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Dear Hal Incandenza: a farewell letter

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Dear Hal,

I’ve been reading about you for weeks now.1 I think I’m very into you. 

I sometimes feel we’re the same person, like in that passage where He2 says that “Like most young people genetically hard-wired for a secret drug problem, Hal Incandenza also has severe compulsion-issues around nicotine and sugar.”

My favorite cigarettes are Blue Kings and my favorite sugar of choice is via Nutella. I wonder whether you would smoke Blue Kings if you lived in Denmark, and were real.

My favorite passage ever about you and me is on page 560, where He writes:

“At lunchtime, Hal Incandenza was lying on his bunk in bright sunlight through the window with his hands laced over his chest, and Jim Troeltsch poked his head in and asked Hal what he was doing, and Hal told him photosynthesizing and then didn’t say anything else until Troeltsch went away”

When I was your age3 I still lived in Barcelona with Leonor. Summers in Barcelona are very hot and Leonor4 is actively against having AC at home, so I used to spend most of my days lying on the floor and looking outside through the balcony door because our floor was made of marble and so it was cold and felt nice on my naked back. Every time she would ask me what I was doing I would say photosynthesizing and I wouldn’t say anything else until she left the room.

Purely speculating: I sometimes wonder whether Avril would totally hate me if we would ever go out, as she did with Joelle. What would she think of me? Probably that I am not enough for her son. I think I would get along pretty well with Mario though. We would bond over my genuine interest for his recording equipment and our unconditional adoration for you.

I know, I know, “Hal is maybe the one male E.T.A. for whom lifetime virginity is a conscious goal. He sort of feels like O.’s having enough acrobatic coitus for all three of them.”. I do have to admit, sex is quite important for me: we might have our first crisis over that issue, but I’m sure we will work something out.

Hey Hal, you have become my favorite form of entertainment. I know it’s very selfish of me to say this, but I was kind of sad when you had to stop the Bob Hope, because I really wanted to read more about your thoughts and your being as a whole, while stoned, at the same time as hoping one day I can go back to that state without ending up somewhere similar to The Ennet House. However, I’m happy you’re went through “the end of all hope” because He finally started writing you in first person and I felt more connected to you than ever.  

I wonder whether the day you tried to isolate yourself and watch Himself’s film cartridges and Bridget Boone and some other girls came around and bothered you and stayed and watched those cartridges, I wonder whether you were actually trying to isolate seeking entertainment because Bob Hope is, at the end of the day, entertainment, and you used to isolate while smoking, so, when you were there on the floor watching Himself’s film cartridge’s, you were trying to find a substitute for the Substance, and we all know you are clever enough to know that everything surrounding you is entertainment and so you just need to find another substitute for your Main Entertainment.

I do have a question, Hal, that I really want to ask you: why do you take entertainment so seriously? Tennis, Bob Hope, Eschaton, cartridges. Is it because of how you have been raised? Is it because of the world you live in? Has it ever occurred to you that entertainment can be experienced in another way? That it can actually be time for leisure? You see, I feel that in my world, the core of entertainment lies in the feeling of enjoyment and non-obligational nature of the action. In my world, entertainment can be a synonym of leisure, but in your world Hal, in your world it seems inconceivable that the Entertainment will ever be leisure again.

Hal, in 50 pages you will be gone.

Hal, you don’t know me because you don’t exist5, and I do, but before you cease to be an active part of my daily life I want you to know how I feel about you. Isn’t it crazy that something that was supposed to be mere entertainment for me has ended up awaking real emotions of my being?

While I write this, I can hear Him saying:

“Hal himself hasn’t had a bona fide intensity-of-interior-life-type emotion since he was tiny; he finds terms like joie and value to be like so many variables in rarified equations, and he can manipulate them well enough to satisfy everyone but himself that he’s in there, inside his own hull, as a human being – but in fact he’s far more robotic than John Wayne. One of his troubles with his Moms is the fact that Avril Incandenza believes she knows him inside and out as a human being, and an internally worthy one at that, when in fact inside Hal there’s pretty much nothing at all, he knows. His Moms Avril hears her own echoes inside him and thinks what she hears is him, and this makes Hal feel the one thing he feels to the limit, lately: he is lonely”.

Harold James Incandenza, we will never meet because our beings occur in two different realms, in different time and space. I don’t want to be like your Moms, so I truly believe there’s nothing inside you apart from organs, muscles and bones; however, I hope one day you find something/someone so intense and entertaining as you have been for me, and fill your inside, even momentarily, with some joie.

Yours truly,




  1.  More specifically since the end of May 2017 (Unsubsidized Time).
  2.  David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest and your creator, along with all the other characters in the book.
  3.  Some people on the Internet say* Y.D.A.U probably corresponds to AD 2009 – in that case, we are technically the same age, as in 2009 I was also 17. [*  Wallacewiki:
  4.  Leonor Vico Diaz, born in Órleans, April 8 1967 (Unsubsidized Time), mother of Neus Casanova Vico**. [** Neus Casanova Vico, born in Barcelona, December 12 1992 (Unsubsidized Time), writer of Dear Hal Incandenzal: a farewell letter.
  5. And believe me, Hal, you are real for me, but I know I will never be real for you.

Neus spends a considerable amount of her time thinking about Clarice Lispector in general and Sylvia Plath’s poems in particular. She’s a firm supporter of the Weil team in the which-Simone-is-better battle. She once read Infinite Jest and still talks about it today. She’s one half of the translation column Translation Tuesday, tends to overuse the word “nice” and apparently the pronoun “she” when she writes her bio.

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