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Posts tagged "David Foster Wallace"

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to read this book, and none […]

Bad Takes and Gospel Truth: The Subtle Art of True Profanity

Bad Takes and Gospel Truth: The Subtle Art of True Profanity

I was eight years old when Back to the Future came out. (Fine, do the math. I’M FORTY.) I remember recapping the movie to a friend on what would now be called a playdate but at the time was just called being a kid. We were in my front yard, and I told her about […]

Training My Enemies

Training My Enemies

This one comes to us from Geoffrey Sheehy. When I pulled from the Greek treasury for bedtime stories, I frequently became a mythological revisionist. Zeus’s appropriation of any woman he desired? Excised, or, if necessary, declared legal marriages. Hera’s rage over Zeus’s infidelity? Simple quarrels. I knew they were important, but not to my three and […]

From the Archives: What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation

From the Archives: What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

Lately there’s been a considerable dearth of David Zahl on this site, wouldn’t you say?! So here ya go. The following article goes out to anyone strapping a cargo shell to the roof of his or her car this weekend. From our archives, this one remains as prescient and timely as when DZ wrote it […]

Pretentious Believers and the Law of Authenticity

Pretentious Believers and the Law of Authenticity

There was a period of time, and I’m not proud of it, when the worst insult my friends and I could lob at a person/place/thing was that they were ‘pretentious’. It connoted everything we didn’t like: phoniness, humorlessness, and haughtiness. At least, in theory it did. Over time, the word became less of a spear […]

Tennis Gods and Failing Bodies

Tennis Gods and Failing Bodies

This one comes to us from Lindsey Hepler.  When I was eighteen years old, during that awkward summer between graduating from high school and starting college, I took a trip to London with my parents. By a stroke of luck and happenstance, my two sisters were away on their own adventures, so I got to […]

The Word Within the Fracture: 20 Years of Infinite Jest, pt 2

The Word Within the Fracture: 20 Years of Infinite Jest, pt 2

To read part one, click here. (End)notes From Underground As much as Wallace’s bottoming out (and subsequent halfway house rehabilitation) contributed to the figure we now recognize as DFW, what proved decisive for the transformation of his moral imagination was his discovery of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky modeled earnest engagement with moral matters without succumbing to […]

The World Within the Fracture: 20 Years of Infinite Jest, Pt. 1

The World Within the Fracture: 20 Years of Infinite Jest, Pt. 1

Demythologizing St. Dave It’s funny thinking about the sheer number of people who count reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest the first time as a hinge-point in their lives with the same sort of breathless awe others would fall into when remembering September 11th or Kurt Cobain’s death: funny, in part, because most (appreciators and detractors […]

What 1,792 Blogposts Taught Me About the Internet

What 1,792 Blogposts Taught Me About the Internet

Here’s one of our features from the Technology Issue, David Zahl’s state of the digital union from the particular vantage point of this website. To order this issue, either in electronic version or print, click here. The guy knew enough not to argue. He had clearly seen my kind before. The kind who approached the […]

How to be Hip and Cool According to Infinite Jest

How to be Hip and Cool According to Infinite Jest

I have a strong hunch that I’m a cynic, and I don’t like it. So whenever people I respect sound off about cynicism, I’m all ears. If you spot it, you got it and if you got it, you spot it, after all. David Foster Wallace offers a piercing insight into cynicism and the human […]

Singing Love Songs to Addicts (and Earth People, Too)

Singing Love Songs to Addicts (and Earth People, Too)

Been a while since we checked in on the world of addiction. Back in January The Huffington Post ran an article with the transparently baiting title of “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think” that went viral. I think we mentioned it in a weekender. It was […]

How to Construct a Vehicle for Feeling Superior

Finally absorbed DT Max’s biography of David Foster Wallace, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, while on vacation last week and figure the window of film-related hubbub won’t be open forever. One passage that stuck out comes from a letter that Wallace wrote to Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, in which he describes a familiar conflict: how one’s inner lawyer can marshal shortcomings just as deftly as strengths in its quest for personal righteousness:

aliciaworkI go through a loop in which I notice all the ways I am–for just an example–self-centered and careerist and not true to standards and values that transcend my own petty interests, and feel like I’m not one of the good ones; but then I countenance the fact that here at least here I am worrying about it, noticing all the ways I fall short of integrity, and I imagine that maybe people without any integrity at all don’t notice or worry about it; so then I feel better about myself (I mean, at least this stuff is on my mind, at least I’m dissatisfied with my level of integrity and commitment); but this soon becomes a vehicle for feeling superior to (imagined) Others… It has to do with God and gods and a basic sense of trust in the universe v. fear that the universe must be held at bay and micromanaged into giving me some smidgeon of some gratification I feel I simply can’t live without. It’s all very confusing. I think I’m very honest and candid, but I’m also proud of how honest and candid I am–so where does that put me.