making a list and checking it twice

A list makes me feel as if I’m in control of things. It’s a little summary of what I have to do. And if I can just get “it” on a list, it’s in line to be done. It will get done.

On Sunday, in The New York Times Book Review, in the essay on the back page,”I’ve Got a Little List,” Arthur Krystal discussed literary lists. He wrote,”Isn’t every list in reality a ceremonial flourish against amnesia and chaos?”

Yes, exactly.

I keep trying different systems. What I really need is one of those hats with a pole that extends out in front of it so that the current list can dangle continuously in front of my eyes…

Lists are the one thing that don’t seem to work for me on the computer. I need them on paper.

I make lists of things as I think of them on whatever is handy (like torn-off corners of envelopes). I make more organized lists on sturdier index cards. Sometimes, I make a series of lists in a small flip notebook. Or, like yesterday, I list on a print-out of my schedule for the day–that way the list is face-up and in my face.

I have Christmas lists: the get-Christmas-started list (which except for setting up the wrapping area is complete), the gift list, the food list…

The “list” has literary beginnings. According to Krystal:

“List,” borrowed from the French word liste, first turns up, in the modern sense, in “Hamlet,” when Horatio reports that Fortinbras has “sharked up a list of landless resolutes”–i.e., indiscriminately put together a makeshift army.

How do you list?

the germ of everything

IMG_2092Following from yesterday’s Shakespeare quote, it’s interesting to note that the first two words of Hamlet are “Who’s there?” and the first two words of Infinite Jest are “I am”. I didn’t catch this. I read it on the Infinite Summer website. If you’re planning an Infinite Autumn, or Winter for that matter, here’s the link to the schedule, where you would just need to change the dates. It translates to 11 pages a day for a season (92 days). Doable. And some non-spoiler reasons to do it:

David Foster Wallace‘s ability to describe:

“Troeltsch comes over and sits down and saws at the back of his neck with the towel…”(199)

“…this isn’t like a normal adult place where everybody coolly pretends a fart didn’t happen; here everybody had to make their little comment.” (279)

“…the no-sound of falling snow.” (342)

“post-storm sad” (389)

“My mother made a mustache of her finger to hold back a sneeze.” (499)

His use of metaphor:

“Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of Psst that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer.” (291)

How he can extend a moment:

At the top of p. 335: “…Hal’s leaned way over to spit but has gotten lost in a paralytic thought-helix and hasn’t yet spit, even though he’s right in bombing-position over the NASA glass.” Then two pages later, “Hal finally spits.”

IMG_2254Random great lines:

Hal: “It’s funny what you don’t recall.” (10)

Marathe: “Choose your attachments carefully.” (107)

Hal: “Nothing brings you together like a common enemy.” (113)

Hal: “It’ll help your attitude to look for evidence of design.” (113)

Ortho Stice: “…it’s about how to reach down into parts of yourself you didn’t know were there and get down in there and live inside these parts.” (119)

Hal: “I want to be like that [Lyle]. Able to just sit all quiet and pull life toward me, one forehead at a time.” (128)

Himself: “…that books aren’t just dropped with a crash like bottles in the trashcan they’re placed, guided, with senses on Full, feeling the edges…” (161)

Hal: “…the Game is about managed fear.” (176)

Patricia Montesian: “But then so how come I can’t stop, if I want to stop, is the thing.”

Narrator (?): “That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable.” (204)

Narrator (?): “That other people can often see things about you that you yourself cannot see, even if those people are stupid.” (204)

Did anyone else like at any time while you were reading want to tear the book apart and put it in the right order just to read it through once that way, just to get it straight, so then you could go back and just enjoy the beauty coming from the juxtaposition of the moments?

Lyle: “Do not underestimate objects!” (394)

Steeply: “The kid has to learn by his own experience how to learn to balance the short- and long-term pursuit of what he wants.” (429)

Gately: “Gately can’t even start to guess what it would be like to be a sober and drug-free biker. It’s like what would be the point.” (444)

I’m beginning to think that the germ of everything that can be written can be found in Infinite Jest.

Gately: “Use less words.” (535)

From page 535, until tomorrow…

[3rd in a series of 5 posts on finishing IJ]

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