Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Supposed Fun (and but so)

In September, David Foster Wallace hung himself in his basement in California. I briefly wrote about it, mentioning how I felt I owed it to him to finally pick up his essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.

And but so .... that plan was delayed when I couldn't find it in Ontario, and further limited by my present location in a non-English speaking country.
At Christmas, Paraic went to visit relatives in Ireland and we all gave him book wishlists. I didn't actually expect him to come back with this book (one and only entry on my list) but am pleasantly surprised to now have it in my possession. Of the seven essays within only one is previously familiar to me - David Lynch Keeps His Head,which I wrote about as well on LJ in 2007.

So far I'm especially impressed with the titular piece in Supposedly Fun.... as it details his experience on assignment from Harper's in 1995, relating the time he spent on a Caribbean cruiseship. As someone who experienced the luxurious horror one of these floating mobile vacations has to offer in 2000 - under very awkward circumstances I'd rather not get into - I can sympathize all too well. But it's the painfully accurate way in which DFW lays it all out that really tends to impress, as it always will with someone of his skill.
I'll take the time to copy out one passage that really hit home as I read it late last night.

"Here's the thing. A vacation is a respite from unpleasantness, and since consciousness of death and decay are unpleasant, it may seem weird that Americans' ultimate fantasy vacation involves being plunked down in an enormous primordial engine of death and decay. But on a 7NC Luxury Cruise, we are skillfully enabled in the construction of various fantasies of triumph over just this death and decay. One way to "triumph" is via the rigors of self-improvement; ..... There's another way out, too, w/r/t death. Not titivation but titillation. Not hard work but hard play. The 7NC's constant activities .... makes your existence seem noncontingent. The hard-play option promises not a transcendence of death-dread so much as just drowning it out."
A.S.F.T.I.N.D.A. - p.263-264

(several of the essays I've read so far contain snippets that really jump out to the reader re:DFW's depression and eventual suicide and would likely lead the reader to label them as 'cries for help', but this does seem irrelevant when one considers that his depression was lifelong and never intentionally concealed from those around him)

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