Monthly Archives: March 2009

The remainder

Just in case you want to continue the discussion of E & M, here are some things that I’d be super interested to discuss:

1) Math as a parallel to life (Tom, I think it was you who ended the conversation on this note, which I think is brilliant!). Wallace’s E & M certainly draws out parallels between math and life. For example, the lack of solutions and finality. Another example, that not everything can be proven. And another–there are real numbers, irrational numbers, rational number, imaginary numbers–do these types of numbers perhaps mirror a few general categories of people?

Precisely what is the relationship between the math world and the human world? Can this relationship be pinpointed, or is the solution / answer to this question indefinite like infinity? Is there a map / function / correspondence between these two worlds? Are there common elements that both care about? For instance, existence seems to play a huge role in E & M as it does in The Broom. But in what ways is the issue or urgency of existence different in these two (con)texts?

2) I also wanted to ask, “What did you guys learn about math from E & M?”

3) Also, Wallace definitely dramatizes the history of math in E & M, I think. But it’s interesting how he does it–he seems to portray the history of math as a battle–the battle between Intuitionists and Platonists, the battle between the everpresent existence vs. the created existence of math, etc.

The worst of Wallace’s books

Though I didn’t know that Wallace was hired to write the book as part of a kickoff for a book series, that added knowledge helped me realize that not liking Everything and More was justified, that there was some underlying murkiness I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I sense that same murkiness when I go to a theater and see a film and walk out afterward feeling that I genuinely deserve a refund. That murkiness is best summed up as the use of a popular name to sale an unpopular perspective. And be it a terrible film idea or obscure math, this method inhibits the ability to enjoy the medium.

Because if a medium hopes to reach an audience, it needs to be made by someone that knows how to convey the medium’s key aspects. And if the medium is a story, the aspects that should be conveyed revolve around bringing closure to the reader — despite what the reader knows before the story starts[1]. Thus the “someone” that conveys a story’s key aspects is the storyteller. The storyteller, in this case a fiction writer, should know how to convey to me their story and bring a sense of closure to me after I’ve finished the last word of the last line of the last page. If that closure is not there, then the writer has failed their task and created someone that at best serves as a popular distraction.

The idea of popularism was brought up in class when prompted to answer the question of whether or not Wallace was a “pop writer.” My response was yes: (1) he was prompted to do the book not because of a background in math, but because he had a recognizable name and (2) the book was a part of a series meant to be significant not as a reliable source of expertise, but as a novel approach that could sell to book buyers that wouldn’t usually buy books on the topics covered in the series. Here Andy Warhol’s popism is most evident: he says that the height of culture is not what is of the highest quality, but what gains the most attention — despite its quality. The two can co-exist in a medium, but are not mutually exclusive — as is the case in Everything and More.

[1] Though it’s wholly acceptable to expect the reader to know how to read, as writing for people learning to read and writing for readers are two different arts.

Hal Incandenza’s Confused Identity

This response may be a bit scatterbrained and refer back to a passage from previous week’s readings but last week’s conversation spurred me to write this post. As a couple people may have mentioned, last week’s conversation regarding Infinite Jest understandably left out a fair amount of information considering the huge amount it covered. Previously we’ve discussed and witnessed the intersection of fiction/non-fiction in Wallace’s writings and this theme seems to keep popping up throughout Infinite Jest in the lives of Wallace’s characters. So I’d like to discuss the back-story of Hal Incandeza’s life in which this intersection seems apparent.

Around page 250 we are told of Mr. Incandenza’s horrific suicide and the manner in which Hal found his father dead at the age of “thirteen going on really old” (248). And so, we become aware of Hal’s tragic and potentially scarring past. This in combination with the family’s unique dynamic sets up Hal Incandenza as an intriguingly fictional character. To combat the tragedy of Mr. Incandenza’s suicide we learn that Hal’s mom begins sending him to a grief-counselor, the real reason being “so she wouldn’t have to feel guilty about practically sawing the hole in the microwave door herself” (252). As Hal begins seeing this grief counselor he describes him as “unsatisfiable and scary”(252). This counseling period is described as “brutal” and “nightmarish” because the entire time Hal finds himself face to face with a professional examining and probing at inner emotions that seem like Hal hasn’t even had time to understand (252). Hal appears to approach this with the same air of mischief that seems to be bred in kids at the Enfield Tennis Academy. He immediately tries to research and educate himself on how to seem depressed, angry, in denial, and depressed, without actually having the emotions to back it up. At first the grief therapist buys none of it. Later on Hal learns from Lyle how to put forward the allusion of despair without actually having it. He acquaints himself more with the “cutting-edge professional grief- and trauma-therapy section” at the library and educates himself so well that he succeeds to put on a show of virtuoso talent. He manages to “griev[e] to everybody’s satisfaction”, by “subtly inserting certain loaded professional-grief-therapy terms like validate, process, as a transitive verb, and toxic guilt. There were library derived” (255). All of this concentrated energy and drive is exploded upon the pleasantly surprised counselor and Hal leaves barely able to make it to the men’s room, he’s so full of laughter.

Hal’s experience with the grief-counselor has a huge amount of psychological complexities to it, but one thing seems clear to me- the relationship of fiction and non-fiction has a definitive role in his identification. Hal is forced into a situation in which a professional person is firing answers hoping that Hal will be able to construct an identity through his confused emotions, emotions that don’t really seem to really exist. On a more fundamental level, we are told that Hal is meeting with this counselor because of his mother’s underlying guilt. In this way, The Moms is forcing Hal into a false process of identification that seems to facilitate Hal’s confusion as manifested in his mischievous production of emotional outcry. Additionally, Hal becomes able to put on this production by depending on books written by authors that are either attempting to come to terms with their identity, or enable other’s to come to terms with their identity in a format whose very purpose is to achieve a solid sense of emotional and personal identity. Hal takes from these writings knowledge and is able to put up the façade of one who is extremely troubled in order to fulfill another’s expectations of identity. Hal’s explicit use of the word ‘fiction’ when describing his performance in front of the counselor also makes it seem like in some way Hal’s identity is defined by his demeanor and selfness as it is defined by the expectations that other’s push on him (252). So, in one way it seems like Hal creates an identity for himself, while on the other hand it seems as if the expectations overshadow his true identity and force him to make his reactions his identity.

Atavism in IJ


In re-reading parts of IJ, I found a parallel between Hal and Orin’s phone conversation on November 5 Y.D.A.U. (p242-258) and the November 6 description of addictions within the E.T.A. Hal tells Orin that he has found the magic in shooting toe-nail clippings, “It’s like the celluloid moment when Luke removes his high-tech targeting helmet” (p258). This confuses even Orin and he begins to wonder if this has ‘fucked Hal up’ somehow, talking about Himself. But the reference is not unimportant, it suggests that somehow in a divine sense that [real] direction is lost within God’s plans and that evolution is a sort of ‘high-tech’ plan that itself has flaws.   Atavism is again mentioned in “Hal’s devolution from occasional tourist to subterranean compulsive, substance-wise” (p270).

I think that this notion of atavism is crucial in understanding IJ, especially with regard to addiction. The idea that human beings can become dependent on substances which are not beneficial, and more often then not detrimental to themselves, is an anti-evolutionary idea. It suggests that human’s could be trying to avoid the rules of whatever ‘game’ that   they play, or not even have understood the rules of the game in the first place . This corresponds with the idea that AA itself gives into an idea that parallels addiction itself.

I think DFW is asking how to move forward, when nature itself often moves backwards (fish with teeth, whales with legs, no I’m not making this shit up). Why can’t the addiction be accepted as natural? Why do we constantly reject people who have natural problems? Why isn’t everyone in AA? If everyone succumbs to addiction, why are we constantly avoiding it? I think that this relates to White Flag’s belief that 99.9% of reality is outside of our control (p1004 fn. 100). It all comes back to the .1% that we are. The 0.1% can either work for us or against us, and in the case of addiction it is working against us, at least that’s what I think.

AA in our culture

I want to revert back to our conversation on freedom and the role that AA has: is AA a form of freedom from the addiction or simply another form of addiction? And even more so, when did AA and other support groups become a solution? These support groups are supposed to be a haven for those with addiction, a way to break away from the constant abuse of something that makes one ill. Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, or whatever it may be, support groups, like AA, are portrayed in a way that makes them seem as the ultimate hope of curing these addictions.

But I feel like culturally, support systems such as AA have been stylized and propagated as more than they are meant to be. If it is stripped down, it is basically a group of people talking about their addictions and trying to overcome them by giving each other support, so how has AA become THE SOLUTION to the addiction?  We see rehabs all over the media now. Like it has been mentioned in class Fight Club deals with support groups and how they can actually be abused. So if something that is supposed to be the cure to the abuse is abused, then maybe there is no cure for abuse. Other books like A Million Little Pieces also talk about rehab, this memoir was even endorsed by Oprah [and later found out it was a lie of a book]. Support groups have become such a popular icon in our culture that we not only like to read about them, we like to watch them work.

What’s more entertaining to watch then broken down celebrities try to combat their addictions? A popular television show, Celebrity Rehab, details celebrities trying to combat their addictions and detailing their journeys. I myself just finished watching an interview with the host of this show who talks about the premise of the show and how it was meant as a way to inform the general public on rehabs. And his optimism makes the rehab sound like the best place to be, with so many stories of success who wouldn’t want to get rid of their addiction through a support group?

I find that being able to watch a show like this shows how accepting we have become of support groups and accept that they work and are worth to even watch on television. Does anybody else see anything wrong with this? Have we become so numb to the fact that these are supposed to be group of support and not entertainment for the people. Because we can read so many books and watch so many television shows on or about AA but do we actually care to see the after effects of AA? We hardly see what happens to the individual after he/she quits AA, and if they don’t stop going then have they beat their addiction? Or simply replaced it with something new?

thoughts on constant worship

I think it was last Wednesday when we went in depth discussing AA, and what Wallace might be saying about our “pursuit of happiness.”   The whole idea of constant worship, our constant submission to some power, really stuck with me.   This is the idea that we are constantly worshipping something- be it alcohol, rehab, drugs, God, sex, math, whatever.   The idea with AA was just to transition into worshipping something else, although I’m not exactly sure what one is worshipping- recovery?   Truth?   Some kind of raw admittance that one is messed up?   Or perhaps what AA is looking for is just the acknowledgement that one is always worshipping.   Perhaps by knowing that we are always worshipping we can be more aware of just what and how we are worshipping.

 I was curious as to what DFW had said more on this topic directly, and although I think this link was already posted, I wanted to look at a piece from his Kenyon graduation address:

“Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.

Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.”

The first part might reveal something about DFW’s view on religion.   He sees religion as the only form of worship that might keep us from being “eaten alive.”   But beyond this, he sees another option- one that might not even include a higher power.   If somehow we can be constantly conscious of our worship, choosing to worship rather than “gradually slipping into it.”   It is this conscious choice that can make life deliberate, because we are always aware of our aim.  

This deliberateness is what can make me see religion as beautiful.   A belief in a higher power requires us to consciously look outside of ourselves and our attempts at ruling over our lives to look to something greater.   But here DFW suggests that the real reason to choose a higher power is simply that there may be nothing else that can allow us to live.

DFW begins suggesting this alternate lifestyle, and it is difficult to define.   It doesn’t sound like it necessarily involves religion, but just an awareness and effort.   I’m unsure, however, as to how this sheer effort can completely get rid of “the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.”     Where does that gnawing go once we start trying harder?   It seems that our efforts to be aware and to consciously love others can come to the very same empty gnawing as we feel in addiction.

Where does AA stand in all this?   I think it definitely leans towards a sort of awareness and change in our style of worship.   Just whether it can get rid of the gnawing completely (rather than just numbing the ache) I am not sure.

More Eric Clipperton

The Eric Clipperton story stands out to me.   When I finished it, I felt as if it was just another Wallacian (?) anecdote for the impossibility of true freedom, or fulfillment, or both.   I still think that it might be, but Coach Schtitt uses the Clipperton Suite to emphasize to the students that the only way to survive ETA and the Show is to avoid behaving like Clipperton, “when an ETA jr. whinges too loudly about some tennis-connected vicissitude or hardship or something, he’s invited to go chill for a bit in the Clipperton Suite, to maybe meditate on some of the other ways to succeed besides votaried self-transcendence and gut-sucking-in and hard daily slogging toward a distant goal you can maybe, if you get there, live with” (434).   If we are to believe that Schtitt has a deeper understanding of how to navigate being a competitive tennis player, which I think both he and Lyle do, perhaps Schtitt’s use of the Clipperton Suite reveals a hopeful lifestyle–a rarity in IJ.   In writing this I don’t want to ignore what Ryan posted: Clipperton is a lost kid from a terrible family which he’s trying to emotionally and mentally escape; he’s not interested in winning.

How does Schtitt understand Clipperton’s story?   Perhaps Schtitt understands it quite simply as the alternative to happiness-destroying hard work if one wants tennis success, but that would assume that Schttit believes Clipperton found success.   There’s only one measure by which Clipperton was successful, the NAJT rankings in a single issue, and upon reading that Clipperton summarily “obliterated his map and then some,” so it would be tough for Schtitt to hold that Clippeton had been successful.   Unless Schtitt was implying that unearned success leads to map obliteration.   Schtitt is obviously a big proponent of the work-until-you-drop pedagogy, but I think there’s more to his use of the Clipperton Suite than reminding his kids that they have to work hard if they want to be able to appreciate, or maybe just live with their success.

Schtitt’s understanding of Clipperton has little to do with tennis.   It is much more about the value of “votaried self-transcendence” as a means of hiding from reality.   I’m assuming that Schtit really has his Wallacian shit together and understands that there is in fact a reality defined by loneliness and misery and an impossibility of connection, and that he understands that that reality, if not tempered by something, leads quickly to playing tennis with a pistol to one’s forehead.   For Schtitt, and potentially Wallace, avoiding suicide is about distraction, and the more thorough the distraction the less likely the lost human being is to lose it.   In sum, I agree with Ryan’s assertions about Eric Clipperton, and think that so does Schtitt.

Orin and Hal’s Chat

During this time of year nearly everyone struggles to keep their head above water and I’ve found myself drowning in Infinite Jest. (Yesterday I sat in the fort we made reading and my suitemates dubbed our author Favid Woster Dallace). Despite my less than conducive work environment I thoroughly enjoy Jest. Every day is a struggle to keep from being brutally behind and (in a show of solidarity) I love seeing folks from class carrying around our books. Oh, and I’m thinking of another thing also: is anyone else sort of scared to read? This could be a personal problem, as I’m often someone who confuses the emotions of others for my own.


One of my favorite parts thus far has been the phone conversation between Hal and Orin that begins on 242. Orin begins: “Mr. Incredenza, this is the Enfield Raw Sewage Commission, and quite frankly we’ve had enough shit out of you.” Orin’s clearly done this before, Hal recognizes Orin and the prank is undermined. Still, Orin demonstrates dominance over Hal, calling him “Hallie.” We can see their intelligence and their one-upmanship in their diction: “You start to get like a superstitious native. What’s the word propitiate the divine spell.” Halfway down this page I was considering using the O.E.D. for the sake of my own comprehension and then they actually mention the lovely book.   Simultaneously they keep up the brotherly banter with the clippers. In connection, this passage informs us about Orin’s character. Now we know he’s the kind of guy who picks up women, goes back to their trailer where the “sweet little twins” play “very quietly with blocks without supervision the whole time” (245).  During their talk, Orin mentions that “there seems to be a statistically improbably number of wheel-chaired figures around” (245). I’m pretty proud of myself for discovering the bit of solipsism.   Orin’s only purpose for calling Hal is to run something by him. Hal validates his suspicion in a way which makes it appear plausible and ludicrous: “very shy vans, possibly?”  The conversation on 135 has a similar feeling.

Marathe, Steeply, and artificial pleasure (happiness?)

Once again in this section of Infinite Jest we are treated to the musings of Marathe and Steeply, a conversation that has become increasingly bizarre but provides new perspective on themes addressed in other threads of the plot.   We have discussed at length the nature of addiction and rehabilitation from that addiction in class.   In this case, however, Marathe and Steeply discuss a potential reason behind our susceptibility to addiction, which is the pursuit of pleasure.   From 470-475, Steeply considers a Canadian experiment in which the test subjects were given the opportunity to experience pure physical and emotional ecstasy.   DFW uses this scene to expose and open for evaluation some characteristics of basic human nature, and expound upon his idea of “the cage,” which he first brought up a little earlier with Lyle and LaMont.

Steeply describes to Marathe the procedure through which electrodes are planted in the “p-terminals” of the brain, which cause the feelings of elation when activated.   The test animals all become obsessed with the lever, even ignoring their own bodily needs and dying for one more electric pulse of pleasure.   This makes sense for lab animals, but DFW then explains that “somehow word of the p-terminal discovery had gotten out up in Manitoba… And suddenly the neuro-team at Brandon pull in to work one day and find human volunteers lining up literally around the block outside the place” (472).   Even knowing the potentially lethal side effects, tons of people are willing to abandon their lives in pursuit of that pleasure.   To finally leave that cycle of unhappiness, “the cage” as it has been previously named.

lrose provided a lot of insight into the “breaking out of the cage” idea developed with Lyle and LaMont a little earlier in the novel, but here the point seems to shift a bit.   Now Steeply is concerned about the possibility of getting rid of the cage altogether.   If the cage idea means any choice made in pursuit of happiness necessarily causes unhappiness, why not leave the cage behind and get the electrode planted in your p-terminal and experience constant euphoric pleasure? Why wouldn’t everyone rather feel this way?   Of what concern is thinking freely if you’re experiencing “the purest, most refined pleasure imaginable…thousands of times an hour, at will” (473).   After all, these aren’t crazy people lining up outside the clinic: “all of these people willing to trample one another to undergo invasive brain surgery and foreign-object implantation… [were] fascinatingly, chillingly average, normal… nonabnormal along every axis they could see” (472-473).    

So normal young people would prefer strange, complex, controversial surgery of incredible risk to break from the cage, probably because they see it as the only option for doing so.   Previously, DFW had not offered too much in terms of a solution to this cycle of unhappiness, but this new experiment is not very appealing either.   Perhaps the idea is that most of human choice and rationality will necessarily include some level of unhappiness, and that in order to experience true elation as we conceive it we must give up something that makes us critically human: that freedom of the mind.   Or maybe not, I guess we’ll see.

Autonomy, Addiction & Appetite

“This appetite to choose death by pleasure if it is available to choose — this appetite of your people unable to choose appetites, this is the death. What you call the death, the collapsing: this will be the formality only. Do you not see?” (319)

Marathe suggests to Steeply that “your Bureau‘s fear of this samizdat” (318) is an acknowledgment of how the U.S. citizen has come to “choose nothing over themselves to love.” This inability to choose with care seems to arise from a culture of inundation: since every demand can be met with significant ease, there is no need to question the impetus behind each demand, and to compare their relative urgencies, necessities, and contribution to one’s well-being. The U.S. citizen is unable to transcend their “own wishes of sentiment” to something greater than themselves — sentiment here implies confinement to the realm of one’s own subjective viewpoint. Hence the threat of dying for pleasure, alone, becomes one that is especially malignant considering the U.S. constitution. Marathe illuminates the centrality of the desire-makeup of the “U.S.A. persons in their warm homes”: (1) how in solely making the Entertainment cartridge available suffices to establish a legitimate threat, and (2) how “killing Colombians and Bolivians to protect U.S.A. citizens who desire their narcotics” merely served to temporarily cut-off the means to appeasing the desire without affecting the desire at all — “How long was it before the Brazilians replaced the dead of Colombia?”

Freedom of the will, autonomy and choice are enmeshed in a complex manner. Again, Marathe’s remarks are insightful:

But what of the freedom-to? Not just free-from. Not all compulsion comes from without. You pretend you do not see this. What of freedom-to? How for the person to freely choose? How to choose any but a child’s greedy choices if there is no loving-filled father to guide, inform, teach the person how to choose? How is there freedom to choose if noe does not learn how to choose? (320)

Prima facie, freedom is simply the lack of constraint, but that negates the will portion of free will. There could not be any imposition of will in the face of entire arbitrariness. Hence, freedom in a positive sense is the capacity to act for reasons rather than on the basis of feelings, impulses, or desires. We are most free when we act in accord with reason, as opposed to desire; the latter might even compromise our autonomy.

The case study of a drug addict might help to shed some light. The following is the account given by the philosopher Harry Frankfurt in “Freedom of the Will and the concept of a Person.” Our desires can be conceived of as taking a hierarchal structure. There are 1st-order desires “A wants to X,” where X is an action and 2nd-order desires which are the desires to hold certain 1st-order desires: “A wants to have 1st-order desire X’.” Within 2nd-order desires, there are cases where (1) the agent wants “simply to have a certain desire” and (2) when “he wants a certain desire to be his will”. The first case involves the simple desire to hold a certain desire without being moved by it all the way to action. The second case involves the agent’s desire that a certain desire constitute his will, which are termed “second-order volitions” and is essential to being a person (compare “this appetite of your people unable to choose appetites, this is the death”). Will here means effective desire–one that moves (or will move) a person all the way to action. The will is not coterminous with first-order desires (what one wants to do) since it picks out the specific desire that overrides the rest in effectively manifesting itself in action. While first-order desires can remain unsatisfied, one’s will necessarily results in action. With that in mind, we can see how free will does not concern the relation between what one wants and what one does, but is instead concerned with the relation between second-order volitions and the will. Hence, to have free will is to want what one wants to want.

Now, addictive desires might function in two ways. Consider the examples of the demonic regulator and demonic possessor. The demonic regulator monitors the action of the agent to ensure he performs action A. It steps in to regulate his behavior upon observing him veering away from performing that action. If the agent came to perform action A on his own accord, the demonic regulator would have no influence over his deliberative process. Therefore, the agent’s action not only reflects his autonomous will–it is brought about by it. The fact that his ability to perform A depends on the permission of the demonic regulator does not preclude the possibility of him acting freely and of his own free will.

On the other hand, the demonic possessor basically usurps the agent’s consciousness, taking complete control over him and making decisions on his behalf without him knowing. The agent thinks that he is functioning as an autonomous being, but his existence is really a form of demonic drunken stupor. Just like how drunkards often proclaim themselves not to be drunk, he truly believes that he is in total control of himself. He thinks he is doing what he wants to do, but this is merely a delusion. From a third-person perspective, the agent is not himself; his autonomy has been revoked by the demonic poxssessor. His ability to critically self-evaluate his desires has been radically impaired to the extent that his actions have to be attributed to the demonic possessor rather than to himself.

In the case of addicts, it is difficult to ascertain which analogy is more apt in describing their desire-makeup. One’s subjective attitude towards their first-order desires might be informed by it (as in the possessor), and hence one’s autonomy might be undermined by the addiction. If that is the case, it becomes impossible to know if a certain action accords with the true autonomous will of the individual. Or, if , as in a culture of inundation where first-order desires are easily attainable, there is little need to posit second-order desires since there is no imperative to pick out effective desire. This lack of second-order volitions seems to be the death referred to by Marathe. The autonomous self cannot be instantiated when devoid of the ability to choose what one wants to choose.