I was reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. I read the part about smoking dope (marijuana) and how the character, unnamed, would prepare for the bong party, alone. He would vacuum his blinds and clean out his room and prepare drinks and food for the four day long stay within his room, because once he starts smoking it he can’t stop, but whenever he starts he promises that it is the last one, and he will have the discipline, the endurance, the will to stop all further dope smoking. He will not purchase dope, he told all his dealers to cut him off, and he will smoke so much that it causes him to be sick and hence he will be pavlov-ed into not being able to smoke anymore in the future. True to his word he always throws away his bong when he is done, he never goes back to the same dealer, and hence he always feels that increase of anxiety and shame whenever he buys a new one or lies to a new dealer that he is buying it for his friends. Because he made a promise to his self that he will not do something, and his future self always breaks that promise. A cycle that never stops because there is no reason to stop.
It really reminded me of my JC days, the guilt that I shouldn’t be bingeing on food secretly in my room, and the anxiety rising because I am not supposed to be able to eat whatever I want, the thoughts of not being able to control myself and pleasing the people around me by being the person they prefer, thinking about consuming food in large quantities, and that secretive preparation- like a worker ant building a room- buying of food, borrowing of library books or endless scrolling through tumblr sites, not cleaning out my room beforehand because I know that all the food wrappers will clutter the area and I will have to do a mass clean out of my room afterwards. The firm closing of the door, ignoring everything but food and the entertainment of choice. In Wallace’s book he mentions interlace cartridges. For me, it was just short, readable stories, or videos, or movies- anything that didn’t require brain cells and would not disrupt my hand to mouth food delivery mechanisms. I still remember the way I bought food- sometimes I would buy the three food groups from the same place- the carbohydrates- pretzel sticks, biscuits, never bread, bread is too soft, but Delifrance baguettes were passable, and then the salty, the savoury, chips, chips, lots of chips, and the sugary, the ice cream in a small tub for easy access, the chocolates, the marshmallows, the strawberry yanyans.
It was exactly like what Wallace described. That preparation, the hopeful sense that this will be the last time, but deep down, uncommitted to anything but that wild freedom. Or maybe I shouldn’t call it wild, because I was quietly controlled. It was the freedom to shut the world out for at least a good three to four hours, if not a whole day, because my stomach would be distended and I would be in a food coma would last the whole day, until I got hungry at breakfast again tomorrow. It was a sense of calmness, that anything and everything could happen and I would be untouched, until the food ran out. I was at the centre of my own world and nothing could disturb me. Food coma triumphed over biology essays or chemistry revision.
I can’t remember when my last binge episode was but it should be back in 2013. I returned to normalcy in end 2013, and for the last two years at least I might have overeaten some foods- chocolates definitely, or fried chicken, also definitely, but never have I again experienced that sense of anticipation of a binge. Not just anticipation in the way we wait for a bus, that solid daily life routine, but a slightly headier anticipation, the way we wait for a quiz result or the confirmation of good news. It had a bit of fear in it.
Wallace’s writing brought back those memories to me, I didn’t think I would even consider eating large amounts of food while reading, now, rationally I know it makes no sense. But his writing…let’s just say that Infinite Jest so far has made a very deep impression on me. That is what I would like writing to be. Not a plot that I think as ingenious, or a plot that makes me cry because it is so damn unfair to die at the age of three, but a character whom I can identify with. The character’s feelings which I can take to be my own, because i can understand that worry- What Do They Know, What Does She know, Why Am I Such A Fuckup? A character or a paragraph that makes me think- ok, I can feel this. I will continue feeling this for the next few hours.
Reaching out to his readers through a work that was published in 1996, finished in three years, across languages and oceans and time zones. Hats off. If I had any hats. AND I ONLY JUST STARTED READING. There are a thousand pages, literally, in Infinite Jest. This is going to be good. Damnnnn.
(My posts will be shorter from now on. I am posting from my mobile device.)