Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Fictional Films of Infinite Jest

My favorite book ever is Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace.  It's a dystopian, sprawling epic tragi-comedy about America, addiction, depression, family dysfunction, tennis, technology, and pretty much everything.  One of the characters in the novel is a man named James O. Incandenza, a mysterious figure who killed himself by putting his head in a microwave before the novel begins.  However, in many ways, his "ghost" haunts the main character of the novel, his son Hal.  Before he killed himself, James made a vast array of art films, whose themes offer commentary on the novel.  All of James' films are listed in the copious end notes of Infinite Jest.  One idea I have been toying with for a while is to try to actually make some of these films, as a kind of personal art project.  Here's a shortened list of James' films, with brief summaries and some fake movie posters I found online.  Stay tuned.  Maybe I will start trying to make these fictional films real.
"Cage" - Soliloquized parody of a broadcast-television advertisement for shampoo, utilizing four convex mirrors, two planar mirrors, and one actress. 
"Kinds Of Light" -  4,444 individual frames, each of which photo depicts lights of different source, wavelength, and candle power, each reflected off the same unpolished tin plate and rendered disorienting at normal projection speeds by the hyperretinal speed at which they pass. 

"Dark Logics" -  Child-sized but severely palsied hand turns pages of incunabular manuscripts in mathematics, alchemy, religion, and bogus political autobiography, each page comprising some articulation or defense of intolerance and hatred. Films dedication to D.W. Griffith and Taka Iimura. 
"Tennis, Everyone?" - Public relations/advertorial production for United States Tennis Association in conjunction with Wilson Sporting Goods, Inc. 
"There Are No Losers Here" -  Documentary on 1997 U.S.T.A. National Junior Tennis Championships, Kalamazoo, MI, and Miami, FL, in conjunction with United States Tennis Association and Wilson Sporting Goods. 
"Flux In A Box" - Documentary history of box, platform, lawn, and court tennis from the 17th-century Court Of Dauphin to the present. 

"Annular Fusion Is Our Friend" - Public relations/advertorial production for New England’s Sunstrand Power and Light utility, a non-technical explanation of the processes of DT-cycle lithiumized annular fusion and its applications in domestic energy production. 
"Annular Amplified Light: Some Reflections" - Second infomercial for Sunstrand Co., a non-technical explanation of the applications of cooled-photon lasers in DT-cycle lithiumized annular fusion. 
"Union Of Nurses In Berkeley" - Documentary and closed-caption interviews with hearing-impaired RNs and LPNs during Bay Area health care reform riots of 1996. 
"Union Of Theoretical Grammarians In Cambridge" -  Documentary and closed-caption interviews with participants in the public Steven Pinker-Avril M. Incadenza debate on the political implications of prescriptive grammar during the infamous Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts convention credited with helping incite the M.I.T. language riots of 1997. 
"Widower" - Shot on location in Tucson, AZ, parody of broadcast television domestic comedies, a cocaine-addicted father leads his son around their desert property immolating poisonous spiders. 
"Cage II" - Sadistic penal authorities place a blind convict and a deaf-mute convict  together in ‘solitary confinement,’ and the two men attempt to devise ways of communicating with each other. 

"Death In Scarsdale" - A world-famous dermatological endocrinologist becomes platonically obsessed with a boy he is treating for excessive perspiration, and begins himself to suffer from excessive perspiration. 
"Fun With Teeth" -  A dentist performs sixteen unanesthetized root-canal procedures on an academic he suspects of involvement with his wife. 

"Immanent Domain" -  Three memory-neurons in the Inferior frontal gyrus of a man’s brain fight heroically to prevent their displacement by new memory-neurons as the man undergoes intense psychoanalysis. 

"Kinds Of Pain" -  2,222 still-frame close-ups of middle-aged white males suffering from almost every conceivable type of pain, from an ingrown toenail to cranio-facial neuralgia to inoperable colo-rectal neoplastis. 
"Various Small Flames" -  Images of myriad varieties of small household flames, from lighters and birthday candles to stovetop gas rings and grass clippings ignited by sunlight through a magnifying glass, alternated with anti-narrative sequences of a man sitting in a dark bedroom drinking bourbon while his wife Heath and an Amway representative have acrobatic coitus in the background’s lit hallway. 

"Cage III - Free Show" -  The figure of death presides over the front entrance of a carnival sideshow whose spectators watch performers undergo unspeakable degradations so grotesquely compelling that the spectators’ eyes become larger and larger until the spectators themselves are transformed into gigantic eyeballs in chairs, while on the other side of the sideshow tent the figure of Life (Heaven) uses a megaphone to invite fairgoers to an exhibition in which, if the fairgoers consent to undergo unspeakable degradations, they can witness ordinary persons gradually turn into gigantic eyeballs. 
"The Medusa v. The Odalisque" -  Mobile holograms of two visually lethal mythologic females duel with reflective surfaces onstage while a live crowd of spectators turn to stone. 

"The Machine In The Ghost: Annular Holography For Fun And Prophet" - Nontechnical introduction to theories of annular enhancement and zone-plating and their applications in high-resolution laser holography. 
"Homo Duplex" - Interviews with fourteen Americans who are named John Wayne but are not the legendary 20th-century film actor John Wayne. 

"Zero-Gravity Tea Ceremony" - The intricate Ocha-Kai is conducted 2.5 m. off the ground in the Johnson Space Center’s zero-gravity-simulation chamber. 

"Pre-Nuptial Agreement Of Heaven And Hell" -  God and Satan play poker with Tarot cards for the soul of an alcoholic sandwich-bag salesman obsessed with Bernini’s ‘The Ecstacy Of St. Teresa.’ 

"The Joke" - Two Ikegami EC-35 video cameras in the theater record the ‘film’s’ audience and project the resultant raster onto screen - the theater audience watching itself watch itself get the obvious ‘joke’ and become increasingly self-conscious and uncomfortable and hostile supposedly comprises the film’s involuted ‘anti-narrative’ flow. Incadenza’a first truly controversial project, Film & Kartridge Kultcher’s Sperber credited it with ‘unwittingly sounding the death-knell of post-poststructual film in terms of sheer annoyance.’ 
"Every Inch Of Disney Leith" - Miniaturized, endoscopic, and microinvasive cameras traverse entire exterior and interior of one of Incadenza’a technical crew as he sits on a folded serape in the Boston Common listening to a public forum on uniform North American metrication. 

"The Man Who Began To Suspect He Was Made Of Glass" -  A man undergoing intensive psychotherapy discovers that he is brittle, hollow, and transparent to others, and becomes either transcendentally enlightened or schizophrenic. 
"The American Century As Seen Through A Brick" -  As U.S. Boston’s historical Back Bay streets are stripped of brick and repaved with polymerized cement, the resultant career of one stripped brick is followed, from found-art temporary installation to displacement by E.W.D. catapult to a waste-quarry in southern Quebec to its use in the F.L.Q.-incited anti-O.N.A.N. riots of January/Whopper, all intercut with ambiguous shots of human thumb’s alterations in the interference pattern of a plucked string. 
"The ONANtiad" -  Oblique, obesessive, and not very funny claymation love triangle played out against live-acted backdrop of the inception of North American Interdependence and Continental Reconfiguration. 
"The Universe Lashes Out" -  Documentary on the evacuation of Atkinson, NH/New Quebec at the inception of Continental Reconfiguration. 
"Poultry In Motion" -  Documentary on renegade North Syracuse, NNY, turkey farmers’ bid to prevent toxification of Thanksgiving crop by commandeering long, shiny O.N.A.N. trucks to transplant over 200,000 pertussive fowl south to Ithaca. 
"Mobius Strips" -  A theoretical physicist, who can only achieve creative mathematical insight during coitus, conceives of Death as a lethally beautiful woman. 

"Wave Bye-Bye To The Bureaucrat" - A harried commuter is mistaken for Christ by a child he knocks over.
"Blood Sister: One Tough Nun" -  A formerly delinquent nun’s failure to reform a juvenile delinquent leads to a rampage of recidivist revenge. 

"Let There Be Lite" - Unfinished documentary on genesis of reduced-calorie bourbon industry. 
"No Troy" - Scale-model holographic recreation of Troy, NY’s, bombardment by miscalibrated Waste Displacement Vehicles, and its subsequent elimination by O.N.A.N. cartographers. 
"Valuable Coupon Has Been Removed" - A boy helps his alcoholic-delusional father and disassociated mother dismantle their bed to search for rodents, and later he intuits the future feasibility of D.T.-cycle lithiumized annular fusion. 
"Baby Pictures Of Famous Dictators" -  Children and adolescents play a nearly incomprehensible nuclear strategy game with tennis equipment against a real or holographic (?) backdrop of sabotaged ATHSCME 1900 atmospheric displacement towers exploding and toppling during the New New England Chemical Emergency of Y.W. 

"Stand Behind The Men Behind The Wire" - Documentary on Essex County Sheriff’s Dept. and Massachusetts Department Of Social Services’ expedition to track, verify, capture, or propitiate the outsized feral infant alleged to have crushed, gummed, or picked up and dropped over a dozen residents of Lowell. 
"As Of Yore" -  A middle-aged tennis instructor, preparing to instruct his son in tennis, becomes intoxicated in the family’s garage and subjects his son to a rambling monologue while the son weeps and perspires. 
"Good-Looking Men In Small Clever Rooms That Utilize Every Centimeter Of Available Space With Mind-Boggling Efficiency" - Unfinished due to hospitalization. 

"Low-Temperature Civics" - Four sons intrigue for control of a sandwich-bag conglomerate after their CEO father has an ecstatic encounter with Death and becomes irreversibly catatonic. 
"(At Least) Three Cheers For Cause And Effect" - The headmaster of a newly constructed high-altitude sports academy becomes neurotically obsessed with litigation over the construction’s ancillary damage to a V.A. hospital far below, as a way of diverting himself from his wife’s poorly hidden affair with the academically renowned mathematical topologist who is acting as the project’s architect. 
"(The) Desire To Desire" -  A pathology resident falls in love with a beautiful cadaver and the paralyzed sister she died rescuing from the attack of an oversized feral infant. Listed by some archivists as unfinished. 
"Safe Boating Is No Accident" -  A claustrophobic water-ski instructor, struggling with his romantic conscience after his fiancee’s face is grotesquely mangled by an outboard propeller, becomes trapped in an overcrowded hospital elevator with a defrocked Trappist monk, two overcombed missionaries for the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, an enigmatic fitness guru, the Massachusetts State Commissioner for Beach and Water Safety, and seven severely intoxicated opticians with silly hats and exploding cigars. 
"Very Low Impact" -  A narcoleptic aerobics instructor (Chumm) struggles to hide her condition from students and employers. 
"The Night Wears a Sombrero" -  A nearsighted apprentice cowpoke, swearing vengeance for a gunslinger’s rape of what he is secretly in love with, loses the trail of the gunslinger after misreading a road sign and is drawn to a sinister Mexican ranch where Oedipally aggrieved gunslingers are ritually blinded by a mysterious veiled nun .
"Accomplice!" -  An aging pederast mutilates himself out of love for a strangely tattooed street hustler.  Reviewers called Accomplice! ‘…the stupidest, nastiest, least subtle and worst-edited product of a pretentious and wretchedly uneven career.’

"Dial C For Concupiscence" -  A cellular phone operator, mistaken by a Quebecois terrorist for another cellular phone operator the FLQ had mistakenly tried to assassinate, mistakes his mistaken attempts to apologize as attempts to assassinate her and flees to a bizarre Islamic religious community whose members communicate with each other by means of semaphore flags, where she falls in love with an armless Near Eastern medical attache.
"Insubstantial Country" -  An unpopular apres-garde filmmaker either suffers a temporal lobe seizure and becomes mute or else is the victim of everyone else’s delusion that his (Watt’s) temporal lobe seizure has left him mute. 
"It Was A Great Marvel That He Was In The Father Without Knowing Him" -  A father, suffering from the delusion that his etymologically precocious son is pretending to be mute, poses as a ‘professional conversationalist’ in order to draw the boy out. 
"The Film Adaptation Of Peter Weiss’s ‘The Persecution And Assassination Of Marat As Performed By The Inmates Of The Asylum At Charenton Under The Direction Of The Marquis de Sade’" -  Fictional ‘interactive documentary’ on Boston stage production of Weiss’s 20th-century play within play, in which the documentary’s chemically impaired director (Incadenza) repeatedly interupts the inmates’ dumbshow-capering and Marat and Sade’s dialogues to discourse incoherently on the implications of Brando’s Method Acting and Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty for North American filmed entertainment, irritating the actor who plays Marat to such an extent that he has a cerebral hemorrhage and collapses onstage well before Marat’s scripted death, whereupon the play’s nearsighted director, mistaking the actor who plays Sade for Incadenza, throws Sade into Marat’s medicinal bath and throttles him to death, whereupon the extra-dramatic figure of Death descends deus ex machina to bear Marat and Sade away, while Incadenza becomes ill all over the theater audience’s first row. 
"Infinite Jest (V?)" -  Incadenza’s last film, Incadenza’s death occurring during its post-production. Most archival authorities list as unfinished, unseen. 

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