INFINITE JEST: You Are Missing Almost Everything



NPR/MONKEY SEE BLOG: The vast majority of the world’s books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It’s just numbers. Consider books alone. Let’s say you read two a week, and sometimes you take on a long one that takes you a whole week. That’s quite a brisk pace for the average person. That lets you finish, let’s say, 100 books a year. If we assume you start now, and you’re 15, and you are willing to continue at this pace until you’re 80. That’s 6,500 books, which really sounds like a lot. […] Of course, by the time you’re 80, there will be 65 more years of new books, so by then, you’re dealing with 315 years of books, which allows you to read about 20 books from each year. You’ll have to break down your 20 books each year between fiction and nonfiction – you have to cover history, philosophy, essays, diaries, science, religion, science fiction, westerns, political theory … I hope you weren’t planning to go out very much. […] We could do the same calculus with film or music or, increasingly, television – you simply have no chance of seeing even most of what exists. Statistically speaking, you will die having missed almost everything. MORE

RELATED:Time Enough at Last” is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. Bank teller and avid bookworm Henry Bemis works at his window in a bank, while reading David Copperfield, which causes him to shortchange an annoyed customer. Bemis’s angry boss, and later his nagging wife, both complain to him that he wastes far too much time reading “doggerel“. As a cruel joke, his wife asks him to read poetry from one of his books to her; he eagerly obliges, only to find that she has drawn lines over the text on every page. The next day, Henry takes his lunch break in the bank’s vault, where his reading will not be disturbed. Moments after seeing the newspaper’s headline, which reads: “H-Bomb Capable of Total Destruction”, an enormous explosion outside the bank violently shakes the vault, knocking Bemis unconscious. After regaining consciousness burgess_meredith_twilight_zone_time_enough_at_last.jpgand recovering the thick glasses he needs to see with, Bemis emerges from the vault to find the bank demolished and everyone in it dead. Leaving the bank, he sees that the entire city has also been destroyed, and realizes that a nuclear war has devastated the Earth, but that his being in the vault has saved him. Finding himself totally alone in a shattered world with food to last him a lifetime, but no one to share it with, Bemis succumbs to despair. As he is about to commit suicide, he sees the ruins of the public library in the distance. Investigating, he finds that the books are still intact and readable; all the books he could ever hope for are his for the reading, and all the time in the world to read them without interruption. His despair gone, Bemis contentedly sorts the books he looks forward to reading for years to come. Just as he bends down to pick up the first book, he stumbles, and his glasses fall off and shatter. In shock, he picks up the broken remains of the glasses he is virtually blind without, and says, “That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all. There was time now. There was all the time I needed…! That’s not fair!“, and bursts into tears, surrounded by books he will never read. MORE

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