Posts tagged "David Foster Wallace"

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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Another Week Ends: Brooks on the Subconscious and Failure, DFW Studies, Coldplay, Todd Marinovich, Coptic Drama, and Jail for the 99th Time

Another Week Ends: Brooks on the Subconscious and Failure, DFW Studies, Coldplay, Todd Marinovich, Coptic Drama, and Jail for the 99th Time

1. A fascinating article by David Brooks in The New Yorker about “What the Science of Human Nature Can Teach Us.” Bottomline appears to be that people are not the free agents they think they are, the inner life always trumps the outer, and that the subconscious ultimately calls the most important shots in our lives. Also, we are happiest when we are least self-focused:

“…we are not primarily the products of our conscious thinking. The conscious mind gives us one way of making sense of our environment. But the unconscious mind gives us other, more supple ways. The cognitive revolution…

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Another Christmas Arrives: DFW on Federer, Pinsky on Donne, Gervais on Atheism, The National Bible Bee, Backfiring (!) Smoking Bans, and Troubled Childhoods

Another Christmas Arrives: DFW on Federer, Pinsky on Donne, Gervais on Atheism, The National Bible Bee, Backfiring (!) Smoking Bans, and Troubled Childhoods

Just the links this time, for some holiday reading:

1. On Slate, if you have time for a mind-bender, The Philosophical Underpinnings of David Foster Wallace’s Fiction (hint: rhymes with Littgenstein). For some prime DFW himself, check out his renowned profile for the NY Times, “Roger Federer as Religious Experience.” For all of our posts on DFW, click here.

2. Also on Slate, in a column entitled “Nearer, my God, to Thee”, former poet laureate Robert Pinksy takes a look at man’s relationship to the divine via two Jeremiah 12-based sonnets, one from John Donne and one from Gerald…

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David Foster Wallace on Fear, Achievement and Internal Means

David Foster Wallace on Fear, Achievement and Internal Means

One last quote from the book-length interview Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, after which I promise to give the St. Dave stuff a rest:

That the fear is the basic condition, and there are all kinds of reasons for why we’re so afraid. But the fact of the matter is, is that, is that the job that we’re here to do is to learn how to live in a way that we’re not terrified all the time. And not in a position of using all kinds of different things, and using people to keep that kind of…

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David Foster Wallace on Cruises, Ambition and the Discontented Self

David Foster Wallace on Cruises, Ambition and the Discontented Self

A few more priceless quotes from the book-length interview Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, pg. 256-57, this time touching on the black hole of ambition, inwardly-speaking, in regards to the law (of achievement). In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone express the deadend of “works righteousness” so well:

The great lie of the [ocean-liner] cruise is that enough pleasure and enough pampering will quiet this discontented part of you. When in fact, all it does is up the requirement… I can remember being twenty-four years old and having my, you know, smiling mug in The New…

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