Gerhardt Schtitt

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In Infinite Jest, Gerhardt Schtitt is the Head Coach and Athletic Director at Enfield Tennis Academy. Schtitt was recruited by James Incandenza because they shared an appreciation for tennis as a kind of art. Apparently, most tennis coaches are essentially concerned with teaching you the statistically derived most effective ways of playing tennis; philosophically, this implies that tennis can be reduced to a science, that talent is technique. In this traditional conception, learning to be good at tennis is the process approaching an upper limit of technical proficiency, which limit is intrinsic to the game. Schtitt and Incandenza conceive of tennis in almost the opposite way. They see tennis as being infinitely complex, and therefore see it as impossible to distill any perfect technique, let alone teach it. They see success in tennis as bounded not by the game itself, but by the talent and creativity of it's players, and thus, while of course they do teach technique, in their training of ETAs, they seek primarily to engender an attitude towards the game that is conducive to each player realizing their natural talent. (82)

Schtitt also sees tennis as analogous to life, saying "this game the players are all at E.T.A. to learn, this infinite system of decisions and angles and lines Mario's brothers worked so brutishly hard to master: Junior athletics is but one facet of the real gem: life's endless war against the self you cannot live without." (86) In Schtitt's conception of tennis, the game is not a war between its opponents, rather, the opponents are simply mutual excuses for one another's individual reflexive battle. In the end, you're striving not to beat your opponent but to transcend the physical and psychical limits of your own ability to play the game. In this conception of the sport, these very same limits make the tennis possible. If it's designed to present an opportunity to grapple with human limits, then if these limits didn't exist it would be denied its raison d'être. Tennis makes the struggle concrete, it gives direction to self-transcendence by giving it explicit and structuring goals, an infinite system of decisions and angles to master. To Schtitt's way of thinking, life is an arena with an infinite diversity of structuring goals, but the attempt to achieve any of them is derivative of the attempt to transcend the self, and similarly paradoxically, without the limited self there could be no structuring goals, nothing to live for.