09.15.08: everything is green

it's just as well that our wireless was down for the weekend. on saturday night i got a call from paul, who did me the kindness of telling me my favorite author was dead. he thought it would be better to hear of it from him than to hear of it from the media, and i think he was right. one's best friend is usually right about things like that.

david foster wallace was supposed to become the sleek old seal of postmodern literature. he'd metamorphosed from the cockeyed, scarecrow-haired punk on infinite jest's dust jacket (though it was hard to imagine him breaking a sweat over prose, that photo always made me think his tongue would stick out of the corner of his mouth as he wrote something especially excellent) to a heavier, ponytailed grownup, like the big lebowski's Dude after a makeover. i always imagined that, when i finally met DFW at a book signing, he'd be a bit like The Dude. plus paul, plus my favorite high school teacher. i would tell him the story of how someone in oxford once asked if the infinite jest quote on my wall was something i'd written, giving me the biggest, most ludicrous compliment of my life.

i miss you sounds much better in french (tu me manques) than it does in english, both literally and figuratively: se manquer is a reflexive verb, and is closer to to lack. it's visceral in a useful way. i lack david foster wallace. we lack him.


pica said...

Great memorial post from Caleb Crain. His conclusion made me terribly sad, though, for a variety of reasons. Jeez. I really think it is high time for the red panda cub dinner hour. NO MELANCHOLY ALL FUZZ

jacob said...

Harper's has made available online all of DFW's pieces written for the magazine: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/09/hbc-90003557

anonymous said...

DFW's 2005 commencement address at Kenyon: http://www.marginalia.org/dfw_kenyon_commencement.html

lauren said...

many have pointed to (the portion of) that address (that's about suicides) as proof that DFW himself was an inevitable suicide. i think it's sad and lovely, of a piece with the rest of his work, and i love this part:

If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

altogether, it eats that much-forwarded "faux vonnegut at MIT's commencement" address for lunch.

anonymous said...

Well said.