hal-incandenza

It now lately sometimes seemed like a kind of black miracle to me that people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit, and could go on caring this way for years on end. Could dedicate their entire lives to it. It seemed admirable and at the same time pathetic. We are all dying to give our lives away to something else, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately – the object seemed incidental to this will to give oneself away, utterly. To games or needles, to some other person.
—  Hal Incandenza, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (p. 900)
“I read,” I say. “I study and read. I bet I’ve read everything you read. Don’t think I haven’t. I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM-drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it.” My instincts concerning syntax and mechanics are better than your own, I can tell, with all due respect. But it transcends the mechanics. I’m not a machine. I feel and believe. I have opinions. Some of them are interesting. I could, if you’d let me, talk and talk.“
—  Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Hal himself hasn’t my had a bona fide intensity-of-inner-life-type emotion since he was tiny; he finds terms like joie and value to be like so many variables in rarified equations, and he can manipulate them well enough to satisfy everyone but himself that he’s in there, inside his own hull, as a human being…His Moms Avril hears her own echoes inside him and thinks what she hears is him, and this makes Hal feel the one thing he feels to the limit, lately: he is lonely.
—  “Infinite Jest”, page 694, David Foster Wallace
It now lately sometimes seemed like a kind of black miracle to me that people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit, and could go on caring this way for years on end. Could dedicate their entire lives to it. It seemed admirable and at the same time pathetic. We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately - the object seemed incidental to this will to give oneself away, utterly. To games or needles, to some other person. Something pathetic about it. A flight-from in the form of a plunging-into. Flight from exactly what? These rooms blandly filled with excrement and meat? To what purpose?
—  Hal Incandenza, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
‘You’re so naïve, Inc. You’re so sharp in one way and such a little bald fat-legged baby in the woods in others. You think you’re just going to go Here I go, deciding, and reverse total thrust and quit everything?’ 'What I said was what if.’ 'Hal, you are my friend, and I’ve been friends to you in ways you don’t even have a clue. So brace yourself for a growth-spurt. You want to quit because you’re starting to see you need it, and -’ 'That’s exactly it. Peems, think how horrible that’d be, if somebody needed it. Not just liked it a great great deal. Needing it becomes a whole separate order of… . It seems horrific. It seems like the difference between really loving something and being -’ 'Say the word, Inc.’ ’…’ 'Because you know why? What if it’s true? The word. What if you are? So the answer’s just walk away? If you’re addicted you need it, Hallie, and if you need it what do you imagine happens if you just hoist the white flag and try to go on without it, without anything?’ ’…’ 'You lose your mind, Inc. You die inside. What happens if you try and go without something the machine needs? Food, moisture, sleep, O2? What happens to the machine? Think about it.’
It’s always seemed a little preposterous that Hamlet, for all his paralyzing doubt about everything, never once doubts the reality of the ghost. Never questions whether his own madness might not in fact be unfeigned. […] That is, whether Hamlet might only be feigning feigning.
—  Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace