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AA in Infinite Jest

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Emily Hill

on 30 November 2015

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Transcript of AA in Infinite Jest

Criticism of Wallace
David Foster Wallace has recieved criticism for his "humble" portrayal of himself, with many saying that it is a false persona of a man who believes he is the smartest in the room (Bustillos).

Alcoholics Anonymous
Some argue that Wallace's use of such over-the-top stories in the AA portions of
Infinite Jest
are not Wallace's way of advocating for the program, but rather the opposite (Timmer 167).
Cliches Reveal Truth
Wallace learned in his time at the Granada House that in order to overcome his addiction he needed to "abandon the sense of himself as the smartest person in the room" (Max), because he put himself in the room like everyone else.

“It starts to turn out that the vapider the AA cliché, the sharper the canines of the real truth it covers” (Wallace 446).
Art is Objective
Art is supposed to cause a reaction. The reaction that it causes can wildly differ based on who is seeing, reading, or hearing it.

Therefore, the so-called "over-the-top" stories of the Boston AA meetings may be so for some, but may have a tremendously different impact for others.
Shocks the Reality into the Reader
The grotesque imagery of the two woman's stories in the Boston AA meeting is not so over-the-top that the reader dismisses it. Instead, the imagery and hardships of the women stay with the reader and jarrs them into the reality of what addiction can do.
Wallace's Doubts
Wallace himself is a mixture of rejecting irony and rejecting his rejection. He describes how he is less interested in intellectual things and more interested in the things he was told to shy away from. In his 2005 Kenyon commencement speech, he has sincere moments, but then "recoils from the truisms he has just uttered" (Peeker 17).
Alcoholics Anonymous in Infinite Jest:
Jarring the Reader into Reality

Many critics praised the hilarity of Infinite Jest, when Wallace meant to produce an extremely sad book. This subjective quality to literature can be misleading in Wallace's intentions, but the gruesome and heart-wrenching stories of the women in AA, as well as Wallace's own history with AA, show that he believes in its effectiveness.
Works Cited
Bustillos, Maria. "Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library." <i>The Awl Inside David Foster Wallaces Private SelfHelp Library Comments</i>. The Awl, 5 Apr. 2011. Web. Nov. 2015.

Griffith, Kevin, and Sebastian Griffith. "Brickjest." <i>Brickjest</i>. N.p., n.d. Web. Nov. 2015.

Max, D. T. <i>Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace</i>. New York: Viking, 2012. Print.

Peeker, Aili Pettersson. "Infinite Endnotes and Important Cliches." <i>Humanities and Theology</i> (n.d.): n. pag. Lund University, Apr. 2014. Web. Nov. 2015.

Timmer, Nicoline. <i>Do You Feel It Too?: The Post-postmodern Syndrome in American Fiction at the Turn of the Millennium</i>. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010. Print.

Wallace, David Foster., and Dave Eggers. <i>Infinite Jest: A Novel</i>. New York: Back Bay, 2006. Print.
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