David Foster Wallace Predicted You Will Get Tired of iPhone 4’s New Functionality


One of the iPhone 4's new features is “Facetime,” a functionality that turns your regular phone into a video phone. Jason Kottke points out that video phones appear in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest as a former fad that has gone out of style (Kottke also participated in our recent Reading Room about Foster Wallace). Why? “The answer, in a kind of trivalent nutshell, is: (1) emotional stress, (2) physical vanity, and (3) a certain queer kind of self-obliterating logic in the microeconomics of consumer high-tech," Wallace wrote, before delving into the particulars. Ultimately, to deal with the trouble of having to pay 100 percent attention and look attractive while on the video phone, the characters in Infinite Jest took to wearing "form-fitting polybutylene masks." Perhaps Apple will consider these for a future product line. [Kottke]