Coatlicue Complex

This week, we walk right into rejection, like walking into the wall that is righteously pissed off Roy Tony. You reject his hug, like Erdedy does. Roy Tony isn’t looking for a hug, Roy Tony doesn’t like to hug. But Roy Tony has surrendered his will, has risked sharing his “vulnerability and “discomfort” and Erdedy risks the ass-kicking of his lifetime by acting like he, Erdedy, is somehow above this all and can reject AA’s tenet of Hugs Not Drugs.


Marathe and Steeply do their own Medusa v Odalisque-esque dance of rejection, itself a fitting double bind (or quadruple bind?). The complete essence of their conversation is to offer up and reject each other’s ideologies, disdain loosely hidden behind their sparrings. And yet both have also on some level rejected their own governments (a deep betrayal on Marathe’s part, and a less impactful but still self-positioned semi-betrayal on Steeply’s).


The conversation-slash-argument between Gately and Joelle has always left me feeling very very sad. They speak over each other, and Don gets really testy – the first jerk-like behavior I’ve really seen in him. It would be ridiculous to read IJ as a sacred text and not bounce the idea around that generally Don Gately has a Jesus-figure sort of bent to him (especially later as he is inundated with confessional visits). He seems purpose-driven to  share the AA message and actively tries to live according to a moral code. So he really comes up short in this passage (IMHO), rejecting JvD’s assertion that he is driven by shame about what “might be perceived as a lack of brightness” (p. 537). And his bull-headed persistence asking about her hideous deformity forces Joelle to reject his approach and his questions over and over. Neither Don nor Joelle connect with each other, or even listen to each other.


And finally, how do you solve a problem like Lenz? His “impotent rage and powerless fear” (p. 541) is bred deep.  Lenz seems borne from a rejection by the entire universe, so his work to “resolve his issues” escalates, as we know it must, with little effect. And then, when faced with a real-life opportunity to connect with Bruce Green, Lenz fears rejection of such intensity that he is paralyzed to tell Green that he likes him (and to leave him alone).


Other Notes:


  • Half way through this section I made a note to mention how I love DFW’s acceleration techniques. There is a cinematic, madcap, almost Stoogeian feel to the way he stacks narrative steps on top of each other, alternately piling them up like a swaying tower of bricks, or layering them on like oppressive, heavy blankets. And then to play with this comic technique by paring it with truly grim subject matter (Lenz’ progression from rats to dogs, the Drano deaths, Doony’s accident with the bucket of bricks, the Entertainment itself). It is just so freaking effective. So imagine my delight when I caught up with Pemulis as he talked about “accelerated phenomena which is actually equivalent to an incredible slowing down of time” (p. 573) because that right there is what makes it so great. The slowing down of time becomes this parodic, car-crash scenario that you just can’t pull yourself away from.
  • Orin’s chasing of various Subjects with toddler-aged children is of course a classic cover for deep feelings of rejection. And Tavis is riddled with fear of rejection too.
  • Love the connection between the blue carpet and rodential squeaking of the mattress frame we get in the previous mattress saga of JOI’s childhood and the blue carpet and rodential squeaking of Pemulis’ chair in the Headmaster’s office
  • I would love to see serialized treatments of the smaller character studies in IJ, like poor Bruce Green’s family saga- done Black Mirror style.

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