, Interrupted

Posted by sepoy on September 17, 2008 · 1 min read
"If we must say something, let's at least only say true things. (( And let's say them grammatically.)) The principle of his fiction, as I understand it."

Zadie Smith @ McSweeney's.

"He went on to mention, all too briefly, his hope that there might be “a model for what free, informed adulthood might look like in the context of Total Noise: not just the intelligence to discern one's own error or stupidity, but the humility to address it, absorb it, and move on and out therefrom, bravely, toward the next revealed error.”

None of us is in a position to know why Wallace ended his own pursuit of that goal. Of course it is appropriate to have compassion for whatever intensity of suffering made suicide seem like a necessary escape, and sympathy for those close to him. But my own feelings keep coming back to a kind of horror. This goes beyond any sense of loss. When Wallace wrote about human fragility, he seemed to be defining a moral perspective, rather than pointing to an abyss that would swallow him whole."

Scott McLemee @ Inside Higher Ed


Desi Italiana | September 17, 2008

This Salon interview from back in the day has these tidbits that I think are interesting (sorry, Sepoy, for the huge cut-paste jobs below): --"Not much of the press about "Infinite Jest" addresses the role that Alcoholics Anonymous plays in the story. How does that connect with your overall theme? DFW: The sadness that the book is about, and that I was going through, was a real American type of sadness. I was white, upper-middle-class, obscenely well-educated, had had way more career success than I could have legitimately hoped for and was sort of adrift. A lot of my friends were the same way. Some of them were deeply into drugs, others were unbelievable workaholics. Some were going to singles bars every night. You could see it played out in 20 different ways, but it's the same thing. Some of my friends got into AA. I didn't start out wanting to write a lot of AA stuff, but I knew I wanted to do drug addicts and I knew I wanted to have a halfway house. I went to a couple of meetings with these guys and thought that it was tremendously powerful. That part of the book is supposed to be living enough to be realistic, but it's also supposed to stand for a response to lostness and what you do when the things you thought were going to make you OK, don't. The bottoming out with drugs and the AA response to that was the starkest thing that I could find to talk about that. I get the feeling that a lot of us, privileged Americans, as we enter our early 30s, have to find a way to put away childish things and confront stuff about spirituality and values. Probably the AA model isn't the only way to do it, but it seems to me to be one of the more vigorous. " --"Are you trying to find similar meanings in the pop culture material you use? That sort of thing can be seen as merely clever, or shallow. DFWI've always thought of myself as a realist. I can remember fighting with my professors about it in grad school. The world that I live in consists of 250 advertisements a day and any number of unbelievably entertaining options, most of which are subsidized by corporations that want to sell me things. The whole way that the world acts on my nerve endings is bound up with stuff that the guys with leather patches on their elbows would consider pop or trivial or ephemeral. I use a fair amount of pop stuff in my fiction, but what I mean by it is nothing different than what other people mean in writing about trees and parks and having to walk to the river to get water a 100 years ago. It's just the texture of the world I live in. --"What's it like to be a young fiction writer today, in terms of getting started, building a career and so on?" DFW....If you, the writer, succumb to the idea that the audience is too stupid, then there are two pitfalls. Number one is the avant-garde pitfall, where you have the idea that you're writing for other writers, so you don't worry about making yourself accessible or relevant. You worry about making it structurally and technically cutting edge: involuted in the right ways, making the appropriate intertextual references, making it look smart. Not really caring about whether you're communicating with a reader who cares something about that feeling in the stomach which is why we read. Then, the other end of it is very crass, cynical, commercial pieces of fiction that are done in a formulaic way -- essentially television on the page -- that manipulate the reader, that set out grotesquely simplified stuff in a childishly riveting way. http://www.salon.com/09/features/wallace1.html

incongruity | September 18, 2008

A season of mourning