No blogging so far this week as I was down in DC at NIH. Back in NYC and everything’s cool, although I saw a new doctor who didn’t have any of the records of my previous visit so I had to go thru the whole thing with him again which was kinda weird, and adds support to my “NIH-is-better-than-most-private-hospitals-but-it-still-isn’t-all-that” position. Also, have you noticed that whenever doctors examine your balls they talk to you the whole time, as a way of easing the embarrassment? Unsurprisingly, forced casualness while someone is fiddling with your genitals really just makes things worse all round.

So for whatever reason I had never really wondered about where the word “Eschaton” in Infinite Jest comes from. Then the other day on the train down to DC I was reading this thing in the New Yorker about the pope and his theology. It says:

“In [Ratzinger’s] book, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life” (1977)…he addresses “the doctrine of the last things,” known as eschatology. He acknowledges that, at times, Jesus seems to have predicted the imminent coming of a literal new world, a “Kingdom of God,” but…anyone who hopes to understand the eschaton must compare Christian texts on death and the afterlife with those of pagans and Jews, which influenced the Christian vision of a kingdom of God.”

So I’m confused: Is an eschaton like an apocalypse, where literally the whole world ends and everyone goes to heaven, or at least the good ones? The eschaton of Infinite Jest seems like that kind of eschaton (which is my kind of eschaton, haha), since the point of the game is metaphorically to blow up the entire world. But the book’s title kind of makes it seem like maybe an eschaton could just be about one individual person’s death, and the issue of them gaining eternal life and what have you. Do Christians believe that these things are somehow, like, the same thing? That seems like the kind of thing they might believe. When we actually have readers, we can throw these kinds of questions open to the floor, so to speak.

This is interesting partly because it sheds some light on what is, for me, IJ’s funniest and best scene. It’d also be interesting to know this about Christianity.