Dominik Steinhilber
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Infinite Jest’s ‘trinity of You and I into We’
Wallace’s ‘click’ between Joyce’s literary consubstantiality and Wittgenstein’s family resemblance
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Reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest in the tradition of Joyce’s Ulysses, this chapter argues that Infinite Jest reinterprets Joyce’s use of a secular trinity, a model of community through the recognition of a shared human substance, by means of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. Joyce’s trinity is thus transformed into a collaboration of author, reader, and text in the production of meaning, the novel thereby proposing a literary public language game as an alternative to solipsizing, endless deconstruction. This ghostly return of the dead author as dialogic, effaced yet present, allows for sincere communication between author and reader without recourse to a form of biographical reading reprimanded by post-structuralist philosophers. Philosophy and literature cross-fertilizing each other, Infinite Jest picks up narrative strategies of Ulysses and philosophically examines and literarily modifies them through ordinary language philosophy in order to make them applicable to the postmodern solipsism the novel perceives as its general human condition.

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