Jason Kottke, a consistent fount of great links, finds a revealing interview with David Foster Wallace about Infinite Jest. Here is DFW answering a question about whether or not his novel actually follows a fractal form*:
David Foster Wallace: That’s one of the things, structurally, that’s going on [in the novel]. It’s actually structured like something called a Sierpinski Gasket, which is a very primitive kind of pyramidical fractal, although what was structured as a Sierpinski Gasket was the first- was the draft that I delivered to Michael in ’94, and it went through some I think ‘mercy cuts’, so it’s probably kind of a lopsided Sierpinski Gasket now. But it’s interesting, that’s one of the structural ways that it’s supposed to kind of come together.
Michael Silverblatt: “Michael” is Michael Pietsche, the editor at Little, Brown. What is a Sierpinski Gasket?
DFW: It would be almost im- … I would almost have to show you. It’s kind of a design that a man named Sierpinski I believe developed — it was quite a bit before the introduction of fractals and before any of the kind of technologies that fractals are a really useful metaphor for. But it looks basically like a pyramid on acid –
Here is a useful primer on the Sierpinski Gasket. And here is a picture of a gasket made out of coke cans.
*This interview makes me want to reread Infinite Jest, if only because I never even picked up the slightest trace of anything fractal in the work.