Joelle Van Dyne based on Savannah


Joelle Van Dyne was a character in the 1996 Novel Infinite Jest. She had been the girlfriend of Hal’s older brother, and later she inspired the creation of The Entertainment. Savannah was a porn actress who died in 1994 by suicide. I know David Foster Wallace mentioned Savannah in his essay about the Adult Film Awards, but maybe she was an inspiration for Joelle Van Dyne as well? Although the character was not a porn star like Savannah, she was considered extremely beautiful until she got acid thrown in her fact. Suicide is one of David Foster Wallace’s themes, and he also likes to write about people who are considered geniuses and exceptional.

I have not done a lot of study of the life of Savannah, but it occurred to me when I was reading the book The Dirt about Mötley Crüe. Singer Vince Neil said she committed suicide after disfiguring her face, and after he stood her up. I don’t know how disfigured her face was. Maybe was it just some kind of hysterical panic that made her believe she was permanently disfigured or money issues or something else such as worrying about aging that was the motivation behind her suicide. I can’t imagine anyone committing suicide over Vince Neil. If I had a sense of what kind of damage, I would have a better idea. If seems like if her face had been seriously injured one of her people would have called 911. Committing suicide seeming on a whim is something a character in a David Foster Wallace Novel would do. Maybe her story was a story that David Foster Wallace could have written a fictionalized version of, if he had not committed suicide himself.

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