pref. [SI: the next quantifier below micro-; meaning *10^(-9)] Smaller than micro-, and used in the same rather loose and connotative way. Thus, one has nanotechnology (coined by hacker K. Eric Drexler) by analogy with `microtechnology'; and a few machine architectures have a `nanocode' level below `microcode'. Tom Duff at Bell Labs has also pointed out that "Pi seconds is a nanocentury". See also quantifiers, pico-, nanoacre, nanobot, nanocomputer, nanofortnight. --Jargon File.
Like a lot of readers, I suspect, I made my way to the end of Infinite Jest with a growing ache of realization that the intricately detailed world that Wallace created in the novel would somehow continue to spin out of control long past the final punctuation mark. Maybe it's selfish of me to desire this resolution, to want to know the ultimate fate of some the characters I'd just spent nearly two weeks giving over my time and energy in coming to know. I don't demand a happy ending, or even an ending; I do enjoy resolution.
So is it there?
I let the last eighth of an inch of text sit for a half-day. To be honest, I've read a lot of essays and reviews about the ending. I've heard people complain, some with tears in their eyes, that "I'll never get that month of my life back." I even made it through 800 pages of the novel once and knew that there was no way that another 200 pages would resolve all of the plot lines without a full-scale cataclysmic act, perhaps a mass viewing of the Entertainment at the heart of the novel. For most of that final day of reading, I let the novel sit on the coffee table. I stared at the bookmark, winced at the thought of all of this work being for little more than the accomplishment of some esoteric goal. I went out for Vietnamese food, bought groceries, enjoyed an hour or so at a coffee shop reading the newspaper and checking the college football scores on the cell phone. All the while, I knew what had to be done.
I made some strong coffee.
The final pages slipped through my fingers. I read slowly, looking for those clues, waiting for the big final act that would bring on the "a-ha" I believed I needed. Hal Incandenza and Don Gately and the dozens of other characters both in the present and in the past, in the book and in my memory of what I'd read, the Entertainment and the wheelchair-bound Quebecois terrorists, the endnotes and endnotes' footnotes, the drugs and the need for more drugs and AA and NA, all of it building into something...
Something was closing the book with a sigh. At first, I felt relief just to be finished and to be able to move on to some other book. Sitting on my front porch and staring at a line of ants moving toward a piece of dog food, I thought back on all of the possibilities that despite THE END still seemed to be there, but I wasn't disappointed. At least not in a major, throw the book over the porch's ledge sort of way. Despite all of its complexities and twists and often agonizing threads of maximalism, I closed the book with an admiration of a writer's craft and the ability to put so much into a work, so much that by the end of 1000 pages one could want--even need--more.
Just not at this moment. In an interview with Newsweek some years ago, Wallace asked the interviewer if he'd read the book. The interviewer said that he had not, but that Newsweek's reviewer had. To which Wallace replied:
My hat's off to him. Tell him Excedrin works best for eyestrain.
The final tally:
Day ten totals: 50 pages; 12 endnotes
Day eleven totals: 38 pages; 10 endnotes
Day twelve totals: 23 pages; 12 endnotes
Day thirteen totals: 75 pages; 23 endnotes<----THE END