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Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. FictionEnvironment and Affect$
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Heather Houser

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165143

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165143.001.0001

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Infinite Jest’s Environmental Case for Disgust

Infinite Jest’s Environmental Case for Disgust

(p.117) 4. Infinite Jest’s Environmental Case for Disgust
Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction

Heather Houser

Columbia University Press

This chapter studies the functions of disgust through the varieties of detachment that circulate through David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest (1996). In this story world, detachment is not only a social and ethical problem; it is also an environmental one. Psychological and material practices of detachment underpin U.S. policies of environmental manipulation that poison bodies, and it also motivates the novel's major plots and distinguishes its style. Against detachment, the novel deploys disgust as an affective correlate to a medicalized environmental imagination. In detailing the functions of disgust in Infinite Jest, the chapter reconciles competing positions within affect theory on whether the feeling is attractive or repulsive. It is the dual aspect of pulling in and pushing away that makes this affect an unlikely hindrance to detachment, and the social and environmental injustices that it promotes.

Keywords:   disgust, detachment, David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, medicalized environmental imagination

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