Tuesday, 28 August 2012



Francis Picabia - Untitled (Match-Woman I), 1920

Extract from David Foster Wallace - Infinite Jest:

Orin Incandenza, who like many children of raging alcoholics and OCD-sufferers had internal addictive-sexuality issues, had already drawn idle little sideways 8's on the postcoital flanks of a dozen B.U. coeds. But this was different. He'd been smitten before, but not decapitated. He lay on his bed in the autumn P.M.s during the tennis coach's required nap-time, squeezing a tennis ball and talking for hours about this twirling sprinkler-obscured sophomore while his doubles partner lay way on the other side of the huge bed looking simultaneously at Orin and at the N.E. leaves changing color in the trees outside the window. The schoolboy epithet they'd made up to refer to Orin's twirler was the P.G.O.A.T., for the Prettiest Girl Of All Time. It wasn't the entire attraction, but she really was almost grotesquely lovely. She made the Moms look like the sort of piece of fruit you think you want to take out of the bin and but then once you're right there over the bin you put back because from close up you can see a much fresher and less preserved-seeming piece of fruit elsewhere in the bin. The twirler was so pretty that not even the senior B.U. football Terriers could summon the saliva to speak to her at Athletic mixers. In fact she was almost universally shunned. The twirler induced in heterosexual males what U.H.I.D. later told her was termed the Actaeon Complex, which is a kind of deep phylogenic fear of transhuman beauty. About all Orin's doubles partner — who as a strabismic was something of an expert on female unattainability — felt he could do was warn O. that this was the kind of hideously attractive girl you just knew in advance did not associate with normal collegiate human males, and clearly attended B.U.-Athletic social functions only out of a sort of bland scientific interest while she waited for the cleft-chinned ascapartic male-model-looking wildly-successful-in-business adult male she doubtless was involved with to telephone her from the back seat of his green stretch Infiniti, etc. No major-sport player had ever even orbited in close enough to hear the elisions and apical lapses of a mid-Southern accent in her oddly flat but resonant voice that sounded like someone enunciating very carefully inside a soundproof enclosure. When she danced, at dances, it was with other cheerleaders and twirlers and Pep Squad Terrierettes, because no male had the grit or spit to ask her. Orin himself couldn't get closer than four meters at parties, because he suddenly couldn't figure out where to put the stresses in the Charles-Tavis-unwittingly-inspired 'Describe-the-sort-of-man-you-find-attractive-and-I'll-affect-the-demeanor-of-that-sort-of-man' strategic opening that had worked so well on other B.U. Subjects. It took three hearings for him to figure out that her name wasn't Joel. The big hair was red-gold and the skin peachy-tinged pale and arms freckled and zy-gomatics indescribable and her eyes an extra-natural HD green. He wouldn't learn till later that the almost pungently clean line-dried-laundry scent that hung about her was a special low-pH dandelion attar decocted special by her chemist Daddy in Shiny Prize KY.
   Boston University's tennis team, needless to say, had neither cheerleaders nor baton-twirling Pep Squads, which were reserved for major and large-crowd sports. This is pretty understandable.


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