“There’s More to Life ThanSitting There SimplyInterfacing” : David Foster Wallace and his Reader in a Literature afterPostmodernism


David Foster Wallace felt that literature was at a historical crossroad, and thatpostmodernism had passed the point which it could still be considered a'revolutionary' cultural phenomenon. He felt that the capitalistic machinery of TVand advertisement had absorbed the postmodernist techniques of pastiche,deconstruction and rejection of a distinction between high and low culturalmodels, to a point where there was no longer a difference between reality and itsown representation. Something that represented a problem for both youngnovelists and readers.This thesis analyses Infinite Jest as a response to this very problem, trying tounderstand in which way Wallace wanted to get over postmodernism, establishinga new kind of literature that highlights the artificiality of reality, by using differenttools than postmodernism. Cross-referencing media and literary studies, my thesisargues that Infinite Jest is a novel that emphasizes the fact that it is a construct. Ishow how the book acknowledges, and gives value to the subjectivity of everyhuman experience, but still stressing the idea that all the data that the reader isreceiving is and will always be heavily mediated information. Therefore, I showhow Wallace uses his characters as if they were human recording devices, creatingin this way a book that is some sort of hybrid between literature and TV.Furthermore, I explain how, by means of narrative devices (such as a disruptiveand incomplete plot, hundreds of endnotes), Wallace wanted to restore thecommunicative function of a text, making himself sure that the reader is invited toactively cooperate in the formation of the novel's meaning, ultimately meeting,and engaging into a dialogue with the author's consciousness in the novel'slanguage, breaking that state of self-consciousness and isolation into which thereader has been condemned by postmodernism and capitalism. Showing that“There's more to life than sitting there simply interfacing”1 David Foster Wallace; Infinite Jest; media studies; Postmodernism; Image-fiction Television; intermediality; transmediality; narratology; heteroglossia. 1 David F. Wallce, Infinite Jest, (Back Bay Books 2016), p. 14

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