Mental Floss

Infinite Jest's Eschaton in Video Form

Chris Higgins

Attention, fellow David Foster Wallace nerds! Fellow DFW nerd band The Decemberists have released a new music video reenacting a game of Eschaton from DFW's novel Infinite Jest. For those not in the know, Eschaton is a fictional game of thermonuclear war, played in turns on a tennis court by lobbing tennis balls onto strategic locations on a map of the world (the map is on the ground of the tennis court). The Eschaton match in the video plays out somewhat like the match in the book, though I would not consider it a significant spoiler for the book. (And in any case, the topic deserves at least one relevant-ish endnote, I guess.322)

From the NPR article about the Decemberists video, an explanation of the video's creation from director Michael Schur (co-creator of Parks and Recreation, among other things):

The band's manager, Jason, contacted me through his brother Michael (with whom I went to college) and asked me to direct a video they were planning that referenced a section of the book Infinite Jest. The Decemberists are my favorite band, and Infinite Jest is my favorite book. This was tantamount to telling me I had just won two simultaneous Powerball lottery jackpots, on my birthday, which was also Christmas. Thus, my response to him was that, although I was pretty sure this was an elaborate dream I was having, if it were in fact real, then yes, I would be interested. The production team on Parks and Recreation, many of whom are also big fans, volunteered their time and energy, and we shot the whole thing in one day in Portland. Infinite Jest geeks will hopefully enjoy all of the specific references and small details, but we tried to design it so that those with no knowledge of the book at all would be able to understand and enjoy it, as well.

Understand and enjoy: