On Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

@DavidHarp Thank you Maria for your response, and the link to DFW's self-help collection. Perhaps we need to perform a litero-psych-mathematical function and AVERAGE the "blame elements" of Alice Miller's early work with the incredibly anti-blame tirade in DFW's AA Meeting (the one where the Crocodiles" are miffed because, IIRC, a speaker at the meeting -- a young woman who as a foster child was forced to see horrific behavior between her disabled foster sister and the foster parents -- has had the temerity to imply that her addiction might have been CAUSED by her trauma [which, of course, said Crocodiles dismiss as "...a day at Six Flags Amusement Park compared to their own childhoods..."]). Thus Millerian Anger Plus Crocodilian Rejection of Causality might equal some sort of nuanced outlook in which we can factor in "what happened" as an partially causal element without using blame to deflect our sense of personal responsibility to act in the present...
Thanks again, david

Posted on April 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm 1

On Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

To Maria -- Thanks for commenting a few days ago. Should you have time and energy and inclination, as a fan of Alice Miller's work (and, of course, of some of DFW's), I'd be very interested in your response to those commenters who feel that your own thoughts about motherhood, and blame thereon, affects your feelings about Drama of the Gifted Child type hypotheses. Then again, asking a writer [you, let's call you #1] -- who wrote about a writer's [DFW, #2] relationship to his parents in the context of his [#2's] self-help marginalia -- to talk about her [#1's] relationship to another writer [Miller, #3] who writes about one's relationship to one's parents is perhaps a bit recursive...IMHO, though, you did come off as a bit defensive regarding Miller's "blaming" of parents. I'd also be very curious, in an admittedly ghoulish way, to know what other self-help books DFW had. Is a list of these available at Ransom?

Posted on April 13, 2011 at 10:38 am 0

On Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

What a disturbing but fascinating -- in the sense that one may be mesmerized by an object of horror or danger -- article. On the one hand, it's disturbing to look so closely into DFW's mind via his personal notations in self help books. On the other, it certainly lends depth to one's understanding of the man, although for me not particularly of the work of the man which I've read.

To me, if I recall correctly (and I think I do, although not near verbatim level) a particular sequence in the middle of Infinite Jest sums up most of what Ms. Bustillos came up with here. To the effect that Hal (paraphrased) realizes "...that he needs their love, but it's not about love, it's about their need to have someone come up from underdog and win, and to do it again, and again, and again, it's never enough..."
I.E. that "they" love you for what you do, not for who you are. Whereas in AA, they love you, see your humanity, just for being in the room...

Again, for me, this is the point of "The Entertainment," it's the point of all these painful, sad, musings of DFW in the Miller book, and one of the things that most people, especially those designated as "talented" early on, must deal with to be happy or fulfilled.

That all said, Ms. Bustillos, thank you for your work, I think. DFW, wherever you may be, rest in peace.

Posted on April 6, 2011 at 8:07 pm 0