Sunday, September 14, 2008

David Foster Wallace dead at 46, mourned in Facebook statuses

Surely you've heard by now that David Foster Wallace committed suicide.

In memorium, here is his commencement speech at Kenyon College.
Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.
What was so striking about Wallace's essays was they made everyone feel less alone in the battle against daily tedium. He transformed these solitary acts into social ones. Knowing that you and Wallace together fight grocery lines and crowded parking lots made the experience a little funnier, and perhaps a little easier.

There was a National Book Critics Circle Board meeting Saturday, which was more of a wake than a party. Today is The Brooklyn Book Festival. He picked quite a weekend to be remembered, on YOUR monitor and beyond it.


Anonymous said...

(seriously, your blog is where I found out about this. 30 seconds ago.)

J and I are in complete shock.

I am so glad that I was on campus that summer for the 05 speech. Of the 4 Kenyon commencements I have attended, his was by far the best, the most memorable, the most valuable.

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