Here’s post No. 12 in the Infinite Words series. An explanation, if you missed it, is here. Buy the book here. Add your personal favorites in the comments.
Along with tennis and depression, drug abuse – related to the first two, perhaps – is a third pillar of Infinite Jest. Here’s some words on the subject:
[Dad had] that smell about him that later Matty’d know was malt liquor but at that age he and Mickey called something else, when they smelled it.
At a certain later age he started lying there when his Dad shook him and pretended to sleep on, even when the shakes go to where his teeth clacked together in a mouth that wore the slight smile Matty’d decided truly sleeping people’s faces always wore.
[He] once hit his wife so hard in the blackout that made him Come In he broke her nose and bent it over flat against her face, which he asked her never to have repaired, as a daily visual reminder of the depths drink sunk him to, so Mrs. O. had gone around with her nose bent over flat against her left check – Bud O.’d tagged her with a left cross – until U.H.I.D. referred her to AA, which eventually nurtured and supported Mrs. O into eventually telling Bud O. to take a flying fuck to the moon and getting her nose realigned back to the front and leaving him for a male AA in Birkenstock sandals.
[She was] awaiting sentencing for what she describes several times as operating a pharmaceutical company without a license.
Sudden substance-cravings will rise unbidden in a true addict’s mind like bubbles in a toddler’s bath.
Not to mention, according to some hard-line schools of 12-Step thought, yoga, reading, politics, gum-chewing, crossword puzzles, solitaire, romantic intrigue, charity work, political activism, N.R.A. membership, music, art, cleaning, plastic surgery, cartridge viewing even at normal distances, the loyalty of a fine dog, religious zeal, relentless helpfulness, relentless other-folks’-moral-inventory-taking, the development of hard-line schools of 12-Step thought, ad darn near infinitum, including 12-Step fellowships themselves, such that quiet tales sometimes go around the Boston AA community of certain incredibly advanced and hard-line recovering person who have pared away potential escape after potential escape until finally, as the stories go, they end up sitting in a bare chair, nude, in an unfurnished room, not moving but also not sleeping or meditating or abstracting, too advanced to stomach the thought of the potential emotional escape of abstracting, too advanced to stomach the thought of the potential emotional escape of doing anything whatsoever, and just end up sitting there completely motion- and escapeless until a long time later all that’s found in the empty chair is a very fine dusting of off-white ashy stuff that you can wipe away completely with like one damp paper towel.