David Lynch’s Influence on David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest

Paolo Pitari

Abstract


This essay investigates the influence of the films of David Lynch on David Foster Wallace’s major novel Infinite Jest. It is organized in two sections. Section one illustrates Wallace’s views on what real art should be, as they are expressed in his two famous “manifestos,” and proceeds to read the essay “David Lynch Keeps His Head” in relation to the manifestos in order to demonstrate that Lynch’s influence on Wallace’s thought has not yet been fully grasped. Section two delves into Infinite Jest to examine textual proof of the Wallace-Lynch connection, both in content and form. Content-wise, convergences are proven to permeate both authors’ interest in theories of consciousness, typified in themes such as: psychoanalysis, especially the Oedipus Complex; self-deception; the Sartrean “look;” the corporeal subject and the phenomenological distinction between objective body and lived body. Form-wise, the following narrative items are mapped: Lynch’ssurrealism, recognizable in paradigmatic scenes from Infinite Jest; the character-idea, as both authors embody abstract ideas in characters; and a formal commitment to “an anti-teleological spirit.” Finally, the analysis takes into consideration Lynch's films produced prior or during the writing of Infinite Jest, and exclusively those Wallace expressed direct admiration for, namely: Eraserhead (1977), The Elephant Man (1980), Blue Velvet (1986), and Lost Highway (1997).

Keywords


David Foster Wallace; David Lynch; Infinite Jest; Eraserhead; The Elephant Man; Blue Velvet; Lost Highway; adaptation studies



DOI: 10.6092/issn.2280-9481/7327

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