Sunday, March 22, 2009

Newness

Before getting into anything else want to address D.T. Max's retrospective on David foster wallace which I praised before reading. The thing is -- its not good, its simplistic, its a bit bad. There were a few new details, but essentially it was just a representation of all the facts and stories that have been written up and published and have been appearing lately in print-media, all glued together, in basically chronological order, apparently for the geriatric crew or people living under a rock or people just getting on the boat or the illiterate.

The name New Yorker gets D.T. Max interviews with all the key players. Jonathan Franzen, wallace's wife, his parents, old friends, college professors. And Max references wallace's funny descriptor "sprawling new Yorker shit" in reference to himself and we think, at last we've got THE REAL SHIT. this is A DEFINITIVE ARTICLE.

So from this article we get the exact the exact timeline and circumstances of Wallace's suicide, though we didn't need it, and little else. The truth is that D.T. with his lack of comprehension of what seem to be the most basic qualities of literature, authorship, literary identity, etc, not only doesn't write an interesting article: he actually dumbs down Wallace. He makes Wallace seem stupider, in fact, almost moronic. Let's number some of these fallacies that came from sending a boy to write a man's life.

1. The broom of the system is mentioned as a sort of humorous imitation of Thomas Pynchon that wallace shot off 500 pages of and made his name on before deciding that it was crap and dismissing it from his mind forever.

2. Wallace decided to become a writer circa "a few years after college", deciding that he could best address the "questions of life" as a "novelist." Literature is about "what it means to be a fucking human being," we are told 90 times.

3. At one point, we are given this moronic reminiscence:


Costello remembers, “Junior year, David and I were sitting around talking
about magical realists—I think it was ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’—and
someone said, ‘Pynchon’s much cooler.’ We said ‘Who?’ He threw a copy of ‘Lot
49’ at us. For Dave, that was like Bob Dylan finding Woody Guthrie.” Wallace
also loved Don DeLillo’s “White Noise,” which came out when he was a senior.

This anecdote disgusts me to no boundaries. white noise -- what a fucking fascinating book. the crying of lot 49. of course. now I know where DFW's ideas came from. Just the whole moronic scenario of someone throwing "LOT 49" -- we don't need to say the whole name, everyone knows what we're talking about -- at the the DFW blank slate, its...

4. Overall, the different novels and short story collections are referenced not as serious works. Its not like he worked really hard and took lots of different ideas and experiences and thoughts and philosophies and characters and methods and other novels and people's lives and spent time constructing a lengthy story.
Instead, he reviewed his life experiences and sat down and wrote a tale about them. Even infinite jest gets this sort of treatment and there are only tantalizing details about the period when he wrote it -- this section of all of them could have been bulked up the most fruitfully. Dt. max tells us mysteriously that wallace believed "an author has to be willing to sacrifice their life for their author". But he never takes it anywhere or explains if this happend or what it means, etc.

5. The pale king was not the book that killed him, but a project of writing a simplistic homey philosophy that people could use to improve their lives without postmodernist wordplay and set in the most boring setting possible, an IRS office in the Shit-west.

6.“Right now, I am a pathetic and very confused young man, a failed writer at 28 who is so jealous, so sickly searingly envious of you and [William] Vollmann and Mark Leyner and even David fuckwad Leavitt" ---we receive this quote. I address the [william] -- why the fuck is that necessary? how many writers name Vollman can there possibly be? Is Max so stupid he didn't recognize Vollman's name, or is this an assholey "silent rebuke" way of criticizing and mocking unovertly a prolific if flawed author who he wishes to use his article to insult?

-----Now, for my own sake, I would like to address some things. I am interested in DFW as a cultural phenomenon of "writer" but have only read his Hideous Men collection and don't claim to be an expert. If I come off on attack sounding like I think I'm better than D.T. Max, Harvard 1984, writer ever since, I don't But his article fucking sucked and just made me even more convinced that a writer like DFW is not only out of place in his own society and time, but that his location and era are literally incapable of offering any meaningful interpretation of his work. Even after reading Hideous Men I am aware in the sensitive part of the brain of small neural receptors that fired off reading Wallace in a way that has not been captured by any of the biographers, critics, summer-uppers. Take the last "brief interviews" for example, if you have it, about the hippie girl. Story continues to haunt my brain. But no one seems capable of acknowledging the real quality or the quality of the quality. So instead we have one person writing, DFW killed himself because he spent his life trapped in useless, emasculating academia and it drove him insane -- an entertaining notion that of course, only gives us insight into its author's father's failed life. One person was crass enough to suggest that DFW's enjoyment of marijuana contributed to insanity and depression. The act of suicide overwhelms the social conscious and sends every writer fleeing to focus on it, name it, explain it...

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