“I” and the “Other”
The relevance of Wittgenstein, Buber and Levinas for an understanding of AA’s Recovery Program in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest
In David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, the presence of Alcoholics Anonymous can be considered as an attempt to come up with a solution for both the addiction and the solipsism of the characters. AA tries to accomplish this by reconnecting the addict with the “Other”. The assimilation of the “Other” by the totalizing tendency of the self is dropped in favor of an earnest connection. This article focuses on the similarities between AA’s methods, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy of the language-game, Emmanuel Levinas’ ethics of the “Other” and Martin Buber’s I and Thou. It illustrates how, in light of this knowledge, a reader might be able to uncover moments of earnestness in Infinite Jest, as well as pick up on the rules necessary to counter contemporary American solitude.
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