ERIC Number: EJ896954
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Aug
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
Being "Stresslessly Invisible": The Rise and Fall of Videophony in David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest"
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, v30 n4 p252-258 Aug 2010
In a satiric chapter of David Foster Wallace's novel "Infinite Jest," a mock media expert reports how American consumers of the near future recoil from a new communication device known as "videophony" and return to the voice-only telephone of the Bell Era. This article explores the said chapter in the framework of media theories reading the telephone as a "synecdoche of technology," considering Wallace's vision of videophony's rise and fall in a future society from two angles: It discusses the antitechnological bent of the chapter against the background of other visions of future media in 1990s American fiction and it foregrounds the segment's emphasis on solipsism as a destructive force in all forms of communication. The article argues that "Infinite Jest" moves beyond questions relevant only to the (video) telephone itself. Rather, Wallace's novel contrasts literary communication--complex, multilayered, at times monumental--with discourses and practices overly optimistic with regard to the facility of mediated interactions per se.
Descriptors: Interpersonal Communication, Telecommunications, Video Technology, Influence of Technology, Discourse Analysis, Science Fiction, Futures (of Society), Science and Society, Technological Advancement, Internet, Public Opinion, Negative Attitudes, Literary Criticism
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
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