Posts tagged "David Foster Wallace"
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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David Foster Wallace on Addiction, America and Any Book Later Than Dostoyevsky

David Foster Wallace on Addiction, America and Any Book Later Than Dostoyevsky

Perhaps the high point of Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, David Lipsky’s book-length interview with author David Foster Wallace (quoted here, here and here), finds Wallace coming clean about how the G-O-D question relates to his work. Once again, addiction serves as his preferred point of access to the subject of personal happiness/emptiness and, therefore, religion. It’s worth noting how this line of thinking, recorded in 1996 in reference to the then-brand new Infinite Jest, would find full expression later nine years later in his commencement address at Kenyon College.

“The only thing that I knew for sure,…

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(More) David Foster Wallace on Depression

(More) David Foster Wallace on Depression

From the recently published book-length interview Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself:

“I’m not biochemically depressed. But I feel like I got to dip my toe in that wading pool and, um, not going back there is more important to me than anything… It’s worse than any kind of physical injury, or any kind of – it may be what in the old days was called a spiritual crisis or whatever. It’s just the feeling as though the entire, every axiom of your life turned out to be false, and there was actually nothing, and you were nothing, and…

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Another Week Ends: More Shore, Facebook Happiness, DFW, Marriage, IMonk and The National

Another Week Ends: More Shore, Facebook Happiness, DFW, Marriage, IMonk and The National

1. John Shore’s follow-up to his Huffington Post piece, “How My Wife Took The News Of My Sudden Conversion”. It should be noted that Mr. Shore published a book in 2007 with the killer title: “I’m OK-You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending To Non-Believers And Why We Should Stop”. Along those lines, it’s worth taking a look at his post “What Non-Christians Want Christians To Hear”.

2. Fascinating report from the San Fracisco Chronicle about behavior on Facebook and LinkedIn. Turns out both networks employ scientists whose sole job it is to track and analyze our behavior… With a particular…

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Another Week Ends: Bad Church Kids, DFW, Dylan, Trailers, More Spiritualiosity

Another Week Ends: Bad Church Kids, DFW, Dylan, Trailers, More Spiritualiosity

1. From an article Why Church Kids Must Go Bad that talks about contemporary youth ministry through the lens of this book. Not sure if the book is any good, but the article, though definitely a little churchy, is pretty great. ht EC:

“Have we communicated that Christianity is ultimately about goodness, about positivity, and has little to do with the reality of the human condition—little to do with suffering, brokenness, and yearning? These good kids have become the role models for others; we have labeled them the good and positive leaders, while the doubting, the yearning,…

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Conference Book Table

Conference Book Table

As promised, here’s the full inventory of what we had on offer last week. It’s by no means a definitive collection or ‘canon’, just what we were able to gather up in time for the conference. They’re listed in order of author, with links to where you can purchase them. They all come highly recommended!

NON-FICTION

Basics 1. Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book).2. Brewer, Todd [ed.]. The Gospel According To Pixar. Coming Soon!4. Hawkins, David. The Useful Sinner.5. Long, Anne. Listening. 6. Manning, Brennan. The Ragamuffin Gospel.7. Norris, Sean [ed.]. Judgment & Love: Expanded Edition.8. Paulson, Steven….

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The Perspective of David Foster Wallace

The Perspective of David Foster Wallace

This is just a little something for your Friday afternoon, if you have the time.

I know this is a rather long video, but it’s definitely worthwhile. It’s the author himself reading two brilliantly humorous yet thoughtful works. His style has a way of using humor to get past the heart’s defenses in order to communicate some deeper truth at the same time.

Of course, we now know all to well that behind his humorous approach was a fellow sufferer who tragically ended his life before its time (though every death is untimely), but while he was with us his…

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David Foster Wallace on David Lynch, LOST (by extension), Irony, and Preaching

David Foster Wallace on David Lynch, LOST (by extension), Irony, and Preaching

From DFW’s definitive take on Lynch “David Lynch Keeps His Head”:

Like most storytellers who use mystery as a structural device and not a thematic device, Lynch is way better at deepening and complicating mysteries than he is at wrapping them up. And [Twin Peaks]‘ second season showed that he was aware of this and that it was making him really nervous. By its thirtieth episode, the show had degenerated into tics and shticks and mannerisms and red herrings, and part of the explanation for this was that Lynch was trying to divert our…

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The Upside Of Depression?

The Upside Of Depression?

From Jonah Lehrer’s fascinating article in last week’s NY Times magazine entitled “Depression’s Upside” which traces the research currently being done on depression from an evolutionary perspective, i.e. the attempt to answer the question, “Is there an evolutionary purpose to depression and if so what is it?”. Shaky ground…  Most of the article outlines the so-called “analytic rumination hypothesis” which boils down to the following:

“If depression didn’t exist — if we didn’t react to stress and trauma with endless ruminations — then we would be less likely to solve our predicaments. Wisdom isn’t cheap, and we pay for it with…

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Another Week Ends: Whole Foods, Heidi Montag, Colombian Eunuchs, Dostoevsky vs Marquis de Sade, DFW

Another Week Ends: Whole Foods, Heidi Montag, Colombian Eunuchs, Dostoevsky vs Marquis de Sade, DFW

1. A fascinating profile in last week’s New Yorker of John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, sort of a footnote to JDK’s recent post on environmentalism. There is a lot in the article worth mentioning, but for our purposes, I thought it was particularly interesting that Whole Foods was founded as a self-consciously non-judgmental health food store (ht RJH):

“[The first Whole Foods store] was ten thousand square feet. They stocked not just lentils and granola but, in contravention of the co-op ethos, indulgences like meat, beer, and wine; there were aisles full of five-gallon bottles of distilled water, to…

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David Foster Wallace on Depression, Powerlessness and Other Bad Things

From a very early, as-of-yet uncollected short story “The Planet Trillaphon As It Stands In Relation To The Bad Thing”. He’s writing about depression (i.e. the Bad Thing), but one could almost substitute “sin” for “bad thing.” As we all know, it is easy to cling to human agency and willpower when it comes to less significant problems. But depression (or anger, or addiction for that matter) is not one of them. DFW paints a perfect and frankly rather horrifying picture of man in need of a solution outside of himself:

“Because the Bad Thing [depression] not only attacks you and…

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