Dec 242012



“Once a man and his wife were sitting outside the front door with a roast chicken before them which they were going to eat between them. Then the man saw his old father coming along and quickly took the chicken and hid it, for he begrudged him any of it. The old man came, had a drink, and went away.

Now the son was about to put the roast chicken back on the table, but when he reached for it, it had turned into a big toad that jumped in his face and stayed there and didn’t go away again.

And if anybody tried to take it away, it would give them a poisonous look, as if about to jump in their faces, so that not one dared touch it. And the ungrateful son had to feed the toad every day, otherwise it would eat part of his face. And thus he went ceaselessly hither and yon about in the world.”

Brothers Grimm, “The Ungrateful Son”  found in 'The Gift' by Lewis Hyde (Vintage Books, 1979)


The spirit wore a festive green dress with a tight, corseted bodice, which lifted her bosom up like a gift for the world. But she wasn’t that generous. She got our attention and she made us fly, even though we didn’t really want to fly; it wasn’t something any of us had dreamed of. Up we went, rising, floating, and we were completely relaxed, no matter how high she took us. When she brought us back down, she spoke of her brothers and sisters, who are competitive and accomplished, even famous. She said they are accustomed to a numbness that makes her feel like an only child.

“I’m going to show you the future,” she told us. “I think you can handle it.”

And we could handle it. We did handle it. We never flew again, of course, but we have other pleasures. I later learned that we hadn’t been flying at all. She had attached wires to our wrists and ankles. It was all mechanical, easily arranged. Puppetry.


film clip is from The Year Without a Santa Claus, c. 1974
music is the song Alone Again Or by Love

Oct 212012

vasacapsized copy

“I venture to say that most people most of the time experience the same four-o’clock-in-the-afternoon devaluation. But I have noticed an interesting thing. If such a person, a person like me feeling lapsed at four o’clock in the afternoon, should begin reading a novel about a person feeling lapsed at four o’clock in the afternoon, a strange thing happens. Things increase in value. Possibilities open. This may be the main function of art in this peculiar age: to reverse the devaluation.”

Walker Percy, Self-Interview, 1977


Probable Personal Facts about David Foster Wallace, assuming Personal Facts exist.
As gleaned and reinterpreted from a book event for Every Love Story is a Ghost Story with author D.T. Max.

— His official diagnosis was “atypical depression,” though his biographer seems skeptical. A diagnosis of “bipolar disorder” might be too garden variety for an exceptional person like DFW. He wouldn’t have wanted to be lumped into a lumpy lump like that.

–He was sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. He claimed that he had visited open meetings to research the recovery-based characters and scenes in his major work, Infinite Jest, but it turns out he was lying about that. (Lying for honorable reasons). DFW was a real, honest-to-goodness AA, and a very involved one. He had sponsees. He gave them quite a lot of love and support. Giving was a thing with him. Check this out: The Gift by Lewis Hyde.

–He tried really hard all the time. He was a try-er.

–He was a freaky genius and everyone wanted to get close to him. Naturally, he erected barriers.

–An observation: I saw that he wore a bandana on his head when he talked to Charlie Rose on TV. Maybe no one else ever did that?

So it was more than a four-o’-clock-in-the-afternoon thing for DFW. It often is.