Annotated Bibliography

I was going to wait for Dionysian inspiration for a thesis but I’m paying for these credits and the bursar’s office seems unwilling to negotiate so I guess I’ll have to get to it. I’ve had only brief encounters with literary theory and because of this I wanted to start with broader and more seminal works, regarding deconstruction specifically, as the hazy incipience of my slowly forming thesis seems to have it’s roots in this particular literary theory. It also seems futile to start specific as definition is this pursuit of precision through subtraction, or I guess like Platonic distance. So far I’d like to do something involving David Foster Wallace’s use of polarized diction in Infinite Jest, specifically in the narrative involving Don Gately. Told in 3rd person omniscient by a very intrusive author with a domineering style, Wallace narrates with a violent register ranging from the very colloquial to the incredibly esoteric. Gately, in the vein of Huck Finn, is a character of minimal literacy that doesn’t preclude him from moral abstraction and internal conflict, the kind of dilemmas reserved for the “self-actualized” or more competently literate characters. Gately’s ability to draw personal enlightenment through cliche (cliché as the decline of the proverbial mode of didacticism in oral cultures) throughout the novel move in an opposing vector to Hal Incandenza’s convolution of self despite a superior literacy. This is all getting tossed around and I’m not sure what it will ultimately look like in regards to a nice, succinct little sentence with a point of clarity and much of that could depend on the exterior sources I read and how that could cause my presuppositions to alter from what I think is a slowly narrowing point of focus. Regardless, this is the general area where I’d like to start from and we’ll see how progresses.

Concerning the selection of the works I had a little help with the orality/literacy thing from the other class I’m currently taking, so that helped save me some time poking around. After that I basically googled deconstruction and that brings you to Barthes and Derrida (this very quick only because I’m going to do a little list with some explaining after this). The last book, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s The Tractucus, was selected based on background knowledge of the author (Wallace) and the influence the philosopher had on Wallace’s work in general. The articles selected were found in the MLA Bibliography through the school’s library website and was pretty simple to use. Some of them are available as online texts and others on google books. Those that aren’t are in the CUNY system so acquiring texts should be relatively simple. I’d like to think I’ve developed a good base to start from and we’ll see how different time and exposure to other things will affect this initial attempt. So here’s the little breakdown with the titles and everything (see professor, already following directions):

Barthes, Roland. S/Z: An Essay. Trans. Richard Miller. United States: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, Inc., 1974. Print.

This is the work that Barthes murders the author through an examination of a work by Balzac. By eliminating the author as the singular source of meaning where the text is essentially a trail of breadcrumbs to follow back to an ultimate meaning. By placing the responsibility on readers to create meaning it creates a plurality of interpretation. As to why this is pertinent to my research I’m not specifically positive yet, but I do know that Infinite Jest is written with an amplified voice and a style that isn’t concerned with the norms of psychological realism. Intrusion and language not belonging to characters are large parts of Wallace’s style which in an ironic way reinforces Barthes’ assertion. The myth of words belonging to characters in a closed system with little variable of meaning is glaringly impossible with Wallace’s style. The relation of this to what I think will be the area my thesis will investigate is how the language of the highly literate is ultimately alienating and of very little power to indicate any metaphysical “goodness” or “health.” And to negotiate the polarities in language as a means to discern something more true about humanity than the accepted norms of I guess “bourgeois” convention. Well at least I hope.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammotolgy. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Print.

This selection has more to do with my need to understand all this talk about binary relation and the strength of the written word over the Platonic ideal of orality. Obviously, not having read this yet it would be hard to ascertain a specific point of reference for the pertinence of this source to as of yet undeveloped thesis but I feel this work’s importance in deconstruction will help clarify some of the reason for Wallace’s polarized style.

Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy (New Accents). New York: Routledge. 2002. Print.

This is the work that was sampled in the other class I’m currently taking this semester. It deals with the evolution of thought from oral to literate and how it has changed culture and identity, narrowing experience from one that was formerly communal to what is now a culture predicated on the individual. This could be the source of what is to become a more cultivated thesis as I think Don Gately’s internal awakening is harbored by immersion into a community where Hal’s descent into solipsism is a product of his isolating himself through immersion into his own consciousness as a product of heightened literacy/consciousness that sequesters him from the convention’s that created the very situation.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. United States: Seven Treasures Publications, 2009. Print.

This was selected due to the influence on the author and for his inquiries into language and knowledge and ideas regarding solipsism. Its treatment of language and its failures to elucidate truth due to the variability of signs that are too easily deconstructed will help explain Hal’s descent into solipsism as an inability to communicate in an open system where Gately’s ability to sacrifice the illusion of self to the closed system of AA and it’s reliance on cliché and jargon to support the necessary vacating of the self that leads to recursive tendencies inherent in drug addicts.

Ewijk, Petrus van. “‘I’ and the ‘Other’: the Relevance of Wittgenstein, Buber and Levinas for an Understanding of AA’s Recovery Program in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.” English Text Construction 2.1 (2009): 132-145. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 3 Oct. 2010.

This article helps in its specific discussion regarding Wittgenstein’s influence on Infinite Jest and how his views of language concern identity. Language as an external system used to parallel reality and the need for eliminating variable so as to construct limits is what helps save Gately. Hal’s continuing search for a system to help is rendered impossible by a superior literacy that has alienated him from closed systems because of inability to accept the almost cult like vernaculars without ironic trepidation.

Aubry, Timothy. “Selfless Cravings: Addiction and Recovery in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.” American Fiction of the 1990s: Reflections of History and Culture. Ed. Jay Prosser. London, England: Routledge, 2008. 206-219. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 3 Oct. 2010.

The culture of addiction and denying impulse is central to questions of self. The issue of autonomy and self possession is speciously reinforced by the decision to consume as it can no longer be a decision when it becomes compulsion. The lie of the self perpetuates its own independent existence as it has to constantly pander to an infinitely amplifying appetite. The articles discussion of addiction and recovery corresponds with the idea of how language and its variables make it difficult to unify the self and create ironic readings of what occurs in the stream of consciousness that won’t be quiet, especially in the cycle of addiction.

Burn, Stephen J. “‘The Machine-Language of the Muscles’: Reading, Sport, and the Self in Infinite Jest.” Upon Further Review: Sports in American Literature. Ed. Michael Cocchiarale and Scott D. Emmert. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. 41-50. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 3 Oct. 2010.

This article discusses the idea of closed systems regarding sport which is where Hal can still behave with grace as his ability to behave in social environments has dissipated into oblivion. His ability to still perform athletically (machine-language) corresponds to idea that language stripped of variables allows for an ability to be free from the lie of self in this kind of paradox where to lose the self is to gain autonomy even in highly limited sense.

Hayles, N. Katherine. “The Illusion of Autonomy and the Fact of Recursivity: Virtual Ecologies, Entertainment, and Infinite Jest.” New Literary History: A Journal of Theory and Interpretation 30.3 (1999): 675-97. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 3 Oct. 2010.

Hayles directly concerns her focus with the idea of autonomy and if it’s actually a real thing or a myth of bred of human awareness of appetite. The illusion of autonomy shares its origin with language’s ability to misdirect. She deals heavily with Locke and Descartes so I may have to look at some of their texts as I have very little exposure to their ideas. But I don’t know pertinent those texts would be to what I’m researching as I’m more concerned with how systems of language can liberate and how that corresponds with the idea of oral cultures as being more equipped to support those systems whereas literacy has created a system with no discernible limits except for those of the individual.

Goerlandt, Iannis. “‘Put the Book Down and Slowly Walk Away’: Irony and   David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 47.3 (2006): 309-28. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 3 Oct. 2010.

Irony is inextricable from the idea of variability in language. Its the cause of multiple readings and the idea of presence and absence which is a fundamental concept of deconstruction and Derrida. Irony is pervasive in Wallace’s prose and an inherent component of his prolix sentences that go on for days.

Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest. New York, NY. Little Brown. 1996. Print.

I wasn’t sure if this required 10 texts besides the one that is the basis of my paper or if it was to include it. But the reasons are pretty evident for this one and if it’s not supposed to be included I’ve got another source to find.

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4 Responses to “Annotated Bibliography”

  1.    Sean Rogers Says:

    I can’t get the things to indent on the citations and it was pissing me off so basically I’m not ignorant of mla just ignorant of making this blog do stuff.

  2.    David Richter Says:

    Hey, don’t worry about MLA format on the blog. I’ll check and see about how you get blogs on this platform to do things like indent. I see you got it to perform feats like italics and I suspect that you can get it to bold face if you ask it nicely.

    If these two paragraphs are indented then it may mean you need to just space in five spaces or whatever.

  3.    David Richter Says:

    Apparently that doesn’t work either….

  4.    keresőoptimalizálás Says:

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