A debut feature from the writer-director-star, this tart, sexually frank portrait of a disintegrating relationship--as well as its long and bitter aftermath--packs plenty of punch in its best scenes, but it also frequently tests the limits of audience patience with its relentless deadpan affectlessness
and insistence upon leaving no Brooklyn cliche unmined.
They do not help the reader fill in ready-made emotional templates, but they go hand in hand with an eery sense of abstraction and affectlessness
. Instead of inaugurating "a new order of directness," these fictions deliver, as Bewes writes, "a new opacity" (151)--a form of resistance to the terms we tend to use to make sense of forms of life.
While there is much to encourage such views, including Wallace's own essays and interviews--indeed, hip irony and gooey sentiment are Wallace's own terms ("E" 63, Infinite 694)--insufficient attention has been paid to the lack of emotion structuring his fiction, especially given the ways Wallace's fiction is crucially invested in affectlessness
, most memorably perhaps in the character of Infinite Jest's Hal Incandenza, whose "anhedonia" is described as "a kind of radical abstracting of everything, a hollowing out of stuff that used to have affective content" (693).
There are, in the Oxford English Dictionary, 324 words ending in -lessness, from affectlessness
to zeallessness, yet there are only 279 ending in -fulness, staring with abhorfulness and ending with zestfulness.
of Marienbad's story line, gliding camera work, and emotionless actors is intensified by the illusory depth.
In an online discussion of the seeming affectlessness
of the "Gray" aliens who usually figure in abduction narratives, Advancer states that "the Grayling must be seen as a robot controlled by a cowardly being, for this is what they are--nothing more than flesh with no free mind" (Advancer 2009).