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Posts tagged "Infinite Jest"

How to be Hip and Cool According to Infinite Jest

How to be Hip and Cool According to Infinite Jest

I have a strong hunch that I’m a cynic, and I don’t like it. So whenever people I respect sound off about cynicism, I’m all ears. If you spot it, you got it and if you got it, you spot it, after all. David Foster Wallace offers a piercing insight into cynicism and the human condition in this passage from Infinite Jest:

It’s of some interest that the lively arts of the millennial U.S.A. treat anhedonia and internal emptiness as hip and cool. It’s maybe the vestiges of the Romantic glorification of Weltschmerz, which means world weariness or hip ennui. Maybe…

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Social Media, Shame, and the Prescience of DFW

Social Media, Shame, and the Prescience of DFW

This month’s edition of Christianity Today features a cover story, “The Return of Shame,” that draws a clear, causative link between the prevalence of social media and its corollary stripping of privacy with the emergence of a shame-fame culture. I couldn’t help but relate this to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (and Billy Idol’s “Eyes without a Face”).

n contrast to a guilt culture wherein morality is evaluated on the basis on individual conscience, a shame culture’s efficacy rests on community’s conception of your behavior. According to Crouch, “you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you.” This…

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A Wheelchair Assassin Argues About Freedom

A Wheelchair Assassin Argues About Freedom

We promised there would be more excerpts from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest! This one comes from a clandestine mountain-top conversation between a Quebecois nationalist/”Wheelchair Assassin” named Marathe and the US undercover agent Hugh/Helen Steeply. Some people consider their (lengthy) sparring matches to be the lowpoints of book, real momentum killers (pun intended), and I’m not sure I’d disagree. Still, taken out of context, DFW packed quite a bit of beauty and weight and humor into them. Their standing disagreement about the nature of freedom sticks out as particularly quotable–and lest you think DFW is being overly didactic, be sure…

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When Don Gately’s Spider Started to Starve

When Don Gately’s Spider Started to Starve

For as much burn as we’ve given David Foster Wallace on this site, I was surprised and a bit embarrassed to realize that we’ve never quoted from his opus Infinite Jest. Well, no longer! Here’s a favorite: the stunning passage where Wallace recounts one of his “protagonists”, Don Gately, praying for the first time. It doubles as a memorable description of what it looks like for a person to turn to God in a meaningful way (in something resembling our context). Gately spends much of the narrative as a resident and employee of Ennet House, a halfway house in Boston,…

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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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David Foster Wallace, R.I.P.

David Foster Wallace, R.I.P.

I was gutted to find out that my favorite living author, David Foster Wallace, committed suicide this past Friday. He was 46. This is a real tragedy and a serious loss. His gifts were enormous, perhaps even genius-level. It didn’t matter what subject caught his interest – tennis or cruise lines or depression or talk radio or addiction or math – he imbued them all with the same dazzling insight and wisdom and humor. I credit his book Infinite Jest with getting me through my year abroad in Vienna.

Everything he published is fantastic, but if you’re a newcomer, I suggest…

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