Chronology of Organization of North American Nations’ Revenue-Enhancing Subsidized Time™, By Year. The order of subsidized years is as follows: 1) Year of the Whopper, 2) Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad, 3) Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar, 4) Year of the Perdue Wonderchicken, 5) Year of the Whisper-Quiet Maytag Dishmaster, 6) Year of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-to-Install-Upgrade for Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems for Home, Office, or Mobile (sic), 7) Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland, 8) Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment, and 9) Year of Glad.
The hilarious names of the corporately-sponsored years, some of which are so long that they are deeply impractical, point to the absurdity of the corporate dystopia in which the novel is set. The money earned through naming rights trumps all other considerations about these ridiculous names and the impracticality of their use.
Walking through Boston, Joelle thinks about Québécois separatists and how pointless their actions seem, but this is in part because drug-addicted and suicidal people find it hard to understand why anyone cares about anything. Before his death, Jim (Incandenza) filmed Joelle for many hours but never let her see the footage. Joelle nicknamed him “Infinite Jim.” After Orin left, Joelle went through a phase of getting high and cleaning. At this point it is revealed that Joelle is Madame Psychosis.
In this passage, several seemingly disparate aspects of the narrative are braided together. As someone with links to Boston, drugs, mental illness, filmmaking, M.I.T., and the Incandenza family, Joelle is at the intersection of many different parts of the world of the book, some of which overlap only through her.
That morning, Joelle freebased cocaine “for the last time” and threw away all her paraphernalia. She then picked up 8 grams of crack from her dealer, telling her that this really was the last time and paying double the usual amount as a kind of goodbye present. While she is waiting for the T at Davis Square, an older black man approaches her and, unusually, Joelle agrees to engage in conversation with him. She shows him her ID card for the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed, which was founded in London in 1940 by the wife of an MP.
The Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed is the kind of invention that has Wallace’s signature all over it. An organization that mixes absurdist humor with grim reality, it supports the idea that people gravitate toward institutional affiliation—no matter how obscure and bizarre the cause for that affiliation.