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Posts tagged "David Foster Wallace"

Jonathan Franzen on Influence, Connection, and Kafka (not to mention Intimacy, Control and David Foster Wallace)

Jonathan Franzen on Influence, Connection, and Kafka (not to mention Intimacy, Control and David Foster Wallace)

Piggybacking off of Ethan’s wonderful post on The Art of Fielding, here are two phenomenal quotes from Jonathan Franzen’s recent collection of non-fiction, Farther Away. The first comes from a lecture he gave “On Autobiographical Fiction” in which he tackles the four questions writers dread most, the first of which is the question of influences:

It would be somewhat more meaningful to say that I was influenced by Franz Kafka. By this I mean that it was Kafka’s novel The Trial, as taught by the best literature professor I ever had, that opened my eyes to the greatness of what literature can…

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Another Week Ends: DFW50, Simpsons 500, Ira Talks Radiolab, Rowling Talks New Novel, Helpless Women, Helpless Kids, Lenten Identity, Cormac McCarthy Pictionary

Another Week Ends: DFW50, Simpsons 500, Ira Talks Radiolab, Rowling Talks New Novel, Helpless Women, Helpless Kids, Lenten Identity, Cormac McCarthy Pictionary

All the best wishes for those mockingbirds at the Liberate Conference in Fort Lauderdale this weekend, including our very own David Zahl.

1. Along with the rest of the blogosphere this week, we wish David Foster Wallace a happy 50th birthday. There’s too many blessings to recount, but the web has exploded with numerous avenues for you to get your feet wet or soul soaked. Take a look at The Awl’s “46 Things to Read and See for David Foster Wallace’s 50th Birthday,” a piece of which includes an 86-minute interview with German TV ZDF, the first of which you’ll find…

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Another Week Ends: More Linsanity, IMonk Grace, TechnoSabbaths, Defending Nic Cage, DFW on Corrosive Illusions, Cougarton Abbey and GNR Rumors

Another Week Ends: More Linsanity, IMonk Grace, TechnoSabbaths, Defending Nic Cage, DFW on Corrosive Illusions, Cougarton Abbey and GNR Rumors

1. Just in case you haven’t overdosed on Linsanity yet, David Brooks offers a sympathetic big-picture perspective in his column in The NY Times, highlighting how the culture of achievement and glory in professional sports conflicts with ethical framework espoused by most of the major religious traditions. Some will certainly say that Brooks going overboard, but I’m not so sure. Of course, there are plenty of valid, non-religious ways to rationalize competition, but attempts to do so on the basis of Christianity have always struck this blogger as particularly unconvincing, ht TB:

The moral ethos of sport is in tension with…

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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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