David Foster Wallace's suicide has saddened and angered me in a way that I can't quite describe, and it's something I've been trying to come to grips with for the past few days. I've been affected by it in a weird and surreal way, disbelief leading to this cynical acceptance, as if it were just another sign of how the world is on a waterslide and the pool at the bottom is a shitpile.

it's not just the sudden loss of someone I've admired so much. it's not that there will be no more stories, articles, thoughts, writings from this great writer. though that is upsetting enough.

he said the best books were "a conversation about loneliness." he said, "If a writer does his job right, what he basically does is remind the reader of how smart they are. Wake the reader up to stuff that reader's been aware of all the time."

it's that there's no else who could do that, who could say that. who could be both self-deprecating enough and brilliant enough to know it and get it and want to make it understood. and who would make it understood, so lexically gracefully and so totally alarmingly precisely and so awesomely comically subversively and yet so sublimely and almost beatifically sadly. as if America need not be so, as if we could be so much more, as if this modern life is infinite in both its jest and its mundanity, as if we as people are restricted only by our communication and our compassion, or our lack thereof.

it's that there's no one else who is writing about the essence of words, of language, writing, expression, no one else writing about how to express truth, love, honesty, integrity, unirony, unselfcenteredness -- all without actually writing about it. the point made just as a by-product, a matter-of-fact, a consequence of the everythingness of his observation.

it's that there's no one else who is writing exactly and only and with unerring focus on how to be a decent human being in this mad American now. no one else writing-as-observation, no one else even seems to be observant. no one else wants to really look at and discuss what it's like to be... here. it's not just about what this American life in these days of ours is and what-it-all-means to be alive. it's that no one else is writing about what it's like, in sum, to be David Foster Wallace. what it meant to be him, and what that meant was attempting to share all of it, to try, ambitiously and majestically, to elucidate such empathy and wisdom, such humor and depth, such supreme knowledge and grandiloquency and yet to be crystal clear about it, about all of it, to be crass and hubristic and heartfelt and humble, and to be, in essence, really just a guy, himself, all of it.

and now no more.

not another word.


listen to this segment of him being interviewed on 'Fresh Air' in 1997.

read this article he wrote about Roger Federer.

read this eulogistic thread at McSweeney's.

buy his books and read more.

there are few people i truly admired more than DFW. it's just some seriously sad bullshit that he's dead.


1 comment:

D. W. Dowling said...

I think the great ones are ultimately crushed by the weight of infinity on the shoulders of mortality, which, may in turn validate the impossible distractions of a soaring LeBron James amidst a global financial collapse. This very effort of mine makes me miss the good ones, too.

Great eulogy, Mateo.