The Great American Hack: David Foster Wallace and Aaron Swartz


By Claire Evans

I just finished Infinite Jest.

Like anyone who’s spent months reading a 1,008-page book, particularly this one, I’m at a loss. It’s sprawling, and by this point, all the important details from the novel’s opening pages are teetering on the foggy edges of my memory. I want to throw it across the room—out of desperation, or passionate love, or both. Instead I pick it up and begin it all over again, this time humbled. A student. But I’m lonely—everyone else I know read this book ten years ago—so I take to Google. “What happens in Infinite Jest???” I type. One of the first resources I find points me to a blog called Raw Thought.

I’m relieved. The blog entry is called “The End of Infinite Jest Explained.” “This whole thing is one gigantic spoiler,” it begins, warning, “only read it if you’ve already tried to figure it out for yourself first.” I check myself, consider my situation for a while, then dive in, only to slap my forehead repeatedly as the author draws several niggling details into an elegant theory of the novel’s oblique ending, which David Foster Wallace himself said can only be “projected by the reader somewhere beyond the right frame,” meaning that it’s implied, at best. It isn’t until after I’ve thoroughly admired this spoiler artist’s analysis that I realize who he is. Or was, rather.

From beyond the grave, it was Aaron Swartz who was walking me through Infinite Jest.

Read more: here

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