Although Of Course Thoughts

The pleasure I derived from reading a book filled with David Foster Wallace interviews I believe I already sufficiently derived from reading Infinite Jest although of course I never deny myself of even more pleasure. Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself is the ultimate in DFW voyeurism. How can it not be when it is DFW speaking, his speech transcribed word for word, feeling for feeling, with a sprinkling of asides by its transcriber, David Lipsky, the Rolling Stone writer who was supposed to publish a nice, thoughtful essay about the hot young writer of the sensational novel of that moment.

I’m reminded of JD Salinger’s vehemence about an author’s work having to stand alone and all that JD Salinger kind of crap about a writer’s work having to speak for itself, because in this book of interviews, reminiscences and impressions, DFW elaborates the essence of Infinite Jest, which if you’ve read as I have, you’d probably want explained too, or you’d want to dissect on your own.

David Foster Wallace’s idea of what entertainment does to the life of a person – the needing, the consuming, the never-ending cycle of wanting to satisfy ourselves of things that are life-affirmingly pleasurable like CDs, movies, candies, whores, boys/girls and TV, is crystalline. He dictates how a person can feel infinitely more conscious of the need to want more and more, never seeming to achieve a perfectly acceptable state of contentment in the consumption of things, conscious of his own humanly hunger, not too affected by Zen ideologies and/or stuff like ‘detachment’. What else is there to achieve after all the praises already so generously lavished upon his probably greatest achievement? So much more, of course, and I’m not suggesting that the suicide is apt, but it’s like he had an inkling that life could not get much better, and who are we to judge. The normal, non-Grammy/Oscar/Pulitzer-winning person can and will still aim seemingly forever for the gold. He touches upon that whole mess quite neatly.

Also, when someone freely talks and discusses death and suicide, it is not always insincere. It’s actually very relevant to the preservation of the life of whoever’s mouth matters of suicide comes out of. It would delight you to know, people who intend to kill yourselves, that there is nothing terribly wrong about killing yourself, even though people tend to think it’s cowardly or shameful. You should be warned, though, that simultaneously planning your Big Day and immersing your reading habits with David Foster Wallaces is, to borrow a DFW-favored term, disingenuous. You could do well by letting your DFW phase pass and then proceed with hatching the best, least showy, most meaningful kill self scheme.

It would’ve been a relief if DFW were a reclusive psycho-like person who in his remaining days was generally perceived as a ticking time bomb, although he kind of was but not in an obvious way, but who turned out he wasn’t. That could have been the short explanation for Infinite Jest. As it happens, he was just inexplicably really sad and overly concerned about the meaning of What It Means To Be Alive so much so that the topic of entertainment and comedy and not incidentally, death, are constantly discussed, each of them having a lot to do with one another.

As a reader of him, the best way I know how to pay respects and be less gross about the relatively recent fanaticism (it’s not like I could have read Infinite Jest when it came out in 1996 when I was in grade school), is that if I one day feel like killing myself already, if no one beats me to it, I’ll just think about all the books I could have missed reading, all the times I would have been less lonely for having been stolen by books because ‘books make you feel less lonely’, etc. It’s the one David Foster Wallace takeaway that, for the sake of just my well-being, is harmless and ought to be true.

5 thoughts on “Although Of Course Thoughts

  1. I had a soft copy of his Brief Interviews and was able to read a few pages then stopped. I figured his books should be read in print.

    Ugh. Now I’m itching to buy books again.


  2. I agree, he should be read in print. E-books in general are tough to read. It would be beneficial though for an Infinite Jest reading to have an e-book accompaniment.


  3. Inggit ako! Wanna read it, too. 🙂 I’m actually reading his first book, The Broom of the System, right now (among other things); I’m about halfway through it and not unexpectedly, it’s really good. Also, the boyfriend gifted me a copy of The Pale King, which made me sad somewhat, it being the final DFW book and all.

    Sometimes when I think about all the books I ought to be reading, the fact that I would only be able to read the tiniest fraction of all the books in the world depresses and convinces me into thinking that the effort isn’t really worth it. But then I read a brilliant novel and voila, 180-degree turn: on to the next one! 🙂


  4. The problem with most posthumous fanaticisms is that it stems from the unfulfillable need to grasp remnants of a person’s existence, a thirst to experience him and his mind lost to the fact of mortality; usually leading to a portrayal of that person in a skewed and unrealistic simulacra, a false deitification of an otherwise neither pedestrian nor esoteric existence. Not to discredit DFW, for I do agree on his literary brilliance, but the poverty of attention his work received during their publication, as well as the ensuing fixation that occurred subsequent to his death, creates a disparity that cannot be valuated by mere statistical outcomes. It becomes more difficult to properly ascertain his work when the media he has so vehemently shunned have mutated into a fadist-satire of misguided magnification, vomiting bits and pieces of his private pain into morsels of anthropology meant to be devoured and embraced by the public.

    To properly pay respects to him would requisite weeding through the misdirected and invalid accolades of social bandwagonism, and truly contemplate and dissect, digest and comprehend his work as it is meant to be, by the solitude from which he birthed it from.

    On this account, the laudable aspect of this book is that it is anecdotal, without bellying the reader with interpreted and ultimately filtered information, but by an honest exposition of him, by him.


  5. Aris, that’s exactly what purists frown upon, that habit of digging into the bibliography/discography of an ‘artist’ just ‘cause said artist died/committed suicide. Otherwise their early works would never be brought so famous and sought after. So maybe death really ups your sales and value. Hehe. From what they’ve (dfw and lipsky) discussed, ‘Broom’ does seem like a good novel. But I’m more interested with the essay collections (oblivion, consider the lobster). And Pale King! Actually I find it a little distasteful that I’m digging into his bibliography just because he died, the way I did jeff buckley. Ah well, you can’t kill curiosity.

    About the books, if you could finish Infinite Jest, there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING! That you can not finish! Hehe.

    Red, there are lots of people/media defending DFW’s commonness/averageness and it is not lost to me how normal he was, although it’s hard not to deify someone who wrote something as crazy as infinite jest although I can understand how it’s gross for some people to be in so much awe of him. There’s even a guardian article about dfw’s widow expressing a bit of distaste over the fawning over her deceased husband’s works exactly because he killed himself.

    And in fairness to me I was upfront about my reason to plow through IJ. Hehe.

    Once you get past the idea that this is an author who killed himself, you can just go through his work without fussing over that fact. And wouldn’t you say, the DFW bandwagon isn’t such a bad bandwagon to bandwagon? Also, some of his essays/parts of things he wrote are really enjoyable. Well worth the curiosity.


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