I’ve not revealed any major spoilers in this post, so when you read the pages listed below you can enjoy it fully. I’ve merely written up my ideas around this character from what I understand. I would love to see what others have said about her. It’s still very early days as I read this novel, so ideas about her could change a lot in time. Who knows? It’s just my notes so far. Enlighten me in the comments please! I must know more!
Reading Infinite Jest – 6 Feb 2016
Status and ramblings so far: p. 85, but this post refers to the chapter ‘Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment’, pp. 68-78 (pp. 68-85)
I love the character Katherine Gompert a lot so far. We meet her in a sad situation, but one many, even the doctor finds a little odd. Odd because her psychological set back is not one that most who live with depression have. She is, like me in many ways, stuck. It’s a case of misanthropy at one of its finest points so far. Misanthropy is often misunderstood as a hatred of everything and the world. Whilst this may be true to some extent misanthropy is more than that. In simple terms it can be considered as an allergic reaction to watching the world screw itself up and not being able to do much to change it. We can’t change people’s minds, or get governments or big pharma or huge corporations to be fairer to its citizens or the world as an organic being. It’s the notion of being hyper-aware about the literal hell we are told to survive in when we shouldn’t. This, in many folks who suffer from anxiety with a combination with misanthropic knowledge, causes disconnect across many levels. Disconnect from communities, people and the world.
On a physical level there is a disconnect from the body whilst being wholly connected to the self. Have you ever met someone whose body reacts to worldly/external problems through hives, panic attacks or a need to scratch, etc.? It’s initially diagnosed as self-inflicted or bodily conditions that seem to stem from the self, when in fact problems are stemmed from both internal and external influences. For example, a bride-to-be who normally lives well knows that she gets hives when she’s stressed out and thus makes sure to reduce any triggers of stress as often as possible. Planning her wedding is causing issues. The flowers she had ordered have arrived late and they are the wrong flowers entirely, and she does not have the time to exchange them before the wedding. The caterer has informed her half of his staff are off ill, etc. All of these are external, on a lower level. All of this causes her behaviour and emotions to change as a natural reaction. She starts to get hives. Because of her behaviour she then sees her husband to be and is creaking out. He tried to calm her down and of course she then starts feeling even worse because she knows she’s upsetting someone she loves. Whilst he doesn’t mind and totally understands her reaction, it is she who suffers and it is she who is seen as irrational and erratic.
On a higher level, imagine being someone who lives quite comfortably on the west but you’re bombarded with devastating images of bloodshed, terrorism, epidemics, over-population, violence etc. from the east on the news every hour. You’re a lone individual who wishes that they could help and do something. Imagine you’re wanting to create educational materials to change people’s minds and hearts so that they don’t wake up daily in a state of fear and hatred. Imagine then if you’re in a position to change the world but being able to do so has been made difficult. You see daily how people on your side of the world are doing next to nothing to make the world a better place because they would rather obsess over makeup and celebrities and willingly avoid such problems. Wouldn’t that make you hate the world? It should, because the very people who have power refuse to do anything and thus you are one person in a vast universe watching the world implode slowly on itself.
To me, that’s what Katherine seems to be going through. She has dealing with the physical and mental aspect of knowing and dealing with these problems. She’s hyper-aware but unable to communicate what she experiences properly and thus people who are supposed to help are not able to understand. Katherine is going through a trans-rational experience. She is failing to communicate that she has superseded such traditional ideologies, where we are placed into boxes our whole lives and expected to follow through without much complaint. She is trying to remove subconscious programming but unable to do so effectively and this is why she ends up where she is. This for me is where the novel increases to become sadder. Broken people living in a state of confusion and non-existence. How do people deal with such problems?
If you haven’t seen the film ‘Requiem for a Dream’ I suggest you should. This novel reminds me so much of that idea of that film where people develop addictions in order to deal with the unrecognised understanding of being hyper-aware. Such an amazing film, and very sad. Trailer below!
I hope that makes sense!
Reading Infinite Jest | Reading Challenge 2016 – first post