lundi, septembre 15

Into the Infinite

RIP David Foster Wallace, dead from an apparent suicide at his home this past Friday. He was, arguably, the premier essayist of the postmodern era - surpassing (in my opinion) even David Sedaris and Hunter Thompson. His distinctive style - rambling prose, lush facts, and deliciously tangential footnotes - made him both a pleasure and a challenge to read.

I would like to say that I practice the sincerest form of flattery when I make my meagre attempts to construct creative non fiction, and that I model my work after his, but I have neither the talent nor the innate intelligence to do so. The man was a walking encyclopedia of fact and somehow managed to be the Cliff Claven of our generation without being annoying or pedantic. Moreover, what he didn't know, he researched - exhaustively. For example, a footnote to this article on the Maine Lobster Festival includes an apology to the readers of Gourmet Magazine (the article's first publication point) for missing the opportunity to interview the sole member of PETA present at the fest, for the purposes of adding an alternative viewpoint to the narrative.

I respect that.

I respect and relate to the urge to learn *everything* about a topic; the urge to immerse yourself completely in the archane minutiae of a subject matter and burst forth from the other side perhaps not smarter, but infinitely richer than you were a short while previous.

I know nothing about DFW's personal life. I don't know if he suffered from depression, addiction, or societal malaise. I know only that I hope he's now sitting with Damiel and Cassiel, listening in on the words and thoughts and dreams of the world for, if ever there was a sentiment that personified DFW's work, it is "I want to know everything".