Saturday, September 13, 2008

Writer, novelist David Foster Wallace

Not much else for me to add about David Foster Wallace's recent suicide. Just very sad. His accomplishments weren't measured by the awards or accolades he accumulated; his readers to his body of work, instead, are a testament to his success. One of his statements, in an interview with, is haunting: There's so much mass commercial entertainment that's so good and so slick, this is something that I don't think any other generation has confronted. That's what it's like to be a writer now. I think it's the best time to be alive ever and it's probably the best time to be a writer. I'm not sure it's the easiest time. ... I get the feeling that a lot of us, privileged Americans, as we enter our early 30s, have to find a way to put away childish things and confront stuff about spirituality and values." In 2005, he gave a speech at Kenyon College. In it, he said: Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master. This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. David Foster Wallace wrote his first novel at age 24. He hanged himself at 46. Very sad indeed. Illustration by Harry Aung

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