DFW: What You Learn at a Substance Recovery Facility

I continue to wind my way through Infinite Jest. I’m on page 200. Wallace just spent three pages starting almost every sentence with "That". The preface is, What you learn when you spend some time at a substance-recovery facility. Wise and amusing:

  • That there’s a certain type of person who carries a picture of their therapist in their wallet.
  • That (both a relief and a kind of an odd let-down) black penises tend to be the same general size as white penises, on the whole.
  • That certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do.
  • That no matter how smart you thought you were, you are actually way less smart than that.
  • That sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused.
  • That you do not have to like a person in order to learn from him/her/it.
  • That loneliness is not a function of solitude.
  • That cliquey alliance and exclusion and gossip can be forms of escape.
  • That it is statistically easier for low-IQ people to kick an addiction than it is for high-IQ people.
  • That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness.
  • That it is simply more pleasant to be happy than it is to be pissed off.
  • That 99% of compulsive thinkers’ thinking is about themselves.
  • That the people to be most frightened of are the people who are the most frightened.
  • That it takes great personal courage to let yourself appear weak.
  • That you don’t have to hit somebody even if you really really want to.
  • That pretty much everybody masturbates.
  • That "acceptance’ is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else.
  • That different people have radically different ideas of basic personal hygiene.
  • That, perversely, it is often more fun to want something than to have it.
  • That if you do something nice for somebody in secret, anonymously, without letting the person you did it for know it was you or anybody else know what it was you did or in any way shape or form trying to get credit for it, it’s almost its own form of intoxicating buzz.
  • That everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.

That Infinite Jest is not your normal novel.

6 Responses to DFW: What You Learn at a Substance Recovery Facility

  1. Johnny Rolles says:

    Hey! Where the hell did my comment go? And where the hell did other people’s comments go?

  2. Ben Casnocha says:

    Were there other comments? I don’t see any. Strange.

  3. Excuse my bluntness, but these truisms define banal.

  4. Shefaly says:

    Vince, note that these truisms come from experiences at a substance abuse facility, where banality is probably mistaken for profundity… :-)

  5. Peter L says:

    Oftentimes, incredibly profound statements get labeled as banal precisely because they are true. If these statements have made you stop to think about life (as they have made me), then they are, by definition, not truisms. If they didn’t, then you need to read a bit slower.

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