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On A Supposedly True Thing Jonathan Franzen Said About David Foster Wallace

@lululemming Sorry, TL;DR. What Tulletilsynet said.

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm 0

On A Supposedly True Thing Jonathan Franzen Said About David Foster Wallace

"The depressed person then killed himself, in a way calculated to inflict maximum pain on those he loved most, and we who loved him were left feeling angry and betrayed. Betrayed not merely by the failure of our investment of love but by the way in which his suicide took the person away from us and made him into a very public legend."

From Infinite Jest, a work found in the fiction section:
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

I'd argue that the more mercenary deceit here is Franzen misrepresenting his spiritual proximity to "Dave Wallace" when he was alive, as anyone who has undertaken a close reading of DFWs work couldn't possibly think that his suicide was a gesture of self-aggrandizement, or worse yet, something that was about *them*.

Wallace did not court depression or pursue it as wind, nor was he content to let suicidal ideation serve as a stand-in for nobility or genius or legend status. My reading of his writing about "the depressed person" is that is was a battle cry against succumbing to the romance of one's own mental illness.

And maybe I'm a fool, but I never read the cruise ship or state fair pieces thinking that the quotes of experiences were verbatim, I fully expected that some of it was invented to magnify the truth of a thing in order to expose the essentiality of the experience more accurately. Or just to underscore the fucking absurdity of it all.

In any event, if Franzen wants to deride the work of his dead 'friend' out of anger, or jealousy, or attention-seeking petulance, let him have it. He's winning his argument on a technicality. And that shit is for the birds.

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm 7

On Kids Sing Smiths Song

I get why this is supposed to make me go "awwww" but seeing children sing "Haven't had a dream in a long time" makes me profoundly sad. Also, I feel like whomever is behind this is trying to trick me into having kids by assuming that my uterus is nostalgic for the '80s. Finally, while I get that the lyrics probably have different meanings to children, I'd rather they be kept apart from misanthropy until it becomes a necessity. Moping and adoring children are diametrically opposed pleasures, and trying to make two great tastes taste great together is perhaps better left to the good people at Reese's.

/killjoy.

Posted on May 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm 1

On Alice Wright: Webmistress and Coder Girl

Meta commentary and legit criticism: she's not random!

Posted on February 3, 2011 at 6:09 pm 0

On How Can We Stop The Beavers?

Quick, pull my finger.

Posted on November 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm 0

On In Just Six Days, You Apparently Forget the Internet Existed

The last time I went Internetless was for 3 days in a small town in the mountains that didn't even have satellite Internet. In that brief window of time, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jeff Goldblum died and then Jeff Goldblum came back to life, and by the time I got online all the middle class white hipsters I follow on Tumblr were "over it" and all the really good Internet surrounding the matter had been used up.

Posted on November 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm 1

On I Am Definitely Not Running the Marathon This Weekend

Congrats? Also, if you are a regular runner currently capable of running 8 miles, totally possible to train for and complete a marathon in two months, in a decent time at that.

Also, also: the one thing nobody tells you about finishing a marathon is that you will spend the rest of your life being asked if you beat Oprah's time of 4:29:15, and that responding in the negative will make you wish you'd never ran a freaking marathon to begin with, because now you to run another one, but faster.

Posted on November 4, 2010 at 7:08 pm 1

On I Am Definitely Not Running the Marathon This Weekend

Posted on November 4, 2010 at 7:07 pm 0

On Cherayla Davis, Amateur

And now this comment? It's not even 9 a.m. here, Awl. Please let me finish my normal morning weeping before I start on any other crying jags.

Posted on October 27, 2010 at 11:51 am 0

On Footnotes of Mad Men: The Two-Way Mirror and Social Anomie

I think I just hit the depth of my shallows because halfway through the first Youtube I started thinking "Oooh, I really want to watch Drumline again".

Also, David Mamet's daughter as Joyce! OMGoggles!

Posted on August 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm 0