Avril Incandenza

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Avril is the E.T.A. Dean of Academic Affairs and of Females. She is known as an "agoraphobic workaholic and obsessive-compulsive" (42). A “phobic stressor Avril suffers so uncomplainingly with is a black phobic dread of hiding or secrecy in all possible forms with respect to her sons.” It is the secrecy that Hal enjoys so much when smoking “high-resin Bob Hope” (51). Information from “difference agencies’ background checks indicated” that she had apparently been “fucking just about everything with a pulse…particularly a Canadian pulse” (91-92), and her partners include John Wayne, a student at E.T.A. Hal is aware of his mother’s relationship with John Wayne, and unflinchingly imagines them in coitus. It is also suggested that Orin and his mother have had a sexual relationship.


She is the center of the Incandenza family: she is "The Black Hole of Human Attention" (521) and everyone at the table inclines toward Avril "like heliotropes" (745). She possesses a strange gravity over her family. As the "black hole" and maternal head of the family, her force is distinctly Yin, an important contrast that Wallace uses to grapple with-and perhaps even explode-the Self and Other dichotomy. Her nickname recalls the distinctly Yin aspect of Madame Psychosis's radio introduction, stating that, in the beginning: "'And Lo, for the Earth was empty of form, and void. / And Darkness was all over the Face of the Deep.'" Black holes are also empty of form, and void, and possess extraordinary gravity.

In addition, there is some speculation that she might be Madame Luria P____.