The Enfield Tennis Academy has been in accredited operation for three pre-Subsidized years and then eight Subsidized years, first under the direction of Dr. James Incandenza and then under the administration of his half-brother-in-law Charles Tavis, Ed.D. James Orin Incandenza — the only child of a former top U.S. jr. tennis player and then promising young pre-Method actor who, during the interval of J. O. Incandenza’s early formative years, had become a disrespected and largely unemployable actor, driven back to his native Tucson AZ and dividing his remaining energies between stints as a tennis pro at ranch-type resorts and then short-run productions at something called the Desert Beat Theater Project, the father, a dipsomaniacal tragedian progressively crippled by obsessions with death by spider-bite and by stage fright and with a bitterness of ambiguous origin but consuming intensity toward the Method school of professional acting and its more promising exponents, a father who somewhere around the nadir of his professional fortunes apparently decided to go down to his Raid-sprayed basement workshop and build a promising junior athlete the way other fathers might restore vintage autos or build ships inside bottles, or like refinish chairs, etc. — James Incandenza proved a withdrawn but compliant student of the game and soon a gifted jr. player — tall, bespectacled, domineering at net — who used tennis scholarships to finance, on his own, private secondary and then higher education at places just about as far away from the U.S. Southwest as one could get without drowning. The United States government’s prestigious O.N.R. 23financed his doctorate in optical physics, fulfilling something of a childhood dream. His strategic value, during the Federal interval G. Ford–early G. Bush, as more or less the top applied-geometrical-optics man in the O.N.R. and S.A.C., designing neutron-scattering reflectors for thermo-strategic weapons systems, then in the Atomic Energy Commission — where his development of gamma-refractive indices for lithium-anodized lenses and panels is commonly regarded as one of the big half-dozen discoveries that made possible cold annular fusion and approximate energy-independence for the U.S. and its various allies and protectorates — his optical acumen translated, after an early retirement from the public sector, into a patented fortune in rearview mirrors, light-sensitive eyewear, holographic birthday and Xmas greeting cartridges, videophonic Tableaux, homolosine-cartography software, nonfluorescent public-lighting systems and film-equipment; then, in the optative retirement from hard science that building and opening a U.S.T.A.-accredited and pedagogically experimental tennis academy apparently represented for him, into ‘après-garde’ experimental- and conceptual-film work too far either ahead of or behind its time, possibly, to be much appreciated at the time of his death in the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar — although a lot of it (the experimental- and conceptual-film work) was admittedly just plain pretentious and unengaging and bad, and probably not helped at all by the man’s very gradual spiral into the crippling dipsomania of his late father. 24
The tall, ungainly, socially challenged and hard-drinking Dr. Incandenza’s May–December 25marriage to one of the few bona fide bombshell-type females in North American academia, the extremely tall and high-strung but also extremely pretty and gainly and teetotalling and classy Dr. Avril Mondragon, the only female academic ever to hold the Macdonald Chair in Prescriptive Usage at the Royal Victoria College of McGill University, whom Incandenza’d met at a U. Toronto conference on Reflective vs. Reflexive Systems, was rendered even more romantic by the bureaucratic tribulations involved in obtaining an Exit- and then an Entrance-Visa, to say nothing of a Green Card, for even a U.S.-spoused Professor Mondragon whose involvement, however demonstrably nonviolent, with certain members of the Québecois-Separatist Left while in graduate school had placed her name on the R.C.M.P.’s notorious ‘Personnes à Qui On Doit Surveiller Attentivement’ List. The birth of the Incandenzas’ first child, Orin, had been at least partly a legal maneuver.
It is known that, during the last five years of his life, Dr. James O. Incandenza liquidated his assets and patent-licenses, ceded control over most of the Enfield Tennis Academy’s operations to his wife’s half-brother — a former engineer most recently employed in Amateur Sports Administration at Throppinghamshire Provincial College, New Brunswick, Canada — and devoted his unimpaired hours almost exclusively to the production of documentaries, technically recondite art films, and mordantly obscure and obsessive dramatic cartridges, leaving behind a substantial (given the late age at which he bloomed, creatively) number of completed films and cartridges, some of which have earned a small academic following for their technical feck and for a pathos that was somehow both surreally abstract and CNS-rendingly melodramatic at the same time.
Professor James O. Incandenza, Jr.’s untimely suicide at fifty-four was held a great loss in at least three worlds. President J. Gentle (F.C.), acting on behalf of the U.S.D.D.’s O.N.R. and O.N.A.N.’s post-annular A.E.C., conferred a posthumous citation and conveyed his condolences by classified ARPA-NET Electronic Mail. Incandenza’s burial in Québec’s L’Islet County was twice delayed by annular hyperfloration cycles. Cornell University Press announced plans for a festschrift. Certain leading young quote ‘après-garde’ and ‘anticonfluential’ filmmakers employed, in their output for the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar, certain oblique visual gestures — most involving the chiarascuro lamping and custom-lens effects for which Incandenza’s distinctive deep focus was known — that paid the sort of deep-insider’s elegaic tribute no audience could be expected to notice. An interview with Incandenza was posthumously included in a book on the genesis of annulation. And those of E.T.A.’s junior players whose hypertrophied arms could fit inside them wore black bands on court for almost a year.