Erasing Infinite Jest

So a couple weeks ago, Brad posted a link to a twitterbot that was playing on the repetitive, infinite nature of IJ. I just stumbled upon another Wallace connection in the twittersphere: an account called “@erasinginfinite,” whose owner Jenni B. Baker performs erasure poetry using IJ as its platform. So if you’re into, like, reconstructed, plagiarized (yes? no? what is authorship?), abstract poetry, this might interest you. Certainly a different way of interacting with the text.

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3 Responses to Erasing Infinite Jest

  1. endorphinique says:

    This reminds me of the fractal nature of the book? At least from the example of Baker’s poetry that you give above as well as a quick scan of past images she’s tweeted, she seems to be creating numerous smaller stories within this novel, which could be argued is comprised of a series of different stories.

    I hesitate to call it plagiarism, since found poetry (or “erasure poetry” here) been around for quite some time. It’s also gotten pretty popular–artist Austin Kleon has a bestselling book of “blackout poetry,” and has an interesting NYT op-ed piece on your concerns about authorship here:


  2. 1ady1azarus says:

    Didn’t think of it as a distilled version of the story within the story. Totally seeing the fractal idea after that. I like it much better now haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This and the comments remind me of Tom Philips‘s Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel (1970), which I heavily considered teaching this semester for Interactive Literature, but we just didn’t have time. You can see the first ten pages here and read Phillips’s discussion of the text here. It is a fascinating book that takes a Victorian novel (W. H. Mallock’s A Human Document [1892]) and “treats” each page, covering over most of the text with various images, and leaving only a few words that create a different story (like what you’ve posted here). It’s a pretty fascinating book.


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