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.


Jan 242012


Why do people often feel bad in good environments and good in bad environments?

Why do people often feel so bad in good environments that they prefer bad environments?

Why is it that a man riding a good commuter train from Larchmont to New York, whose needs and drives are satisfied, who has a good home, loving wife and family, good job, who has unprecedented “cultural and recreational facilities,” often feels bad without knowing why.

(Walker Percy via Spalding Gray)

Continue reading »