Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

by

David Foster Wallace

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Infinite Jest: Chapter 60 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
1 May Y.D.A.U. Outcropping Northwest of Tucson Arizona U.S.A. Steeply admits that his own father became “consumed with a sort of entertainment” at one point in his life—the TV show M*A*S*H*. He tells Marathe that his father at first just liked the show, but after a while he developed a kind of addiction to it, losing interest in all other aspects of his life. He began keeping a secret notebook filled with notes about the show. Eventually, Steeply’s father couldn’t speak about any topic other than the program. He began writing letters to the characters and believing that information was being communicated in code to certain viewers of the show.
The surreal and disturbing story of Steeply’s father again reveals the frightening psychological power of entertainment. Yet unlike in the case of the Entertainment, in this story it appears as if Steeply’s father simply had a mental health condition such as paranoid schizophrenia. After all, the TV show M*A*S*H* did not have the same effect on its millions of other viewers.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon
Steeply’s mother began taking anti-anxiety medication. His father stopped leaving the “den” where he watched the show, not even to go to the bathroom. He died there, and after his death Steeply and his family discovered that the notebooks were filled with an indecipherable code. Marathe says he can’t stay much longer, and that he would appreciate if Steeply left first. Steeply discusses the look on the faces of those transfixed by entertainment, a look of being totally trapped in an empty moment of wondering.
We now understand that Steeply’s investment in tracking down the Entertainment is not motivated only by his professional commitments or his fear for the American people. Rather, he has a painful personal relationship with the damage entertainment can do.
Themes
Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide Theme Icon
Entertainment Theme Icon