulkener’s Caddie, “doomed and knew it,” and who’s heroism consists in her haughty defiance of a doom she also courts.  FMD seems like the first fiction writer to understand how deeply some people love their own suffering, and how they use it and depend on it.  Nietzsche would take Dostoevsky’s insight and make it a cornerstone of his own devastating attack on Christianity, and this is ironic : in our own culture of “enlightened atheism” we are very much Nietzsche’s children, his ideological heirs, and without Dostoevsky there would have been no Nietzsche, and yet Dostoevsky is among the most profoundly religious of all writers.) …     (CtL 264)

…the fawning Lebyedev (sic) and spiderish Ippolit of the same novel…    (CtL 264)

…the cynically innocent Aglaia (sic)…    (CtL 265)

…the idealized and all-too-human Myshkin…, the doomed human Christ… (CtL 265) Continue reading