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

Good points Lockheed. It seems likely that, although he may be the last person to realize it, Charlie Sheen is going to end up a very powerful advertisement for the destructive powers of addiction, if he hasn't already. Reviews of his shows in New York City noted that he's now publicly regretting all of the things that "have been taken away from me" (meaning his show, his children, and his pets). As rich as he is, the downward spiral seems pretty obvious.

DFW's suicide, meanwhile, is powerful testimony to the AA wisdom that you don't identify yourself publicly as being in AA. The specific reason for that (I have 25 years in the program) is so that the program doesn't get hurt because someone who's identified with it in the public's mind crashes and burns. Active addicts are all too willing to write off AA because "so and so celebrity was in it and look how much good it did him." This is not to cast any aspersions on DFW at all. It's well known in the program that (as the literature puts it) alcohol is "but a symptom" -- of deeper emotional/psychological problems. Self medication, in other words. I have no idea why DFW's demons got him in the end, but I can identify with the struggle. Wallace noted that some of the AA cant is hard to swallow, and an example of that in my opinion is the promise that if you follow the steps you'll end up "happy, joyous and free." It's an aspiration, but one that isn't easily achieved. But as they also say in the program, some are sicker than others. In the program that's usually said with a smile (not always). What it really means is recovery is more of a struggle for some than for others. It's not a judgment, just a fact.

Posted on April 10, 2011 at 8:52 am 0