The Decemberists Rock Infinite Jest
Have you ever heard of this thing called music videos?
I heard that they were a popular thing back in the 80s and 90s on a channel called MTV. Anyway, some bands still make these “music videos,” The Decemberists being one.
The band was so inspired by Infinite Jest that they made a video depicting one of the most memorable scenes in the book–the kids at the tennis academy playing Eschaton.
Eschaton is an invention of the wacky, brilliant mind of David Foster Wallace–a game that combines tennis, Risk, Battleship and who knows what else.
The music video is for “Calamity Song,” their first video from their “The King is Dead” album. The Decemberists lead singer, Colin Meloy, explains how the idea for the video developed:
I wrote “Calamity Song” shortly after I’d finished reading David Foster Wallace’s epic Infinite Jest. The book didn’t so much inspire the song itself, but Wallace’s irreverent and brilliant humor definitely wound its way into the thing. And I had this funny idea that a good video for the song would be a re-creation of the Enfield Tennis Academy’s round of Eschaton — basically, a global thermonuclear crisis re-created on a tennis court — that’s played about a third of the way into the book. Thankfully, after having a good many people balk at the idea, I found a kindred spirit in Michael Schur, a man with an even greater enthusiasm for Wallace’s work than my own. With much adoration and respect to this seminal, genius book, this is what we’ve come up with. I can only hope DFW would be proud.
We’ve talked on this blog about the connection between bands and literature before, and here’s another great example. Well done, guys. If you’re really interested, here’s a feature in The New York Times about the video, with interviews.
What do you think of the video…and, if you’ve read the book, its depiction of the Eschaton scene?