Tuesday, September 16, 2008

DFW


I had hoped to arrive at some clever title or to generate some insight as to the recently deceased abbreviationally-referenced titular individual, Mr. David Foster Wallace. Mr. Wallace, for those of you who know nothing of him, is a direct descendant of William Wallace (that's right, Braveheart!) and a half brother to Rasheed Wallace. He is arguably best known for penning the long awaited sequel to "Gone With the Wind". This past weekend he was found dead at home by his wife. He hanged himself. More abbreviation.

Should you care to research this author you will find many news articles about him. Many of those who have written about him will note that he was smart. At least I think that is what they are trying to say. There are some big words out there! None of these writers refers to his penchant for wearing bandanas in public. On his head. Tied up so they'd cover at least 4" of the front of his head. Check it out - lots of photos, but nobody talks about it. I find this troubling.

Nobody talks about what the man's work means to me. Now I feel compelled to do so in some kind of half-assed effort to leap onto the tail of the dead star. Look at me! Perhaps somewhere near the end I will offer an "appreciation" or some clever anecdote about how I met him in an elevator and he took 1/2 hour to introduce himself on account of his digressions or maybe never finished because of some tendency to defy the normative expectations of narrative and introduction, all of which I self-mockingly and self-deprecatingly relate in a manner which suggests I know the man, or know his art, and understand either.

"Infinite Jest", likely the least well-known of Mr. Wallace's books (after "Revenge of the Syphilitic Cheerleaders", "Runts Do Stunts", and "John McCain: Spokesman of the Soul" which were all, as I understand it, best sellers in his home nation of Latvia) is the one best-loved by me. Among its themes are subjects close to me: tennis, Quebec nationalism, the potentially pernicious nature of commerce and art (or commerce, and art), and addiction. There are others. The tome is 9,000,000 pages in length and is printed in size 6 font. You will need to read it with an electron microscope set on high. I read this book in 2000 after I had been high for about 12 years. During that time I had rendered myself incapable of focusing, or reading, or behaving in a humane manner towards any person or thing. I gave up on the things which had nourished me as a youth: tennis, bitching about Quebec, and writing. I desired release from the pain which comprised my daily existence.

Within weeks of drying out I found a copy of the book and set about to read it. What a trip. So funny, so sharp, so, so fucking much of life is in its covers! I could wax on and on about what happened to me as I read the book and raptured at its aching beauty, its incredible sadness, and its infuriating conclusion but others will likely have done so or will do so and those writers will not infuse their reviews with bathetic and soppy comments like: this book gave me a renewed appreciation for life, my life, for art, and for humanity when I had recently wanted nothing to do with any of these things... or some similar corny bullshit that you may wish to wipe from the sole of your Doctor Martins boot while pausing to measure the content of the corn in the shit and wondering how it is that any person can say he knows sweet fuck all about anyone else, let alone someone they've never met; or why they'd bother to comment on the writer, his life, his choice of head gear on the event of his death as opposed to, say, last week; or how addicts are some seriously demented people, with their dessicated recollections about the authors they claim to love but about whom they are sorely uninformed; how it might be to be the one to find your loved one, your tortured genius, hanging by his neck in some high-ceilinged portion of your residence; or how it could be to make that decision to hang yourself until death, to feel the constriction of the cord around your throat, to feel the gift and the burden of this life, your life, receding to nothing and as your last human act... you shit yourself.

Fuck me. I cannot say I can miss someone I never met but I feel like I will miss him nonetheless.

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3 Comments:

Blogger nonlineargirl said...

So sorry for your loss. And for the image (which I can not shake) of Rasheed in tears.

2:06 PM  
Blogger cheesefairy said...

You say it so well. Thanks.

1:59 PM  
Blogger palinode said...

I do not know you, but out of all the eulogies for David Foster Wallace that I've read over the last week, your entry is the one tha has inspired me to go out and give Infinite Jest another try. You bastard.

1:48 PM  

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