Sunday, September 14, 2008
I once received a copy of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (yes, the dude that just killed himself this weekend for God knows what reason in this vale of tears) from a long ago love, someone who is not in a good way now himself. I read it because a) I read books, lots of them and b) I was in a race with my good friend John to see which of us would make it through the weighty tome. I don't remember a lot of it; Wallace's essays always left a stronger impression. When I taught, I often brought out his "The Nature Of The Fun," a biting look at the difficulty of writing. Reading it was a revelation. Fuck -- someone felt the same way I did, felt the pain of writing alone and hoping for the best, felt the all-consuming passion of ignoring everything else for it, and the deadness when you tried to please someone other than yourself with your words. To do so resulted in shitty writing. Shitty writing that wouldn't feed the vanity impulse you'd written it to satisfy.
Infinite Jest weighs in at over a thousand pages, much of it crazy, much of it brilliant. I don't have the book anymore; I don't know what happened to something so heavy, something that took up so much space on my shelf. I suppose we lose a lot over the years, even things we think we'll have forever. It's hard to understand that all that is solid will fade.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It looks like you can write a minimalist piece without much bleeding. And you can. But not a good one." David Foster Wallace
Drinking essay suggestion: A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again David Foster Wallace
Benedictions and Maledictions