Sadly Jesting

“I also began to read David Foster Wallace’s thousand-page dystopian novel Infinite Jest, because a pompous professor had once been horrified that I hadn’t read it yet.  With a dictionary in hand, I read through the novel, stopping every other word or so to find a definition.  I kept a running file of all the words that I needed to define from the book.  The words I picked are obtuse to me even now, but they are also strangely illuminating:

effete (adj.): no longer fertile; having lost character, strength or vitality; marked by weakness or decadence

Teratogenic (adj.): of, relating to, or causing development malformations

Lazarette (noun): sick room

Despite this studious attention to vocabulary, when people asked me what the book was about, I’d have to confess, ‘I have no idea.'”

–– Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

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