Gdel, Hofstadter, Wallace: The Gdelian Metalogical Narrative Structure of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest

No Thumbnail Available
Hudson, Cory
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
Despite acknowledgements that it forms an intellectual predecessor to Infinite Jest, the influence that Douglas R. Hofstadter's Gdel, Escher, Bach (GEB) had upon the structure of David Foster Wallace's novel has resisted critical exploration. Filling this gap in Wallace scholarship, this study fully probes the degree to which the structure of IJ mimics Kurt Gdel's notions of incompleteness and recursion as explained by Hofstadter. Gdel, via a self-referential mathematical formula designated, established the impossibility for a calculus to account for every true mathematical statement about natural numbers. Wallace used Gdel's notions as a formal principal to structure IJ. The recursive incompleteness of a closed fictional system modeled on such a proof opens finally toward the reader, inviting exit from the experience of reading the novel. In that transcendent movement to the outside of the novel's textual system, writer and readers form an empathetic bond with one another beyond the experience of inhabiting impossible formulae.
David Foster Wallace, Douglas R. Hofstadter, Infinite Jest, Metalogic, Recursion