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Posts tagged "David Foster Wallace"

Another Week Ends: Joseph Mills, Commitment Devices, Anxiety Rights, Bible Rescue, Imposter Syndrome, Hitch on Chesterton, Elmer Bernstein and Liz Lemon

Another Week Ends: Joseph Mills, Commitment Devices, Anxiety Rights, Bible Rescue, Imposter Syndrome, Hitch on Chesterton, Elmer Bernstein and Liz Lemon

1. One of the many things to adore about David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is the cover (of the US edition). The collage manages to capture the torrential intellect at the heart of that wonderful collection without losing the humor. But it wasn’t until this past week that I knew anything about its designer, photographer/artist/pumpkin farmer Joseph Mills. The Washington City Paper did a feature on him back in 2003 in conjunction with an exhibit at the Corcoran, and Joseph’s words–and personal history with psychosis and depression–pack quite a punch, ht SJ:

When asked about…

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Another Week Ends: Deadly Doing, Horton on Incarnation, Epic Fantasy Appeal, Schizophrenic Hope, DFW Syllabi, Nice Guys, George Harrison and Superman

Another Week Ends: Deadly Doing, Horton on Incarnation, Epic Fantasy Appeal, Schizophrenic Hope, DFW Syllabi, Nice Guys, George Harrison and Superman

1. Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Dish produced a stirring little meditation earlier this week which brought together two of our favorites, philosopher Michael Oakeshott and social psychologist Daniel Kahneman, under the dynamo Oakeshott-inspired title “The Deadliness of Doing.” He speaks about Oakeshott’s lifelong project of trying to recover was a way of doing things which was as unselfconscious as possible. It’s not terribly different from the dynamic described in Tullian Tchividjian’s book we reviewed earlier this week, that true spiritual progress consists in being liberated from self-reference as much as possible, i.e. becoming less fixated on the me-centered notion…

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As Though There Were Only One Real Kind: Reviewing David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King

As Though There Were Only One Real Kind: Reviewing David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King

Modern Reformation was kind enough to publish my review of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King in their recent issue. Some of the material will be familiar to those who read this site, but most of it is fresh and intentionally geared toward those who haven’t read Wallace. Needless to say, if you’re not subscribing to Mod Ref, do yourself a favor.

The temptation in reviewing The Pale King is not to review The Pale King. And can you blame a person? How do you review an unfinished work? The answer is that you comment on the book’s importance rather than…

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Rom Com Cliches, David Foster Wallace and the Fine Art of the (Over-)Qualification

Rom Com Cliches, David Foster Wallace and the Fine Art of the (Over-)Qualification

It’s time for everybody’s favorite new innovation in criticism deflection: self-awareness! I’m referring to the idea that if you surface the possible criticisms of what you’re creating/doing/saying, they no longer apply – that you are justified, in other words, either artistically, rhetorically or intellectually by the awareness of your faults. And while it’s certainly commendable for filmmakers and writers to be able to laugh at themselves, as the articles point out, oftentimes the winking is a way of masking despair and/or insecurity. In the Atlantic, Chloe Angyal articulates how the trend played itself out in the romantic comedy arena this…

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Dullness, Freedom, Children and Fathers in David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King

Dullness, Freedom, Children and Fathers in David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King

In honor of what would have been 50th birthday (2/21/12), we thought we’d rerun a post of passages from David Foster Wallace’s unfinished opus The Pale King. If the first one sounds familiar, that’s because part of it was reproduced here. FYI, the second two come from the same character, the one who dropped this bomb this as well:

To me, at least in retrospect, the really interesting question is why dullness proves to be such a powerful impediment to attention. Why we recoil from the dull. Maybe it’s because dullness is intrinsically painful; maybe that’s where phrases like ‘deadly dull’…

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DFW on Advice, Self-Pity and Nihilism

DFW on Advice, Self-Pity and Nihilism

Talk about bait! Wesley Hill dropped the following quote from David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King on his blog yesterday, and it’s too good not to re-post here. Another huge incentive to crack the book (after I’m through with Thor: The Mighty Avenger, that is), as if there weren’t enough already:

This remains largely theory, but my best guess as to [my dad’s] never dispensing wisdom like other dads is that my father understood that advice — even wise advice — actually does nothing for the advisee, changes nothing inside, and can actually cause confusion when the advisee is made to…

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The Screwtaping of David Foster Wallace – According to Jonathan Franzen

The Screwtaping of David Foster Wallace – According to Jonathan Franzen

via The New Yorker

An absolute must-read from the April 18th issue of The New Yorker, Jonathan Franzen’s devastating essay “Farther Away,” detailing his retreat to the ultra-remote South Pacific island of Masafuera in hopes of recovering from the grueling period of Freedom-related work, maybe catching a glimpse of an extremely rare bird, as well as depositing some of his late colleague and friend David Foster Wallace’s ashes. He uses the trip as an opportunity to read Robinson Crusoe and reflect on the nature of isolation, both individually and artistically. About two-thirds of the way through, he launches into a meditation…

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Another Week Ends: More Pale King, Game of Thrones, Moonwalker, Manny Ramirez, Take The Money and Run

Another Week Ends: More Pale King, Game of Thrones, Moonwalker, Manny Ramirez, Take The Money and Run

Happy Tax Day! We hope you’ve enjoyed this first week on the new site. We certainly have. Be sure to be in touch as you notice things/bugs, either via the form at the bottom of each post or info@mbird.com. Two small updates: 1. The glossary section will be returning soon-ish, but in rewritten form. In the meantime, you can click on the Glossary category in the sidebar to find the old entries. And 2. We’re on Facebook! Like us, love us, share us, just please don’t ever break up with us… On that note:

1. In celebration of it hitting shelves…

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Another SITE Ends: Self-Restrained Aggression, Praise vs. Criticism, Cheesus Strikes Again, Galli on Substitution, DFW on Addiction and Self-Help, 3eanuts, Richard Ashcroft

Another SITE Ends: Self-Restrained Aggression, Praise vs. Criticism, Cheesus Strikes Again, Galli on Substitution, DFW on Addiction and Self-Help, 3eanuts, Richard Ashcroft

1. A Scientific American podcast/article brings to light an interesting study on the correlation between self-control and aggression, which ties in to JDK’s conference talk about the thin line between threat and promise (recording coming Monday!), ht JD:

Past studies have shown that exerting self-control may increase irritability and anger. But the new research found that the increased aggression brought on by self-restraint has a much broader effect. The researchers studied different types of self-control and the subjects’ subsequent behavior. For instance, participants who carefully controlled their spending of a gift certificate were more interested…

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Paying Taxes To The Pale King

Paying Taxes To The Pale King

Tax Day marks the release of Mockingbird icon David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel, The Pale King. Quotes forthcoming, but from the few reviews that have appeared already, it sounds predictably ripe… Italics mine.

Michiko Kakutani in The NY Times: [DFW’s] posthumous unfinished novel, “The Pale King” — which is set largely in an I.R.S. office in the Midwest — depicts an America so plagued by tedium, monotony and meaningless bureaucratic rules and regulations that its citizens are in danger of dying of boredom.

Just as this lumpy but often stirring new novel emerges as a kind of bookend…

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Eleven Or So Entertainments Worth Looking Forward To This Year

Eleven Or So Entertainments Worth Looking Forward To This Year

As snow continues to pound the East Coast and seasonal affective disorder hits full stride, I thought we could all use a reminder of what the rest of 2011 promises, pop culture-wise:

1. Damsels in Distress. Hallelujah, hallelujah, a new Whit Stillman film at last! If this were the only thing happening this year, it’d be enough.

2. The Pale King. David Foster Wallace’s unfinished final novel hits the stands April 15th. Mindfulness and taxes sound like a powerful brew. 

3. The Muppets. (11/23). For the first time since The Muppet Christmas Carol, it would appear that Kermit and company are…

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David Foster Wallace on Fear, Love and American Males

David Foster Wallace on Fear, Love and American Males

From the short story “Good Old Neon” by David Foster Wallace, collected in Oblivion. Narrator posthumously (sadly, foretellingly) recounts his meetings with his psychotherapist:

“For instance, it turned out that one of his basic operating premises was the claim that there were really only two basic, fundamental orientations a person could have toward the world, (1) love and (2) fear, and that they couldn’t coexist (or, in logical terms, that their domains were exhaustive and mutually exclusive, or that their two sets had no intersection but their union comprised all possible elements, or that

(ψx)((Fx – ~(Lx)) & (Lx – ~ (Fx)))…

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