Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Also because she went around [ . . . ]

[. . . ] calling herself a postmodernist. No matter where you are, you Don't Do This. By convention it's seen as pompous and dumb. She made a big deal of flouting convention, but there was little to love about her convention-flouting; she honestly, it seemed to us, couldn't see far enough past her infatuation with her own crafted cleverness to separate posture from pose, desire from supplication. She wasn't the sort of free spirit you could love: she did what she wanted, but it was neither valuable nor free" (235)*.

and but so in addition we have the obvious-to-the-point-of-redundancy fact that nothing could be more narcissistic than crying one's eyes out over the death of a beloved artist. maybe it was because it was suicide that i am so mucus-splattered and sad.

but so clearly it's more. hideously egocentric, i imagine that i knew David Foster Wallace and he knew me (that teen belief in transcendent communications of the soul). it's a massive cliche, the belief that we "connect" with an artist we admire to the point of imitating/posturing/desiring well beyond simple fandom . . . to the point of rendering the ability to "separate posture from pose, desire from supplication" unavailable for Serious Mental Work.

but so feeding that teenaged longing to connect are the facts. yesterday, i watched and sprouted Big Fat tears of sadness and disbelief over Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine's amazing documentary, Wardance, about a Ugandan refugee camp and the children from it who enter The National Singing Competition (we see this, after spending most of the film following the preparation along with the backstories of 3 featured children). the film speaks magically of the transcendent nature of art (and it's so obvious, even from my brief summary, that i won't bore you by going into detail. just think about it). so but now i wake to find this f*cked up news and wonder how a writer as talented as DFW -- a writer who so clearly processed his life experience and unthinkably agile and sharply critical mind through his characters and stories -- finds himself unable to tap that magic . . . and i admit with some feelings of Stupidity that i start to feel sort of vulnerable because hey who doesn't have a dark moment and wonder about offing oneself but comes back from the edge for whatever reason -- fear, pain, passion for a tiny window of Other Things that moves one beyond the pain? and but so DFW was 46. i'm 45. i know. i know. my Big Ugly Ego again but it can't be stopped. i should stop.

i don't know how to write a proper homage. i am sad beyond words.

* from "Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way" (Girl With Curious Hair).


Mom N said...

So, thank you Bonnie. I didn't meet DFW till--oh, you'll be shocked!--till TWO YEARS AGO. I didn't know his stuff. And then I found it and read everything I could get my hands on. Nothing disappointed. Everything made me laugh & say yes, yes! Yes! And I love the commencement piece--I'm going to copy it, if I may, and give it to my 2010 classes--and once again I'm STUNNED that he killed himself. What happened? Once, some years ago, a person I didn't like very much asked me that question about myself: what happened to you? The implication was so snide I couldn't believe he'd asked it. There was nothing nice at all in the question. But DFW: I really want to know. I don't mean to be snide, or arrogant, or judgmental. I just want to know, friend, and I want you to write about it in your next collection of essays--what happened? Why did you think we wouldn't mind losing you?

Because we really do. We really do.

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

by "meet," i guess you mean via reading his stuff (?). i had a similar response to him. i first read _Infinite Jest_ and was completely hooked. key addictive moment: the footnote containing the word "nubbin." (i'll say no more. find it. it's stomach-explodingly funny). then, i read everything else. lately, i've gotten behind because of work and whatnot, and i'll be sure to catch up now. it will be different, though, i'm sure.

thanks for writing ;)

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

i mean, yes, what happened? for someone so self-conscious, so deeply aware of his effects in this world, . . . i can't get my head around it. oh, and the commencement speech is available at several online venues. no need to ask me for permission. but so about that speech -- it's eery reading it now because DFW says such smart things, smart things that might incline us to believe that he would never make that Really Bad Choice. oy.

stand up straight & let me get a look at you

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