Genius: the word oft-used to describe Wallace.

It is worth exploring the meaning of the word.

The etymology of the word stems, according to one online etymology dictionary, from late 14th century: “tutelary god,” among a host of other superlatives.

What is intelligence, then? “The capacity for learning.” “Manifestation of a high mental capacity.”

For me the key part of that is “mental.” Mental tends to be considered synonymously with the intellect, the visual-spatial part of your brain, presumably at complete odds with the emotional part.

This is where I disagree. To me, intelligence is more than just the capacity for knowledge and growth. Genius is simplifying that grotesquely large fraction into something bite-sized, chewable for children and adults alike.

This is a winding way of lobbing my most scathing criticism of Infinite Jest: circuitous. Narcissistic. Pretentious.

The novel is about 1100 pages. I stopped shortly after 200, and that was kind. I felt like completing it for the sake of would be akin to an intellectual circle-jerk, an egocentric win for the frontal lobe that would later be wielded as a specious literary benchmark against pseudointellectuals.

A shame, as I honestly tried to like it. The book seems to be primarily about addiction, which is a subject I am intimately familiar with. The introduction is fabulous, textbook even. The setting is primarily a tennis academy, an appreciable sport.

But let us be real: life is too short to waste time with leisure that is more work than play. A labour of love is one thing, but I have dozens of other books on my plate. I vowed not to waste time on works of art that do not speak to me. I will not call Infinite Jest a bad book; it is just not the literary medicine for me.

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