Posts tagged "DFW"

Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable (According to DFW)

Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable (According to DFW)

The time has come to post four rather astounding quotes from the 1993 interview that Larry McCaffery conducted with David Foster Wallace. It first appeared in Review of Contemporary Fiction, and the second paragraph will be familiar to those who attended last week’s conference:

I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves….

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Perfect Tennis, Clever Students, and Mozartesque Semi-Colons (Plus)

I Know This Moment To Be True: Some Thoughts on DT Max’s Reading of His Biography of David Foster Wallace

I Know This Moment To Be True: Some Thoughts on DT Max’s Reading of His Biography of David Foster Wallace

We could not possibly be happier to bring you the following essay from Daniel Matthew Varley on one of our absolute favorite subjects. Please note: If you don’t feel like wading through the whole thing but would like to garner some nuggets about David Foster Wallace not found in the biography or elsewhere on the Internet nor probably anywhere else other than in DT Max’s head, skip to section three.

 

1. There were a handful of “David Foster Wallace moments” (DFWm) at the discussion of DT Max’s biography of said deceased author held on January 23rd at the 92Y Tribeca, which…

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Another Week Ends: Gucci Addictions, Narcissism Epidemics, DFW, Phone vs. Heart, PZ on Drones (on CNN), R. Crumb, Tale of Two Suedes, and Kung Fu Grandpa

Another Week Ends: Gucci Addictions, Narcissism Epidemics, DFW, Phone vs. Heart, PZ on Drones (on CNN), R. Crumb, Tale of Two Suedes, and Kung Fu Grandpa

1. The author of the original Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger, dropped as offbeat and not-quite-repentant a tale of addiction on GQ this month as I have ever come across. A convergence of shopping and sex addiction rooted in Law-induced despair (never being able to measure up to initial success) and plain old powerlessness, the circumstances are so outrageous you almost wonder if it’s a prank. Like many an addict/human being, Bissinger is peculiar mix of self-loathing and self-indulgence, both fearful and proud at the same time, his smatterings of wisdom covered up by layers of misanthropic confusion and a…

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Is Contemporary Literature Post-Christian?

Is Contemporary Literature Post-Christian?

An essay in last week’s NYTimes written by Paul Elie grabbed my attention, prodded me in the gut, and provoked some mixed reactions on my behalf. Written with a sensitivity to the oft-referenced ‘post-Christian society,’ Elie surmises that contemporary American fiction lacks the believer: “In American fiction, belief is like that. Belief as upbringing, belief as social fact, belief as a species of American weirdness: our literary fiction has all of these things. All that is missing is the believer.”

His argument and epistolatory tone largely stem from an understanding that a large swath of American literature has been overtly rooted in…

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On the Comfort of Bad Books; or, What You and David Foster Wallace Have in Common

On the Comfort of Bad Books; or, What You and David Foster Wallace Have in Common

How does David Foster Wallace pass the time during a 1600-mile trip across America? With a Dean Koontz novel, of course. The Rumpus, a site for literary commentary, recently published an unsettling little article on “The Comfort of Bad Books”, exploring the attraction and validity of bad books. Way more of us than we’d care to admit have spent hours upon hours with supposedly lowbrow or ‘pop’ books, along the lines of Koontz or Danielle Steel or James Patterson, and all of us are secretly thrilled by the plots, ashamed at how quickly and wholly we absorb ourselves in them,…

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David Foster Wallace on Love, Identity and the Numbness of Achievement

David Foster Wallace on Love, Identity and the Numbness of Achievement

From the modern bard’s short story collection, Oblivion, specifically the beginning to the stream of consciousness tour-de-force, “Good Old Neon”, ht DJ:

My whole life I’ve been a fraud.  I’m not exaggerating.  Pretty much all I’ve ever done all the time is try to create a certain impression of me in other people.  Mostly to be liked or admired.  It’s a little more complicated than that, maybe.  But when you come right down to it it’s to be liked, loved. Admired, approved of, applauded, whatever.  You get the idea.  I did well in school, but deep down the whole thing’s motive wasn’t to learn or improve myself but just to…

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David Foster Wallace Went to Church Constantly?

David Foster Wallace Went to Church Constantly?

The next few months are shaping up to be eventful and exciting ones for devotees of David Foster Wallace. At the end of August the first major biography of Wallace, D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, hits the shelves. And then in November, a long-awaited volume of uncollected essays arrives, Both Flesh and Not. Can you say “pre-ordered”?! Well, last week blogger Daniel Silliman posted an eye-catching report on a recent panel given at the UT Austin Wallace archives that included the biographer in question, Mr. Max. According to Mr. Silliman, there is reason to believe that…

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“The Way of People” from DFW’s The Pale King

“The Way of People” from DFW’s The Pale King

The fifth effect has more to do with you, how you’re perceived. It’s powerful although its use is more restricted.  Pay attention, boy. The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with, you stop suddenly in the middle of the conversation and look at the person closely and say, “What’s wrong?” You say it in a concerned way. He’ll say, “What do you mean?” You say, “Something’s wrong. I can tell. What is it?” And he’ll look stunned and say, “How did you know?” He doesn’t realize something’s always wrong, with everybody. Often more than one thing. He doesn’t know…

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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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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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