On Monday The Decemberists released their latest music video for “Calamity Song” off of their latest album, last January’s The King is Dead. The video depicts a group of kids playing the fictional game Eschaton, a feature of David Foster Wallace’s wonderfully satirical 1996 novel Infinite Jest. The music video is directed by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation and fellow Wallace enthusiast.
In the dystopian North America of Wallace’s work, Eschaton is played every year on Interdependence day using spent tennis balls representing nuclear warheads. Students are organized into groups based on the current military powers, with names like AMNAT, REDCHI, and SOUTHAF. The game is played on multiple adjacent courts at once in a representation of a world map, with players standing where their corresponding global locations would be. The object is to serve balls so that they land on sensitive spots in opponents’ territory, such as major cities, army bases, etc., with the winning team calculated by the best damage done to damage received ratio. Calculations are handled by a designated game master who runs around with a computer on a cart, running simulations to determine points and settle disputes between teams.
Check out the video below, via NPR: