Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

by

David Foster Wallace

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Infinite Jest can help.

Infinite Jest: Chapter 55 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Early November Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. Rodney Tine, Chief of the O.U.S., owns a “special metric ruler” with which he measures his penis every morning. The Entertainment has been surfacing in a number of different locations, and each time the O.U.S. dispatches special agents to deal with it. In the latest instance, a film scholar and his partner disappear for multiple days, and a group of police, paramedics, and TP technicians are dispatched to the couple’s home in Berkeley, CA. The Entertainment has also appeared to wipe out the majority of the audience of an avant-garde film festival in Arizona, not to mention the medical attaché and associated “incidentals” in Boston.
The O.U.S. may be doing everything in their power to track down the Entertainment, but this is not easy considering that it looks like any other film cartridge. Furthermore, film cartridges can be copied, meaning that there is no way of knowing or controlling how many copies of the Entertainment exist. In this sense, the Entertainment is like a virus—and fundamentally beyond the government’s control.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Extreme measures have had to be taken to prevent President Gentle from acting on his wish to see the Entertainment himself. The intelligence community as a whole refer to it as “the samizdat.” Technically, the threat it poses falls under the jurisdiction of the O.U.S.’s Anti-Anti-O.N.A.N. Activities’ Agency (which an endnote explains is O.U.S.’s “most elite and least specific division”).
“Samizdat” is a Russian word. It was used in the Soviet era to describe self-published dissident materials, and thus its application to the Entertainment speaks both to the DIY nature of the film’s production and the intention of political insurgents to use it against the state.
Themes
Talent, Precociousness, and Fame Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Rebellion Theme Icon